Asked by EW if the massive herd spotted in the episode was a nod towards the pack of savage villains, Nicotero answered, "I think the intent with that was to show that if they continue fighting amongst themselves, there will be nothing left to survive."
"So it wasn't necessarily a reference to the Whisperers," Nicotero said. "It was more a reference to that there's still an enemy out there, and it's a common enemy, which is the army of the undead."
We also noticed what seemed to be a hint towards the comic book group when Rick Grimes and his people spread out into a wide open field, moving past a series of poles that may have marked territory boundaries.
In Robert Kirkman's comic book series, the Whisperers are a herd of barbaric nomads who eventually cross paths with Alexandria and the allied communities once the war against Negan and the Saviors had been won.
Taking the "guts" trick one step further, the Whisperers skin the undead and wear their fleshy disguises as a means of camouflaging themselves from walkers.
The Whisperers are then able to move freely amongst even zombie hordes — and could have been embedded within the walker flood viewers witnessed last night.
Those walkers were used as a point of reference by Rick Grimes when he called for peace, telling his allies and the enemy Saviors their grievance should no longer be "us versus us," but "us verses them."
Rick actor Andrew Lincoln, calling the Whisperers "super cool," told ComicBook.com he doesn't know when or if the show will translate the comic book bad guys for TV, but he hopes his band of survivors will someday be pit against the Whisperers and their brutal leader — Alpha.
"I don't know if we're going there but I hope we are because I think it's extraordinary," Lincoln said. "Everybody keeps talking about talking about Alpha being the most bad-ass of bad-ass but we'll see."
Lincoln doesn't know if the series will pick up immediately after last season, as season 8 did, or if the show will undergo a time jump between seasons, but as Rick and the survivors work toward realizing Carl's idyllic future, it won't be an easy road.
"The vision that Carl had for the future, this Utopian dream, I don't think it's gonna be a happy journey towards that," Lincoln said. "There seems to be a lot of descent between the communities in that last act of last night's episode."
The Walking Dead season 9 might be too occupied with another conflict to bring in the Whisperers just yet: the show could be pitting Rick vs. Maggie and Alexandria vs. the Hilltop as Maggie made clear she's pissed at Rick deciding to allow Negan to live.
The Walking Dead is expected to return with its ninth season this fall on AMC.