A clip from Sunday's penultimate episode of The Walking Dead Season Nine (via Rotten Tomatoes) finds Daryl (Norman Reedus), Michonne (Danai Gurira), Carol (Melissa McBride), and Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura) surrounded and captured by the Whisperers. The skin-wearing villains are backed by Beta (Ryan Hurst), surprising Daryl, who believed Beta dead after ending their vicious brawl by pushing the towering Whisperer down an elevator shaft.
The foursome, who have splintered off from a larger group after discovering an overturned Hilltop wagon in the woods, are hopelessly outnumbered and then confronted by Alpha (Samantha Morton), who aims to assert her dominance over Daryl and the intruding survivors. Hilltop and others violated a pact made episodes earlier when Henry (Matt Lintz) journeyed into Whisperer territory to retrieve and rescue girlfriend Lydia (Cassady McClincy), after Alpha declared there would be no future conflict if her daughter was returned unharmed in exchange for the captured Luke (Dan Fogler) and Alden (Callan McAuliffe).
Hurst previously teased Beta would emerge as a "worthy adversary" for Daryl, who last found a rival in former Savior Dwight (Austin Amelio), telling EW Daryl and Beta "see that they're very similar and very different at the same time."
"It's probably one of the first worthy adversaries that the show has presented to Norman's character because he's just such a unique badass," Hurst said, "but I guess that's the best thing is we sort of little by little start to see more and more about who Beta is and put him in some really badass scenarios."
That dynamic unfolds out of a clash between Daryl and Alpha, who again come face-to-face in Sunday's "The Calm Before" when Alpha issues a grim threat just as the fair — hosted by King Ezekiel (Khary Payton) and assembling survivors from across the Kingdom, Hilltop, Oceanside, and Alexandria communities for the first time in years — gets underway.
"It gets to a point where there's a mutual respect between them in some weird way," Reedus previously told EW of the dynamic between Daryl and the uncivilized Alpha, who recognizes in him the side of a wilderness-dwelling outsider. "I think Alpha kind of sees that in Daryl, and Daryl sees that in Alpha. As the story progresses, you'll get to know that there is a mutual respect between those two characters."
The Walking Dead next airs its penultimate episode of Season Nine Sunday, March 24 at 9/8c on AMC.
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