Tensions are on the rise as Daryl (Norman Reedus), Alexandria leader Michonne (Danai Gurira) and Kingtop leader King Ezekiel (Khary Payton) face a threat even more dangerous than Alpha (Samantha Morton) and her disguised Whisperers: paranoia.
"Both sides are wondering, 'Are people sneaking into our territory? Is there a way that we can turn people on the other side?'" The Walking Dead showrunner Angela Kang told TVLine. "There's a much more tense, kind of crackling feel to the way they're interacting with each other as tensions continue to mount. And there are lots of plot twists and turns within that tension as it amps up over time."
Kang, who was elevated to showrunner on Season 9, says the Whisperer war won't be a repeat of the conflict with Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and the Saviors, where gunfire was exchanged by both sides.
"We're in a different time in the apocalypse. From the trailer, you can see that [our protagonists are] training with different kinds of weapons. They've kind of moved into a more forged/medieval style that the blacksmiths are making," she said. "In this world, our people have the ability to manufacture bullets, but is that really the best use of resources or time, given that, when you're dealing with a lot of zombies for the most part, you want something that's reusable, that you can have in hand that's hefty — quiet, too. Bullets are going to just draw more zombies. Our people have learned to fight in a different, more collaborative way."
While the barbaric Whisperers don't have a home base — like the now defunct Sanctuary — Alpha and her clan staked their territory with an act of terror that left Kingdom prince Henry (Matt Lintz), interim Hilltop leader Tara (Alanna Masterson) and others dead. That border erected towards the end of Season 9 will play a major role moving forward.
"A lot of the Saviors war was sort of a strategic back-and-forth that wound up in battles," Kang said. "Here, you're dealing with a nomadic group that doesn't have a headquarters, so that's a different type of conflict. There are stories that have to do with the tensions that exist when you are sharing a border that one side does not agree with and that is causing them problems in their day-to-day."
Still reeling from Alpha's horrific attack on their communities, the survivors are now reluctantly respecting the imposed borderlines while assembling a militia-style fighting force. This growing fear infects the communities and gives rise to paranoia, propaganda, secret agendas, and infighting that will test the survivors as individuals and as a society.
The Walking Dead Season 10 premieres Sunday, October 6 on AMC.