This Walking Dead article contains spoilers.
When it came to the Whisperers, Alpha was the leader, the planner, the brains of the operation, and Beta was her muscle. If The Walking Dead were an action movie, Beta would be the henchman that has to be dispatched before the hero confronts the real boss. But The Walking Dead, for all of the killing and fighting involved, isn’t an action movie. As Alpha learned earlier this year, the best way to kill the body is to take out the head. It works for walkers, and it works, eventually, for the Whisperers.
With Alpha defeated by Negan and Carol, Beta is left to pick up the pieces and lead his group for one last assault against their enemies. But Beta was never meant to be a leader; he is a perfect goon, loyal to a fault and devoted to the Alpha who rescued him from himself. But without Alpha, Beta’s world crumbled.
Since her death, Beta and the Whisperers’ main goal has been revenge. Without an Alpha, some of the group has slipped away under the cover of night, while others have put their faith in Beta and are along for the ride despite his growing obsession with killing the people who killed his personal savior. And unlike the show’s other villains, Beta isn’t concerned with surviving the encounter.
One of the big repeated refrains throughout season 10 has been the Whisperer mantra, the spooky thing they hiss at each other as they prepare for war. Alpha used the chant as a way to bond the Whisperers together, as a way to train them to be the drones she needed to carry out her wishes.
“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. We embrace all death, we are free. This is the end of the world. Now is the end of the world. We are the end of the world.”
But this level of devotion only really works when there’s someone capable leading the pack. As the Whisperers and their walker horde chase after the Talking Heads wagon in the season 10 finale, Beta’s lack of vision catches up with him. One by one, the Whisperers guiding the horde die, screaming and crying out in the darkness. When Beta sees Lydia, he moves to attack her, falling into Negan’s trap. Blinded by hatred, Beta goes after Negan, bolstered by the fearlessness given to him by Alpha’s mantra. Daryl, bathed in walker blood in order to blend into the horde, comes out of nowhere and plunges his knives deep into Beta’s eye sockets, blinding him. Beta roars in pain, needing no words to communicate his rage and agony.
The walkers, drawn to Beta by the scent of fresh blood, do what they do best: they mindlessly feast on the Whisperer’s flesh. The walkers surround Beta, except this time they aren’t on his side. But, for Beta, that’s okay. Beta, true to Alpha’s words, embraces all death, and as such, even as walkers tear at his flesh and claw at his face, he has something that Negan, Daryl, and the rest of them do not: true freedom. In permanent darkness, covered in blood, without love or fear or words, his death coming closer with every heartbeat, Beta is living the Whisperer mantra like no one else could.
As Beta is being devoured, Negan is shocked to learn the true identity of the monstrous villain. Earlier this season, it was revealed that Beta was once a famous country singer known as Half Moon.
“Do you know who this asshole was?” Negan asks Daryl, who replies, “He’s nobody.”
This answer would undoubtedly make Beta happy. He’d shed his name years ago in his pursuit of something much darker.
“We are the end of the world,” Alpha had promised him. When she died, Beta’s world ended. In his final moments, Beta believes that to be dead is to be free. He now is free.