To say that expectations are a little high heading into Sunday night's two-episode, two-hour wrap-up of AMC's The Walking Dead: World Beyond ("The Deepest Cut" and "In This Life") would be putting it lightly because there's drama, sorrow, and dread flying around all over the place. Knowing the truth about his mother and unborn sister, Elton's (Nicolas Cantu) left to find Silas (Hal Cumpston)- who decided to go it alone and give in to all of the things that the others are believing about him. Meanwhile, Felix (Nico Tortorella), Huck (Annet Mahendru), Iris (Aliyah Royale), and Hope (Alexa Mansour) continue forward to find the CRM facility and the girls' father- though as we learned in the last episode, it only matters if Huck makes it back with "the asset' (Hope?) while the others appear to be varying degrees of "expendable."
So with that in mind, let's look back on the preview clips that have been released so far- kicking off with the opening minutes to"The Deepest Cut," where Huck ("Jennifer"?) is left to ponder her own thoughts while driving to their next destination as the others sleep- and that's when we learn quite a bit more about her dynamic with her mother Elizabeth (Julia Ormond). Set during the time she was gone from the group for 48 hours earlier in the season, we learn just how important it is for Huck to get "the asset" ready for "integration"- and that if Huck isn't able to get rid of the extra company? CRM is willing to step in to make it happen. Last thing? The deal with the watch and Huck's dad, combined with how Elizabeth reacted? I'm not completely sold on the idea that dear old dad just "got up and left"- judge for yourselves:
In the following exclusive Bleeding Cool clip from the penultimate episode, our foursome come upon a combo that probably wasn't on the top of their lists of surprises they were hoping for: a near-circle of empties tied together by barbed wire:
The Walking Dead: World Beyond season 1, episode 9 "The Deepest Cut": A series of setbacks causes a member of the group to reevaluate their role in the mission. Someone makes a surprising discovery. A startling revelation casts everything in a new light. Written by Maya Goldsmith and Ben Sokolowski, and directed by Sydney Freeland.
The Walking Dead: World Beyond season 1, episode 10 "In This Life": A divided group struggles to reunite; others set their sights on the greater good. Written by Matthew Negrete, Maya Goldsmith, and Ben Sokolowski, and directed by Magnus Martens.
In the following preview released earlier this week, Huck, Felix, Iris, and Hope scope out a new place to crash for a while, splitting up into pairs to make sure it's empty of empties. Interesting how the split went, isn't it?
"The Walking Dead: World Beyond"/CRM Conspiracy Thoughts
Here's a look back at how we've been reading the clues that have been offered heading into Sunday night's finale:
Season 1, Episode 3 "The Tyger and the Lamb": Shifting gears to The Walking Dead: World Beyond episode "The Tyger and the Lamb," where Elizabeth finds her orders to exterminate the Campus Colony being questioned by one of her soldiers. Now this is where the true threat of CRM becomes clear: for a movement that's about personal sacrifice for the greater good of the future, Elizabeth sure does seem to be enjoying a ton of "self-indulgences": television, running fans, working refrigerator, and even an espresso maker. So there's that underlying hypocrisy that's never a good thing.
Then there's that almost god-like tone they assign to what they do: "We have energy, water, medicine, transport, the council, the courts, schools, culture, currency and economy, agriculture, manufacturing, more. We are the last light of the world. We are the last hope." Yeah, that's the kind of cult-like craziness that results in the killing of hundreds for a "better future" (though Elizabeth's reaction when she's alone shows there's a sliver of decency still left somewhere)- but that "cult" also boasts a community membership of 200,000+ members so this isn't exactly Terminus.
Oh, and from the way Elizabeth described it? We're guessing that Rick's probably at one of those "CRM Health & Welfare Complex" facilities that Elizabeth mentioned- and probably hasn't proven himself enough of a "team player" yet.
Season 1, Episode 4 "The Wrong End of a Telescope": So remember when Rick (Andrew Lincoln) was taken by CRM after Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh) was asked if he was an "A" or a "B"? Well, the end credits scene tonight appears to offer some clarity. During an end credits scene, the action shifts to a CRM testing facility where walkers are being experimented on- and where you can tell right from the start that this is not good.
The thing is, those look like relatively fresh walkers- with the one we are shown with the name Dr. Samuel Abbott from Portland, Oregon). The female scientist offering a report clearly doesn't let her work impact her appetite (or apparently just taking over someone else's personal workspace- no damn manners whatsoever), and it's through her that we may have learned what "A" and "B" mean.
