Thanks to Samantha Morton’s Alpha, ‘The Walking Dead’ could finally bite into a major category at Emmys

The Emmy buzz began the moment that “The Walking Dead” hired Samantha Morton to play new big bad Alpha. This British actress is a two-time Oscar nominee for “Sweet and Lowdown” (1999) and “In America” (2002), so she brings a level of prestige and experience to the role of the murderous leader of the Whisperers. If Emmy voters are still watching, might we see Morton become the first-ever actor to receive a nomination for AMC’s nine-year-old zombie apocalypse drama?

To date “The Walking Dead” has amassed 16 below-the-line Emmy bids, with two wins for Best Prosthetic Makeup (2011 and 2012). None of the show’s cast members have ever received an Emmy nomination, though three earned notices at the Critics’ Choice Awards: departing lead Andrew Lincoln (Rick Grimes) in 2013 and current players Melissa McBride (Carol) in 2014 and Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Negan) in 2016. That would make a potential Emmy nomination for Morton truly historic.

Like Negan before her, Alpha has purposefully made herself enemy #1 to our group of survivors by murdering some of their closest friends. Negan bashed in the heads of Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Abraham (Michael Cudlitz), while Alpha killed no less than 10 people in Sunday’s penultimate episode. It’s this sort of impact and ruthlessness that makes Alpha such a memorable character, so don’t be too surprised if she’s singled out by Emmy voters when the nominations are announced July 16.

Alpha’s recent killing spree has “The Walking Dead” community buying tissues in bulk, with her victims being Ozzy, Alek, Frankie, DJ, Tammy Rose, Addy, Rodney, Enid, Tara and Henry. The way in which the deaths were revealed puts “Game of Thrones‘” Red Wedding to shame, with the camera slowly panning across a field as we saw their decapitated heads impaled on pikes. “You’ll see it when you leave,” the villain calmly told Daryl about the border of piked heads she created between their two communities.

Even when Alpha is virtually unrecognizable because she’s wearing a zombie mask in order to blend in with the walkers, her eyes reveal a mix of pain and strength, a key acting choice from Morton. In lesser hands Alpha simply wouldn’t be believable as a character, but Morton sells it hook, line and walker. Find out how the survivors deal with Alpha’s latest attack when “The Walking Dead” season finale airs March 31 on AMC.

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Be sure to make your Emmy predictions today so that Hollywood insiders can see how their TV shows and performers are faring in our odds. You can keep changing your predictions as often as you like until just before nominations are announced on July 16. And join in the fun debate over the 2019 Emmy taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our television forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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