A chilling new teaser for The Walking Dead has been released, offering fans a clearer glimpse at Samantha Morton's Alpha - the enigmatic leader of The Whisperers. The post-apocalyptic series first began life as a series of graphic novels created by Robert Kirkman. Developed by Frank Darabont, the series debuted on AMC back in 2010. It was an immediate hit, rapidly becoming one of the biggest and most-watched shows on television, spawning the Fear the Walking Dead spin-off and a soon to be concluding series of games. However, both the ratings and critical reception have waned in recent years. Despite that, a trilogy of movies set in the zombie-infested world is currently in the works.
It isn't just viewers that the show has lost in recent months. Not only was Carl Grimes killed off - despite remaining very much alive and continuing to evolve in the comics - but season 9 saw the departure of Andrew Lincoln. Lincoln had been with the show since the very beginning, bringing to life the graphic novel's ever-beleaguered protagonist. Though he announced his decision to leave way in advance, details of his exit were kept firmly under wraps. Speculation raged for months over how his departure would unfold. Ultimately, the move was considered cheap by many, with the exact details of his exit undermining the emotional power of the episode. Regardless, following a six-year time jump in the wake of his departure, the show experienced an uptick in quality. This was, in part, due to the emergence of a brand-new threat: The Whisperers.
Released by AMC, a new teaser offers a terrifying glimpse at the leader of this new group. Known as Alpha, the character is plucked straight from the source material. The clip seemingly offers no footage of her in the show itself, instead merely revealing to fans her disturbing preparation routine. In a scene reminiscent of such classic horror as Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Alpha sews together a mask made from decayed zombie skin. As if that wasn't eerie enough, the scene is scored by an eerie song. Akin to a nursery-rhyme, like something out of Nightmare on Elm Street, it emphasizes the horror of hearing whispers. The teaser concludes with her slipping the mask on, before turning to the camera and revealing a head-on look at her terrifying visage. Check it out below, if you dare.
At first believed to be a new, evolved species of "walker" - ones that can talk and coordinate - the mid-season finale revealed that they were merely people in disguise. The reveal came following the death of Paul Rovia (a.k.a Jesus). Unfortunately, despite dispatching Jesus' assailant, that wasn't the end of the threat. In the middle of a fog-covered cemetery, the episode concluded with a core group of survivors surrounded by a horde of unseen, whispering menaces. AMC recently unveiled a poster advertising the return of season 9 and the tactics utilized by The Whisperers. The character of Alpha was as much front and center on it as she is in the new promo. This, however, offers the first look at the character somewhat in action. Although her true face remains hidden, she retains the bald head that is the character's comic book trademark and will be played by Oscar-winning actress Morton.
It remains to be seen whether Alpha will be more defined by her savage or humanizing characteristics. The comics certainly allow for both options, especially in regards to her daughter Lydia, who is also set to feature. Whatever the case, Morton has proven that she'll be able to tackle whatever the writers put in front of her. For now, the emphasis appears to be on the horrific nature of The Whisperers and it definitely appears to be paying off. For the first time in the show's run, it would appear that it's finally embracing the opportunity to actually be genuinely scary.
The Walking Dead season 9 returns Sunday, February 10th at 9 pm ET on AMC.