The Walking Dead showrunner on the badassery of Gamma
The scariest thing about the new Walking Dead adversaries known as the Whisperers is the way they are able to hide themselves among herds of zombies. But one of them is about to come out of hiding.
Thora Birch will be joining the ranks of the Whisperers for season 10 (which premieres Oct. 6 on AMC), and showrunner Angela Kang says that through Birch’s character of Gamma, we will see a new story that has yet to be told when it comes to the villains. We spoke all things Whisperers with Kang and here is what she had to say about reaction to the group, its newest member, and the cult-like aspects of the organization.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: “Silence the Whisperers” is very visible in your season 10 trailer, but I am assuming we are going to see some differing opinions in the communities in terms of what they should do about the Whisperers in season 10.
ANGELA KANG: That’s definitely a big part of the story. I think it’s been true for centuries that people get into conflicts over borders. And who decides what the border is, where it is, do you respect it or not? In some ways, borders are sort of arbitrary, right? It’s like just people decide like this is the border. And it leads to tension between our people and questions about what is the tactic? When is the timeline to take care of the problem? How do we take care of the problem? And people kind of land on different sides of it as is true just in life when it comes to anything having to do with life and death and war and neighboring groups.
So, we find that there’s people who are taking a more measured response. You see people who are much more hawkish, you see people who are just confused about what to do. And I think that that’s part of the interesting human landscape that’s happening as everything starts to play out, and as just paranoia starts to grip these communities, and as there are war moves being made on both sides.
What can you tell us about the newest Whisperer of Gamma, played by Thora Birch?
Gamma is a character that we’ll get to know in the season. I’m such a huge fan of Thora Birch’s work prior to this show. I particularly love Ghost World, but she’s done such amazing stuff all around and she’s been a wonderful addition to the cast. She has such an interesting take on this character because when you have a group that’s wandering around wearing skin masks, you have to kind of be in a particular sort of space to kind of decide, “This is the only way that I can survive or this is the right way.”.
And so, we’re going to explore a story of somebody who’s just part of that group who rises into leadership. It’s complex. I think the thing that we wanted to show with the Whisperers is that we know quite a bit about Alpha and Beta at this point. We’ll learn more as the season goes on. But who are these people that are just part of the followers and what are their stories? I think that there’s a really powerful story to tell about the soldiers on the ground. And so that’s what the story of Gamma is, and I think Thora brings such humanity and also badassery to the role. I’m just enamored with her work and hopefully other people are too.
Is it a cult? Are you portraying the Whisperers as a cult basically?
I think that there is a cult-like aspect to it. Alpha is such a charismatic leader and Beta is a true believer. So, I think that there is an element to it that I think will feel that way. Certainly Samantha Morton has said that that’s an element that’s similar to what she’s channeling. Because these people have to be true believers in a philosophy that’s really pretty extreme in some ways.
Just to say “It’s survival of the fittest. If you got to leave your baby behind, you got to leave your baby behind.” We have to sort of forget human ties and human emotion as much as possible. It’s weak to cry. All these things that are so counter to the way that our heroes in the show have dealt with the struggles of survival. So yeah, it takes a particular mind-melding. But even within a cult, is everybody 100 percent with it? Or are there people that are just kind of drifting along, you know? So, I think those are some of the questions that we’re exploring.