The Walking Dead 10x04, “Silence the Whisperers,” ended with the long-imprisoned Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) missing from his jail cell as the Alexandria council debated to determine his fate: though he’s reformed in the eight years he’s been jailed as Alexandria’s sole prisoner, Negan accidentally killed Margo (Jerri Tubbs) when defending ex-Whisperer Lydia (Cassady McClincy) from a vicious attack. Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) was horrified to discover an empty cell, and the preview for episode 10x05, “What It Always Is,” reveals Negan was sprung from jail with the help of an accomplice: his keeper, the rarely seen Brandon (Blaine Kern III).
An official description for “What It Always Is” reveals Negan is “idolized by an Alexandrian,” revealing Brandon’s motives behind freeing Negan. It’s a departure from his comic book counterpart, Brandon Rose, who helped Negan escape to win revenge on Alexandria leader Rick Grimes and Whisperer leader Alpha.
Rick was forced to kill Brandon’s father, Morton, after he attacked the handicapped Rick in The Walking Dead #150. Morton’s violent attack on Rick was intended to spur Rick into taking action against the Whisperers, the enemy group who murdered Morton’s wife Tammy Rose. Tammy’s decapitated head was displayed on the Whisperer border alongside a lineup of victims that included King Ezekiel and a pregnant Rosita Espinosa.
Wanting revenge on both Rick and the Whisperers, Brandon snuck into the Alexandria jail to free Negan, telling him, “You’re the only person I can think of who might hate Rick Grimes as much as I do.” Knowing he’d never survive outside the walls alone, Brandon planned to free Negan to journey into Whisperer territory and alert the Whisperer army of Rick’s plan for war in the hopes Alexandria and the Whisperers would wipe each other out.
Negan accepted Brandon’s help, but once freed from jail and guided to the Whisperer border, Negan stabbed and killed Brandon. He then marched into Whisperer territory and seemingly swore his allegiance to Alpha.
After living among the Whisperers for a week, Negan murdered Alpha and gifted her decapitated head to Rick to arrange his release from prison. Negan is then conscripted by Rick to serve on the front lines of the Whisperer War, officially declared after Alpha’s most loyal follower and protector, Beta, discovered her headless corpse.
The Walking Dead 10x05, “What It Always Is,” premieres Sunday, Nov. 3 at 9/8c on AMC. For more TWD intel, follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter.