The Walking Dead: World Beyond ruins its own story by repeating the initial plot of its predecessors, The Walking Dead and Fear The Walking Dead.
The Walking Dead: World Beyond, AMC’s coming-of-age Walking Dead spinoff series, ruins its own story by repeating the initial plot of its predecessors, The Walking Dead and Fear The Walking Dead. Despite the fact that World Beyond is set 10 years after the initial outbreak in a well-organized community, the protagonists live a sheltered existence and have little to no experience facing the dangers that lie beyond their walls. With this in mind, World Beyond begins in much the same way as The Walking Dead and Fear The Walking Dead, with its leading characters learning to deal with zombies for the first time.
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After receiving a message of distress from their father, sisters Iris (Aliyah Royale) and Hope Bennett (Alexa Mansour) venture beyond their community with the intention of saving their father from a secret facility led by CRM, the Civil Republic Military. Bringing their friends Silas (Hal Cumpston) and Elton (Nicolas Cantu) along for the journey, the group sets out armed with good intentions until they’re faced with a startling truth out on the road: none of them truly have the skills necessary to survive the world beyond. Given the fact that the community in World Beyond had a whole decade to prepare, one would expect they’d be experts at weathering the apocalypse, but only the security officers, Felix (Nico Tortorella) and Huck (Annet Mahendru), appear to have experience fighting “empties.” By endowing Iris and Hope with the same experience as previous Walking Dead protagonists, World Beyond missed its opportunity to bring a whole new perspective to the Walking Dead franchise.
World Beyond could’ve introduced a community never seen before in The Walking Dead, in which the group has not only mastered the demands of day-to-day survival in the apocalypse, but have also prepared for the future of civilization. World Beyond does this in part, by educating the younger generation in fields that will benefit humanity as a whole. Iris sets her sights on becoming a scientist like her father, so she can help create a zombie cure in the future, while Elton also has an interest in science and history, and “documents” their history with his camera. However, because the characters are preparing for the future and not the present, it makes their skill set rather impractical, given that they have to survive the present to have any impact on the future. Since the community has the infrastructure to train expert survivalists and educate, World Beyond could’ve shown a thriving community that has accepted the apocalypse as the “new normal.”
By having the community in World Beyond be physically and mentally acclimated to the apocalypse, the new angle could have not only deviated from the plot of Walking Dead’s past two shows, but it also would’ve strengthened World Beyond’s premise: a coming-of-age story about the first generation growing up during the apocalypse. Since the target audience for World Beyond is viewers of The Walking Dead, the audience has already seen Walking Dead characters’ attempt to retain their humanity without being broken by the brutality of the apocalypse. Alternatively, World Beyond could’ve shown the opposite, with its protagonists beginning as hardened, survivalists that learn how to live, not just survive. This concept already matches much of the pacing of World Beyond, which seems to focus more on the emotional development of its characters rather than on the zombies themselves.
Additionally, one could also argue that when World Beyond’s main characters leave their community to explore the world without being prepared, it comes across as an insult to the plight of past Walking Dead protagonists. In the early seasons of The Walking Dead, Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and his group of survivors struggled to find a safe settlement where they could lead more fulfilling lives, which they only found in season 5 at Alexandria. Given the hardship Rick’s group experienced to attain a safe haven, when Iris’ group leave their compound with the sub-goal of exploration, it depicts them as naive children, especially since the audience has previously witnessed the brutality of their world in past Walking Dead shows. However, if Iris’ group had come from a community that already mastered survival, the optimistic outlook featured in The Walking Dead: World Beyond would’ve been flipped from naive to empowering.
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