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Alpha
The Walking Dead character
Created by Robert Kirkman
Portrayed by Samantha Morton
Information
Occupation Leader of the Whisperers
Family Lydia (daughter)
Spouse(s) Television:
Frank

Alpha is a fictional character in the comic book series The Walking Dead and the television series of the same name. She is the leader of a group of survivors, called the Whisperers, a mysterious group that wears the skins of walkers to mask their presence. Samantha Morton portrays Alpha in the television series of the same name and first appeared in the series' ninth mid-season premiere.

Appearances

Comic book series

Alpha was the leader of the Whisperers and Lydia's mother. Alpha and several of her people approach the gates of the Hilltop and exchange Ken and Dante for Lydia.[issue # needed] When Carl chases the Whisperers, he is taken prisoner.[issue # needed] Alpha decides to infiltrate the Alexandria Safe-Zone and buys a sword at the fair.[issue # needed] After meeting Rick she allows Carl and Lydia to leave the Whisperers, on the condition that nobody will cross a border she marked. On their way back, Rick and the group discover that Alpha has decapitated twelve residents of the Safe-Zone, the Hilltop Colony, the Kingdom and the Sanctuary and that she used their heads placed on pikes to mark the border.[issue # needed] After Negan appears to have joined her group, he fatally slashes Alpha across the neck and decapitates her.[issue # needed]

Television series

File:Samantha Morton Edinburgh International Film Festival.png

Alpha is the leader of the Whisperers, a group of survivors who camouflage themselves with walkers’ skins to be able to live in shadow and remain invisible to others. She is also the main antagonist of the ninth season. Alpha's dark past is shown in flashbacks; it is revealed that she killed her husband Frank and their group of survivors during the initial stages of the outbreak, believing them to be "weak". She shows up at Hilltop with some of the members of her group, demanding that the community return her daughter Lydia, whom the Hilltop community has in their possession. It is later revealed that the Whisperers murdered and beheaded several key members from each community to warn Daryl and the others not to cross into their territory. The beheaded members’ heads were placed on spikes, marking the boundary of the border.

Season 9

In the mid-season premiere "Adaptation", Alpha leads a group of Whisperers who captured Alden and Luke, luring them into a trap by setting up a trail of arrows for them to follow. She brandishes a sawed-off shotgun at them, and proclaims: "Trail ends here." In the episode "Omega", Lydia tells her story in a flashback scene to the group at the Hilltop who has captured her, bonding with Henry in the process. At the end of the episode, at Hilltop’s front gate, the Whisperers' leader, Lydia's mother, now known as Alpha, appears unmasked and introduces herself. Alpha announces to the Hilltop residents that she wants only one thing from them: her daughter. In the episode "Bounty", Alpha demands that the Hilltop residents turn over her daughter Lydia. She explains that she has removed her walker mask to show them that she comes in peace and that she is willing to overlook their trespassing on her lands. Daryl decides to walk outside to talk to Alpha face to face; the two meet. He is initially dismissive of Alpha's demands as she and her human allies are few compared to the Hilltop forces. However, there are several more of Alpha's allies in wait beyond the tree line, as well as a horde of walkers. Daryl tells Alpha that she can't have Lydia and informs her that he's ready to fight her people to ensure she doesn't get Lydia back, until he spots one of the Whisperers with a baby. Suddenly, a couple of Whisperers bring forward a tied up Alden and Luke. Alpha then offers to trade both of them for her daughter; Daryl accepts. As the standoff continues, a baby belonging to one of the disguised women starts to cry, drawing the walkers. Alpha shrugs at the mother, indicating that she should leave the baby to die. Fearing for her life and not having any other choice, the baby's mother decides to abandon him as he continues to cry. Alden and Luke beg Alpha to spare the baby, but Alpha refuses. Connie then rushes to save the child. Lydia ultimately opts to leave on her own accord and is traded for Alden and Luke. Reunited, Lydia apologizes to her mother, but is smacked by Alpha across the face, ordering her to address her as "Alpha" like everyone else. She then smiles at Daryl as they leave.

