Fans of AMC's The Walking Dead have waited impatiently for season 7 to begin, if for no other reason than to get some resolution for the divisive cliffhanger that ended season 6. Trailers have teased some of what's coming in the season, including the introduction of some fan-favorite characters from the comics.
The season 7 trailer and other promos may not have shown everything that's waiting in the wings, however. Though it was believed that the introduction of The Whisperers was still a decent ways off in the TV show, a new promotional photo suggests that they may be closer than fans think.
The photo, posted to the official The Walking Dead Instagram account, features a severed head on a pike with the description "You've been warned." While there was no direct mention of The Whisperers or any direct evidence that they are the ones responsible for the head on the pike, the reference to a warning hits pretty close to home to anyone who's a fan of the comics. A similar "warning" was left for Rick and the group when they first encountered The Whisperers and their leader, Alpha.
This is significant because The Whisperers are a major threat in the world of the comics. They're survivors who have found a way to live among the walkers undisturbed; they craft suits made of the skin of walkers, and never speak any louder than a whisper. They're brutal in their tactics and very protective of their lands, and left the "warning" for Rick and his friends as a means of marking Whisperer lands when they felt the other survivors were encroaching into their territory.
Given everything that we already know will be in season 7, the inclusion of The Whisperers would definitely help deliver on the promise of a "brave and bold" seventh season. It might seem like they'd make the season too crowded, but they wouldn't necessarily have to be a major threat to the core group right away. It's also possible that they'll appear early on but will stay largely in the background of the show, not taking on an antagonistic role until closer to the end of the season.
Of course, some fans may worry that this means that we'll have the opposite problem that we had in season 6... there will be too much going on in the show and it will become too crowded. Others may be concerned that they'll be teased all season only to end up having a cliffhanger introduction similar to Negan's, which probably wouldn't set too well with a lot of fans. Hopefully, The Walking Dead has better plans than that in store for The Whisperers, and will give them the respect (and fear) that they're due.
The Walking Dead returns to AMC for season 7, starting with “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be”, on Sunday, October 23, 2016.