"Endling," noun: "An individual living thing that is the last survivor of its species or subspecies and whose death consequently means the extinction of that species or subspecies." By the time The Walking Dead: World Beyond concludes after 20 episodes spanning two seasons, it could be with just a single survivor from the group of four teenage survivors calling themselves "the Endlings." Sisters Hope (Alexa Mansour) and Iris (Aliyah Royale), along with friends Elton (Nicolas Cantu) and Silas (Hal Cumpston), adopt the name while traversing the zombie apocalypse — what the scientifically-minded Elton calls the final stage of the sixth major extinction event.
Journeying to New York on a cross-country quest to rescue the man developing a cure for the zombie plague in "The Blaze of Gory," Elton says the decade-long apocalypse signals the death throes of humanity. When Hope asks if he's bothered that "we're gonna end up like the dinosaurs," Elton says that there "had to have been a last generation."
Being "endlings" means they're special. "I'm lucky to know that. To know that I need to make my life count. That's all I can do. Really, that's all any of us can do. We're the Endlings," he says, wearing it like a badge of honor.
More precisely, Elton explains, "We aren't the Endlings. The last member of a species, very last one, that's an endling. Of this fellow species, it is our quartet crossing the continent… the last one alive, they're the endling. And it's their life, their death, that defines us all."
Owning it, the group leaves behind a spray-painted message: "WE WERE HERE — THE ENDLINGS."
"Endlings" is more than a term for a last surviving specimen: it was the spinoff's early title before shifting to World Beyond.
Because the two-season limited event series created by Scott Gimple and showrunner Matt Negrete is finite and not open-ended, the show has an ending in mind — and is working towards it. However it ends, Negrete promises it's "going to be big."
"I'm kind of two minds about it, because right now we're breaking episode 7 of season 2 with the writers, and we've all fallen in love with these characters. So I think for all of us, we feel like we could write these characters forever," Negrete told Entertainment Weekly. "But, at the same time, it's nice to be able to approach a series from beginning to end kind of knowing what our ending is going to be and working towards that ending."0comments
"It's not like, 'Oh, we'll see what happens in season 6,' or whatever. We're going to go two seasons. It's going to be 20 episodes total," he continued. "It's challenging because there's a lot we need to fit in those 20 episodes. But, at the same time, it's great to approach it knowing what you're working towards."
Follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter for all things TWD. New episodes of The Walking Dead: World Beyond premiere Sundays at 10/9c on AMC.