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Next month, The Walking Dead universe will expand once again when the third television series inspired by the megahit comic book arrives on AMC. Billed as a different look at the zombie apocalypse both in terms of setting and in terms of character, The Walking Dead: World Beyond is a show that will attempt to do exactly what its title implies: Show us a side of survival beyond what we've seen in the other two shows, and give us a different perspective on life after the world as we know it has crumbled.
The new series follows two sisters, Hope (Alexa Mansour) and Iris (Aaliyah Royale), who are both part of the first generation to come of age in the zombie apocalypse. The world collapsed around them a decade ago, but now they're teenagers who've grown up in the relative safety of a community walled off from the walkers — or "empties," as this show calls them — who've been able to get an education and opportunities even amid a reorganized society in what was once the United States. Everything changes, of course, when a message from their scientist father prompts the two sisters to venture out into the world beyond their settlement, risking everything for the sake of their family.
By focusing on two teenaged characters at the heart of the story, World Beyond hopes to offer a different view of The Walking Dead universe right from the beginning, but that's probably not the main reason a lot of viewers will tune in. This series has also promised, through trailers and things like its Comic-Con@Home panel, to expand the mythos of the franchise in exciting ways, including some ways that might ultimately point in the direction of the much-anticipated return of Rick Grimes. So, is World Beyond worth your time and the added space of a third Walking Dead series on your DVR?
The first reviews for the series arrived late Sunday and early Monday, and while they don't always agree that the entire series is a homerun, one thing is very clear: The new show's ambitious approach to offering us a new angle on the apocalypse is paying off. Let's take a look at what a few of the critics are saying about World Beyond.
Here's the critical rundown:
"The world-building throughout the Walking Dead franchise has always been impressive — down to the abandoned buses, tattered houses and tumbleweed grounds — and World Beyond is no exception. This latest installment impressively pulls back the layers to show how even if you build around it, the decayed world is still in plain view. Still, World Beyond doesn't offer audiences fresh ideas or even fascinating characters for which to root." - Candice Frederick, TV Guide
"This is not a perfect series: The shots of the undead often look cheap and the rules of how these monsters are evaded have never felt more loosely applied. And yet there’s a willingness to reinvent, to genuinely probe a corner of the universe previously untouched, that makes this series feel serious in its intent and, for fans of the forerunning series, well worth checking out. Its willingness to place two young women at its center, and to make their emotional response to family upheaval the story of the apocalypse, shows a curiosity worth crediting." - Daniel D'Addario, Variety
"The settlement feels rather undramatic and the zombies barely treated as a threat, with little of the creeping suspense permeating the original show. There's some tension from the arrival of the ambiguous black-clad Civic Republic Military, an organization familiar to longtime Deadheads. But it's not exactly nail-biting stuff, even when Hope and Iris set out beyond the safety of the town walls into meandering set pieces." - Richard Trenholm, CNET
"If nothing else, World Beyond offers something different from the original show, and that’s a welcome difference. It’s a different world, and a different experience, in a different part of the former United States after a significant leap forward in time. In that sense, the show’s title serves multiple purposes." - Ron Hogan, Den of Geek
"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." - Cameron Bonomolo, ComicBook
The Walking Dead: World Beyond premieres October 4 on AMC.