The Walking Dead season 10 has cast Thora Birch as a new Whisperer character called Gamma. Debuting as a child starlet in the likes of Hocus Pocus, Birch is perhaps best known for her role in the Academy Award winning 1999 movie, American Beauty. The actress has since appeared in a variety of projects on both the big and small screen and, after taking a break from acting during the first half of the 2010s, has now returned to the business, most notably appearing in The Last Black Man in San Francisco earlier this year.
Season 9 of The Walking Dead firmly established the Whisperers as the show's major new villains. Led by Samantha Morton's Alpha, this rustic bunch of survivors clad themselves in zombie skins to survive, walking among the dead and controlling herds to ensure their isolation from outsiders. After Eugene and Rosita unwittingly stray into Whisperer territory, a conflict is triggered, forcing Alexandria, the Kingdom and Hilltop back together after the allies drifted apart in the time skip. Their dispute escalates considerably when Alpha's daughter, Lydia, defects camps, and Alpha responds by constructing a border from the severed heads of The Walking Dead's B-characters.
The Walking Dead's SDCC 2019 panel has announced two major new Whisperer characters for season 10. Thora Birch will be playing Gamma, a loyal follower of Alpha, and Kevin Carroll will be playing another figure named Virgil.
In The Walking Dead's comic book series, the only Whisperers with codenames are Alpha and Beta, with Gamma a new, albeit logical, addition to the group. This is common trope with the enemy communities on AMC's The Walking Dead, with more speaking parts required on TV than in print. Although her career has slowed somewhat over the years, Birch's casting represents a high profile addition to The Walking Dead and, similarly, the role will be the actress' most prominent television role yet (no disrespect intended to Doogie Howser, M.D.). Her casting as Gamma in The Walking Dead season 10 also represents Birch's return to the mainstream after a string of independent releases.
Like Gamma, Virgil is also a character not directly taken from The Walking Dead's source material, although in this case it's possible that the figure could be a renamed version of a comic entity. The actor playing him, Kevin Carroll, has previously appeared in The Leftovers, Lucifer and Snowfall. Once again, The Walking Dead will undoubtedly be the actor's most prominent TV role to date.
With Robert Kirkman' recently bringing his The Walking Dead comic series to a close, the addition of TV-original characters is likely to continue as the seasons roll on and there will be less pressure to stick to the comics' storyline, especially as it's impossible for both versions of The Walking Dead to end in the same way.
The Walking Dead season 10 premieres October 6th on AMC.