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Spoiler warning for everybody who hasn't yet watched The Walking Dead's latest episode.
After months of keeping viewers in the dark about what the big brutalist Beta looked like beneath his skin mask, The Walking Dead finally dropped some very informational crumbs with the latest episode, "Look at the Flowers." Beta (and Alpha's head) came upon a small town hotel where a musician had relatively recently taken up residence. There, Beta found a vinyl record that just happened to feature Ryan Hurst's face on it, which was titled Half Moon: Live in Concert. But it turns out our takeaways might be slightly off.
Showrunner Angela Kang shined a little light on the situation with EW, where she shared that Half Moon wasn't actually meant to indicate what Beta's name before the apocalypse. In her words:
Half Moon was just the name of the album, and I can't remember who came up with it. I think it was a little bit influenced by the image of him sort of in shadows. And I was looking back at old album covers of Garth Brooks and there's some really great stuff where he was really in shadow. I think he was the artist who had the alter ego for a second.
Granted, that explanation makes sense where the shadow across his face is concerned, since it does resemble a half moon. (In as much as a person's face can do such a thing.) But it's weird that Half Moon is the name of the album and not the musician's stage name, right?
In mentioning the artist with the alter ego, Angela Kang is referring to Garth Brooks, the multi-platinum country music legend who took a bizarre detour in the midst of his career in taking on the nom de plume of Chris Gaines. That transition included growing some facial hair and changing up his look in a couple of other ways. So if I've gotten this straight, Kang seems to be alluding that Half Moon was a live album celebrating the alter ego of whatever Beta's real name was.
While I'm kind of miffed that this reveal only turned out to be half of a reveal, it kind of does make sense within the scheme of things. It speaks to the notion that Beta was already into the idea of changing up his identity even before the walkers took over. The lack of an official name also ties into Beta's comic book reveal, in which he was noted to be famous basketball player, only without a name getting mentioned.
Angela Kang also talked about the decision to flip Beta from sports star to musician, saying:
So, we were thinking about all of that stuff, and in the comic books he's a 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.
Considering the proliferation of metal bands through the years that have donned masks or worn full-face make-up – from KISS and GWAR to Mudvayne and Slipknot – it's interesting that Beta was apparently a solo artist that played non-aggressive music. I suppose that's what would make his evolution into becoming the Whisperers' main enforcer all the more shocking to anyone who was aware of his former life. Here's hoping we can hear even more of his tunes in the future, whether it be on The Walking Dead proper or on Fear the Walking Dead, where the Half Moon album was first seen.