The Walking Dead's Ryan Hurst Compares Beta's Fate To Opie's In Sons Of Anarchy

the walking dead beta in ghost townSeason 10 ryan hurst
(Image credit: amc press)

The Walking Dead faced a six-month delay before airing Season 10's "A Certain Doom," originally set as the season finale, meaning star Ryan Hurst had to stay silent about Beta's fate for far longer than expected. Alas, the episode aired in early October and, beyond giving audiences a lot to think about, it brought an official end to the Whisperers War. Daryl plunged two knives deep into Beta's eye sockets, killing off the hulking antagonist in a delightfully brutal manner that called to mind the horrifying way Hurst's fan-favorite Opie Winston was killed off on Sons of Anarchy.

When I spoke with Ryan Hurst ahead of "A Certain Doom" finally debuting on AMC, he talked about how he felt about Beta's death in general, as well as how much of the villain's backstory was based on his own suggestions. That sequence marked what is arguably the second biggest character exit of Hurst's career, and since I'm a big Sons of Anarchy fan that still hasn't ever gotten over Opie's swan song, I asked the actor to compare the two TV deaths. In his words:

In a way, they feel remotely [similar]. There's echoes of similarity in the amount of pathos that's brought to both of them. With Opie's character, you know, you've got this guy who'd lost everything. He'd lost his father, he lost his family, he lost his wife, and didn't really have a reason to live anymore. And in those last moments, you see him decidedly become a martyr; if the only last thing that he could do to serve other people would be to die, then he would do it. And there's echoes of that in Beta. This was a guy who was a source of joy and music for other people, and after the apocalypse decided that the only way to survive being a sensitive, creative person, he had to sort of detach himself from that. One way or the other, he decided that the way to do that was through Alpha, that he latched on to somebody who said, 'This is how you should think, this is how you should feel, and this is how you should survive.' He had this festering bit of humanity that sort of plagued him, and after his guide – his Alpha – dies, he had no more ability to compartmentalize that part of himself. So you know, I think that in him dying the way that he died, Beta welcomed his death, and Opie welcomed his death. So yeah, I think that there's some some far-fetched similarities.

While the two characters aren't exactly twins, minus the amount of blood that got into their beards, Opie and Beta are on opposite sides of the same coin when it comes to how the characters' lives fell apart in fucked-up ways, and how they lost loved ones over time. As well, they both became quite unhinged and fell harder into the "brotherhoods" that surrounded them. Obviously, Sons of Anarchy's SAMCRO is on a wholly different wavelength than the Whisperers, but the central idea of "follow the leader" is inherent to both. And now I want to see Samantha Morton's Alpha and Ron Perlman's Clay Morrow in a cage match.

sons of anarchy opie

Honestly, I could have listened to Ryan Hurst talk about Sons of Anarchy all day long, and not only because my SoA fandom stretches back to my early days at CinemaBlend. As strange as it is to think about in any sort of an analytical sense, Opie's death is one of the only pop culture demises that I've never really gotten over. Which is definitely different compared to how I feel about Beta, whose death already felt imminent once his mental issues kicked up twelve notches, not to mention how it matched up with the comic book's storyline.

Ryan Hurst also talked about learning about Alpha's big death, and how it affected both the show and Beta. His thoughts:

When I first sort of read that Samantha's character was going to die, [I was interested]. Obviously we knew that Alpha was gonna die. We didn't know when, but it played out pretty close to the way that the comic did. But then I was so interested, because in the comic, [Beta's story] is sort of ambiguous; they touch on what Beta does. But I had some conversations with Angela and Greg about where we wanted to take the character of Beta after Alpha goes. So after Samantha was gone, then they brought her back as this ghost for that one episode. I mean, it's obviously sort of a big hit to the show, because she was the dark energy of that show, the sort of female Colonel Kurtz wackadoo. But I was really interested in the way that Beta played out after that, this idea of sort of integrating a part of her persona into himself and losing his mind in the process.

While Alpha and Beta won't be back when The Walking Dead returns, fans can expect to see Lauren Cohan's Maggie returning in full to face some "old demons" alongside her mysterious masked ninja friend. As well, showrunner Angela Kang and her creative team will introduce more elements from the comic's Commonwealth community, now that viewers have seen that area's uniformed security team. Thankfully, we won't have to wait too long for to see what happens next. The Walking Dead is currently on hiatus during production on the next batch of Season 10 episodes that will set up the eleventh and final season when it debuts in October 2021.

While waiting, don't forget to watch Fear the Walking Dead and The Walking Dead: World Beyond every Sunday night on AMC at 9:00 p.m. ET and 10:00 p.m. ET respectively. Our Fall TV 2020 premiere schedule will keep you updated on everything that's still yet to premiere before the year is over.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.