In the episode "Guardians", as Alpha leads her group back to camp, she questions Lydia about her time at Hilltop and to reveal any intel she learned while being held captive, but her daughter claims that there was little of interest. Henry eventually catches up with Lydia and the Whisperers, and watches them from a close distance as they rest, but is found and grabbed by Beta, Alpha's second-in-command. Beta tosses Henry in front of Alpha, who questions the boy. Henry reveals that he came alone to get Lydia; Alpha decides that Henry is coming with them. On their way back to camp, Alpha asks Lydia why she didn't mention Henry. Lydia explains that he wasn't worth mentioning, but Alpha reminds her that he just risked his life to save her, so she must be lying. The Whisperers soon arrive back at their camp. At the Whisperer's camp, Alpha taunts a secured Henry and explains to him why they disguise themselves as walkers, as the strong adapt while the weak die. Seconds later, two of her own, Sean and Helen, approach her and question why they went back for, and gave up two people up for her daughter. Alpha reminds them that she did it to get information, but Sean issues a challenge for her leadership role. In response, Alpha confirms that he has the right to challenge her position, but that she also has the right to defend it. Knowing that it was Helen that has been sowing seeds of discontent within the group, Alpha grabs Helen and decapitates her with a piece of wire. She then hands the head over to a sobbing Sean before fatally stabbing him in the stomach, as Henry looks on in horror. Privately, Alpha tells Beta a story about Lydia when she was three years old. They both then agree that Henry can be useful and that they need to find out if Lydia truly has feelings for him. At night, Beta brings Henry to Alpha. Unmasked, Alpha drops her knife and makes Lydia pick it up, commanding her to kill Henry with it so that she can prove who’s side she's on; Lydia picks up the knife and begins to cry. Her mother warns her not to be weak and that Beta will kill them both if she doesn't kill Henry. Suddenly, a small horde of walkers show up and begin eating the unmasked Whisperers, creating mass confusion. Alpha and the others quickly put on their masks so that they can try to lure the herd away. Moments later, Daryl and Connie arrive disguised as Whisperers to free and rescue Henry, who will not leave without Lydia, and together the four escape.

In the episode "The Calm Before", as the fair at the Kingdom begins, Alpha leads an attack on one caravan from the Hilltop going to the Kingdom. Alpha has snuck into the fair, posing as one of the Alexandria fairgoers from the caravan and gathers intel. That night, as most of the fairgoers gather for the film, Lydia is saving a seat for Henry when Alpha quietly sits next to her and gestures for her to stay quiet. Outside the theater, Alpha tries to convince Lydia to come with her, but Lydia rejects her. Alpha tells her she is not strong and no longer part of her group, and departs. Later, at the Whisperers' new camp, Alpha, now out of disguise, joins her people, and approaches Daryl, Michonne, Carol, and Yumiko, who were captured by Beta and are now tied to a tree. After announcing that her daughter is no longer a concern, Alpha takes out a shotgun and tells Daryl to come with her alone. At dawn, Alpha leads Daryl to the top of a cliff where a gargantuan horde of walkers and Whisperers walk beneath them. She tells him that his friends at the camp are fine and that she has marked off a line which is the extent of their lands, but the next time his people cross into her land she'll release the horde into theirs. Daryl asks if she killed Lydia, and Alpha tells him that she didn't kill her and doubts that Daryl can protect her. He tells her that she's wrong and leaves, and reunites with his friends. Back in her camp, Alpha, in private, begins to tear up over the loss of her daughter. However, a Whisperer accidentally witnesses her crying. In response, Alpha winds up killing the Whisperer by stabbing him in the neck, making sure no one ever sees her being weak. Daryl's group finds a line of ten decapitated heads on pikes made up of Ozzy, Alek, D.J., Frankie, Tammy Rose, Rodney, Addy, Enid, Tara, and Henry, meant to signify Alpha's territory boundary. In the season finale "The Storm", in their camp, Alpha reminds Beta that she'll need to be strong for what comes next and Beta assures her she will be. Per Alpha's request, Beta flogs her arm with a branch to make her stronger, leaving several lashes on her arm, as she used to do to Lydia.

