The Walking Dead: World Beyond is the third show in the AMC zombie television franchise and provides a look at a different region with all new characters in this post-apocalyptic world. It differs from its predecessors by focusing on the first generation of youths to come of age where the undead are the norm. Is life any easier for the teens than the adults in the Walking Dead Universe?
[Slight Spoilers Ahead]
The episode begins at the Campus Colony of Omaha where an overachieving, peppy high school president, Iris, is planning a warm welcome for the community’s close allies, the Civic Republic. As a small party sets out to greet their visiting guests, another girl, roughly Iris’ age, stows away on the bus to visit her mother’s grave.
Later we learn that Iris and the other girl, Hope, are siblings and their father, Leo, was one of the leaders of the Campus Colony. He was sent to the Civic Republic in a science exchange that could benefit humanity. Because of this and the overall secrecy behind the commune’s partner, the sisters are a bit apprehensive with the alliance. To help manage the separation, Leo secretly sends them electronic messages but the girls become alarmed when he reveals he might not be safe.
The Walking Dead: World Beyond does a good job of building a new culture outside of the ones already introduced. Since the Campus Colony is based at a university, it’s fitting that they take a more academic approach like stressing education and studying the migratory patterns of zombies.
But don’t think they’re pushovers and soft. They are strong enough to be part of the Three Ring Network and Annet Mahendru’s Huck in particular stands out as a tough as nails security guard who serves as a mentor to Hope. It is really interesting exploring the Campus Colony and seeing how different it is. The vernacular is distinct as they refer to zombies as “empties” and have cool weapons to dispatch them.
“Brave” also provides a closer look at the Civic Republic and their military arm, the CRM. Viewers have seen them appear before in the other shows but The Walking Dead: World Beyond is looking to explore the secret organization even more as it becomes more prominent in the universe. The CRM is to be involved in the upcoming films.
The two leads, Hope and Iris, are developed well and the actresses, Alexa Mansour and Aliyah Royale, do an excellent job on the screen. Their past traumas as children have shaped them while Hope carries a heavy burden, her sister has a need to do more for others since she wasn’t there when her family needed her. Hope’s story is especially heartbreaking and reveals the dark place even a child would go in the harrowing times.
Because the series is a coming of age story, the soundtrack lends itself towards a teen story. In addition, many of the genre’s tropes are on full display including rebellious pranks, parties with booze, and longing for big city living. Though it shows a degree of normalcy in the younger characters’ lives, the show is more intriguing when concentrating on the individuals than stereotypical plotlines. It would also have been better to dive deeper into the siblings’ new friends, Silas and Elton. How these four come together is a bit rushed and inorganic, and Silas’ reasons for joining up in particular are flimsy at best.
Some of the characters’ decision making is also suspect. From the very start, Hope stowing away in an open compartment played no purpose except for a jump scare. In addition, the CRM’s representative, Lieutenant Colonel Elizabeth Kublek, extends a nice gesture towards the girls that hseems like a giant lapse in judgement for someone who’s a member of an authoritarian organization.
The season premiere of The Walking Dead: World Beyond centers on a new group of interesting characters with a pair of strong leads and should appease fans looking for more about the CRM. But the inclusion of many teen tropes and some questionable character decisions hold the episode back from completely grabbing viewers’ attention.
The Walking Dead: World Beyond airs Sunday nights at 10:00 pm on AMC