NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “The Walking Dead: World Beyond” are present in this review

 

 

The Walking Dead: World Beyond always seems like it’s this close to nailing down a halfway decent storyline, but it just can’t quite get there. The show’s characters remain pretty appealing, but the storytelling still just doesn’t work for the most part, especially when it’s prone to dragging, and can’t manage to nail down a truly exciting conflict. A lot of these frustrations lingered throughout the show’s third episode this week, “The Tyger and the Lamb”, which picks up in the wake of Hope taking off to try and activate a siren. This leaves Iris, Silas and Elton scrambling to try and make it to safety so they can prepare for an exit, while Felix and Huck close in on the final steps of their trail.

Following on from the character format of the previous two episodes, with the first centering around the Bennett sisters, while the second focused in on Felix, The Walking Dead: World Beyond’s third episode now revolves mostly around Silas. Peeks at Silas’ backstory are interspersed throughout this episode’s core conflict, which spotlights Silas’ aversion to aggression, even towards walkers, and how it actually stems from the same traumatic incident that led to Silas being moved to Campus Colony in the first place. What Silas did is not totally spelled out either, which is quite effective, though we do get enough blanks to fill in regardless. Long story short, Silas choked out and potentially killed an abusive family member, which is how he ended up in his uncle’s custody, and why he became something of an imposing, yet passive outcast at Campus Colony.

Again though, while this represents strong characterization, Silas’ backstory drama and combat yips never seem to gel effectively with the teens’ ongoing battle against the walkers at the Blaze of Gory. This is made worse by a ton of false tension that only further drags down The Walking Dead: World Beyond’s problematic pacing. Hope, for example, finds the siren broken, and claims she doesn’t know how to fix it… But then she just fixes it anyway, somehow. This is before the pressing issue of Hope being separated from her friends as well, which also ends up being moot, since she just stumbles across them, practically without incident, during this episode’s climax.

Most significant, and frustrating, however, is the fact that Felix and Huck finally stumble upon the teens this week, while they try to hide out in an office, waiting for Hope’s signal. This should be a huge moment, since it means that the teens are busted, and will likely be talked back into returning to Campus Colony. Sure, we, the viewer at least have the dramatic irony of knowing that Campus Colony has been destroyed by Elizabeth and the CRM, which the show’s leads don’t yet know, but even then, Felix and Huck give up on talking the teens back home far too easily. Huck in particular says at two different points in this same episode that the teens are making sense, when they’re quite clearly not, and this whole conflict yet again feels like a non-starter. Instead, Felix and Huck join the teens, just like that, to the point where you have to wonder why they didn’t just set out with the teens to begin with.

This is so frustrating, because the character writing that results from the teens, and the two adults, finally escaping the Blaze of Gory, is overall pretty great. Silas learning to confront his issues and trust his strength by maintaining the exit for his allies makes for a highlight moment, even when Elton stupidly rushes back for his over-packed bags. Shortly after this, Hope also confesses to Iris that she accidentally shot the pregnant woman that killed their mother. While this is a really nice character moment however, it deserved to have a little more impact than it ultimately does. The Walking Dead: World Beyond is circling a great vision for its lead ensemble, but the series is still far less engaging than its two sibling shows, The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead, largely because it just isn’t creating believable stakes for its young protagonists yet.

Fortunately, for all of its latest episode’s faults, The Walking Dead: World Beyond does at least finish very strong this week. We finally get a chance to check back in with Elizabeth during this episode’s closing moments, after her CRM underling, Barca visits her at her living quarters, expressing remorse and grief over their destruction of Campus Colony. At this point, Elizabeth makes an incredible display of power by simultaneously running every electrical appliance imaginable, and declaring that the CRM is the last trace of the old world, and they must do whatever it takes to protect it. This is an awesome power move on its own, and it’s made even better by Barca being re-assigned to medical, practically as punishment, only to scream after Elizabeth that the CRM is built on a lie. Elizabeth’s triumph then quickly gives way to potent, shocking regret as well, as Elizabeth once again cranks all of her appliances, only to burst into tears over a map, suggesting she does indeed feel the pain of the destruction that the CRM causes, but can’t publicly show it. Elizabeth is a fantastic antagonist, and is another superb character that keeps getting better with every appearance. This is exactly why Elizabeth, along with many lead characters on The Walking Dead: World Beyond, really deserves to be in a better show.

Like I said before, The Walking Dead: World Beyond is only three episodes in at this point, and there’s still time for it to find its narrative footing in the weeks ahead. Once again though, I’m not encouraged by the show’s current long-term prospects, even considering that it’s a limited two-season series. “The Tyger and the Lamb” sadly continues to maintain many over-arching issues with The Walking Dead: World Beyond, at least doing well with characterization, but at the cost of dull, contrived and unsatisfying storytelling. These narrative struggles also don’t bode well for AMC’s upcoming Walking Dead movies, which will apparently tie heavily into the events of The Walking Dead: World Beyond, and I doubt they’re AMC’s only upcoming Walking Dead projects that will do so. There may still be hope yet for this latest Walking Dead spin-off, but that door is gradually starting to close. In the end, this ticking clock for good storylines on The Walking Dead: World Beyond seems to be the latest indication that AMC’s Walking Dead TV universe is rapidly losing steam by this point, and it probably needs less projects on its docket, not more.

The Walking Dead: World Beyond 1.3: "The Tyger and the Lamb" Review
The Walking Dead: World Beyond continues to struggle in this week's third episode, squandering sharp characterization for Silas and Elizabeth through more dull, frustrating storytelling.
THE GOOD STUFF
  • Solid peek at Silas' backstory
  • Elizabeth's surprisingly pained display of power
  • Hope confessing the truth to Iris about their mother's death
THE NOT-SO-GOOD STUFF
  • Far too much false tension with the teens
  • Felix and Huck are won over far too easily
  • Pacing is still very problematic
65%Overall Score
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