One similarity between the comic book version of the Whisperers and Nicotero’s is the texturization. As fans witnessed in the December midseason teaser that featured Samantha Morton’s Alpha sewing a Whisperer mask, the skin is pockmarked and damaged. Nicotero went on to point how subtle adjustments in the mask sculpture gave the Whisperers depth and personality:
I wanted to over-texture everything, so all the sculptures are really over-textured and really shriveled looking. And a lot of rot and decay. So, it’s just one thing that we’ve been really pushing with the masks is to have them feel a little different. Even changing the shape of the eyes. Some of the eyes, you kinda just angle the shape of the outside of the eyes, and they look a little sad. But then you combine that with the fact that you can’t see into the eyes or into the mouth, and it’s kinda creepy. How many recent movies have had the masked killer that that’s what scares people? You can’t bargain with them because they’re soulless, they’re humorless and now we have a group of people that… they’re wearing dead f---ing skin.
Eventually, Nicotero got down the heart of the Whisperers' belief system, which actually calls back to the dystopic vision of Washington, D.C. from the season premiere. They’re likely the closest The Walking Dead’s ever going to get to a post-apocalyptic drama in the style of Mad Max, as the Whisperers are probably the group that has moved the furthest from civilization of anyone the survivors have yet encountered -- and that includes Terminus:
They’ve abandoned the way of the life that we all believe in. It’s interesting when you think about Walking Dead and you think about the fact that they’re fighting desperately to preserve society. And at some point it’s like that society that we knew probably will never exist again, what is the next order? And the Whisperers have a very unique perspective. And that’s, I think, you know, what our group is dealing with. There’s a lot of water under the bridge. There’s a lot of bad people that now have had the status of villains, they’ve now been brought down a bunch of rungs and other people that have gone up. So, things are all kind of weirdly out of balance.
The Walking Dead returns Sunday, Feb. 10 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on AMC. The series stars Norman Reedus, Danai Gurira, Melissa McBride, Alanna Masterson, Josh McDermitt, Christian Serratos, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Nadia Hilker, Dan Fogler, Angel Theory, Lauren Ridloff and Eleanor Matsuura.