Former Beth Greene star Emily Kinney has been off The Walking Dead since its fifth season, but the star and singer-songwriter was involved in Season 10 episode "What It Always Is" when Magna (Nadia Hilker) listened to a country record inspired by Kinney's newest single "The Turtle and the Monkey." Kinney wrote the song heard in the episode, but it wasn't her vocals on the track: the song might have been performed by Whisperer Beta (Ryan Hurst), previously confirmed to have been a celebrity pre-apocalypse. An Easter egg on spinoff Fear the Walking Dead was first to hint Beta, true identity unknown, was a recognizable country singer before swearing his allegiance to Alpha (Samantha Morton).
"I'm always writing and actually, when I wrote that song first, I was like, 'Oh my gosh, this would be such a great country song.' And so I wrote it as a pitch song," Kinney explained on the latest episode of Skybound's Talk Dead to Me podcast. "Because a lot of the time I'll write songs and go, 'Mm, this doesn't really fit the vibe of my records, but maybe this would work for someone else.' So I just kind of kept it, and then it so happened that there was an opportunity [for it to appear on the show]."
Kinney can't say if that was Hurst singing or if the song was another hint at Beta's country singer past, but Kinney does reveal The Walking Dead specifically wanted a country song. She then reconnected with showrunner Angela Kang, who has been with the zombie drama since its sophomore season in 2011.
"They were like, 'We're looking for country songs for The Walking Dead.' So I sent it over, and then I didn't hear anything for a few months, but then sure enough it came back around," Kinney said. "And the showrunner reached out to me — Angela, who I obviously knew really well from working on the show — and it came back around and sure enough, they wanted to use it. I think that's pretty much all I can say. Basically, they needed a country song to use."
On a past episode of Talking Dead, Hurst hinted Beta's loss of celebrity played a role in his transformation into a Whisperer who never removes the mask made from the flesh of his dead best friend.
"What do you know? I can't say too much," he said when asked about country records on Fear that showed what appeared to be Hurst in cowboy getup. "All I can say at this point is maybe Beta was a large personality in the world before the apocalypse, and that sort of letting go of that might have been tragic to his psyche. I can't say much more than that."