The Walking Dead: World Beyond season 1 preview – Brave new world

Alexa Mansour as Hope, Aliyah Royale as Iris, Hal Cumpston as Silas, Nicolas Cantu as Elton - The Walking Dead: World Beyond _ Season 1 - Photo Credit: Jojo Whilden/AMC
Alexa Mansour as Hope, Aliyah Royale as Iris, Hal Cumpston as Silas, Nicolas Cantu as Elton - The Walking Dead: World Beyond _ Season 1 - Photo Credit: Jojo Whilden/AMC /

The Walking Dead: World Beyond is delightfully dark and utterly surprising

The review embargo has lifted for the latest entry into the TWD Universe and to be completely honest The Walking Dead: World Beyond surprised me by being so much better than the previews could ever reveal. This tale of a group of friends who set out on a quest in the middle of the apocalypse is darker than you can imagine, and it has big ties to the greater TWD Universe.

Before we get too far into this review, let’s establish one thing: The Walking Dead: World Beyond is not Riverdale set in the TWD Universe.

Truthfully, this is something I worried about from the moment I first saw the trailer. I didn’t mind the younger cast, rather I worried that it would be a teen drama set in the apocalypse. It’s not.

I had the privilege of visiting the World Beyond set in November 2019 and while many details of the trip must remain a secret because of the episode that was being filmed, my experience changed the way I saw the show. The trailers, I realized, really didn’t do justice to what was happening in the story, but there was no way to really reveal what was happening without ruining many of the surprises.

The show is dark, much darker than I expected. The pilot episode will leave jaws hanging and people wondering what they just saw and how it fits into the larger TWD Universe. And that’s a good thing. The problem with the flagship is that it’s running on the fumes of the comic book canon. (Good fumes, but fumes nonetheless) Once the show caught up to the comic book, what then?

The comic book ended its run in 2019 and many people predicted that the show would end soon thereafter. The recent announcement that The Walking Dead is ending in 2022 confirms that the main show is wrapping up. (My guess is that it’s more due to COVID-19 delays and contract negotiations rather than dried up source material) It’s my opinion that the show works best when it deviates from the “script” and leaves fans awestruck rather than following what happens in the comics.

What that means for World Beyond is that it’s all fresh material, tied into the greater TWD Universe by well-placed threads that fans will spot in the form of Easter Eggs throughout the pilot episode and beyond. (I’ve seen 101 and 102 so far) Showrunner Matt Negrete was a writer for The Walking Dead with Angela Kang, so he knows what the greater universe looks like and he was picked for the job, no doubt, because he knows how to move this limited series into place to tell that story.

From the very first moments, World Beyond does a fantastic job establishing this new world and the people who live in it. With only two seasons to tell the story, the writing must be tight and fans can expect every moment to serve a greater purpose. There’s a reason for everything because there isn’t time (or space) to waste.

World Beyond introduces fans to the survivors living on a college campus in Nebraska ten years after the fall of civilization. They’re not living, they’re thriving. The bustling community has everything it needs and it’s a community of several thousand people. Everyone has a job and a responsibility, and the kids grow up learning how to fight “empties” (aka walkers) even though some may never have seen one in real life.

With such sheltered lives, the big question we all had after watching the trailers and previews was this: Why would you leave it all behind?

Thankfully, Negrete and his team establish all of the answers you need in a short span of time, and it all makes perfect sense. It was a calculated gamble that pays off when you learn why they set out the way they do, but it works very well and fits into the show’s larger purpose of following a group of teens who set out on a quest that will change their lives.

The cast works incredibly well together. After two episodes, it’s safe to say that some characters are more likeable than others, and after the pilot you want to know more about them. (I can say that you will learn all you need to know in time…trust me)

Sisters Hope (Alexa Mansour) and Iris (Aliyah Royale) play well off of each other. Iris is brilliant and motivated while her sister Hope hides her brilliance behind her constant moping. The death of their mother when the outbreak began really impacted them, and while Iris became a natural leader, Hope is cautious. She doesn’t trust anyone.

Felix (Nico Tortorella) is the head of the security team in the community, and he’s also watching out for Hope and Iris while their father is away. He watched these girls grow up and they’re like family to him. His partner Huck (Annet Mahendru) is no-nonsense but she watches out for her partner no matter what.

Silas (Hal Cumpston) is mysterious, having recently arrived at the community. He’s quiet and imposing because he hasn’t grown up with everyone else, but he pays attention to what’s happening around him and he’s a good judge of character.

Elton (Nicolas Cantu) is the youngest member of the group but his keen intellect makes him a valuable companion. His inquisitive nature has taken him outside of the walls so that he can conduct experiments on the empties.

Julia Ormond’s Elizabeth is delectably mysterious. You never know what she’s really saying because she plays things so close to the chest, but there’s no question why she’s being billed as the villain.

Together, this mix of characters built a story that had me hooked as soon as the pilot ended. That’s not easy to do in an age where some shows take several episodes to become interesting. With World Beyond the tight writing and unique concept, along with the ties to the greater TWD Universe, make it instantly watchable and enjoyable.

light. Related Story. The Walking Dead is more than any one genre

If you doubted whether or not to watch the show based on the trailers and social media promotions, give the pilot a shot. Trust me on this one. If you’re not hooked after the pilot, then this might not be the show for you. However, I was hooked as soon as the concept was explained to me during that set visit, and once I saw the pilot I knew this would be something very special. I think you’ll feel the same way, too.

The Walking Dead: World Beyond premieres on October 4, immediately after The Walking Dead season 10 finale.