While the cast and crew of AMC's The Walking Dead roll along with their deep-dive production-wise on the tenth season, life in the franchise's universe has become a lot like the NFL: neither have off-seasons anymore. With a strong ensemble cast (and a "Big Bad" fronted by Samantha Morton in an award-earning turn as Whisperers leader Alpha) and richly layered writing, showrunner/executive producer Angela Kang did the near-impossible: made the show feel fresh and dangerous again.
With the show's tenth season return now only a matter of days (earlier if you have AMC Premiere, but more on that later), Kang is offering up a few clues to EW as to what we can expect from Thora Birch's Gamma as well as how the season plays out when told from the Whisperers' perspective (which ties closely to the preview that follows):
● When we last left the series, boundaries were set by Alpha and the Whisperers showing where our survivors can – and can not – travel. While there's the general feeling shared by all that they shouldn't be living by the Whisperers' rules, how to respond is what helps establish the season's tension and drama:
"So, we find that there's people who are taking a more measured response. You see people who are much more hawkish, you see people who are just confused about what to do. And I think that that's part of the interesting human landscape that's happening as everything starts to play out, and as just paranoia starts to grip these communities, and as there are war moves being made on both sides."
● Being a "huge fan" of Birch's work, Kang considers the actress a "wonderful addition" whose Gamma may turn out to be the viewers' eyes into the skin-wearing wanderers:
"She has such an interesting take on this character because when you have a group that's wandering around wearing skin masks, you have to kind of be in a particular sort of space to kind of decide, "This is the only way that I can survive or this is the right way."
While Kang assures viewers they will learn more of Alpha and Beta's (Ryan Hurst) backstories, she sees Gamma as a way to get to know the mindset of their followers – while bringing "such humanity and also badassery to the role":
"Who are these people that are just part of the followers and what are their stories? I think that there's a really powerful story to tell about the soldiers on the ground."
● As for whether or not the Whisperers are a cult, Kang won't fully commit to the idea – but definitely sees where it comes from:
"I think that there is a cult-like aspect to it. Alpha is such a charismatic leader and Beta is a true believer. So, I think that there is an element to it that I think will feel that way. Certainly Samantha Morton has said that that's an element that's similar to what she's channeling. Because these people have to be true believers in a philosophy that's really pretty extreme in some ways."
● With what might be interpreted as a reference to Gamma, Kang offers this last point: not everyone "believes" in the same way – or at the same commitment: "But even within a cult, is everybody 100 percent with it? Or are there people that are just kind of drifting along, you know? So, I think those are some of the questions that we're exploring."
So just how "fresh and dangerous" will the tenth season be for our heroes? The fine folks at AMC are giving us a sneak preview of the series' return – a preview that finds Michonne (Danai Gurira) and our survivors trying to balance their everyday lives while keeping one eye on the lookout for Whisperers. Aaron (Ross Marquand) begins to wonder if they're the "heroes" or the "villains" of this "story" – but Michonne's not having any of that:
"The Walking Dead" season 10, episode 1 "Lines We Cross": The Oceanside group continues to train in case the Whisperers return.
AMC is offering a pretty cool deal for Walking Dead fans who sign up for AMC Premiere when the series returns on October 6: a look at the full season premiere table read. To prove just how sweet of an offer that is, the network released the clip below. In the scene, Eugene (Josh McDermitt) and Siddiq (Avi Nash) are getting into a back-n-forth over raising baby Coco, while Rosita's (Christian Serratos) patience wears thin – and Gabriel's (Seth Gilliam) smart enough to stay about as far away as possible.
But what got our curiosity raging hotter than an out-of-control dumpster fire? Look at the image above – specifically, the board behind Nash. Do you see what we see? Satellites – which has us wondering if they may not be connected in some way to the growing "CRM/black helicopters" conspiracy theory tied into the upcoming Rick Grimes feature films.
Here's our first official trailer for the upcoming tenth season as well as an overview of what we can expect when the series returns. As the war between our heroes and The Whisperers escalates, both sides must deal with issues of trust and fear from within…
The Walking Dead is a story that started 10 years ago with one man trying to find his family. That family grew and gradually communities took shape. They fought and survived, thrived and gave birth to a new generation. It is a tale of humankind and there are more stories to tell.
It is now Spring, a few months after the end of Season 9, when our group of survivors dared to cross into Whisperer territory during the harsh winter. The collected communities are still dealing with the after effects of Alpha's horrific display of power, reluctantly respecting the new borderlines being imposed on them, all while organizing themselves into a militia-style fighting force, preparing for a battle that may be unavoidable.
But the Whisperers are a threat unlike any they have ever faced. Backed by a massive horde of the dead it is seemingly a fight they cannot win. The question of what to do and the fear it breeds will infect the communities and give rise to paranoia, propaganda, secret agendas, and infighting that will test them as individuals and as a society. The very idea of whether civilization can survive in a world filled with the dead hangs in the balance.
AMC's The Walking Dead returns for its tenth season on Sunday, October 6th.