Readers of The Walking Dead comic know that the next big villain to appear on the TV series, Alpha, is a formidable foe indeed. She is the leader of a group known as the Whisperers, who wear zombie skin masks and use herds of walkers as weapons while concealing themselves among the dead.
But Alpha will be up against a force on the TV version she did not have to face in the comic — Daryl Dixon. We spoke to Norman Reedus about the return of the show Feb. 10 on AMC, and the actor shared some intel that there will be major scenes between Alpha and Daryl coming up. And since Daryl is a character that did not exist in the original source material, that could possibly lead to some big changes in the storyline we see in season 9.
Read on to find out why there will actually be “mutual respect” between the two adversaries when they finally meet up, as well as what else to expect from the new big bad and what’s in store for Daryl.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What can we expect to see in the second half of season 9? We’ve seen the Whisperers now on the scene. They’ve made their presence felt by taking down Jesus. What are we looking at coming up?
NORMAN REEDUS: You’re going to get into the psychology of who they are — not just Alpha, but of her daughter Lydia, and how the group is dealing with that. It’s very complicated and it’s very clever, the way that they sort of infiltrate everybody. The threat is a different kind of threat for us.
As for Daryl, he doesn’t want Carol mad at him. You don’t want to get a spanking from Carol! He’s there on a mission that she put him on, and now he’s kind of in the middle of all of this chaos and trying to figure it out.
Yeah, where’s Daryl’s head at? Because he tried to isolate himself, yet now he’s been drawn back to the Hilltop with Henry being there and now this new threat.
He sort of exiled himself after the horrible thing happened with Rick. He’s been out in the woods looking for a body. He won’t give up. That’s just who he is. He was like that with Sophia, when she was lost. He’s just the type of guy that… he needs proof. He needs some closure. He needs to figure it out. He’s been put on this mission, like you said, to bring Henry to Hilltop. When he gets there, all hell’s breaking loose. There’s a knock at the door. We’re kind of called out, and no one’s really stepping up. Daryl’s like, “Screw it. I’ll go do it.” He ends up in a situation where he kind of has to man up.
He’s being forced back not only into being part of this community, but once again being its protector.
I’ve always said Daryl’s not the type of guy that’s going to build a soapbox and get up and give inspirational speeches to large groups of people. That’s just not who he is. He’s an observer. He listens and he figures out a way to cut that distance in half. He’s a no-bullsh— guy. All of a sudden, all of these things have happened. We’ve lost Jesus. We’re bringing Jesus back. You kind of have a glimpse into the world of the Whisperers a little bit through this back door. He’s trying to figure things out.
I mean, there are certain moments in the next two episodes where Daryl didn’t get in someone’s face. He kind of took a step back, and he’s watching. He’s waiting for a little crack to happen in that dam to get in there and open it up and let those waters out. He’s very clever in a way that he’s going to play both sides, in a way. He’s going to try to get into the psychology of that mindset, of what it takes to live a life in a dead man’s face and walk among the dead. He’s trying to figure out a way to keep the people safe, but also try to crack that egg and figure out what’s happening, you know? It’s very complicated, and there’s a lot of moving parts.
And we’ve got some new faces as well.
The performances in the back eight [episodes] are just ridiculous. They’re so good. We really sort of got this show to a point where it’s so direct and it’s so honest. The chaos is all there, but it’s a different vibe right now, and it’s a different sort of storytelling. It’s very interesting. There are no dull moments. There’s no grandiose gestures of importance coming from anybody. Everyone’s on the hoof, so to speak. It’s a brand-new back eight, and it’s super good. Super, super good.
I remember we spoke right around the time where it was announced that Samantha Morton had been cast as Alpha, and you were telling me how you couldn’t wait to see what she did with the character. So, what does she do with this character?
There’s a lot of Daryl and Alpha stuff coming up. They’re coming from two different places. She’s coming from a place of she’s got it figured out. She’s figured out how to survive. The way that she’s figured out how to survive is smart, but it’s also so dark. Daryl sort of is put in the middle of this. He’s trying to figure it out, but when push comes to shove, Daryl’s like, “Let me go meet this girl.”
It gets to a point where there’s a mutual respect between them in some weird way. I know you saw from the clips that were put out of future scenes coming up where Lydia’s saying to Daryl, “You’re not like these people. You live outside of these walls. You’re a wild animal. You get it more than anyone.” I think Alpha kind of sees that in Daryl, and Daryl sees that in Alpha. As the story progresses, you’ll get to know that there is a mutual respect between those two characters.
What was it like working with Samantha on some of these big scenes?
I gotta say, working with Samantha, she’s so good. She’s so fun. She’s coming at it like Axl Rose. She’s squirming in his face, belting out the loudest noise. It’s great. She was fun. Everybody has their own way of being a bad guy. Jeffrey’s is to be confident and smile. The Governor was to be really serious. Samantha, she’s kind of having fun being puffed up. She’s kind of enjoying the mental of being Alpha. She’s getting into it, and she comes at you like a snake with a smile on her face.
A lot of the characters on our show would be affected by that sort of showmanship. Daryl’s like, “What the f— do you want? The whole snaky f—ing creepy-face-looking thing, I’ve seen it all at this point. What do you want? I’m just cutting to the f—ing chase. You’re not freaking me out. What the f— do you want?” I think that is kind of breaking the ice with Alpha where she ends up like, “Okay, this guy’s the real deal. You can’t intimidate him.”