Who are the feral people in The Walking Dead Season 11?

September 27, 2021
Jonathon Wilson 0
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Who are the feral people in The Walking Dead Season 11? contains major spoilers for The Walking Dead season 11, episode 6, “On the Inside”.

The Walking Dead has never been short of awful antagonists, but there aren’t too many in the show’s decade-plus history that might be described as genuinely terrifying. In part, that’s because the show long since abandoned its horror roots, focusing instead on much more human villainy with characters like the Governor and Negan. The recent war with the Whisperers, a particularly comic book-y bad guy sect who wore walker skin-masks and moved among the hordes, was a nice fusion of living and undead evil, but they were still human beings at heart, driven by all the usual impulses and susceptible to the same manipulations. The latest episode, though, “On the Inside”, introduced a new threat that blurred the lines even further: feral cannibals, living – albeit barely – in the walls of an abandoned house.

Who are the feral people in The Walking Dead Season 11?

It’s that house where Connie and Virgil, last seen meeting for the first time in the 10C finale “A Certain Doom”, take shelter. They’re on the run from the Reapers, and Connie is still frazzled from days of no sleep and barely surviving the cave collapsing on Alpha’s horde. They think they’ve found a temporary safe haven, but no such luck. As it’s gradually revealed they’re being hunted by the house’s residents, it’s also revealed that they were intentionally lured there, herded like prey. The feral people trick their victims into entering the expansive house, hunt them from within the walls, and then eat them.

This is likely a one-and-done scenario, since both Connie and Virgil are able to escape the house thanks to Connie’s quick thinking, and it seems like all the feral people are killed in their escape. But they’re worthy of some further analysis for a couple of reasons. One is that I’ve seen some assumptions online from people who think they’re the creatures described in Maggie’s monologue about her experiences on the road with Hershel (they’re not). And another is that they’re the furthest gone of any human antagonists we’ve ever seen in the show; the most monstrous, the most inhuman. Since it seems unlikely that any humans living pre-apocalypse could possibly regress to this extent, there’s a good chance that these were abandoned youngsters who have grown up in the depths of a zombie nightmare, so at the very least that suggests there might be more people like them, or various other flavors of monstrosity, still waiting to be discovered in various corners of the universe.

There’s evidence for this and to the contrary. The house as a setting, despite its various secret rooms and servant corridors, isn’t really anything new for the show, and the fact it’s at least partially fortified seems like a very human thing as if at some point it was defended by regular human survivors. But that’s probably true of every building still left standing. It isn’t that much of a stretch to imagine that children were either left inside or managed to find the place and ended up left to their own devices. As we’ve seen with the time skip, we’re deep into the apocalypse at this point. It’s at least feasible.

And it’d explain a few things, such as how the feral people don’t seem to know any words other than “Hungry”, why they’re so physically wrecked – a lifetime living in walls will do that to you – and why they’re more comfortable on all fours. Their familiarity with the house and its immediate surroundings suggests they’ve been there a long time, as do the stores of picked-clean bones they have left behind after feasting on unsuspecting victims.

Of course, that feasting leads to another theory. Cannibalism has a strong association with a unique brain disease, and while the symptoms don’t exactly match up, it’d make sense with a bit of artistic license for the show to be implying that these were regular survivors who turned to eating their own and then gradually regressed into what we see here. The scratched-out eyes of the portraits on the house’s walls – the setting’s only really campy flourish – seems more likely to have been caused by grown humans in decline, scared of or at least angry at seeing the versions of themselves that they used to be. That having been said it could just as easily be kids trying to prevent grown-ups from “seeing” them as they attempt to live without supervision.

There’s a good chance I’m reading too much into all of this – the feral people in The Walking Dead Season 11 are, at their core, just a nasty-looking antagonist for a one-off episode to go all-out with. Whatever the explanation, they’re great fun, in a morbid way, and are definitely the most frightening nasty that the show has produced in ages. If we never get an explanation for them, at least they made their presence felt.

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