The Walking Dead: World Beyond is the newest entry into The Walking Dead franchise. It separates itself from the original and Fear the Walking Dead by setting it in a world that, honestly, isn’t too different than our own.
World Beyond is set approximately ten years after the zombie apocalypse began, which would set it in roughly the same time period that the original series takes place in. But while The Walking Dead is dirty and rough around the edges, World Beyond is set in a clean, safe bubble. It’s like the difference between living in a gated community and growing up on the “wrong side of the tracks.”
The following includes spoilers about The Walking Dead: World Beyond episode one, “Brave.” Read ahead at your own discretion.
World Beyond follows two sisters, Iris and Hope, who live in the Omaha Campus Colony, a colony set up on a college campus, home to over 9,000 people. It seems like a clean, well-managed community. The kids go to school; there is a security detail; everyone is well groomed and well fed. There is no fear of zombies getting into this community.
Ten years ago, on the night “the sky fell” (something that is never exactly explained, but in the flashbacks, there is chaos on the street because a plane fell from the sky and zombies are crawling around), Iris and Hope lost their mother. A few months ago, their father, a renowned scientist, went to the Civil Republic Military to help them on a cure. The CRM, Omaha, and Portland are part of the Alliance of Three. Again, this is not explained, but it seems like three very disparate locations to have become allied. The CRM is super-secret – no one is allowed in or out, or even allowed to know where they are located. It is never specified if it is Portland, Oregon or Portland, Maine, (or a different Portland) but either way, it seems rather far to be an alliance.
Iris is the “good girl” who is trying to excel at science so she can be like her dad and help in finding a cure, while Hope is the “bad girl.” In this situation, “bad” is defined as extremely minor mischief and brewing her own booze for a party. The girls have a secret system set up so they can receive messages from their father. Their concern for him becomes justified when they get two transmissions from him, saying that the situation has gone bad. This is when the girls sneak out of the compound – along with two friends, Silas and Elton – and venture to New York, where they are told by the CRM lieutenant colonel Elizabeth Kublick that their father is teaching.
So that is the bare-bones of World Beyond – at least, as far as we have seen in the first episode. I assume that the “world beyond” has to do with the new world Iris and Hope set out into. But based on this first episode, The Walking Dead and World Beyond couldn’t be farther from one another.
We have seen the people of TWD struggle to get by from about six months after the zombie apocalypse began. And in the ten years that we have followed them, they have made some improvements: their hygiene has gotten better; they have a fundamental free market set up; they have a semi-stable source of food; most of the time, they live in houses or similar structures.
The Campus Colony, however, looks like they have been in great shape for a long time. I can’t get over how “normal” their life looks. They have set up alliances with communities across the country. Everyone has housing, food, education, employment. They even have a student body president and vice president. Their grass is neatly manicured; everyone wears clean clothes that did not come from the “apocalypse chic” department. It is drastically different; so much so it is hard to believe these two shows take place in the same time period.
One of the starkest differences between the two shows is how absolutely unready World Beyond is for zombies. Sure, they learn karate and other fighting methods in gym class, but no one has ever actually killed a zombie. In TWD, young Judith, a child who can’t be more than eight years old, has killed more zombies than most of the kids in World Beyond have ever seen. On the other hand, World Beyond tries to approach zombies from a scientific standpoint: they are hellbent on coming up with a cure, and even spray paint the zombies in order to “follow their migration patterns.” I’m all for science, but c’mon. Zombies are just wandering around, looking for food. Why aren’t there more of them piled up at the gates of Campus Colony, trying to get in?
The biggest canonical difference between the two shows is what they call the zombies. Obviously, TWD most frequently calls them “walkers.” World Beyond calls them “empties.” I miss the days when they were just “zombies,” or even “ghouls.”
I suppose that the whole point of World Beyond will be to show these sheltered kids what the, um, world beyond looks like. They will have to grow up quickly, and hopefully will have some run-ins with zombies and evil government drones.