AMC’s The Walking Dead: World Beyond
Directed by Magnus Martens
Written by Scott M. Gimple & Matthew Negrete
* For a recap & review of “The Blaze of Gory,” click here.
Meet the generation of youth who’ve never known a life outside the post-zombie apocalypse. We meet Iris Bennett (Aliyah Royale), Silas Plaskett (Hal Cumpston), and others at a campus colony. This opening sequence is set to PJ Harvey’s “The Devil.” A tense moment shows one girl nearly getting chomped by a zombie while hiding underneath the bus carrying a bunch of students. This is Hope Bennett (Alexa Mansour), Iris’s sister, and she’s sneaking out to a bunch of graves to see her mother Kari’s (Christina Marie Karis) grave. Meanwhile, members of the Civic Republic military have arrived. They’re in one of those planes marked with the symbols we’ve already seen on The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead.
Lieutenant Colonel Elizabeth Kublek (Julia Ormond) has arrived, greeted by Felix Carlucci (Nico Tortorella), Senior Security Force Officer, and Huck (Annet Mahendru). We can see there are clear divisions in this new society, as the campus colony’s obviously lower on the hierarchy than the military; no different than regular society today, nothing changes even after “the empties” have come. Something called the “Alliance of the Three” is what keeps things civil, though only somewhat. And the students on the campus colony try to live a normal existence, despite the zombie plague raging outside their walls.
Iris and Hope are divided as sisters. They each clearly want different things. Iris thinks the Civic Republic are a good thing while Hope sees them as a secretive, semi-fascist group who shouldn’t be trusted. They’re sisters who live together without parents because mom’s dead and their dad’s been sent to work with the Republic in a kind of exchange program. It’s odd to see such relatively normal life in contrast to the other Walking Dead shows. Although much of the drama will likely remain the same, there are promising ideas here in the initial episode of World Beyond.
We discover Hope and Iris’s mother died in what looks like a plane crash 10 years ago. They have a Memorial Day celebration to remember all the fallen. Their campus colony wound up being not far from Omaha. Iris uses her dad Leopold’s (Joe Holt) office as a kind of safe haven, even within their community’s somewhat safe walls. She goes there to reflect. She considers her and her community “monuments to the past,” yet simultaneously also the future, too.
Sad to say there are still cops in this new society; have we learned nothing? Poor Hope gets thrown in lockup when Felix and the Security Force confiscate her small booze operation. Felix looks up to Leopold and he doesn’t want Hope to go down the wrong path. He’s been given guardianship over the girls while dad’s not around. Thankfully her sister shows up to get her out of there. Right afterwards, the girls run into Lt. Col. Kublek. She wants to thank them for sacrificing their dad to the “science exchange” that’ll do big things for the Alliance. Hope doesn’t give a shit, though, and it pisses Iris off. But Hope knows her sister’s been having nightmares since their father left, she believes Iris doesn’t trust the Republic any more than her.
So Iris goes to talk with Dr. K (Beth Leavel) for a cup of tea and a therapy session. The doc urges her to talk honestly with Hope about what happened 10 years ago. But the strong young lady’s resistant to dwelling on things, regardless if she’s been having terrifying nightmares. She tells Dr. K about that night, rushing to try getting to the campus for safety. She remembers a pregnant woman calling out for help before an explosion went off. Her biggest trauma comes from Hope and their mother being separated from her and Leopold, after which mom died, and little Hope was there to witness it all. She blames herself and her head is jammed “up the future‘s ass,” so now she’s trying to be the person who does everything to help everybody, to be everyone’s saviour.
There’s so much trauma in Hope’s past from the night her mother died. They saw such awful horrors when separated from Iris and Leopold. They saw terrible things like zombies melted into the fuselage of the wrecked plane, dead people coming alive wrapped in wires, their bodies splattered across the plane’s interior. Hard to move on from something like that. So it’s no wonder Hope has a nihilist view of the world. Doesn’t help she and Iris get a fax from Leopold indicating it isn’t safe out there with the Republic. They show it to Felix. He’s worried about Leopold sending messages and breaking orders. They’re not supposed to do anything about the messages, as per Leopold. Felix says they have to rely on Will— his boyfriend and Leopold’s security detail while with the Republic.
Not sure Hope’s so willing to sit down and shut up. She and Iris are arguing when they run across Lt. Col. Kublek, who’s slightly tipsy on the champagne Hope managed to concoct. Kublek offers the girls something to trust her: a coded map. It doesn’t show Leopold’s exact location, which is in New York State, but it does give them blackmail material that offers a form of trust to maybe make the girls feel better about their father. Except the girls wake to a new message from Leopold stating things have “gone bad” and not to tell the council or Felix.
Some terror occurs for Iris when she goes to see Dr. K, finding the older woman dead and grabbing at her from behind the locked cage on her apartment. A sad moment for Iris, seeing another person she cares about die, then reanimate. Not a great start for Monument Day, especially when Iris has to give a speech in front of the camps colony, as well as Lt. Col. Kublek and her crew. Instead of her prepared speech she goes off script, talking about the dreams she has, and Dr. K dying. It’s a frank speech rather than a bunch of pretentiousness, referencing the “night the sky fell” when they all lost so many people. Iris then says she doesn’t trust the Civic Republic, questioning Kublek openly: “Science is about finding the truth, not just deciding on it.” After the speech, she gets honest with Hope, too. We then see what happened 10 years ago when Hope’s mother was shot to death by a white woman in the streets. Hope picked up the gun, and an explosion caused her to fire, shooting the woman to death. Now, Iris wants Hope to take a chance with her, to go looking for their father.
The sisters are preparing to go. They confide in Silas and Elton Ortiz (Nicolas Cantu). The boys don’t try to talk them out of it. They want to take the chance to see a world beyond their community’s walls, not wanting until it’s too late. Life isn’t guaranteed day to day, even in a somewhat safe community compared to other places out there. So Elton wants to venture out and see the world. Silas wants to prove he isn’t who others think he is in the colony. And thus, the four of them pack up and head out on their own. Doesn’t take long for Felix to realise they’re gone, and Huck admits to teaching Hope how to fight zombies. He thinks they’ll die out there.
The kids wind up in the area where the plane crashed. Elton finds a dinosaur fossil meant to be a gift to his unborn baby sister. He lost them that night. But he holds onto hope that “the wind always wins,” that nature knows what’s best for us, and when. I like this kid and his attitude. The group keep on going, honing their weapons and coming face-to-face with empties, while the next morning Felix and Huck leave to find them. I think these kids are gonna be just fine. Back at the campus colony, things aren’t going near as well.
While other critics seem like they’re not into the show, I’m enjoying this from the start. Sure, there’s going to be a certain level of drama that’s similar to the other shows. But the Civic Republic being explored more, and the other colonies being shown, is something different. I never wanted The Walking Dead, or Fear the Walking Dead, to go too deep into the structure of a new society after the zombies. World Beyond seems to be dipping its toes deeply into that. We’re only getting two 10-episode seasons. Enough to whet the whistle and keep this franchise fresh.