WARNING: The following article includes spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 10 episode "We Are the End of the World," which aired Sunday on AMC.
The second episode of The Walking Dead’s 10th season focused entirely on the Whisperers, and more specifically Alpha and Beta. An extended flashback from seven years ago reveals the circumstances under which the pair met for the first time. And it’s a meet-cute fit for the zombie apocalypse.
At that point, Alpha and a young Lydia were on their own. And while they weren’t wearing walker skin masks yet, they were covering themselves in blood and walking with the dead. While the practice seems to terrify Lydia, Alpha is already embracing life as a living walker.
When the herd they're stumbling with tear apart a woman, Lydia can’t take it anymore. Her screams alert the zombies to their presence and Alpha must flee and find shelter for the both of them. She breaks into a treatment facility of some kind. At first it seems deserted, but soon they notice a man ‑- the man who will become Beta. And he’s already wearing a mask, although this one’s made of cloth and not human skin.
He agrees to let the mother and daughter stay for one night after some tough talk from Alpha. In further exchanges, Alpha shares her budding worldview about how to survive in the zombie apocalypse and Beta informs her he likes the sound of the roving walkers. Clearly, they’re two of a kind.
Later, Alpha finds a hallway full of walkers and Beta joins her in eradicating the herd. Afterwards, when Beta sees Alpha cut the dead walkers up for parts, he comments on how different her behavior is. Still, he seems more intrigued than put off by her oddness. He even joins in to help. He asks about what it’s like to walk with the zombies and Alpha treats him to a poetic explanation about becoming like them and feeling what they feel (i.e. nothing).
During their conversation, Alpha refers to him as “Big Man,” which he immediately objects to. So Alpha changes the name to Mr. B. When he comments that he thought they didn’t have names anymore, Alpha clarifies that it’s not a name, it’s just a letter. Beta wants to know what letter she has. We already know the answer -- she’s A.
When Alpha attempts to take off Beta's mask, though, the spell around them is broken. Beta gets angry and tells her to get out as he stalks away.
Lydia, however, is elsewhere in the facility trying to convince herself she can be as brave as her mother. She anoints herself in walker guts and repeats the mantra “we’re all monsters now.” So when she hears a walker behind a door, she lets it out.
Meanwhile, Alpha has discovered that Lydia’s missing. In the process of searching for her, she finds herself in the part of the building that Beta had told her to stay away from. An angry Beta discovers Alpha. Then things get worse when the walker Lydia released stumbles into the room and Alpha quickly dispatches it to Beta’s horrified cries. Whoever the zombie was, he was extremely important to Beta. He's the reason Beta has stayed holed up where he is.
Beta freaks out and starts throwing objects in the room around. Then he approaches Alpha as if he’s going to kill her. Alpha delays him by telling him that she know him better than he know himself. He’s like her -- he has his demons but he’s not broken. It’s not until Lydia shouts that Alpha’s trying to save him, though, that Beta stops his attack.
Once the threat has passed, Alpha encourages Beta to come with them and walk with the dead. At this point, Beta even allows Alpha to lift up his mask and see his face. Unfortunately, we don’t get to see exactly what Beta’s hiding. Still, Beta refuses to go with Alpha because he can’t leave his fallen zombie companion.
That's when Alpha points out that he doesn’t have to and hands Beta a knife. He uses it to make the very first walker skin mask, and apparently it’s the mask Beta’s been wearing ever since. And never takes off. This is the kind of revelation that makes you happy TV doesn’t have smell-o-vision.
Alpha and Beta have been together ever since and their bond is almost unbreakable. However, in this episode it became clear there were some cracks in the foundation.
While the rest of the pack treats Alpha as a God, Beta sees things differently. Early in the episode Alpha steps in to save the woman who she forced to leave her baby last season. The woman is still struggling with the loss of her child and gets the pack into trouble when they’re out with the walkers. Beta plans to kill her for her weakness but Alpha stops him before that can happen. While Beta does what Alpha asks, it’s a decision he disapproves of.
Later, after the woman gets the pack into trouble again and gets herself killed, her sister helps save Alpha from the frenzied walkers. For her troubles, Alpha honors her by anointing her Gamma. It's another decision Beta doesn’t approve of. Beta recognizes that Alpha’s embrace of Gamma may be due to her desire to replace her daughter. He also knows that Lydia isn’t coming back and is willing to tell Alpha so.
In fact, for all Alpha’s ruthlessness, it seems like it’s Beta who often eggs her on to more depraved heights. By the end of the episode, he’s informed Alpha that he saw smoke by the border with the joint communities. Alpha is still vulnerable after the pair discussed her absent daughter and she’s looking to get some of her mojo back. So, after deducing that “the enemy” crossed their borders, she declares that they’ll have to teach them a lesson as the pack watches. This is a decision that Beta approves of.
The Walking Dead stars Norman Reedus, Danai Gurira, Melissa McBride, Josh McDermitt, Christian Serratos, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Seth Gilliam, Ross Marquand, Khary Payton, Cooper Andrews, Avi Nash, and Samantha Morton. It airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on AMC.