AMC's The Walking Dead returned to the frontlines this week with "Look at the Flowers," where we learned what the fallout would be from Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Carol (Melissa McBride) killing Alpha (Samantha Morton). For the specifics on what went down (and our thoughts on the episode), check out our review here – but needless to say, Beta (Ryan Hurst) needed some "quality time" alone with "Alpha" before figuring out what his next move would be (and it's not a pretty one).
It was during those scenes in Beta's previously-unseen "fortress of solitude" that gave us the clues we needed to connect the dots back to… Fear the Walking Dead?!?
So remember during the fifth season of Fear the Walking Dead ("Today and Tomorrow"), there was that scene where Daniel (Ruben Blades) drops a stack of vinyl records – and in that pile of records, we see a cover with a bearded man wearing a hat? Considering what we learned of Beta tonight, it's clear that he's that very same cover star. Let's not forget the clues we've gotten since the Whisperer second-in-command was introduced on TWD: he clearly has a recognizable face and voice – a little too recognizable, as one Whisperer found out.
The "fortress of solitude" scene was a revelation on a number of levels. First, that he's kept aspects of his old self alive – that he hasn't quite "killed" country singer "Half Moon" (actually, the name of the album with the Garth Brooks akak Chris Gaines-looking cover) as he would want others to believe. Also, his playing his own music to herd the walker before walking among them could also be seen as somewhat "re-embracing" certain parts of himself.
Here's what The Walking Dead showrunner and executive producer Angela Kang had to share when asked about the evolution of the character from a basketball player in the comics to a popular singer on the series – and how one of the songs this season has a direct connection with a TWD alum:
"So, we were thinking about all of that stuff, and in the comic books he's basketball player. But as we were constructing it here, we were like, "Does [actor Ryan Hurst] really feel like a basketball player? Maybe more of a football player, but is that the way we want to go?" And Ryan had this idea of, "Oh, maybe he was this musician," and we thought that that was really cool. And I think the aspect of it that was kind of important is he was this famous guy and he had this dark side that kind of came out in the apocalypse. So we worked on this backstory and then just thought it'd be really fun to have this musical figure and we were sort of looking for reference and that was what we were pulling on. And just the idea that even before the apocalypse there was a part of him that he kind of kept hidden at times.
And there's a song that played earlier in the season that Magna was listening to, and Emily Kinney actually wrote the song, our alum who played Beth. And that was Ryan Hurst singing that song, and that's the song that recurs now, so we had a little bit of fun kind of burying all of that kind of in the show and even in Fear."
"The Walking Dead" Season 10 Reviews
We didn't mince words over how impressed we were with season opener "Lines We Crossed" (check out our review here). Then we had Morton, Hurst, and Birch raising the bar even higher with "We Are the End of the World" (check out our review here), – offering up some Whisperers backstory.
"Ghosts" elevated the paranoia as McBride continues delivering an award-winning performance (that review's here) – while "Silence the Whisperers" proved once again why it's "In Cudlitz, We Trust" (review here).
"What It Always Is" had a now-free Negan beginning his redemption arc (???) while Alpha raised the stakes against our survivors (review here).
"Bonds" had Negan being tested, Carol and Daryl possibly making matters worse for the community by "picking up" a Whisperer, and Eugene reaching out… and getting a response.
"Open Your Eyes" (review here) saw our theory about Siddiq (Avi Nash) completely, totally, and tragically put to rest. That brought us to midseason finale "The World Before" (reviewed here), as the drumbeats of war grew louder.
After a mideason break, we learned that those drumbeats had turned into thunder, as "Squeeze" (review here) and "Stalker" (review here) turned up the heat on what was once a stealth "cold war" back-n-forth between Alpha and our heroes.
What could top that, and cause a break in the action? That would be "What We Become" (review here), with Danai Gurira's final run as Michonne… or is it?
"Look at the Flowers" brought the focus back to the frontlines as we learned more about the Negan/Carol team-up, witnessed Beta go even deeper off the deep end, watched Carol's final confrontation with "Alpha" – and were introduced to a very smiley series game-changer (review here).