"In this season, with the introduction of the Whisperers last year, it's a completely different kind of war," says executive producer Greg Nicotero, who directs the Season 10 opener and the Whisperers-focused episode 10x02, "We Are the End of the World." Months after Alpha's attack on the communities during last season's fair, Season 10 deals with "this subversive, cold-war-type paranoia and sensibilities about people."
Adds Norman Reedus, whose Daryl Dixon is begrudgingly abiding by the laws and borders imposed by Alpha, "The group is in such a tight place right now, and being squeezed from every direction."
As the survivors struggle to respect Alpha's rules, lines will be crossed. "Season 10 is very different," says executive producer Denise Huth. "With Alpha, it's very much, 'When is she gonna attack, and how is she gonna attack?'"
The paranoia and stress caused by the watching Whisperers is particularly troublesome for new dad Siddiq, now suffering from PTSD and survivor's guilt after being forced to watch the Whisperers slay protégé Enid (Katelyn Nacon) and a lineup of nine other victims that included Hilltop leader Tara (Alanna Masterson) and Kingdom prince Henry (Matt Lintz).
"This season is about fear, and what that fear looks and feels like," Nash says. "[The Whisperers] are the terrorists of the apocalypse."
Audiences will also see the Whisperers' side of the conflict when The Walking Dead goes behind enemy lines with revealing looks at Alpha's cult and her unique relationship with viciously loyal number-two Beta (Ryan Hurst).
"We're gonna start to learn more about what draws Beta to Alpha, and why he stays with her," teases executive producer Joseph Incaprera. Adds Morton, "I'm most excited for the fans to see what are the Whisperers, why they behave the way they behave."
In the mix is Ross Marquand's revenge-seeking Aaron, who lost not only close friend Enid but Jesus (Tom Payne), the first of the survivors murdered by the Whisperers.
"We're seeing that war unfold in a real way," Marquand says. "Both sides cut at each other in a very harsh and violent way."
Promising "big stuff" is Negan star Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who says his long-jailed former villain is "going to surprise you, in ways that you're not going to be ready for." When it comes to this new take on Negan — who gets to stretch his legs after spending almost all of Season 9 behind bars — Morgan teases, "You don't know what you're gonna get."