‘The Walking Dead: World Beyond’: Just Around the Riverbend (RECAP)

annet mahendru alexa mansour hope huck world beyond
Spoiler Alert

[WARNING: The following contains major spoilers for The Walking Dead: World Beyond Season 1 Episode 5, “Madman Across The River.”]

Despite the promising title, this episode has very little to do with post-apocalyptic madmen on the opposite side of a body of water. Instead, the main story deals with Team Iris (Aliyah Royale) and Hope (Alexa Mansour)’s attempt to cross the Mississippi River.

As one might imagine, there are several notable barriers to this task; first, they don’t have a boat; second, a storm is coming; and third, Felix (Nico Tortorella) really, really wants them all to turn back, and he’s trying to enlist Elton (Nicolas Cantu) to convince the others. Here’s how it all goes down (or floats downriver, if you will).

No Turning Back

Of course, Felix’s plan backfires; Elton’s not enough to keep Hope and Iris from wanting to go after their dad. Huck (Annet Mahendru) suggests that she could keep going with the girls while Felix heads for home with the guys, but that doesn’t pan out, either. The group’s sticking together, for better or worse.

And for the vast majority of the episode, it’s for worse. They get to the riverbank and find most of the boats have been decimated, so they have to scrounge for parts at a nearby factory to get what they need to repair one of them. Even then, they can’t get the engine working right; in order to get enough power, they have to add firepower, which, in theory, means dumping in gallons of nail polish (hey, whatever works!).

Creative Problem Solving

Everyone separates to solve separate problems—Elton and Silas (Hal Cumpston) go after the nail polish, Iris and Felix check out a nearby restaurant for supplies, and Hope and Huck have an emotional chat about her past, during which she starts shifting over to the teens’ side. Felix gets an emotional moment, too, when he tells Iris that he was supposed to go with their dad to the CRM headquarters rather than his boyfriend… and that’s why he’s so convinced they’re both okay. “They have to be,” he says, and it’s clear he won’t consider an option where they’re not.

The storm gets closer and closer, and a light pole falls on the restaurant Iris and Felix were approaching, releasing a mid-sized horde of walkers. Rick and crew wouldn’t have had an issue taking them out, but this is not Rick and crew, so everyone freaks out. Felix manages to hold the dead off for a bit by tying fishing wire around a few trees, but of course, some of the walkers get around the wire and head for the group on the riverbank. The nail polish trick worked, but the fan belt for the boat is off track, which means someone has to crawl in and fix it… and the only person small enough is Elton.

nicolas cantu elton world beyond

Elton is Not Afraid!

Problem is, Elton’s claustrophobic, and in this episode, we learn why. On “the night the sky fell,” as everyone on World Beyond calls it, his family was at the museum where they worked. His mom left before it all went bad, and then his dad left, too, but not before making sure Elton was secure in a tiny box (which sounds mildly irresponsible, but he really did the best he could). From that box, Elton could hear the snarling of the dead outside the room, as well as the explosions of people clearing the place. He eventually got out and followed a map, presumably to the Campus Colony.

In the present, Elton conquers his claustrophobia and gets the boat working, and then, with moments to spare, they manage to push the boat into the river and leave behind all the walkers heading for them. They make it to the other side, where Huck peaces out to go gather intel about the terrain (apparently they don’t know much about the other side). Elton goes off by himself and gets emotional about his parents and his unborn sister, and when Hope comes to check on him, they have a sweet conversation that turns a little sour when she realizes just who he’s talking about—his mom is the woman she killed, who killed her mom. Small post-apocalyptic world! She looks horrified, but Elton, lost in his memories, doesn’t notice.

Madman Across The River…?

As the episode ends, noises are heard outside their camp. Felix tells them it’s an empty, but it’s very much not an empty; it looks to be another person around the teens’ age (this scene is extremely dark, so he also very well might not be around their age). If the title of this installment is any indication, this guy’s not all there—and he’s probably not friendly.

felix hope world beyond nico totorella alexa mansour

Other Observations

  • This was at least slightly better than the previous week’s episode. I’m curious to see how things will play out among Elton, Hope and Iris given their… less-than-ideal history.
  • Sometimes, though, there are still moments where this show baffles me. When all the walkers were tied up with the fishing wire, why didn’t Felix just start killing them? Most of them couldn’t get to him, and we’ve seen similar tricks work on TWD (i.e. killing the walkers through holes in the fence). Also, Hope and Iris just launching themselves at the walkers was funny, and I’m not sure it was intended to be.
  • Did everyone just forget about Silas beating the crap out of a walker at the end of last week’s episode? Does that not worry any of the other kids? I get the adults treating him normally because they’d want to de-escalate the situation, but shouldn’t Elton or Hope be a little leery of him? Elton especially, considering Silas’ fit of rage left him injured.
  • I’m worried Felix just guaranteed his death by saying his boyfriend and the girls’ dad has to be okay, because of how guilty he’d feel if they weren’t. Now I’m thinking Felix either doesn’t make it through the season to see if they’re okay, or he does find them, and then he dies. That speech was just too ominous.
  • I would love if this show stopped doing pretentious voiceovers and committed to showing, rather than telling. Also, why was this episode titled, “Madman Across The River” if we only saw the madman for, like, five seconds?
  • Anybody else reminded of The 100’s Octavia Blake (Marie Avgeropoulos) when Elton started reciting the planets as he crawled through that tight space? “I am not afraid! I am not afraid!”
  • Rating: 2.5/5. This was infinitely more watchable than last week’s episode, and I’m looking forward to the drama that will undoubtedly unfold with Elton, Hope and Iris. But there’s still no new info on CRM and very little to make these characters likable.

The Walking Dead: World Beyond, Sundays, 10/9c, AMC