'The Walking Dead': How That Fatal Twist Pays Homage to the Comic Books

A deadly hour of the AMC zombie series has unexpected roots in Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard's source material.
Jackson Lee Davis/AMC
'The Walking Dead'

[This story contains spoilers for season 10, episode seven, of AMC's The Walking Dead, "Open Your Eyes," as well as the comic books from Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard on which the show is based.]

The first major casualty of The Walking Dead's 10th season stands revealed: Siddiq, played by Avi Nash. Alexandria's foremost medical expert, first introduced to the series thanks in no small part to the sacrifice made by Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs), is dead.

Siddiq's death occurs in the closing moments of "Open Your Eyes," written by Corey Reed and directed by Michael Cudlitz, the actor's third time behind the camera for the AMC drama. Much of the hour centers on Siddiq's continued struggle with post-traumatic stress and survivor's guilt stemming from his brush with the Whisperers, watching them kill all of his friends in season nine.

In the final moments of the episode, fellow doctor Dante (Juan Javier Cardenas) comes to Siddiq to express comfort — only for Siddiq to recognize one of Dante's vocal tics, placing him as one of the Whisperers responsible for killing Enid, Tara and the rest. With the truth out in the open, Siddiq and Dante violently struggle with one another. Sadly, the man Carl effectively died for loses the fight, choked to death by the boastful Dante.

Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter at the Walking Dead season 10 premiere in Hollywood, Nash spoke about his character's powerful arc: "We like to play all of those emotions that in real life you're socialized to not express and embrace. Anger, depression, paranoia, PTSD, fear, all of these things he's sat in having been the only survivor from last year … they suck to feel, but as an actor, they're a lot of fun to play." Alas, as it pertains to Nash, those shades will no longer be played, as Siddiq becomes the first major death of season 10.

In the Walking Dead comic books from Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard on which the show is based, Siddiq survives through to the end of the series. As is the case with so many of the characters who exist across the comic books and the TV series, Nash's Siddiq was not the same man as the source material; there, he's a construction worker, not a doctor.

As far as Dante goes, the changes are much more radical. In the comic books, Dante is not a member of the Whisperers community. What's more, he ends up romantically linked to Maggie Rhee, played in the television series by Lauren Cohan, set to return at some point in season 10 and as a regular in season 11. Given what we now know about Dante on the show, it doesn't feel like fireworks are in his future with the Hilltop's leader.

With that said, there was a period of time when comic book readers were left to wonder about Dante's true allegiance. In fact, there were theories that Dante was the man under the mask of a very prominent Whisperer indeed …

… Beta, played in the television series by Ryan Hurst. The comics eventually unmasked Beta, and while he's never identified by name, he's revealed as a famous celebrity within the world of The Walking Dead. Evidence is mounting for the show to make a similar reveal about the character before too long.

While Dante was not Beta, nor any Whisperer of any kind in the comics, the theory now rears its head here for the television series, just the latest example of how the Walking Dead writing staff takes the "remix" approach to the source material.

"I love the comics," showrunner Angela Kang once told The Hollywood Reporter, speaking ahead of season nine, her words as resonant now as then. "I legitimately read every issue of the comic before I knew a job possibility existed on The Walking Dead. For us, we've always taken incredible inspiration from the comics just as fans, but also as people creating the TV world of The Walking Dead — it's a different medium, different things work onscreen than work on the comic book panels, and vice versa. We've always had to remix things, and I think that's one of the things that keeps the show exciting and fresh — and Kirkman himself has always been, 'Yeah, go ahead, change that up! I wrote that 10 years ago, I would have done that much better now.' He has such a great attitude about it."

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