'The Walking Dead' Just Delivered Its Most Brutal Moment Since Negan's Arrival

Walking Dead-Publicity Still 5-H 2019
Jackson Lee Davis/AMC

[This story contains spoilers for season nine, episode 15 of AMC's The Walking Dead, "The Calm Before."]

The Whisperers have made their move.

The penultimate episode of The Walking Dead season nine ended in a moment of jaw-dropping horror, one that's pulled straight from the pages of Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard's comic book series, albeit with some key modifications. Following an encounter with Alpha (Samantha Morton) and her Whisperer army, Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) and his allies came face to face with…well, a bunch of faces. More specifically: the severed heads of their loved ones, including two series regulars, beheaded by the Whisperers as a means of asserting dominance over the Alexandria Safe-Zone.

Among the dead: 

• Newly minted Hilltop leader Tara Chamblers, played by Alanna Masterson since the fourth season, and currently number four on the call sheet.

• Hilltop doctor Enid, played by Katelyn Nacon, once viewed as a love interest for Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs), more recently romantically linked to Alden (Callan McAullife).

• Henry, played by Matt Lintz, the son of King Ezekiel (Khary Payton) and Queen Carol (Melissa McBride), who was already the source of so much Whisperer drama this season.

• Tammy Rose, played by Grace Under Fire veteran Brett Butler, introduced when she lost her son in the season nine premiere, most recently a new mother of an adopted Whisperer baby.

• Highwaymen leader Ozzy, played by Angus Sampson, introduced only a couple of episodes prior in a fashion that made him seem like a major new player on the board.

Other, lesser known casualties were in the mix. Not among the dead: Ezekiel and Rosita (Christian Serratos), the two most prominent characters killed in the original comic book version of this scene. Unlike their illustrated counterparts, the King of the Kingdom and Rosita are both still alive.

It's easily the most stunning act of brutality in Walking Dead lore since the infamous arrival of Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan. Even then, the victim of his barbed-wire head-bashing was withheld from the audience as a months-long cliff-hanger, weakening the impact of the reveal. Here, under the eyes of showrunner Angela Kang, the new benchmark for Walking Dead mass murder unfolds entirely in the span of a single episode, capturing the same spirit of random tragedy found in Kirkman and Adlard's source material. 

Indeed, the fact that this scene exists in the season's penultimate episode is a surprising change of pace, more Game of Thrones than Walking Dead; the HBO drama typically drops its most massive moments right before each finale, leaving the final episode of a given season to clean up the mess. The Walking Dead, meanwhile, typically ends with a sledgehammer, or a baseball bat, as it were. 

Are these decapitations the Walking Dead equivalent of the Red Wedding? Your mileage may vary, though the Dead Beheading has a certain ring to it. Either way, perhaps it's no coincidence that winter is coming to the Alexandrians — and clearly, so is war.

Follow THR.com/WalkingDead for more coverage and click here to read exec producer Greg Nicotero's thoughts on the deadly episode and next week's season nine finale.