Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) sniffs out a Whisperer posing as a walker in an extended clip from The Walking Dead’s mid-season premiere.
The clip sees Daryl, bow in hand, staring down a half-dozen walkers. He fires a bolt into a center walker, who screams and collapses in pain.
Outing himself as a fake, the Whisperer is quickly torn into by a pair of surrounding walkers. Another unsheathes a blade and lunges for Michonne (Danai Gurira) — and is swiftly cut down for his efforts.
Daryl, now backed by a just arrived Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura) and Magna (Nadia Hilker), gets the last-surviving Whisperer to surrender. This Whisperer, smaller in stature and the only member not to attack, could be revealed as Lydia (Cassady McClincy), daughter of Whisperer leader Alpha (Samantha Morton).
Both Lydia and her mother are set to play big roles moving forward as their clan of survivors — who wear fleshy disguises made from the skins of walkers as a means of both moving freely among the dead and to deceive their enemies — emerge as the primary threat.
“I think on screen it is a pretty striking introduction, and then we will get into some meaty stuff with her pretty early in the back half of the season,” show runner Angela Kang told Deadline of the newest Walking Dead villain, revealed previously in advertising and a comic book-accurate still photo.
“I’ll say that off-screen Samantha could not be a lovelier person to work with. We have really truly enjoyed having Samantha, and I can’t wait for people to see the work she’s doing. I’ve been working on some of the episodes in post she’s in, and I think she’s just a tremendous actress. There’s some really cool stuff with her coming up.”
An unmasked and captured Lydia can also be seen in the first Walking Dead Season 9B trailer, where she tells Daryl from behind the bars of the Hilltop jail, “You don’t belong with these people.”
In creator Robert Kirkman’s comic books, Lydia entered into a Romeo and Juliet-like romance with Carl Grimes, whose television counterpart (Chandler Riggs) was killed off midway through Season Eight. That story could play out with Henry (Matt Lintz), the adopted son of Carol (Melissa McBride) and husband King Ezekiel (Khary Payton), who are now overseeing a fair intended to reunite the fractured communities.
“The show has often diverged from storylines in the comic. It’s always a process remixing things for us. There’s nobody that’s going to exactly replace Carl. Carl is his own character, but there are definitely plotlines from the comic that we didn’t want to completely lose,” Kang previously told EW.
“Henry just organically would be with this time jump about the age of Carl in the comics. There were certain aspects that we felt play well with Henry, especially because Carol is now that parent.”
Kong further noted the adaptation of the fan-favorite Whisperer storyline won’t play out exactly like in the comics, and added Henry — who was created for the show — won’t be treated as a stand-in for the late Carl.
“Obviously, all of that plays differently because Henry is a different kind of kid in the show than Carl was in the comic at this point. He’s had a different upbringing. He’s had a bit of a sheltered life. He’s also faced different kinds of things,” she said.0comments
“We just wanted to make sure that anything that we take from the comic that maybe once was part of Carl’s storyline, it’s a little different when you have Henry playing it. We don’t intend for it to be exactly the same.”
The Walking Dead Season Nine premiere airs Sunday, February 10 on AMC.