The Walking Dead showrunner Angela Kang has revealed the thinking process behind Alpha's (Samantha Morton) recent slew of murders, including major victims Tara (Alanna Masterson), Enid (Katelyn Nacon), and Henry (Matt Lintz).
"In the 8 years I've been writing for The Walking Dead, character deaths on the show have rarely matched their fates in the comic," Kang told Deadline. "There are many reasons for that: the divergences in story on the show may lead to different outcomes for characters, we want to keep things fresh and surprising for our fans who are readers of the books, and there are sometimes other special circumstances which we rarely discuss publicly."
But when it came to those three big losses, two were direct results of incurring the Whisperer leader's wrath.
"Story-wise in this case, Alpha's goal was to terrorize the communities and force them to comply with her rules," Kang said of Alpha, who used the ten severed heads to establish a border dramatically marking Whisperer territory. "So there's a mix of strategic murders, with Tara, random with Enid, and vengeance-driven with Henry."
Tara stepped up as Hilltop leader following the departure of Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and the mid-season death of Jesus (Tom Payne), who was cut down as the first victim of the Whisperers when serving as interim leader of the farming colony. Enid was among the unfortunate souls quietly snatched from the fair hosted by the Kingdom, fates shared by Rodney (Joe Ando Hirsh), Addy (Kelley Mack), and Frankie (Elyse Nicole DuFour).
Other victims included Tammy Rose (Brett Butler) — who with husband Earl (John Finn) adopted the abandoned Whisperer baby discarded when Alpha first confronted Hilltop to arrange the return of her captured daughter — and DJ (Matt Mangum), Ozzy (Angus Sampson), and Alek (Jason Kirkpatrick), who heroically attempted to rescue the Whisperer prisoners.
Henry, picked off while attending to a burst pipe, was targeted for intruding upon Whisperer territory and liberating his new girlfriend, Alpha's daughter Lydia (Cassady McClincy), who divorced herself from her abusive mother and her pack of skin-clad savages.
"In real life, it's always painful to say goodbye to characters and actors we've grown to love. Even our guest actors who've been on the show in a more limited capacity were so lovely and talented," Kang said. "I informed the entire cast at the beginning of the year that we'd be getting to the border spikes by the end of the season because I wanted everyone to be mentally prepared for those losses."
She continued, "But everyone knows what they're signing on for when they come onto a show with Dead in the title, so every single person was wonderful and professional when I called them about their final episode. The 'death dinner' for our long-time series regulars Alanna and Katelyn was fun and full of laughter because they wanted it that way. And the wonderful thing is our TWD actors and alums see each other frequently at conventions and socially, and sometimes people come back for flashback guest appearances or in other capacities, so they remain a part of the family."
The aftermath of those devastating losses will be explored in The Walking Dead's Season Nine finale, "The Storm," which undergoes a bit of a time jump as Daryl (Norman Reedus) and others escort the refuge-seeking Kingdom clan to Hilltop amid a harsh blizzard. The season ends Sunday, March 31 at 9/8c on AMC.
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