Dr. Abbott was listed as "Test Subject (TS) A 4.0.2." and the other walker test subjects also have an "A" listing, so we're going with "A" meaning someone's been bitten and ripe for experimentation. That would make a "B" someone who hasn't been bitten and show promise/possibility/usefulness, from what we're reading from all of this. As for that picture we see on the scientist's desk, we're guessing that Iris and Hope's father Dr. Leo Bennett (Joe Holt) isn't probably in the best place right now- though here's hoping he's a "B" if that's the case. Because one of his "group selfie" mates is definitely not having a good day…
So what does this mean for Rick? Well, on the plus side? If the theory holds true, Rick's most likely not being experimented on as a walker- so he has that going for him. On the other hand, what's the expression about there being fates worse than death? And just a reminder that Grimes folks aren't exactly known for "just going with the flow" when things aren't right.
Season 1, Episode 5 "Madman Across the Water": For the show that has CRM as a part of its basic narrative foundation, the CRM stuff was about as 180 degrees different from last week as it could possibly be. Though with this being a series in the TWD universe, I wasn't really that surprised. I mean, how many times have we been thrown major cliffhangers only for the topic to not be addressed again until a few eps down the road? But what this episode did do was add to our "we shouldn't trust Huck " theory.
Previously, we called into question her motivation to split the group in an earlier preview but this week we also had a huge leap in planning logic that also got us a bit curious. After Felix and Huck decide to continue on with their group of young survivors, Huck decides to travel ahead and scout out the territory on the other side of the river- with a promise to return with 48 hours. Giving the show the benefit of doubt that this wasn't just a serious lack of common sense (and proof that Huck doesn't understand the basic rules to surviving a horror movie), Huck splitting from the group and traveling ahead leaves me doubting her loyalties. Is she going ahead to meet and plan with CRM reps? Is she scouting ahead to lead them into traps or set up dangers for them to encounter? We're not sure, but that story she told Hope (Alexa Mansour) about her name would sure create a sense of loyalty in her towards those who saved her, gave her a home, and a sense of purpose. So we're keeping one eyebrow arched…
Season 1, Episode 6 "Shadow Puppets": Directed by Michael Cudlitz and written by Maya Goldsmith, the sixth episode of the newest spinoff series' first season wrapped up with our younger heroes and their guardian Felix breaking bread with new-found friends (???) and travel mates Percy (Ted Sutherland) and Tony (Scott Adsit) before… the end credits scene! That's right, that means a return trip back to that CRM facility from episode 4's end credits scene and to our favorite sandwich-eating scientist, Dr. Lyla Bellshaw (Natalie Gold). In this scene, Dr. Bellshaw is seen looking at that framed picture on the desk of Dr. Leo Bennett as well as Dr. Samuel Abbott (S.J. Ovaska) aka TS A402. She then reaches into the desk drawer and pulls out a copy of Dr. Bennett's work (Advanced Immunology: What to Know in the Age of the Unknown), which also includes a sketch and message from Hope and Iris. From there, Dr. Bellshaw gets a phone call, which goes like this (we only get her side of the phone call):
Hello [pause] Yes, I'm still working on that [pause] But… [pause] Of course [pause] It will be taken care of by the time they arrive [pause] Dr. Bennett won't be a problem [pause] His security detail won't be, either [pause] Of course [pause] Thank you, Lieutenant-Colonel.
Where to begin with the questions? What is it that Dr. Bellshaw is working on? Who are the "they" that are arriving? The easy answer would be our heroes, but could it be a new group we haven't met yet? If it means that they know our heroes are coming, then it adds a bit more legitimacy towards my distrust of Huck. It sounds like Dr. Bennett is still alive- but for how long? And what's the Lieutenant-Colonel's deal? Is this our first intro to our ultimate "big bad" or a harbinger of something worse pulling all the strings? The scene ends with the camera pulling back from Dr. Bellshaw, as if we're on the other side of the glass and slowly backing away- leaving us with the impression that the location is underground (and quite large).
Season 1, Episode 7 "Truth or Dare": Okay, now we know you might be thinking that Huck's backstory: that the tale blows a hole in our theory that she might be working for CRM. Yes, it would seem that taking out your fellow Marines to keep them from slaughtering a ton of innocent people would mean she'd have serious issues with what Elizabeth pulled on the Campus Community. But what if we flip that? Elizabeth says that CRM did what they did because the Campus Community was not only endangering lives but also a threat to their growing new society. From Elizabeth's perspective, she made a hard call that saved many more than it killed- couldn't she make that argument to Huck? We're talking Elizabeth, a representative of the group that saved Huck and literally gave her her name. I'm not sold that Huck would have nearly as much of an issue as many might she would- though it was interesting getting a look at that early chunk of the TWD universe timeline. Side note? Sure does seem like someone didn't want Tony to help break those CRM codes- and we're not buying it was Silas.
