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Spoilers below for anyone not caught up with The Walking Dead through the episode "Time For After," as well as most of the comic book series.
Last night's episode of The Walking Dead spent a lot of time showing viewers how wrecked Eugene's life is inside the Sanctuary, as well as how wrecked Daryl made things with his rogue plotting. As it often goes, however, it was a smaller detail that caught viewers' eyes and offered the most interesting avenue for speculation; at least for comic book fans. Just before Rick got his worrying view of the Sanctuary's quiet exterior, we may have seen some big foreshadowing to the creepy-as-hell villains that call themselves The Whisperers.
Whenever Rick and Jadis' group made it to the water tower post, they passed a very interesting sight that, even if it didn't specifically reference The Whisperers, still mirrored another big comic moment in the post-War narrative involving a character's death. The post's lookout was hanging upside down and being chomped on by walkers, and after Rick lowered him to the ground, we could see that the dude's face had been completely taken off of his skull, which is the kind of thing that happened a lot whenever the Whisperers were around, since their gnarly approach is wearing walkers' skin over their own, so that they blend in better. But is that what was happening here?
In the Pro column, we can list that this dude's face looks pretty cleanly sliced off, as opposed to being savagely chomped on by walkers. There are obvious examples of faces getting targeted by zombie bites, but the undead don't generally aim to rip forehead flesh off before chowing down on visible arm meat; and it was arm meat they appeared to be munching on when Rick interrupted them. Plus, it has been regularly speculated that Jadis and her junkyard group end up becoming the Whisperers in some way, so it may be no coincidence that they were around whenever this faceless character was found. Jadis did seem to have some extra concern when looking around and surveying the area.
The Whisperers aren't introduced in the comics until beyond the post-War time jump, which isn't guaranteed to go down in the TV series in the exact same way, so that wouldn't make a current appearance too out of left field for the timeline. Granted, it would be awkward to have this new villainous group be so close to everyone else without causing a scene...but then being undetected is exactly what gives the Whisperers their moxie.
Of course, the Con column is also pretty convincing, simply because there seemingly isn't any physical or visual evidence beyond the faceless man that wholly supports the Whisperers' presence within The Walking Dead's universe. It's possible that lookout's skin might have been too fresh for the Whisperers to use as a mask, since we're not sure when he was turned. And any thoughts of Jadis becoming the leader Alpha probably don't pan out if the group is already out there while Jadis is still rocking the Trash Mad Max look.
But then maybe this is just the beginning of the Whisperers. Maybe the live-action villains are branching out from the show's current villain stock, and they haven't yet perfected the art of tailoring walker-suits. A few episodes back, that one Savior made mention of putting Ezekiel's head on a stick, something that very directly referred to the Whisperers' deadly ways in the comic. Perhaps he was part of a fringe group looking to escape the Saviors' current lifestyle in a way that keeps them undetected from the outside world. I hope nobody in Team Family signs up for that.
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However it goes, we're not actually expecting any big answers to come at any point in the near future. But we'll be watching when The Walking Dead's midseason finale airs on AMC on Sunday, December 10, at 9:00 p.m. ET. To see what shows you'll be able to hunker down with when all the walkers are hibernating for the winter, head to our fall TV premiere schedule and our 2018 midseason premiere schedule.