‘TWD: World Beyond’: Let’s Walk Into the Fiery Vortex of Walkers! (RECAP)
[WARNING: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for The Walking Dead: World Beyond, Season 1, Episode 2, “The Blaze of Gory.”]
Well, you know there’s going to be some cool set pieces when the episode is called “The Blaze of Gory.”
Yet, aside from the eye-catching locations, this week’s World Beyond rang a bit hollow — mostly because it’s hard to believe the main characters could be this absolutely moronic. For better or worse, here’s what went down.
The main story this episode revolves around the teens, who are making their way toward Iris (Aliyah Royale) and Hope’s (Alexa Mansour) dad. They boldly go where few have gone for a long time, which makes for interesting TV in that the locations look unique and post-apocalyptic. They also encounter some pretty cool walkers, including one that wasps have built their nest inside. They start to form bonds, with Iris understanding Silas’ (Hal Cumpston) sensitivity to the dead and Hope and Elton (Nicolas Cantu) being totally cool with serving as the “underlings,” a.k.a. the last generation before humanity croaks.
But at times, it’s hard to suspend disbelief that these kids are so naïve in the ways of walker-killing. Throughout the episode, there are flashbacks to a course that Felix (Nico Tortorella) taught them about survival, but of course, survival is very different in practice than in theory. Iris and Hope both learn that as they have close calls with separate walkers, as does Silas when he can’t bring himself to kill a walker that’s attacking Elton. Sure, one might argue that they’re kids. But I can’t help comparing them to Carl (Chandler Riggs) or Enid (Katelyn Nacon) or Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey), all of whom rarely had an issue putting down the dead, and they never took classes on it. How hard is it to go for the brain?
How to Survive, the Wrong Way
Another thing that raised eyebrows during the episode was the teens’ total lack of survival instincts. Okay, sure, they’re teenagers. They’re going to make some stupid decisions. But staying in a tree house overnight rather than any of the seemingly vacant homes, when the treehouse collapsing could’ve killed them? Bafflingly bad. Going after a walker alone, after dark, in unfamiliar territory? Bafflingly bad. Electing to go through the walker-infested dumpster fire rather than around it and not bothering to coat themselves in walker guts first? Bafflingly bad. Did no one teach them that walker-guts trick?
The group, as mentioned in the above paragraph, lands themselves in jeopardy in an attempt to save time. They opt to go through an ever-burning tire fire that drew “empties” from all around the area (hence the episode name, the “blaze of gory.”) They’re surrounded by the dead at one point but manage to escape, only to find themselves in the middle of another dead-infested blaze with no way out. They scamper to the roof of a nearby building and re-evaluate their situation, clearly not optimistic about their chances of survival.
Felix’s Backstory, Explained
The B-story this episode revolves around Felix and Huck (Annet Mahendru), who are several steps behind the kids, but catching up; by the end, they’re only minutes behind them. Their path leads them through Felix’s old neighborhood, which provides fertile ground for some flashbacks. As it turns out, his old man wasn’t very — or at all — accepting of his son’s sexual orientation, and despite the boy’s pleas, he kicks him out of the house and won’t even let him back in after the world ends. It’s heartbreaking stuff, made even sadder by the fact that Felix journeys back to his home in the middle of the night to find his zombified parents inside, but he just can’t put them down.
As the episode ends, Elton suggests someone goes to another building and pull a tornado siren, which will draw the walkers away and leave the path clear for everyone except the bait. Iris says it’s too dangerous for the bait and that’s the end of it, but while the rest try to sleep, Hope slips away, likely to pull the alarm herself.
- Come back, CRM! I have a feeling the majority of the older-than-teenage-years audience is watching this for the helicopter people, so it was a major letdown when they weren’t around this episode. I’d still like some clarification on what happened when the campus community fell — I know it was almost certainly CRM that did them in, but why?
- I almost think Felix’s backstory would’ve worked better if he wasn’t taking care of his dad, because at least to me, that raised more questions than it answered. If Felix was the sole caretaker and breadwinner in the family as the first scene implied, how did his dad keep the house after he kicked Felix out? Where was Felix’s mom during all of this, and why didn’t she argue for him to stay? We know she wasn’t dead, because he kept yelling for her during the scene on the patio, too.
- I said most of what I wanted to say about the main storyline above, but I’m genuinely shocked by how the main characters acted this episode, and not in a good way. I’ll give them that Carl also made some stupid decisions, like taunting the walker that killed Dale, but Carl was also much younger than these characters at that time. With such an advanced society, one would think they would’ve been educated in walker-killing and survival in a way that would enable them to keep going if the community fell and, I don’t know, encourage them NOT to go through the impassable tire fire.
- At this point, the characters I’m liking most are Hope and Felix, because they have the most depth. I like the juxtaposition in Hope’s character between the side of her that “doesn’t give a shit about shit,” as she says, and the side of her that was leaving cans of food behind for Felix and Huck to find. Hopefully (ha!) all the characters develop similar depth, but I’m not holding my breath.
- Rating: 2.5/5. There were bright spots in Hope’s choice and Felix’s story, but in the end, I have more questions about the storytelling decisions than I do answers. Also, if we’re getting extended flashbacks every single episode, that’ll get annoying.
The Walking Dead: World Beyond, Sundays, 10/9c, AMC