Spoiler warning for anyone who hasn't yet watched the latest episode of The Walking Dead. Some minor comic spoilers are included as well.
Season 7 of The Walking Dead went above and beyond in the Introducing New Characters department, with Ezekiel and Jerry taking top honors, and the arrival of the new junkyard-dwelling Heapsters completely changes everything, both within the show and in relation to the comics. Viewers are anxious to see what this mass of greedy strangers will do next, but some believe they're not strangers at all, and are a precursor to the comic villains The Whisperers. Though actress Pollyanna McIntosh, who plays leader Jadis, claims this isn't the case, this new group could easily still become the skin-wearing killers.
The Walking Dead hasn't created any comic-to-TV alterations quite as large scale as this potential change-up, and there are some obvious reasons why these new folks wouldn't be future Whisperers. Plus, Pollyanna MacIntosh told THR that Jadis is "not from the comic books" and that no discussions have happened about turning her into Alpha, so it almost looks like a done deal in the speculation department. To admittedly sound like I sport a tin foil hat, however, therein lies the genius of spinning the Whisperers' story like this, considering the baddies don't enter the story on the page until after the two-year time jump that followed Rick and Negan's war.
Regardless of if the time jump is the same or not for TV, we can still safely assume that Alpha and The Whisperers are an in-the-future threat, while Jadis and the Heapsters are an in-the-present mystery. So because there are no Whisperers that exist in The Walking Dead's current live-action continuity, of course Jadis can't logically be one of them; on the flip side, Pollyanna MacIntosh's comments about her character being all new and not from the comics can also be technically sound without necessarily barring Jadis from eventually becoming Alpha. (I don't want to get all phrenological, either, but McIntosh's head is shaped like Alpha's is illustrated, which is basically ironclad evidence, right?.)
Something that made The Whisperers initially stand out was size, as shown when their full population appeared (not counting the walker herds), and a similar level of awe was experienced in the midseason premiere when the Heapsters just kept pouring out of gaps between broken appliances. There are too many of these newbies for the show to kill all of them off in the immediate future, and I also don't see the entirety finding permanent affixment with "the good guys" or "the bad guys." However, an upcoming altercation with Rick and/or Negan could force the Heapsters to make a run for it, and their next settlement could be the one that morphs into The Whisperers.
Because of how playful showrunner Scott Gimple and comic creator Robert Kirkman are with porting comic elements to TV, it's hard to tell if all the similarities between this new group and The Whisperers are genuine in that respect, or if all of it was conceived specifically to mess with fans. Using as few words as possible to communicate, Jadis' community takes supplies to ensure their survival without directly engaging with others, and they're also shown to be ridiculously resourceful, an attribute definitely honed by living in refuse. The dialogue-lite Whisperers also don't start shit with anyone who doesn't cross their borders, and what's more resourceful than using walker skins as camouflaged clothing?
Speaking of using walkers, the Heapsters showed off their unique challenge-crafting skills by way of Winslow, the weaponized walker that Rick had to fight in order to win Jadis' unconvincing agreement to help fight Negan (after Rick gets all kinds of new guns, of course). It's not like every single community on The Walking Dead has been guilty of utilizing zombies as threats, and even The Saviors just keep them as a line of outer-wall defense. But The Whisperers had a much more delicate and horrifying way of turning walkers against other humans, which came largely because of the skin-suits they wear. Winslow might just be the first step in an evolution of walker know-how for Jadis & Co.
For better or worse, entire seasons could go by before we ever actually get to see The Whisperers shambling around on The Walking Dead's TV show, so any potential links between Jadis and Alpha could take years to discover. To me, though, such an extended gap between appearances would just make the revelation all the more rewarding, should Jadis indeed take on the comic-familiar role. As well, I'm perfectly willing to accept things if The Walking Dead revealed that Negan was really just Morales from Season 1 all this time. Well...maybe not perfectly willing.
The Walking Dead airs Sunday nights on AMC at 9:00 p.m. Check out the characters we think the zombie drama needs to use more, and then head to our midseason premiere schedule to see what else is dropping on the small screen in the near future.
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Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper. Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.