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Major spoilers below for the midseason premiere of The Walking Dead, as well as the corresponding arc in the comic book series. You have been warned!
While many of The Walking Dead's midseason premiere featured the main protagonists struggling to get out of the cavernous zombie horde trap that the Whisperers set up, the rest of the episode centered on Negan's attempt to fully gain Alpha's trust and approval. To what ends, viewers still can't be too sure, but by the time the credits rolled, Jeffrey Dean Morton's Negan and Samantha Morton's Alpha had taken the characters' shared side-story to a completely different place from where things went in the comics.
Below, let's look at how Negan and Alpha's partnership, as it were, compared and contrasted to how Robert Kirkman laid things out in The Walking Dead comic book. (Anyone needing a refresher on the midseason finale can check out how that twist also differed from the comic book.)
How Negan Gained Alpha's Trust
In the Comic
On the page, the recently freed-from-prison Negan is at times more vulgar and impulsive with comments made to Alpha and other Whisperers, and initially gained the leader's mistrust in lying about his prior circumstances. He soon started to win Alpha over little by little, either with Whisperer duties or in taking out walkers, or perhaps even in all the ways he was Beta's polar opposite.
A major crossroads moment from the comic involved Negan's violent reaction to seeing two male Whisperers sexually assaulting one of the females. Though it's the kind of animalistic act that Alpha turned a blind eye to, she recognized the value of Negan's motives and told him as much, while also grasping he might not be the best fit for the group. Which was the proper gut instinct for her to have, since Comic Negan was intent on delivering some spite-driven loyalty to Comic Rick.
On the TV Show
Meanwhile, Jeffrey Dean Morgan's slightly more moderate Negan doesn't have Andrew Lincoln's Rick around anymore as his morality blanket, so his perceived commitment to the Whisperer cause comes off as that much more genuine. That said, he did set up some in-home turmoil by suggesting to Alpha that the info-sharing spy she's looking for is actually Thora Birch's Gamma. That was the point in the episode where Negan first compared his time as the Saviors' leader to Alpha's reign as the Whisperers' head honcho.
The second time came later in the episode, after Alpha rather suddenly pulled away from everyone else. Believing himself to be on death's doorstep, Negan echoed some of his comic book dialogue by defending his past monstrous actions as being necessary for the greater good, saying that his name meant something. He probably shouldn't have been so afraid, though, considering what happened next.
How Alpha Reacted To Negan's Efforts
In the Comic
Robert Kirkman took things in a pretty drastic direction in the comic book that may very well end up playing out on the TV show at some point in the future, so I won't get too specific about the aftermath. Essentially, though, Alpha and Negan's final exchange in the comic saw the Whisperers' leader hitting an emotional peak by admitting how much she missed her daughter Lydia, a confession she instantly regretted.
This inspires one of Negan's most iconic comic book deliveries, in which he speaks to his wife's death causing him to become emotionally stagnant, which allowed him to do everything he did as a Savior without harsh feelings of remorse. In comparison, he calls Alpha's own emotional indifference as being falsified, since she still clearly longs for her daughter's presence. At that point, the off-centered Alpha fully accepted Negan as a Whisperer, though she definitely didn't anticipate that his reaction would be to murder her where they stood. Murder her he did, though, all to get himself in better graces with Rick's group.
On the TV Show
Showrunner Angela Kang and her creative team, meanwhile, seem to be extending Alpha's story in order to keep Samantha Morton around. (At least that's what I'm hoping.) Unlike how it went in the comic, Alpha completely had the upper hand in their later sequence, during which Negan was wearing his shitting pants. However, when she told him to take those pants off, along with the rest of his clothes, it was clear that Alpha was zigging where everyone else's brains were zagging. (It was almost like she'd read the comic herself and wanted to make sure he didn't have any weapons.)
Rather than punishing Negan for anything he said or did, Alpha instead disrobed and made her sexual intentions clear, all while keeping her mask on. Though he was quite surprised, Negan mentally reversed course and decided to risk the chances that Alpha might go all praying mantis on him after the fact. The shot of their nude bodies against each other was quite lovely in the most contextually disturbing way, but has me wondering how far this twisted courtship will go before it either implodes or explodes.
But not like "explodes" in the sexually gratifying kind of way, Alpha, with your filthy mind.
What do you guys think of this bonkers pairing? Is Negalpha or Alphegan going to be the biggest shipper name to hit TV fandoms in 2020? Have they become a more natural coupling than Daryl and Carol, who ended the episode on a rough note? Let us know your take in the poll below.
With more to come – slight pun intended – from Negan and Alpha in the future, The Walking Dead airs Sunday nights on AMC at 9:00 p.m. ET.