8:33pm PT by Josh Wigler
'The Walking Dead' Reveals First Look at Its Next Threat: The Whisperers
[This story contains major spoilers for season nine, episode five, of AMC's The Walking Dead, "What Comes After."]
In a trailer designed to preview the next three episodes of season nine — after Sunday's sizable time jump — AMC has shown off the unique new nemeses heading into the Walking Dead franchise. Of course, these villains are far from new to the viewers who have read Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard's Walking Dead comic book series on which the show is based. The Whisperers, first introduced in 2014's The Walking Dead No. 130, are a group of survivors who have pushed through the zombie apocalypse by wearing suits made from human flesh, designed to let them blend in with the walkers.
As the old saying goes: "If you can't beat them, join them."
Samantha Morton and Ryan Hurst were cast earlier this year as Alpha and Beta respectively, the leader and lieutenant of the Whisperer army. They are at the forefront of one of the most dangerous story arcs in recent Walking Dead memory, known as "The Whisperer War." It should come as no shock that many main characters meet their demise over the course of this conflict — some of whom are still part of the Walking Dead TV series cast, one of whom is not. No spoilers on who doesn't make it out alive in the comics, though even if it were revealed, there's no telling whether the show will stick with those same deaths or utilize the "remix" approach seen repeatedly throughout The Walking Dead.
Watch the Whisperers' arrival in the extended season nine trailer below:
The trailer also reveals plenty of tiny details about what to expect from the new era of the series, now that Andrew Lincoln is no longer part of the show. (For those who are confused about that "deus ex helicopter" ending for Rick, look no further. Short version: Lincoln will headline a new series of AMC Studios original films designed to continue the story of Rick Grimes.) Among the highlights: Michonne (Danai Gurira) and Carol (Melissa McBride) both sporting drastic new hairstyles, Jesus (Tom Payne) dressed up in veritable samurai gear, Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) appearing more reclusive than ever, and the newly reintroduced Judith Grimes (Cailey Fleming of Star Wars: The Force Awakens fame) acting tough enough to make her presumed-dead father proud.
It's worth noting that there's no sign of Lauren Cohan as Maggie Rhee in the trailer, and that's not due to some strange omission. Although "What Comes After" was billed as Andrew Lincoln's final episode, it also marked Cohan's final appearance in The Walking Dead, at least for the time being, as she's starring in the new ABC series Whiskey Cavalier.
In addition to the trailer, AMC released two excerpts from the next season nine installment, titled "Who Are You Now." The first of two scenes features an unusual character combination: Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) and Rosita (Christian Serratos) tinkering with an old radio, debating whether or not there are other survivors out in the universe. The radio plays a key role in one of the most recent stories in the Walking Dead comic books, though in that version of the tale, Eugene (Josh McDermitt) is the one paying attention to the airwaves.
Another scene was revealed on The Talking Dead, featuring Michonne riding into Alexandria, none too pleased to see the new strangers featured at the end of Lincoln's exit episode: Magna, Kelly, Connie and Luke, played by Nadia Hilker, Angel Theory, Lauren Ridloff and Dan Fogler, respectively. When she asks who allowed these strangers into Alexandria, an unexpected voice takes ownership over the move: Judith. Again, making Papa Grimes proud, wherever he may be.
Watch the first of those two scenes in the video below:
Follow THR.com/WalkingDead for more coverage of the post-Rick era.