[WARNING: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for AMC‘s The Walking Dead: World Beyond Season 2 episode 10, “The Last Light.”]
With several major deaths, a few small steps toward a potential cure for the zombie virus and the promise of “fast walkers,” the second of The Walking Dead’s spinoff series has ended its run. But should it have?
Granted, The Walking Dead: World Beyond was billed as a limited-series event since the airing of its first episode in 2020. As far as we know, the series was only ever meant to have two seasons—but it’s hard to watch “The Last Light” and not consider what might’ve been.
It’s also hard not to mourn for that potential, at least a little. While Season 1 was divisive among fans and critics—some found it too heavy on the “teen drama” side of things and too light on details about the Civil Republic Military and Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln)—the general consensus about the show’s second batch of episodes was that it was a notable improvement. For one thing, the sophomore season delved more deeply into CRM, as the show had always promised to do; we got to see the shadowy organization’s inner workings, learn about its goals and understand the atrocities they committed. Sure, your mileage on the teen drama aspects might vary depending on your TV taste or your age, but the mysteries and intrigue of CRM have a universal appeal.
In that vein, bringing in Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh) as the show’s main antagonist was a brilliant move, creating a built-in Rick connection for those eager to discern his whereabouts as well as a connection to the main show. McIntosh played this new iteration of her character (with a new delightfully awful haircut) to perfection, making her both fun to watch and, at times, truly chilling as a master manipulator devoted only to her ambition and her faith in CRM’s methods. We might’ve been baffled by Jadis of the Junkyard People, but we wouldn’t dare cross Warrant Officer Stokes.
Even the controversial “teen drama” elements of the show’s first season were toned down in its second. The love triangle between Silas (Hal Cumpston), Iris (Aliyah Royale) and Percy (Ted Sutherland) evaporated, with Iris choosing Percy. There were hints that Hope (Alexa Mansour) might have a new boyfriend, but any potential romance was smartly swerved in favor of a plan that used the guy, the CRM major general’s son, as a hostage. The teens weren’t immune from suffering the ill effects of growing up in the zombie apocalypse anymore—Percy dies, and Elton (Nicolas Cantu) is bitten and has to have his arm amputated. Sure, there are still a few of those YA-typical moments—like when a teenager makes the scientific suggestion that just might cure the zombie virus, which, somehow, had never occurred to the team of dedicated scientists—but they’re fewer and farther between. The adults get better storylines in the second season, too, especially with Huck/Jennifer’s (Annet Mahendru) family drama, conflicting loyalties and relationship with her husband, Dennis (Maximilian Osinski), taking center stage.
And when “The Last Light” fades, it’s hard to say that these characters’ stories feel over. Did Huck, Dennis and Percy die because their stories were concluded, or because it was the end of the series? Huck and Dennis did discuss going back and disseminating the information about what CRM was doing to the civilian government, which would’ve made for a compelling hypothetical Season 3 plotline. Even if those deaths were occurring whether or not a third season was ordered, there’s still the matter of Silas. He winds up training as a CRM soldier under Jadis’ eye in the final minutes of the episode, determined to carry out Huck and Dennis’ mission and warn the government of the military’s dark deeds. That quest could’ve made for a neat story in a third season, no? And on that CRM side, questions certainly still linger. Who was Major General Beale? He was mentioned several times, but he was never shown. And what’ll happen to the recently deposed and imprisoned-for-treason Elizabeth (Julia Ormond), who had just come to the conclusion that years of CRM-sponsored genocide was wrong? Does she turn on CRM completely, perhaps becoming an ally to Silas in the process? All of those feel like questions for a third grouping of episodes… which will never arrive.
It’s also a bummer that we never got to see Portland. Much of Season 2 was spent discussing how to save the third CRM outpost from the Campus Colony’s tragic fate, but in the end, the most we see of it is from a distance; we’ll never know how the community worked, what life was like there, if they suspected something was up with the military, etc. Again, that could’ve been a good third-season story. But, given the way the TWDU works, we might yet see it in a different spinoff or an episode of Tales of The Walking Dead.
For that matter, one show being over doesn’t necessarily mean the characters within are done, too—just look at Carol (Melissa McBride) and Daryl (Norman Reedus). So, it seems it’ll remain to be seen whether we ever get answers as to what happened to Silas in his soldier training, whether Hope and the scientists really had a potential cure on their hands (or if they were instead on the precipice of accidentally creating a whole new strain of walker, oops!), or what the Portland community was like. But in the end, at the very least, World Beyond deserves credit for growing far beyond its growing pains.
The Walking Dead: World Beyond, now streaming, AMC+