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How to Be a The Walking Dead Villain: Alpha vs. Negan

No two villains have captured the imaginations — or starred in the nightmares — of TWD fans in recent years quite like Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Alpha (Samantha Morton).

One is a narcissistic alpha male who wanted to rule the world while dishing out a stream of filthy one-liners like he was at an open-mic night (that’s Negan, in case it wasn’t clear). The other, Alpha, is the true-believer leader of a nihilistic death cult who will stop at nothing to protect what’s hers.

Needless to say, they don’t have all that much in common, but in Episode 6 of The Walking Dead, these two come together for their own nefarious purposes. That can’t be good news for the survivors.

Both these villains have killed fan’s favorite heroes and had vast armies of fellow baddies at their disposal. How did they gather and keep those followers and pursue their deadly agendas? Quite differently. Turns out there’s more than one way to be a TWD bad guy. So, let’s break it down:

How to Interact With Your Enemies

The Negan Way: Charm ’em, Then ‘Scare ’em or Kill ’em
Negan wants people to like him. And sometimes… they kind of do? It’s why he can tempt weaker-willed survivors like Spencer and Eugene (Josh McDermitt) with jocular back-slapping, misogynistic jokes and games. And if he’s still not getting what he wants? He’ll just gut that same guy to prove his point. It’s a win-win. At least for Negan.

The Alpha Way: Creep ‘Em out, Then ‘Creep ’em out Some More
Alpha doesn’t have time for that sh-t. Instead, she slinks around, scaring the living hell out of everyone out from the start with displays of brute force like, say, leaving a baby to die in front of their gates.

The Cast and Creators Break Down Alpha’s Unique Brand of Psychological Warfare:

How to Extract What You Want

The Negan Way: Bleed ‘Em Dry
Negan is very clear about one thing: People are a resource. That’s what he’s after: making sure everyone is under his thumb, with people giving half of what’s theirs to him. If half is too much, that’s their problem.

The Alpha Way: Live and Let Live, but Cross Her and Die
Alpha is less interested in resource acquisition than Negan. She’s not a conquering emperor. But she’s also not as forgiving. Negan wants something, so killing an entire community over a late shipment doesn’t necessarily do him any good. Alpha’s nihilistic nature makes her even scarier. Stay to your side of the border and you might be OK. Step a single foot over and she might stop at nothing until every single one of her enemies is dead.

What To Do If You Need Something From Your Enemy

The Negan Way: BANG ON THEIR GOD DAMN DOOR
“Little pig, little pig let me in,” Negan yelled as he rapped Lucille on Alexandria’s gates. That pretty much sums up his way of approaching the survivors. He wants something from them, he goes and takes it. Subtle? No. Effective. It was why he had all the guns and they didn’t.

The Alpha Way: Hide in Plain Sight
Perhaps more devastating is the Alpha method, using her anonymity and the survivors’ own isolation against them, to walk right into their communities and kill their own.

How to Deal With Your Subordinates

The Negan Way: Create a Frat Environment, but Kill If You Have To
Negan creates quite the sense of camaraderie with his lieutenants like Dwight (Austin Amelio) and Simon, but he also won’t hesitate to put an iron to their faces or outright kill them if one steps out of line.

The Alpha Way: You Have no Friends, Only Followers
Alpha demands real cult-like devotion from her followers. Take the example of Beta (Ryan Hurst), the first Whisperer, and her most devoted follower: He’s not really her friend, they don’t joke together, but he’s also more loyal than Simon or any of the Saviors could ever have been to Negan.

Go Inside Alpha and Beta’s Grotesque Bond:

So What’s Your Belief System?

The Negan Way: Gotta Get Yours
As he tells Eugene, “I’m livin’ no matter what. I am too good at this sh-t.” That really sums up the Negan experience. It’s why he did what he did as a Savior, it’s why he sat in an Alexandria jail cell and why he’s now seeking out Alpha for his next chapter.

The Alpha Way: You Have a Strict, If Absolutely Insane, Code
“We walk in darkness, we are free. We bathe in blood, we are free. We love nothing, we are free. We fear nothing, we are free. We need no words, we are free. This is the end of the world. Now is the end of the world. We are the end of the world.” That’s the Whisperers’ creed, the reason Alpha does what she does. It’s dark, it’s disturbing, and it explains just about everything.

For more insight on Alpha’s management style, read a guide to everything we know about Beta and why he’s so loyal to Alpha.

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