Development and reception

Alpha is portrayed by Samantha Morton on The Walking Dead television series, beginning with the ninth season.[1] The episode "Adaptation" marks the first appearance of Samantha Morton as Alpha, the leader of the Whisperers. Her casting was first announced in July 2018.[1]

Morton joins the main cast as of the episode "Omega", as her name appears in the opening credits.[2] For her role as Alpha, Morton cut and shaved her real hair for this episode. Morton said regarding doing it on camera, "Oh, I loved it. It just feels very real, and what the audience is seeing is real, you know? And there’s emotions about that, but the practicalities for pre-Alpha is that the hair, she’s turning herself into something. She’s metamorphosing from a caterpillar to a butterfly, but not the nicest butterfly, you know? She’s completely changing who she is, and whether that’s trauma and something to do with the brain, or that she just found her true self that she’s able to be because of what’s happening to the world."[3] On Rotten Tomatoes, the critical consensus for "Omega" reads: "'Omega' utilizes an unreliable narrator to flesh out the zombie skin-clad fanatic Alpha and succeeds at making her all the more unnerving, but some viewers may find the episode's flashback structure and side plots to be more laborious than revelatory."[4] On Rotten Tomatoes, the critical consensus for the following episode "Guardians" reads: "'Guardians' presents dual stories of tested leadership with thematic resonance and provides the malevolent Alpha a plump opportunity to demonstrate her villainy -- although The Walking Dead is still withholding crucial context from viewers longing to understand the motivations of their heroes."[5]

Erik Kain of Forbes in his review of "The Calm Before" said: "Alpha uses the woman's scalp and its long golden locks as a disguise. She enters the Kingdom and walks about Ezekiel's fair. She even has a (very creepy) conversation with the King, who doesn't seem to notice how weird this woman is."[6] Writing for Den of Geek!, Ron Hogan in his review said: "the creative team is able to dial it back, sprinkling moments of hopefulness in front of Alpha. Unlike Lydia, who was taken in by it, she's repulsed, and while it doesn't show on her face, it shows in her actions, and her talk with Daryl at shotgun-point. The very same incidents strike two related people totally differently, and in the denouement of the episode, the very things that lend sweetness and happiness end up causing the greatest in bittersweet pain."[7] Jeff Stone writing for IndieWire commented on the decapitation border: "It is kind of funny how Alpha seemed to know how important each character was and ordered them accordingly."[8] Alex McLevy writing for The A.V. Club commented that: "Alpha showing the walker horde to Daryl is a strong narrative conceit, the equivalent of warning your enemy by holding up an ICBM and saying you’re not afraid to use it."[9]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Wigler, Josh (July 20, 2018). "'Walking Dead' Taps Samantha Morton as Iconic Villain". The Hollywood Reporter. https://hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/walking-dead-samantha-morton-play-alpha-season-9-1128840. Retrieved July 20, 2018. 
  2. Davis, Brandon (February 18, 2019). "‘The Walking Dead’ Fans Are Loving Alpha and the Whisperers". Comic Book. https://comicbook.com/thewalkingdead/2019/02/18/the-walking-dead-910-omega-reactions-alpha-whisperers/. Retrieved February 18, 2019. 
  3. Ross, Dalton (February 17, 2019). "Samantha Morton breaks down The Walking Dead Alpha origin story". Entertainment Weekly. https://ew.com/tv/2019/02/17/walking-dead-samantha-morton-breaks-alpha-omega/. Retrieved February 17, 2019. 
  4. "Omega". Rotten Tomatoes. https://www.rottentomatoes.com/tv/the_walking_dead/s09/e10. Retrieved February 18, 2019. 
  5. "Guardians". Rotten Tomatoes. https://www.rottentomatoes.com/tv/the_walking_dead/s09/e12. Retrieved March 4, 2019. 
  6. Kain, Erik (March 24, 2019). "'The Walking Dead' Season 9, Episode 15 Review: 'The Calm Before' Is Shockingly Brutal". Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2019/03/24/the-walking-dead-season-9-episode-15-review-the-calm-before-is-shockingly-brutal/#49bf01f0495b. Retrieved March 24, 2019. 
  7. Hogan, Ron (March 24, 2019). "The Walking Dead season 9 episode 15 review: The Calm Before". Den of Geek!. https://www.denofgeek.com/uk/tv/the-walking-dead/64230/the-walking-dead-season-9-episode-15-review-the-calm-before. Retrieved March 24, 2019. 
  8. Stone, Jeff (March 24, 2019). "‘The Walking Dead’ Review: ‘The Calm Before’ Brings Together the Communities for Tragedy". IndieWire. https://www.indiewire.com/2019/03/walking-dead-season-9-episode-15-the-calm-before-review-spoilers-1202053256/. Retrieved March 24, 2019. 
  9. McLevy, Alex (March 24, 2019). "In facing a huge reckoning, The Walking Dead gets back to what it does best". The A.V. Club. https://tv.avclub.com/in-facing-a-huge-reckoning-the-walking-dead-gets-back-1833498493. Retrieved March 24, 2019. 
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