7:05pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
Did 'The Walking Dead' Just Officially Introduce the Whisperers?
[This story contains spoilers from Sunday's "New Best Friends" episode of The Walking Dead as well as the comic book series it is based on.]
AMC's The Walking Dead turned its lens on yet another new community Sunday as the zombie drama based on Robert Kirkman's comic series continues to expand its rapidly growing universe.
A military-like junkyard community is led by a mysterious yet direct woman named Jadis (played by Hap and Leonard's Pollyanna McIntosh). The group is holding Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) hostage and, following Rick's grueling fight with a spiked walker, winds up agreeing to fight alongside Rick (Andrew Lincoln) to take on Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and the Saviors. But there's one condition: The already well-armed community, which uses trash as its weapons of choice, wants more guns — as well as the ones Rick and company stole from the boat a few episodes back. That's right, the creepy community had been watching Rick and set up the trap as a test of worthiness — only they didn't expect anyone to actually get the secret stash.
While little is known about the junkyard people, the group at first glance bears an uncanny resemblance to the Whisperers, an organized and military-like group currently featured in creator Robert Kirkman's comic book series. The group, whose members wear the skins of walkers, is headed by Alpha, a savage and cunning woman with little care for the life of anyone who threatens her people. And like the junkyard people, the Whisperers have been known to spy on others from a distance and move quietly through the woods.
So could Jadis be Alpha and could the junkyard folks become the Whisperers? Below, McIntosh talks with THR about whether Jadis and company can be trusted and if the character, who is new to The Walking Dead universe, has anything in common with (or could be) Alpha.
How much did you know about this character when you signed on?
She's not from the comic book and is all new. I had part of the scene from episode 10 with Rick and had a pretty clear idea of who this person was. It's very clear what her intentions are. [Producers] didn't tell me any background at that point or what was happening in the future. The net for the role was being cast quite wide — it was open to men and women.
Is Jadis friend or foe?
I see her as an audience member sees her. I'm a fan of the show and an audience member myself. She's not one or the other at this point. She's a leader of a community and has people to take care of and is looking for what's best for them — and she may have found it with these guys [Rick] and has certainly put him through the wringer in order to get a measure on him. She doesn't make a decision lightly.
Jadis' group is already heavily armed yet the first thing she asks Rick for is guns. Why?
Did you see the size of their place?! That's just the folks who are there and they might need a few more! When they're at the top of the heap with Rick, you see the expanse of the community that they have. Besides which, at this time in this world we're living in, guns are a very useful thing to have around! And you can see they're armed with road signs turned into knives and Jadis' own knife is a railroad spike. They're making do with what's around and some proper weaponry would be exciting to have more of.
Does the Junkyard community have a name?
Just the name that we call ourselves on set, which is the "Heapsters," because we live at the heap and like saying "hipsters" in an accent.
How have these people survived? What's their culture like?
You can see from the way that they're all dressed so similarly that they're a very organized community — it's almost a military feeling in that they all have a similar look and have this great choreography at the beginning with those circles when they're gathering around. In a traditional way when two groups would meet, usually their leader steps forward but Jadis doesn't see it that way. We've got a very kind of watch, keep in shadows and then move when you know exactly what's up [outlook] that has served them very well because they've got this great junkyard home and it doesn't look like those walls have been breached yet.
Let's talk about Jadis' look and dialect. Was that inspired by anything specifically? What notes did the producers give you for the character? She almost seems like she's part Vulcan.
(Laughs.) I love the idea of her being part Vulcan. … The language and dialogue is a way to keep their group cohesive. This dialogue is one way to separate them from the outside and cement that community. It's very succinct, clear and to the point. And as you can see from the heap and how all the trash is used, there's nothing that is wasted. In this case, it's the word; there's no need for extraneous words, it's just what you need and direct. The rest is just to be dropped back in the trash. It's also intimidating to outsiders and makes them that much more mysterious. Jadis keeps her cards close to her chest and her dialogue is one of the ways she can do it.
Is there anyone from the comic books that inspired this character at all? She reminded me very much of a character in the current comics arc named Alpha, the leader of a group known as the Whisperers. (Watch a primer on the Whisperers and Alpha, above.)
I've heard a lot rumors about Alpha from the fans but I don't know anything about them. I knew that wasn't my character and I didn't want to sully my performance by reading the comics for the first time.
Do you think Jadis could become Alpha?
I don't know anything at all. All I heard is fan rumors. As far as talking to producers or anyone on the show, it's never come up. I don't know anything about her; I just know it's not me.
As far as where the show goes from here, Rick and Jadis now have this pact that her group will fight for them in exchange for guns. Can Rick really trust Jadis and her community?
The posters for the show are saying, "Rise Up," and there's a war that's going to happen. So seeing Rick come in and meet these guys, it seemed like this is the start of something. I don't know how it's going to go with these guys, but there's going to be a lot of adventure this season.
Is it possible that Jadis and her group are already working with Negan and the Saviors?
I have no idea about what's coming.
Given Negan's penchant for long speeches, how might Jadis and Negan get along, when and if they were to meet?
She would size him up like everybody else. It's very clear with Negan that he wears his arrogance and psychosis on his sleeve. I think Jadis seeing him would know exactly what was up with him and she'd have to figure out how to handle that one. There's nobody quite like Negan but then there's nobody quite like Jadis. She would see him and know what was going on with him and certainly read him very clearly. There is no charming Jadis with the kind of nonsense Negan throws out.
I'd love to see them share a scene.
That would be amazing. Jeffrey is a great actor. But I don't know. Anything could happen. Jadis could be killed off at any moment! I'm just glad that I'm here now and having a good time!
What did you think of the "Heapsters" and Jadis? Sound off in the comments below. For more Walking Dead coverage, bookmark THR.com/WalkingDead.