'Walking Dead': How That Deadly 'Halloween' Homage Came to Life

Showrunner Angela Kang explains why the AMC zombie apocalypse drama went all in on the slasher genre.
Jace Downs/AMC

[This story contains spoilers for season 10, episode 10 of AMC's The Walking Dead, "Stalker."]

Michael Myers does not exist within the Walking Dead universe, neither the comedian nor the slasher icon — but in the latter category, some competition has officially arrived in the form of Ryan Hurst's Beta.

An established force of malevolence already, the Sons of Anarchy veteran's full force was felt in the latest episode of AMC zombie drama, "Stalker." Armed with two knives and a mission to find the Whisperers' most high profile traitor, Gamma (Thora Birch), Beta sneaks into Alexandria through a secret tunnel laid out by the late Dante (Juan Javier Cardenas), unleashing a murder rampage the likes of which have not been seen since the Saviors last rode into town. 

"My writer, Jim Barnes, who wrote the episode, had pitched this idea of Halloween in Alexandria with Beta," showrunner Angela Kang tells The Hollywood Reporter about how the riveting episode came to life. "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."

The body count is high, even if the number of main characters killed is very low; the most notable casualty is Laura (Lindsley Register), a former Saviors lieutenant who has served as a key member of the Alexandria Safe-Zone since season nine. But the killing spree is nonetheless a horror to behold, playing out like a slasher film within the broader Walking Dead canvas, as Beta moves from house to house in a style very deliberately modeled after genre entries such as the Halloween franchise. 

"It was really fun for us to do," says Kang. "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."

But Hurst isn't the only one laying out the hurt in "Stalker," as an equally prominent and brutal battle goes down elsewhere in the episode: Norman Reedus' Daryl versus Samantha Morton's Alpha, the two leaders clashing following the cave-in that may or may not have killed Connie (Lauren Ridloff) and Magna (Nadia Hilker). Daryl and Alpha deeply wound one another, to the point of near death, if not for the intervention of one person: Lydia (Cassady McClincy), Alpha's daughter who ran away from Alexandria in the front half of season ten. Lydia shows up, spares her mother's life (despite Alpha's urging), and rescues Daryl from the fight — a decision that will have major internal and emotional ramifications, as well as external and physical ones.

"So much of this from the Whisperer side is about Lydia," says Kang. "Alpha wanted Lydia to take on her mantle and believe what she believes. This teenage girl is in the middle of a giant battle about territory, but also about the philosophy of life and the way the world should be in the apocalypse. We wanted to make it personal, the more the battle heats up. We leave both leaders having gotten to the brink of death and having gotten out of it. Both are now more determined to fight than ever. Lydia has some pain and guilt about the fact that she couldn't kill her mother, but she didn't want to go there. Her mother was trying to draw her to the dark side: 'If you kill me, you can be just like me!' But that's not what she wants. She has her own struggles and her own sense of needing to prove herself and redeem herself. Everyone's emotions are at a high as we go into the next episode, where things really start to ramp up to an epic place."

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