Warning: SPOILERS ahead for The Walking Dead season 9, episode 10 as well as the comics!
The Walking Dead‘s new main villain is Alpha (Samantha Morton), the leader of the Whisperers, and her origin story is wildly different compared to The Walking Dead comics. Alpha is a character from The Walking Dead comics, but this version of Alpha is being interpreted a little differently, with AMC’s Walking Dead series giving her a more in-depth backstory and origin. And these changes are already affecting how the TV series is adapting Whisperers arc, creating a version of Alpha that’s an even worse person than the one found in the in comics.
The Walking Dead TV show has often loosely adapted the plot of the comics on which it is based, but recent seasons have stuck fairly close to the comics. This was the case with much of Walking Dead‘s All-Out War story arc, for better or worse, but since then the series has begun taking some significant risks in its adaptation. Most notably, there’s the departure of Walking Dead‘s lead character, Rick Grimes. His story is expected to continue in The Walking Dead spinoff movies, but it seems unlikely they’ll include anything like Rick’s continuing story in the comics. And as for where The Walking Dead TV series is now, they’re again changing up their adaptation, putting their own spin on Alpha and the Whisperers.
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In The Walking Dead season 9 episode 10, “Omega”, audiences learn all about Lydia, the new Whisperer character introduced in The Walking Dead season 9 midseason premiere. And through learning about Lydia’s backstory – told in a series of flashbacks as well as conversations with both Daryl and Henry – the origin of her mother, Alpha, is also revealed. However, it’s a far more detailed account of who Alpha is than what’s include in The Walking Dead comics, and these changes make this Alpha a slightly different take on the character.
- This Page: Alpha’s Origin In The Walking Dead TV Show & Comics
- Page 2: Why Walking Dead Changed Alpha’s Origin & What It Means
Alpha’s Walking Dead TV Show Origin
The Walking Dead‘s flashbacks to both Alpha and Lydia’s origins show the very early days of the zombie outbreak. During this time, Lydia and both her parents are holed up in a warehouse basement in Baltimore alongside a handful of others. Supplies are low, some people are talking about leaving to seek out help, while others simply want to wait it out. Tensions are high in the basement, and it’s bringing out the worst in people – including Lydia’s parents.
As Lydia recounts her memories, she talks about how her mother, who later becomes Alpha, is a good person who comforted her and sang to her when she was scared. On the other hand, she recalls her father as being weak and stupid, and we see him lashing out in anger and frustration. It was because he was weak that he died, Lydia explains, giving the impression that it was a walker who got him. However, it quickly becomes clear that Lydia is an unreliable narrator as some of the details in her story begin to shift.
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The more Lydia recalls her memories, the more they jumble together, and eventually she realizes that what she’s remembering are actually lies told to her by her mother. In reality, it was her father who sang to comfort her and her mother who angrily lashed out, at one point killing another person hiding with them. And it was also her mother, not a walker, who killed her father, slitting his throat when he tried to stop her from leaving and taking Lydia with her.
It’s possible that it was these circumstances which made Lydia’s mother, Alpha, so cold, but it’s equally possible (and probably more likely) that the outbreak and the resulting chaos is what revealed her true nature. Alpha is an abuser, beating and lying to her daughter, manipulating and convincing her that she only puts her through the misery of being a Whisperer because she loves her. And while none of this directly contradicts what we know about Alpha from The Walking Dead comics, this new origin does paint The Walking Dead TV show’s version of Alpha as an even crueler, more mean-spirited interpretation of the character.
How Alpha’s Comic Origin Is Different
The Walking Dead comics don’t go in to any sort of detail about Alpha and Lydia’s lives before they’re introduced. Occasionally, either Alpha or Lydia will make mentions of life prior to the outbreak or during those early days, but for the most part their past remains a mystery. However, Lydia’s relationship with her mother doesn’t have quite the same abusive overtones as what’s now been depicted on The Walking Dead TV show.
