"I think I've imagined that she's killed animals before. She's hunted. She grew up in a rural area. She's badass in that way," Morton told EW.
Alpha — whose given name has yet to be disclosed — earned her first kill in the earliest days of the apocalypse, accidentally suffocating a panicked survivor (Javier Carrasquillo) during an effort to end a frightened outburst putting then six-year-old Lydia at risk of being discovered by walkers.
"And maybe that is why she is a villain, as in she's the villain, but she doesn't think she's a villain. She's just doing what she has to do, and she's been really honest about it," Morton added.
"He is pathetic. He is weak. This is a new world now, a new world order, and it's brutal, but this is her tribe, and this is how they're functioning. It's awful, actually. When I think of it, 'Oh, my gosh!' But when I'm in Alpha's head, it really is like… It's awful, but it makes sense to her."
Morton previously acknowledged she doesn't play Alpha as a villain, but instead as a survivor motivated by instinct.
It's a trait Alpha has carried over to the barbaric Whisperers, who adopt a simple and animalistic philosophy that embraces the dead.
"I think, for her, something is triggered through the apocalypse. Maybe something that was laying dormant inside of her," Morton said.
"Maybe we can look at her, childhood things that happened to her, and here she realizes that she's capable of doing really horrific things in order to survive and to [protect] her child. And most women out there, and men, would say that they would do anything for their child. You'd stand in front of a bus to protect your child. You'd do anything, and I think that what she realizes about herself is her ultimate confidence in survival and what she's willing to do."
Asked for a specific breaking point that triggered her evolution into Alpha, Morton could only theorize.
"I think there's a trauma of what's happening, and that is stimulated through fear, what she's witnessed, and what's happening around her. That adrenaline inside," she said.0comments
"But it is about protecting her child and herself, and surviving, and watching people behave so stupidly."
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.