This Walking Dead article contains spoilers.
“Walk With Us,” the 12th episode of The Walking Dead season 10, changed the course of the rest of the season in a single night. From the fall of the Hilltop to the high-profile deaths throughout the episode, “Walk With Us” is undoubtedly the best episode of the latest season of the zombie drama.
While the ending of the episode left us with a few questions about Alpha, Negan, and just how the Whisperer War will proceed for the rest of the season, “Walk With Us” did tease the answer to one of this story arc’s biggest mysteries: who is Beta? Whose face is behind the mask worn by Alpha’s hulking second in command? Alpha’s most devout follower has moved through the episodes like a supernatural force able to cut through ranks of Alexandrians and Hilltop warriors, all while taking a beating. Even a fall through an elevator shaft that would have killed any normal man seemed to barely leave a scratch on Beta.
We all know the actor behind the mask, of course. It’s Ryan Hurst from Sons of Anarchy. But we knew little about his character’s backstory before the penultimate episode of the season, “Look at the Flowers,” which finally confirms a long-standing theory about Beta’s identity. Who was Beta before he became Beta and walked with the Whisperers? What is his real name?
As confirmed in “Look at the Flowers,” Beta was a famous country singer who performed under the stage name Half Moon before the zombie outbreak that brought about the end of civilization. At some point during the ensuing chaos, Half Moon lost his mind and became the killer monstrosity who joined Alpha to form the Whisperers. In the episode, we watch as Beta consults both Alpha’s severed head and his old records to figure out what he’s supposed to do now that his leader is dead. He blasts his songs for all of the surrounding walkers to hear. The horde gathers around the saloon where Beta is having his existential crisis, forming a grotesque audience for what will likely be Half Moon’s final concert. By the end of the episode, Beta has gained some “clarity,” deciding that he will lead the horde that’s gathered for him to Alexandria.
Beta listening to his old music was a particularly surprising development, considering that he’d previously refused to acknowledge his old identity. During Mary’s struggle with Beta in “Walk With Us,” the former Whisperer managed to tear off a portion of his mask, revealing one side of his face. Later, when another Whisperer recognized Beta’s face and remarked that he thought he “recognized his voice,” Beta quickly silenced him with his knife.
The character’s true identity was first teased in an episode of Fear the Walking Dead. For those who missed the easter egg, in Fear the Walking Dead season 5 episode 14, “Today and Tomorrow,” there’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it shot of a record with a familiar face on the cover: Hurst wearing a cowboy hat, which suggesting that Beta had once been a famous country singer. This was later teased further when Alpha was heard listening to a country song in The Walking Dead season 10 episode 5, “What It Always Is,” that sounded like it was sung by Hurst.
Beta’s backstory on the show does somewhat mesh with the origin of his comic counterpart, although the careers were different. In Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard’s comic book, Beta was once a famous basketball player who later became an actor. His face and identity are finally revealed as he lies dying, defeated after his final attack on the communities. Perhaps a similar fate awaits the TV version of the character. Maybe Daryl will peel the walker flesh off a dead Beta and recognize the musician behind one of his favorite country albums.
We’ll look forward to that twist as The Walking Dead season 10 concludes.