For instance, the Alpha in The Walking Dead comics is cold and distant with her daughter, but we aren’t given any evidence that she regularly beats her. The Alpha in the comics is more of an absent mother than a physically abusive one, though her emotional detachment does leave Lydia open to abuse from others – as is the case when Lydia is raped by other Whisperers. Alpha’s behavior in the comics is without question detestable, but when the opportunity to give Lydia a better life presents itself, she takes it, allowing Lydia (through the guise of disowning her) to return to Hilltop.
This gives the impression that the Alpha in The Walking Dead comics isn’t inherently a bad person, but rather someone who has done bad things to survive. She clearly does love her daughter, and while she’s certainly misguided in what she believes is the best way to survive, she doesn’t refuse her daughter the chance at a better life. So why did AMC’s The Walking Dead feel it necessary to give their Alpha a much crueler backstory and origin?
Page 2 of 2: Why Walking Dead Changed Alpha’s Origin & What It Means
Why The Walking Dead Changed Alpha’s Origin
AMC’s The Walking Dead isn’t exactly changing Alpha’s origin, but the additional material shown in The Walking Dead season 9 episode 10, “Omega”, does create a different impression of the character. The Walking Dead TV show’s Alpha is a far worse person, shown to have always acted callously towards her daughter and be downright evil when it comes to anyone else. And while such cruel behavior may seem like an obvious character trait for a villain, there may actually be another reason why the TV show is choosing to include this an enlightening backstory.
In The Walking Dead comics, when Lydia is captured and taken to Hilltop, she doesn’t act as outwardly hostile as Lydia does on the TV show. She’s frightened, sure, but as for her opinion of the Whisperers, Lydia isn’t as committed to their way of life as she is on the TV show. Instead, Lydia has a very good reason for not wanting to return to the Whisperers – they raped her, and more than once. In Whisperer society, the strong take what they want and the weak are left to defend themselves, so rape is considered to be a part of the natural order. Alpha lets this happen – even to her own daughter – and it’s a convincing reason to vilify not just Alpha but all of the Whisperers.
The Walking Dead series, however, isn’t likely to include a plot in where a teenage girl is raped, and so the motivation for Lydia to turn her back on the Whisperers is different. Not to mention, The Walking Dead has a better (though by no means perfect) track record at limiting its depiction of sexual violence, and especially when it isn’t necessary to the plot. And so, while the Alpha in the comics isn’t a very good mother (or person, for that matter), the Alpha in The Walking Dead TV show is shown to be irrefutably awful and brutal in other ways – which is more than enough reason to fear and hate her.
What It Means For The Whisperers
With AMC’s The Walking Dead choosing to characterize their Alpha as being a cruel, overbearing woman right the get-go, it’s possible this may also alter how most of the Whisperers come across. In the comics, Beta, her second-in-command, is absolutely devoted to (and clearly in love with) Alpha, and it’s even implied that the only reason Alpha hasn’t been overthrown by someone bigger and stronger is because Beta protects her. However, with how The Walking Dead TV show is characterizing their Alpha, Beta’s devotion might stem more out of fear than of love. This Alpha is a terrifying and intimidating woman, and while perhaps that’s what Beta is in to, it could just as easily be out of fear for their lives that him and the rest of the Whisperers obey her.
Just how The Walking Dead season 9 decides to develop Alpha’s character following her introduction in “Omega” remains to be seen, but the foundation set for her has already made notable changes from the comics which portray her in a far more cruel and brutal light. Perhaps this is to avoid the rape plotline from The Walking Dead comics (only time will tell if the TV show chooses to include it) or because there was a desire to one-up their last major villain, Negan, with a character that comes off as even worse. No matter the reason, Alpha is already on her way to being one of the most vile and indefensible villains The Walking Dead has featured yet – and she’s only just getting started.
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The Walking Dead season 9 airs Sundays on AMC.