Why The Walking Dead's Fair Is Such A Big Deal In The Comics

whisperers alpha and beta walking dead tv show
(Image credit: amc press)

Major spoilers below for the latest episode of The Walking Dead, titled "Guardians," as well as the corresponding arc in the comic book series.

Thanks to The Walking Dead's extended time jump, its central survivors are at a point where a community-wide fair is not only possible, but is actually happening. The woefully under-explained strife between Alexandria, Hilltop and the Kingdom may soon get temporarily brushed aside for the sake of everyone's fun and enjoyment. Which means the big fair has extremely good odds of getting disrupted by godawful circumstances that almost definitely tie in with that weird Whisperers symbol from the previous episode.

As things went down in this particular arc from Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard's comics, the fair was actually held at Alexandria, and not at the Kingdom, so that's obviously a big change. But then, also in the source material, the fair was being overseen by the romantic coupling of Rick and Andrea, so the location change clearly wasn't the biggest one to consider. In any case, let's first talk about what the comics can tell us about the impending festival.

the walking dead fair comic cover

The Fair in the Comics

The fair's comic location is fairly significant, since Alexandria was arguably the most thriving area for the communities' residents to gather for selling, buying, laughing and playing games. The immediacy of the Whisperers' threats wasn't so palpable in Alexandria, similar to how the Kingdom has been largely shielded from Whisperer updates, so the villains weren't a top priority on everyone's minds.

The unwitting semi-ignorance made Alexandria the perfect hunting ground for any opportunistic malefactors, such as Alpha, who happened to be traveling through the area looking for just such an impressive population of potential victims. Alpha traversed the fair with relative freedom after donning clothing that hid her role as the deadly leader of a primal, skin-wearing pack of monsters. (Basically any clothes that weren't skin flaps sewn together.) And all she had to do was say she was another community's new member.

On a multi-headed mission of vengeance tied to the Whisperers' animalistic sense of territory, Alpha stalked the fairgrounds looking for non-confrontational revelers to draw away without incident. To say that harm came to those survivors is to make a glaring understatement, as Alpha and the Whisperers' actions are even more devastating than Negan's bloody head games. Now knowing what she does to her back-talking followers, do any TV viewers think the live-action characters have a better chance at living through it all?

Another major difference between the comics and the TV show at this point of the story is that Gregory's public hanging at Hilltop only happened just before the fair in the source material. (Maggie was also still around on the page, while actress Lauren Cohen is keeping busy on ABC's Whiskey Cavalier.) Combined with Comic Carl's sub-intelligent Whisperer infiltration, which Henry is taking on for TV, things got quite hectic indeed for those residents, though Comic Jesus survived all encounters with The Whisperers.

The resulting deaths, which I'll keep undiscussed here, rocked all of the communities to their cores and cast a dark shadow over all of the more enjoyable festivities. It gave some people the impetus to continue believing that there's no point in trying to rebuild society, and gave others even more of a reason to buckle down on security. Now let's talk about how things might play out in live-action.

the walking dead's jerry smiling with a boombox

The Fair on the TV Show

We've already discussed the various ways in which the comic book and TV show's narratives are vastly different at this point, at least in terms of which lead characters are guiding the action. But now that the comic's fair has been covered, let's talk about how showrunner Angela Kang and her creative team might handle things on the AMC drama.

As significant as Alexandria hosting the comic fair was, it's just as important that the Kingdom was chosen as the TV setting. As it was made clear in "Guardians," the Kingdom isn't doing as well as Ezekiel claims it is, and the community is suffering from Michonne keeping Alexandria from trading and outwardly communicating with others.

Ezekiel blindly hopes the fair will turn things around, and likely aims for the respective leaders to agree on signing the big charter. Michonne will apparently now allow the Council to vote on Alexandria's representation at the fair, so it's feasible that the charter conversations will happen. But if Alpha – who would be unrecognizable to Ezekiel, Carol and many others there – does indeed use the fair as a victim buffet, I can't imagine the Kingdom will be held in high regard for a while.

Alpha previously showed some leniency for various outsiders by trading Alden and Luke for Lydia, but she moved beyond such niceties by beheading one naysayer and stabbing another. Near the end of "Guardians," she seemed inspired to go out on the attack, and losing Whisperers to a walker attack will likely fuel the fire inside her and Ryan Hurst's Beta. Especially once they realize Henry escaped so soon after Lydia was supposed to have killed him.

As far as Alpha's potential TV fair victims go, I don't even want to make guesses, as to not allow the comic's events to guide my conjectures. What I will say, beyond a blanketed guess of "lots of random nameless characters," is that the current love-and-baby rhombus happening with Eugene, Rosita, Gabriel and Siddiq is destined to end in at least one form of tragedy or another.

How close will The Walking Dead's TV show get to the comics when it comes to how deadly the big community fair will be? There's no turning back now, so keep watching The Walking Dead on AMC every Sunday night through the winter midseason at 9:00 p.m. ET.

Whichever way it goes, the safe money is on Henry doing something ill-advised, like running away from Daryl and Connie and trying to talk Alpha out of any forms of macabre retribution. The further safe money is on him failing in that effort.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

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.