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SYFY WIRE The Walking Dead: World Beyond

Did 'The Walking Dead: World Beyond' series finale reveal the origin of the zombie virus?

The finale featured the return of a character fans haven't seen since Season 1 of The Walking Dead.

By Josh Weiss
The Walking Dead: World Beyond 210 PRESS

The Walking Dead: World Beyond went international in its series finale Sunday night with a potential explanation of where the zombie virus originally came from. Episode 10 (aptly titled "The Last Light") closed out with a mid-credits stinger set in a French lab where a scientist watches video messages from none other than Dr. Edwin Jenner (guest star Noah Emmerich), the CDC pathologist fans last saw way back at the end of The Walking Dead's first season.

"He was making those video reports back in Season 1, so what we saw was a peek into a story that we've been working on for a long time," co-showrunner and Walking Dead brand manager Scott Gimple explained during an interview with Entertainment Weekly. "It has more of a relationship to the greater Walking Dead universe than it does directly to World Beyond. But it's a peek into a story that we will tell. And I'm actually talking definitively."

The French scientist is soon interrupted by a man with a gun and the ensuing conversation carries strong hints that the undead outbreak was manmade. We learn that there were two teams: Primrose and Violet. The Primrose team was at a conference in Toledo, Ohio "when it happened." This surviving doctor being held at gunpoint went on the run, but ultimately came back in the desperate hope that the Primrose individuals had somehow made it back home to finish their work and "end all this."

A clever cut to a wider shot reveals a bit of graffiti on a laboratory air duct reading: "LES MORTIS SONT NES ICI," a phrase that translates into "The dead are born here." The gunman then accuses the woman and her colleagues of starting "this" and promises that any doctor stupid enough to show their face again will be killed on sight. Coupled with the graffiti, we'd say that's some pretty damning evidence that French scientists were responsible for the end of the world.

Gimple, however, isn't confirming or denying anything just yet.

"I know the answer, but I don't want to..." he told EW. "Yeah, I'm not going to tell you that either. But I'm tempted to tell you ... I think it's like a better story than me telling you right now So now I'm not going to tell. But I guess I would say, don't just flatly believe everything you read scrolled in paint. That might be true, but I wouldn't say it's true because it's painted."

The French scientist is shot dead as the scene cuts back to Jenner making mention of "variant cohorts" discovered by the European team. A variant mutation of an already fatal virus? Geez, Walking Dead. Read the room. Anyway, the stinger ends with the executed doctor reanimating as a zombie and trying to escape the lab, though Gimple was quick to shoot down theories about her being a new, "variant" breed of Walker.

"There's more to what Jenner is talking about," Gimpled continued. "And what we saw is, first of all, not super-powered in any way. That's a thin door, and not the end state of that walker necessarily. But Jenner was super intrigued about things he was hearing, about differences in things, and that's a big portion of the story or the environment that we will potentially tell a story in."

He concluded: "The differences [Jenner is] talking about, the iterations he's talking about, whatever, there's something going on and we're going to see more of it. Is it a total redoing of everything we're doing? No, it is not. And it's specific to a story we're telling in a place we're telling it. Who knows after that, but right now we're telling a story about things going on in a very specific place."

All 10 episodes of The Walking Dead: World Beyond Season 2 are now streaming on AMC's website (a cable subscription login is required). The Walking Dead will air the second half of its eleventh and final season next year.