Two other interesting notes: Walter (Paul Teal), the dude who holds Hope hostage, has definitely not had a good experience with CRM but the part about Walter and the rest of his folks taking the place back from CRM might be something of note. Also, one of the flashback scenes to Huck's unit showed two soldiers discussing-slash-gossiping about what was going out (remember, it's the early stages) when one of them says, "I heard it came back on a rocket, that it started in space. Somebody breathed it in, it turned their stomachs, and then they got on a plane…". Now, we're going with this being a "wink-wink, nudge-nudge" to The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman and how he originally sold TWD comic book series as eventually showing that the walker virus resulted from space to get the ball rolling. Spoiler? That never happened. So with that said, it's a fun nod to the origins of TWD universe as the series celebrates ten years. But then again? It kinda does make us want to start combing through space references across all three series now. Hmmm…
Season 1, Episode 8 "The Sky Is a Graveyard": Well… well… well! Excuse us while we take a second to take a victory lap. Okay. We're done. So with the group heading off in different directions, we get a little look-see into what Huck was doing during that 48 "hey-let-me-scout-ahead-for-you" walkabout: meeting with Elizabeth. And from the sounds of the things that "Capt. CRM" was saying before Huck appeared, she's embedded herself with Felix and the others because there's "no easier way." An "easier way" for what? We also hear Elizabeth mention how Huck had to become someone different, so I'm guessing we have to put a huge asterisk next to the things we've learned about her backstory (though we're buying the whole idea of her killing her fellow soldiers).
When Huck does appear (late), we learn that someone (something?) in the group is an "asset" because Elizabeth asks, "The asset is safe?". Hmmm… the first assumption would be Iris and Hope, but we're leaning towards Felix being the "dark horse" in this (we still have a theory about Felix and Dr. Leo Bennett). Before Elizabeth tells Huck to go clean up and that they'll debrief later, she hands Huck a watch that she says should help her be on time for their next meet. Huck looks at the watch, then asks Elizabeth if the watch was "dad's." Wow! Okay! So our first assumption is that they're sisters, but the age thing has me going with a more mother-daughter, grandmother-grand-daughter, aunt-niece, or a connection like that.
(UPDATE: Mahendru confirmed on Talking Dead that Elizabeth is Huck's mother.)
Let's Not Forget About That "TWD" Universe Thanksgiving Image
The annual tradition of releasing a The Walking Dead Thanksgiving dinner image continued this year- with some "interesting" character decisions and placement. Negan at the head of the table- with Fear TWD's Ginny by his side, seeking council? Maggie (with Little Hershel and Elijah by her side) now has a set at the table- and she appears to be staring holes through Negan, along with Magda. Fear TWD's Morgan, Strand, and Alicia are also represented circling the table, as is TWD: World Beyond's Felix.
Seeing Connie in the distance has us feeling that she won't be back with the main group for a while- though having her next to one of the "The End is the Beginning" tag from Fear TWD has us nervous. We're big fans of what it is that Carol's reading- but is Daryl looking back towards her or someone/something else? And let's not forget about Yumiko, Eugene, Princess, and King Ezekiel off in the distance but making their way closer- but who's the silhouetted cowboy-horse combo off in the distance? Hmmm… let the speculation begin!
"The Walking Dead: World Beyond" delves into a new mythology and story that follows the first generation raised in a surviving civilization of the post-apocalyptic world. Two sisters along with two friends leave a place of safety and comfort to brave dangers, known and unknown, living and undead on an important quest. Pursued by those who wish to protect them and those who wish to harm them, a tale of growing up and transformation unfurls across dangerous terrain, challenging everything they know about the world, themselves, and each other. Some will become heroes. Some will become villains. But all of them will find the truths they seek.
Created by Scott M. Gimple and Matt Negrete, TWD: World Beyond stars Alexa Mansour as Hope, Nicolas Cantu as Elton, Hal Cumpston as Silas, Aliyah Royale as Iris, Annet Mahendru as Huck, Nico Tortorella as Felix, and Julia Ormond as Elizabeth. Recurring this season is Joe Holt as Leo, Natalie Gold as Lyla, Al Calderon as Barca, Scott Adsit as Tony, and Ted Sutherland as Percy.