Here are all the big questions from a Whisperer-heavy episode of The Walking Dead season 10. Returning to screens last week, The Walking Dead opened on full throttle, with a satellite crashing to Earth from space, Whisperer skins finding their way across the border and an almighty stare-down between Carol and Alpha. Despite a few signs of their presence, the Whisperers themselves were conspicuous by their absence in the season 10 premiere, and a small time jump had evidently taken place, during which there had been no further attacks.
"We Are The End Of The World" flipped the script entirely, focusing more or less exclusively on the Whisperers. The narrative switched between the present day, simultaneous to the events seen in the season premiere, and Alpha seven years prior, sometime after she killed her husband and struck out alone with Lydia. By the final credits, "We Are The End Of The World" had caught up to the conclusion of last week's installment, with Alpha and Carol locking eyes over a rocky ravine.
The second episode of The Walking Dead season 10 was vital in developing the Whisperers as villains and furthered both their culture and origins beyond what is seen in the original comic books. Unsurprisingly then, "We Are The End Of The World" also raises plenty of questions about Alpha, Beta and the Whisperers as a group.
7. What's Under Beta's Mask?
Coming out of this week's The Walking Dead, the overriding question viewers will likely be asking is what lies under Beta's mask? The episode details the first meeting between Alpha and Beta and, from the moment he appears on screen, the lumbering giant obscures his face. As Alpha begins to develop a bond with Beta (more on that later), she makes an attempt to peek beneath the mask and is aggressively rebuffed. Beta is clearly determined to protect his facial secrets at all costs but, eventually, he trusts Alpha enough to let her see his true image. Tantalizingly, the audience only witnesses Alpha's reaction, which is one of surprise, and then understanding.
Why is Beta so protective over his identity? Has he been somehow disfigured? Was he a resident of the mental institution Alpha found him living in? Does he just have a really unintimidating face? In The Walking Dead's comic series (and potential spoiler alert here), Beta is careful to always keep his face concealed because he's actually a famous basketball player, and Jesus and Aaron both recognize him from before the apocalypse. Given that the AMC adaptation has already added an awful lot to Beta's backstory, this reveal won't necessarily be carried over, but a theory suggesting Beta could be a famous singer is rapidly gaining traction online after a possible clue was spotted in the Fear The Walking Dead spinoff.
6. What On Earth Is Alpha & Beta's Relationship?
From their very first appearance, Alpha and Beta have always had a strange relationship, but the creep factor was multiplied exponentially by "We Are The End Of The World." In one considers Beta akin to a wild, wounded animal, Alpha essentially tames him over the course of the flashbacks but their partnership goes far deeper than simply a master and their attack dog. Alpha and Beta are kindred spirits, that much is clear. Both have left behind their human lives in favor of a more primal existence, and they seem to get a kick out of the violence the zombie apocalypse brings.
There is a romantic tinge somewhere in the mix - a tactile, feral magnetism that while (probably) not sexual, hints at a fondness beyond that of a leader and their trusted right hand. However, there's also an element of dependency on Beta's part. Alpha had herself together from near the start of the outbreak, but Beta was alone and directionless before finding someone to guide him. Alpha could exist just fine without Beta - but could the opposite also be truthfully said? Vitally, there is an element of dissension within Beta and although Alpha quells his rage, The Walking Dead is perhaps hinting at more division further down the line.
5. Who Was The Zombie Beta Had Kept?
Diving deep into Beta's psyche, The Walking Dead shows the villain to be ruthlessly violent, devoid of emotion and surprisingly lacking in HR skills for someone in his position. As with previous antagonists, however, Beta isn't quite as cut-and-dry as he might first appear. In the climax of this week's flashback sequences, Alpha and her daughter stumble across a room of the asylum they weren't supposed to enter and find a single zombie in a 'Have a Nice Day' T-shirt. Naturally, Alpha kills the walker but Beta reacts in horror - evidently, this was someone close to him in a past life.
Who, exactly, was this mystery person to Beta? Given the themes explored elsewhere in the episode, Beta's child might be the obvious answer. Without seeing under the mask, it's difficult to put an age on the Whisperer (or the zombie, for obvious reasons), so there's a chance the undead might've been a teenage son of Beta's. Other feasible alternatives include a sibling, a romantic partner, or a resident/staff member of the sanitarium Beta had grown attached to.
4. Will Losing Lydia Break Alpha?
When it comes to Lydia, Alpha's tough talk only goes so far. The leader of the Whisperers already lied to her people by claiming to have sacrificed Lydia when, in truth, she simply allowed her child to live among the alliance of Alexandria, Kingdom and Hilltop. Beta discovers that secret in this week's The Walking Dead, and also finds Alpha constructing some kind of memorial shrine to her lost daughter, completely betraying the cold, detached values she preaches to and expects of her followers. It's quite apparent that Lydia's departure is hitting Alpha on a more human level than she is willing to admit, and this lingering emotion could put a sizable chink in her skin-suit,
3. Is Rebellion Brewing In The Whisperer Camp?
"We Are The End Of The World" provided a glimpse into what the Whisperers made of Hilltop after paying the settlement a visit in The Walking Dead season 9 and the reviews are in - living behind walls with other human beings and proper food might be better than dressing up as zombies and walking among the dead.
It comes as no surprise that not everyone in the Whisperer group is a nihilistic killer - some are simply survivors who, for better or worse, have fallen in with the first group they encountered, and these folks have definitely had their heads turned by the more civilized lifestyle enjoyed by Daryl, Michonne, Carol et al. This hint of temptation from outside puts Alpha's community at risk and the presence of a more viable option is almost certain to damage the loyalty of some lower-ranked Whisperers. When the time comes for war - and war is certainly coming - these rebels might find themselves switching sides but, unfortunately for The Walking Dead's heroes, Alpha's strength lies not in her human followers, but her dead ones.
2. Who Is Gamma?
The second episode of The Walking Dead season 10 provided a first look at Thora Birch's Whisperer character, now christened Gamma. For those unfamiliar with the comics, Gamma is an original addition to The Walking Dead's TV adaptation, so her role in the events to come remains unclear at present. Gamma may be used to further round out season 10's villainous ranks, since only Alpha and Beta were personally featured in the comic books. However, seeds of conflict have been sewn between Beta and Gamma, and The Walking Dead could be setting up a future showdown between Alpha's two chiefs. Hopefully, Alpha doesn't promote many more followers, or else she'll soon be onto less intimidating names in the Greek alphabet such as "Epsilon."
1. What Are The Whisperers Planning?
The Whisperers' intentions for their enemies remain ominously unclear coming out of this week's installment of The Walking Dead. It transpires that Beta is itching to remind the allied trio of communities that they should be living in fear of another attack in the style of season 9's famous border of decapitated heads, but Alpha is content to bide her time, undoubtedly because Lydia is now living with those same enemies.
Nevertheless, the Whisperers have been busy collecting zombies en masse and, by the final scene, Alpha has resolved to retaliate for the incursion into Whisperer territory following the satellite fire. While she opted for a brutal human-on-human assault at the community fair, it seems that whatever Alpha has planned next involves her massive stores of undead. In the original The Walking Dead comic books, the Whisperers use controlled herds to cause massive damage to the allied communities and this week's episode could be hinting towards something similar for later in the current season.
The Walking Dead continues with "Ghosts" October 20th on AMC.