Warning! SPOILERS for The Walking Dead season 10, episode 2 ahead!
The Walking Dead season 10 finally catches back up with the Whisperers, revealing in a flashback that it was Beta and not Alpha who created the first Whisperer mask. First introduced in season 9, the Whisperers have rejuvenated the long-running AMC series with a villain that is truly unlike any featured before. They are sinister and dangerous group, and after crossing their border last episode, The Walking Dead's survivors are now on the verge of war with the Whisperers.
The Whisperers are a nomadic group of people who disguise themselves with masks made from the skins of the dead. They are led by a cruel woman, Alpha (Samantha Morton), who believes the only way to live in a world of the dead is to become them. Her second-in-command is Beta (Ryan Hurst), a hulking man whose devotion to Alpha and her twisted ideals is absolute. Together, they're able to keep a strong hold on the Whisperers, maintaining order and ensuring that everyone adheres to their strict rules - chief among them, don't take off your mask. Those masks are key not only for hiding among the walkers, but for reminding Alpha's followers that to be a Whisperer is to no longer be human.
In the latest episode of The Walking Dead season 10, "We Are The End of The World", the origin of the Whisperers' masks is revealed in flashbacks to when Alpha first meets Beta. It comes while Alpha and Lydia are on their own and they seek shelter in a building where Beta is also staying. He allows them to stay but remains standoffish, already wearing a ski mask to hide his face. Soon, though, Alpha stumbles on a walker Beta had been keeping alive and kills it, infuriating Beta. The walker, it's revealed, was a dear friend who Beta couldn't leave behind. To comfort him, Alpha says Beta doesn't need to leave him, presumably implying they could use his guts to disguise themselves like they have with those from other walkers. But Beta goes one step further and cuts off his friend's face to make himself a new mask - a Whisperer mask.
Learning that the first Whisperer mask is created entirely by Beta isn't necessarily a game-changer, but it does add another interesting layer to the relationship between Alpha and Beta. From their first meeting, there's been an attraction between them - not romantic, per se, but intense all the same. In Beta, Alpha recognizes someone who sees the world for all its ugliness, just like she does. In Alpha, Beta believes he's found someone who values him and who will give him a purpose. They're an odd pair, for sure, but seeing Alpha watch Beta cut off his dead friend's face in order to fashion a new mask is the start of one twisted friendship.
Speaking of the need for masking his face, Beta's behavior in "We Are The End of The World"'s flashbacks seemingly confirms that AMC's Beta has a similar background to the character in The Walking Dead comics. In those, Beta is eventually revealed as former NBA star turned actor and it's because of his previous fame that he never wants anyone to see his face. On AMC's The Walking Dead, however, the implication seems to be that Beta is a former singer given his distaste music (a reminder of better times) and, no offense to Hurst, but he doesn't quite have the physique of an NBA player. Not to mention, Fear the Walking Dead also dropped a clue that Beta may have been a recording artist prior to the outbreak.
An episode exploring what really makes the enemy tick is a great way for The Walking Dead season 10 to lead into The Whisperer War. Now the stage is set for its next conflict - a fight between those on the side of the living and those on the side of the dead.
The Walking Dead season 10 continues next Sunday, October with "Ghosts" at 9pm/8c on AMC.