The Walking Dead has new big bad for Season 9, as Fantastic Beasts’ Samantha Morton will take on the role of Alpha, leader of The Whisperers and one of the comic series’ most iconic villains.

Joining her Fantastic Beasts co-star Dan Fogler, who is also joining the show in Season 9, Morton’s casting has ended months of speculation on whether The Whisperers will be the next group that Rick and his people come to blows with – and with this news and a stinger at the end of the SDCC trailer, the group’s arrival on the scene is imminent.

For those unfamiliar with the comics, The Whisperers is perhaps the most eclectic group of adversaries Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and the gang face. They survive in the wild by wearing suits made of human flesh, which allow them to blend in with the walkers – and what’s more, they believe that the apocalypse is the next natural step in society’s evolution, restoring a natural order.

Oscar-nominated Morton will play Alpha, leader of The Whisperers, a ruthless woman, bald beneath her zombie mask. In the comics, she has two close companions: Beta, her lieutenant, and Lydia, her daughter, who eventually becomes Carl’s love interest. With no more Carl in the AMC series, it’s obvious that if Lydia is to be introduced, there would need to be alterations made to her story arc.

Alpha’s interactions with characters outside of her own group are notable, as she is immediately at odds with Rick Grimes, whose way of life is pretty much the exact opposite to her own. In a similar way to Negan, Alpha makes her threat level known in a grand gesture that ends with the deaths of several members of Rick’s group (two of whom are still alive in the series) – however, with the confirmation of Lincoln’s departure, it may be the leader himself who feels her wrath.

The Walking Dead returns on October 7th

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