Many fans of The Walking Dead think that they already know the identity of the series' next big villain, but could they be wrong?
Before you read on, be forewarned that spoilers lie ahead for The Walking Dead comic book and TV series.
According to Moviepilot, many readers of The Walking Dead comic books assume that the next big villain will be Negan, a notoriously nasty nemesis whose weapon of choice is a baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire. However, there's an intriguing new fan theory floating around that suggests that Rick Grimes' group will face a far freakier foe in the near future.
Fans have started speculating that Morgan Jones may have hinted at a new threat during season 3 of The Walking Dead. In the episode titled "Clear," Rick's savior had become mentally unstable, and he was ranting about "people wearing dead people's faces." At the time, viewers probably just assumed Morgan was crazy and that he saw Rick as a ghost from his past that wasn't really there. However, it's possible that he was actually ranting about a group of villains he had encountered before.
The Walking Dead comic book series recently introduced a fresh group of fearsome foes who refer to themselves as "The Whisperers." Much like the Terminus cannibals, they have devised a creepy way to survive -- they wear the skins of the dead so they can walk among the undead.
The Whisperers have taken the neat trick of covering themselves with walker guts to the extreme, and they even wear human skin masks like Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. There's nothing wrong with recycling zombie skin to help you survive, but The Whisperers aren't just trying to hide -- they're a mysterious, territorial cult that stalks and kills survivors.
In "Clear," Morgan is obsessed with taking out walkers and burning their bodies. It's possible that he encountered The Whisperers during one of his "clearing" missions, hence his comment about "people wearing dead people's faces." Perhaps he finally decided to leave his booby-trapped safe haven because The Whisperers came after him.
If this is what happened to Morgan, it could be awhile before he finds Rick Grimes and informs him of this frightful new threat. Morgan has been successfully tracking his old acquaintance, but on the official Walking Dead web page, it's pointed out that he's months behind Rick's group.
It wouldn't be surprising if The Whisperers get introduced before Negan does. According to Comicbook.com, Robert Kirkman has stated that it could be a long time before The Walking Dead's baddest villain pops up on the show.
"We actually talk about that a bit in the writer's room as to when it would be appropriate to bring him in and what needs to happen in order to get to that point. Unless the show gets canceled abruptly very soon, you'll see Negan on the TV show. Like Season 9."
During an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Robert Kirkman hinted that things are going to get weird for the survivors during the second half of season 5.
"In the next half-season, this group is going to be grounded to the earth emotionally, substantially but not literally (laughs). They're going to find themselves in wildly different set of circumstances. They are going to go through it emotionally and it's going to get harder for them before it becomes weirder for them."
Rick's group might not encounter The Whisperers during the second half of season 5, but maybe Morgan will run into them in a flashback.
Would you like to see Morgan encountering The Whisperers when the The Walking Dead returns on February 8?
[Image credit: Gene Page/AMC]