The Walking Dead on Sunday pits Daryl (Norman Reedus) against Beta (Ryan Hurst) in a knockdown brawl, setting up an adversarial relationship between the two fighters expected to continue into coming seasons.
In the comic books, Beta is the towering chief enforcer of Whisperer leader Alpha, who eventually meets her own doom when a freed Negan kills her and presents Alpha’s decapitated head to Rick Grimes as a show of effort and trust.
Beta then emerges as the de facto commander of the Whisperers and establishes a rivalry with Negan, calling for war on the former Savior leader and the united communities after they form a militia in response to a gruesome Whisperer show of force that leaves one dozen survivors dead.
Rallying a massive horde of walkers shepherded by the Whisperers, Beta marches on Alexandria and first claims the life of Father Gabriel while the Alexandrian serves as lookout. Panicked by the ocean of invading walkers, Gabriel slips from a water tower and is left helplessly dangling as Beta and the horde approach.
Beta brutally stabs Gabriel in the gut, leaving the defenseless Gabriel to be eaten by the advancing horde. The dead descend upon Gabriel, leaving him little more than a dangling husk of bones.
Using the herd as camouflage, Beta goes to attack Dwight — Negan’s former number two — but is warded off by Negan, whose clash with Beta shatters Negan’s cherished baseball bat Lucille.
After being rendered unconscious and saved by the intervention of a small pack of Whisperers, a weakened Beta then directs the horde towards Alexandria in his attempt to claim his revenge for Alpha’s death. But the united communities successfully manage to combat the unleashed horde and direct much of it towards the ocean, putting down the remaining stragglers and ending Beta’s attempted fulfillment of Alpha’s master plan.
Beta goes out with a whisper when he comes across Aaron and Jesus while journeying towards Hilltop, moving to attack a sleeping Aaron before he’s discovered by Jesus. During a vicious scuffle, Aaron fends off walkers while Jesus battles Beta, who overpowers the quicker but smaller Jesus.
Aaron then shoots Beta and reveals his true face, which Beta always kept hidden, never removing his fleshy mask. Aaron and Jesus recognize Beta as a basketball player who headlined a series of car commercials, prompting Beta to spring alive and sputter he has no name before falling over dead.
His death ends the conflict with the Whisperers, whose few surviving members fall into disarray and scatter following the deaths of both leaders.
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.
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