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Spoiler warning for anyone who hasn't yet watched the latest episode of The Walking Dead or read the corresponding arc in the comic book series.
Even though most of The Walking Dead's characters have gone more than a year without Alpha and the Whisperers disrupting peacetime with decapitations, everyone is still teeming with paranoia and anger. It's making life worse for the various community leaders, and things are getting downright awful for Lydia, who still earns bullying jeers from several of her Hilltop co-residents. Thankfully for everyone, The Walking Dead's "Silence the Whisperers" dropped a big reveal that might hint at Alpha's fatal downfall.
In the midst of Lydia's troubles with Gage & Co., she received both some fairly level-headed advice and some physical backup from Negan, while Daryl's only plan was for her to try and ignore everything. Even though Negan accidentally killed one of Lydia's attackers, Daryl seemed to realize the former big bad had the better ideas for how to handle the situation. Of course, that admission will likely never get passed around now, because Negan went ahead and fled the coop, and is now a semi-fugitive from semi-justice.
What does all that have to do with Alpha, you ask? Well, the TV show's plotline is now starting to match up with this section of the comic book series, though with some differences, of course. (For instance, the comic book actually had Rick Grimes getting attacked by frustrated citizens, and not Lydia.) In the source material, Negan hadn't ever earned any sense of freedom before he was secretly allowed out of his cell by a dipshit teenager, yet still maintained his sense of loyalty to Rick and the others by going after Alpha and the Whisperers. But is that where the TV show is heading next?
On the page, Negan approaching the Whisperers was a wild turn of events, since the series had rarely, if ever, set up two major villains to co-exist. For a short while, it looked as if the bat-swinging killer was falling under Alpha's spell, which did not please Beta in the slightest. Readers had to ponder the idea of Negan possibly crafting a walker-skin mask of his own, which seemed beyond fantastical.
Of course, that notion got flipped upside-down in issue #156, when Negan got a full lesson in the Whisperers' relaxed stance on rape within their community. He and Alpha then had a surprisingly frank and open conversation about losing people, and what it means to maintain strength in the post-apocalypse, which seemingly convinced the Whisperer leader that Negan belonged in their ranks.
Comic Negan then proved Comic Alpha so, so wrong by shockingly slitting the emotionally torn villain's throat, and then slicing her entire head off. At that point, Negan's act became about proving to Rick that he was redeemed, even though it inevitably set up the Whisperer War for real due to an incensed Beta's impulses.
Which brings us to the TV show, where Rick Grimes hasn't been around for an entire season, and where Negan has spent many years as an imprisoned target of Hilltop's angst and mockery. Jeffrey Dean Morgan's villain is on the move, but will showrunner Angela Kang and the Walking Dead creative team follow in the comic book's footsteps with where Negan goes next?
Considering how heavily the show has played up Samantha Morton's Alpha as a complex antagonist, I find myself doubting that the writers will have her meeting the same fate at Negan's hands. Honestly, the best possible way to shake up the Whisperers War would be to keep Alpha alive for (at least most of) its duration. As physically imposing as Beta can be on TV, he's not exactly the most magnanimous character, and probably couldn't anchor an entire storyline without the Alpha relationship keeping him sane.
As well, it's possible the Walking Dead TV show could completely change up Negan's travels as a free man so that he never crosses paths with the Whisperers or Alpha, though I think his connection with Lydia makes a future conversation with Alpha inevitable. Is it possible that Jeffrey Dean Morgan's Negan gets legitimately swayed by Alpha enough to seriously become one of the Whisperers, or has Rick and Michonne's influence been strong enough to turn him for good?
There are three more episodes in the front half of Season 10 that might have some answers. And hopefully they'll have some more of that Alpha vs. Carol goodness that's been building up, too.
How do you guys want to see the TV show handle Negan and Alpha's comic book story? Let us know in the comments, and don't forget The Walking Dead airs Sunday nights on AMC at 9:00 p.m. ET.