The Walking Dead: World Beyond Review: A Brave and Different Direction for the Franchise

The world of The Walking Dead expands with a fresh perspective skewing on the older side of Young Adult in the new spinoff The Walking Dead: World Beyond. A two-season limited event series with cryptic connections to the greater TWD Universe — including the flagship television show, first spinoff Fear the Walking Dead, and the upcoming feature film focused on Andrew Lincoln's Rick Grimes — this forward-looking extension of the AMC Networks' zombie franchise delves into new mythology through the lens of the first generation raised in the apocalypse.

Taking place 10 years after the outbreak of a mysterious virus that reanimates the freshly dead as flesh-hungry "empties," World Beyond introduces us to a surviving civilization in Nebraska. Sisters Iris (Aliyah Royale) and Hope (Alexa Mansour) are among the nearly 10,000 survivors living in relative comfort and safety behind the walls of the Campus Colony, where they grew up with guardian and security expert Felix (Nico Tortorella).

We learn their community is one of the post-apocalypse civilizations represented by the three-circle symbol spotted in both Fear and The Walking Dead, most notably marking the black helicopter that shuttled Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) away from Virginia. Most prominent of the allied three is the ultra-mysterious Civic Republic, represented here by Civic Republic Military Lt. Col. Elizabeth Kublek (Julia Ormond).

The Walking Dead World Beyond cast
(Left to right: Silas, Hope, Iris, Elton. Photo: AMC)

When the girls receive a distressing message from their scientist father — who is purportedly off working to cure the zombie plague in a CRM-controlled research facility in New York State — the sisters decide to be brave and embark on a cross-country rescue mission. Along with new friends Elton (Nicolas Cantu) and Silas (Hal Cumpston), who have their reasons for joining the dangerous quest taking them into the outside world for the first time, the quartet embraces the nickname of "the Endlings" — a term related to the end of a species.

In the series premiere "Brave," from director-producer Jordan Vogt-Roberts (Kong: Skull Island, TV's You're the Worst), there's much talk of the future.

"We are the future," Iris declares. "I'm sure of it." When pressed by her therapist, Iris admits she's "building a better future" at the cost of neglecting herself; the rebellious and more pessimistic Hope, meanwhile, believes the world will end again and will be gone instead of built back up.

The black-wearing Civic Republic Military soldiers are working to "bring this world back," so says Elizabeth, teasing a storyline expected to unfurl in the Rick-focused Walking Dead feature film involving CRM and their shadowy operation.

The Walking Dead World Beyond CRM
(Elizabeth Kublek and soldiers of the Civic Republic Military. Photo: AMC)

World Beyond is unlike any Walking Dead show coming before it: at their core, all three shows are about survival, but the new series from co-creators Scott M. Gimple and showrunner Matt Negrete is considerably grander in scope, though deeply intimate in terms of character — including a dark backstory that intertwines two characters, so far unbeknownst to them.

For many, this lore will be the most intriguing part of World Beyond. There is talk of so-far unseen civilizations, and perhaps most surprisingly, a functioning government. The taste of what's out there can often overshadow the here and now — longtime Walking Dead and Fear viewers will pick up on hints about the missing Rick — but our new group of survivors, and their respective histories and hang-ups, are interesting enough to keep audiences coming back on Sunday nights.

The Walking Dead World Beyond
(Photo: AMC)

After viewing "Brave" and the second episode, "The Blaze of Gory," it's noticed that World Beyond lacks the creepiness and gritty rawness of the first season of the Frank Darabont-helmed Walking Dead. There are sequences of thrilling horror — most notably the kids' first encounter with a large group of empties in "The Blaze of Gory" — but, at least early on, World Beyond is more optimistic in a tone befitting of its younger cast of characters who have had the luxury of growing up in relatively normal circumstances. It remains to be seen how that tone will continue to differentiate World Beyond from counterparts Fear and The Walking Dead, giving each show a unique feel and place in the budding Walking Dead Universe.

Fans hungry for more Walking Dead won't want to miss The Walking Dead: World Beyond, a brave and different direction for the Walking Dead Universe.

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Rating: 3 out of 5

The Walking Dead: World Beyond premieres Sunday, October 4th at 10 p.m. ET on AMC.