How The Walking Dead Paid Homage To Halloween And Other Slasher Movies In Latest Episode

alpha the whisperers
(Image credit: amc press)

Spoilers below for the latest episode of The Walking Dead!

The Walking Dead's murderously pesky Whisperers did some major damage to the show's frustratingly impulsive protagonists, with Alpha's fight with Daryl giving the latter some of the biggest injuries he's suffered yet. (Even if it looks like he'll need zero rehabilitation before going back to his frustratingly impulsive ways.) Elsewhere in the episode, Beta made a particularly crafty and deadly advance on Alexandria in a series of scenes that pair homage to classic slasher movies like those of the Halloween franchise.

The horror-riffic approach definitely didn't happen by accident, either, according to showrunner Angela Kang. She talked about the origin for Beta's deadly spree, saying to THR:

My writer, Jim Barnes, who wrote the episode, had pitched this idea of Halloween in Alexandria with Beta. I loved that idea, but it was hard to know where to slot it. But this came up as the right place in the story, where we have Beta making a very big move. The concept was so strong and striking. It was a matter of figuring out the logistics of how does he get inside. We figured that Dante was a spy, so he created a back door into Alexandria through a grave. Then we wanted to unleash him and wreak havoc on Alexandria.

In the opening of "Stalker," Michael began his underground journey in a pretty mysterious way that didn't go too hard on foreshadowing how things would pan out. But the episode later went full-tilt into embracing the horror whenever Beta's hand came through the faux grave that Dante set up during his time in the communities before his death. That bit wasn't so much Halloween as it was a wink to the zombie drama, but with the twist that the being rising up only LOOKED like a walker.

With so many important residents outside Alexandria's walls, Beta had the perfect opportunity to wreak havoc. He traversed from one house to the next, with the exterior camerawork capturing everything voyeuristically through the windows. Everything from those first victims' goofy dialogue to the eerie music felt right out of an '80s slasher flick.

Angela Kang said this about the direction for those scenes:

It was really fun for us to do. Our director Bronwen Hughes did such an amazing job with the visuals and paying tribute to tropes [of the slasher genre], but also making it feel fresh. When we get to do an episode that's a high-concept from the horror genre, it's really fun for us. We're all big geeks for this stuff — and Ryan Hurst had a great time getting to murder a bunch of people.

Ryan Hurst certainly does seem like he's having a lot of fun in the role, even if the character looks like he'd never even heard of fun as an abstract concept. Beta became a nightmare manifested for Rosita, who was highly paranoid that the hulking Whisperer was coming for her baby Coco. Their battle left her wounded, but her life was inevitably saved thanks to the duplicitous Gamma, who stopped Beta from going too far.

Beta might not have anyone around to stop him next time, so the good guys should be hopeful that he stays busy elsewhere. (And fun fact: Bronwen Hughes also directed Better Call Saul's excellent Season 5 premiere.)

Daryl Almost Got Himself Killed

Going against all conceivable thought, Daryl went out to try and find the Whisperers' cave entrance by himself, despite having previously had a small crew of survivors helping in the hunt for Magna and Connie. And then after he found it, he didn't return back to the others to tell them anything. Instead, he tried to kill Alpha by himself, and ended up getting seriously hurt. Didn't he just get on Carol's ass about making those kind of half-cocked decisions?

Per Insider, showrunner Angela Kang had a brief explanation for why Daryl did what he did.

I think he went off with a head full of steam, and didn't think too hard about it.

She can say that again. It's kind of ridiculous to think that if Lydia wasn't just hanging out in the woods watching what everyone is doing (and apparently not getting spotted in the process), that Daryl would have either bled out, or he would have been found by the Whisperers who took Alpha back to their camp. Good thing his influence hit her in all the right ways.

Fret not, Daryl-lovers! Despite having a knife driven pretty deep into his leg, Daryl doesn't look like he's doomed to die of any infections on the operating table. In the trailer for Episode 11, Daryl doesn't look like he'll have any lasting problems at all from all of these wounds he suffered.

Check out the trailer below!

The Walking Dead airs Sunday nights on AMC at 9:00 p.m. ET, but don't forget about all the other shows on the way. Bookmark our Winter and Spring premiere schedule.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.