NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “The Walking Dead: World Beyond”, including a major character death, are present in this review
Having now added two interesting new personalities to its ranks, The Walking Dead: World Beyond seemed like it was going to get a bump in quality after last week’s episode, at least relatively. This second spin-off series is still by far the worst of AMC’s three current Walking Dead shows, and that doesn’t appear to be changing (especially with Fear the Walking Dead currently delivering a surprisingly strong season in the previous Sunday night time slot), but at least The Walking Dead: World Beyond isn’t as aggressively tedious as it’s been throughout most of its first season, for now. The show’s small uptick in appeal did seem to continue this week as well, thanks largely to The Walking Dead alum, Michael Cudlitz returning to the director’s chair, and helping to craft another slightly more engaging episode of The Walking Dead: World Beyond.
Again though, this is relative. “Truth or Dare” still spends too much time talking in circles, plodding along at a snail’s pace, and not really getting much done in the present-day timeline. Many of this episode’s best scenes instead take place in flashback, after Huck rejoins the Campus Colony group, complete with a batch of fresh supplies. After taking out a walker with a recognizable military insignia however, Huck keeps recalling her past, suggesting that she’s more intentionally keeping secrets than amnesiac. Maybe it’s intentional? Maybe it’s bad writing? It’s not quite clear. Either way, I appreciate Huck getting most of the focus this week, since she’s another better character on The Walking Dead: World Beyond at this point, even if the show can’t seem to decide whether she’s lying about her memory loss or not.
We even get to learn Huck’s real name in this episode; Jennifer Mallick. This is spoken during the flashbacks, where we see that Huck/Jennifer was an accomplished and well-liked sniper for the U.S. Marines, one that also happened to be on active duty during, “The Day the Sky Fell.” Huck and her fellow soldiers were initially charged with protecting civilians, discovering the vital ‘aim for the head’ tip when combating walkers, and even cleverly employing thermal vision to separate the dead from the living during limited visibility. These sequences are kind of cool in concept, though inevitably, things go sour when Huck’s superiors declare, “Sunset protocols”, namely that they need to put down living people as well as walkers. This apparently happened because U.S. authorities couldn’t tell who was infected and who wasn’t. Because I guess the U.S. military was really stupid in this universe.
Okay, granted, no one knew how walkers or the walker virus worked at this early point in AMC’s Walking Dead TV universe. Even so, Huck and her fellow soldiers seemed to quickly get a handle on how to separate the living from the dead, and they already seemed to have civilians quarantined and safe. Why kill them? Clearly, the soldiers aren’t worried about infecting each other, even with walker blood all over them. This is symptomatic of AMC’s Walking Dead spin-offs ruining a bit of the mystique and horror behind exactly how the world went to shit, since, unlike the Walking Dead comic books, AMC’s Walking Dead TV shows haven’t been shy about directly showing scenes of how the walker apocalypse began, at least in this show and Fear the Walking Dead. Huck having to massacre her own unit to save civilians in the past is very effectively dramatic, and plays nicely into a subplot with Hope in the present, but it would have been ideal if this show didn’t yet again unrealistically portray U.S. military branches as trigger-happy morons that can’t deduce obvious solutions to even mildly scary problems.
As for that aforementioned subplot with Hope, that comes after Percy attempts to play a game of Truth or Dare with the other teens, whereupon he eventually grills Hope about the worst thing she’s ever done. I understand that this is supposed to spur Hope to confess her secret of killing Elton’s mother to Huck, another solid idea for this show’s storytelling, but considering how this episode ends especially, the show really wastes a huge opportunity here; Shouldn’t Percy have asked Silas this question instead? Silas has been actively rude to Percy, so Percy being a dick to Silas would make a lot more sense, especially considering that Percy seems be attracted to Iris, making his attempts to bully Iris’ sister even more illogical. You could have still had a shaken Hope confess her secret to Huck just the same, and like I said, it would have made the conclusion of this episode make far more sense.
On that note, this episode’s ‘climax’, if you can really call it that, begins when the group goes to a CRM fuel stash, having finally identified where Leo and Will are seemingly hidden, namely in Ithaca, New York. Huck is forced to disarm and kill a desperate survivor that takes Hope hostage at this point, which is a decent sequence, though it’s over a little too quickly to elicit real terror among the teens. That terror instead comes into play the following night, when Tony is suddenly found with his skull caved in, along with Percy being missing, and Silas being passed out in a bathroom stall nearby, all during the final minutes of this episode. This is what I mean when I say that Percy should have provoked Silas during the Truth or Dare game, not Hope. The show is trying to beg the question of whether Silas had another violent outburst, one that cost Tony his life, but it just seems painfully obvious that Silas is innocent. He’s almost certainly being set up, using information that Percy shouldn’t logically have, and might have had if he’d picked on Silas instead of Hope during the Truth or Dare game!
This is at least an exciting conclusion for this episode, but there’s still too much idle chatter and slow filler surrounding it, especially when the writing is still making head-scratching choices regarding how to portray The Walking Dead: World Beyond’s characters and their interactions. “Truth or Dare” does nicely compensate with some standout flashbacks for Huck though, even if they also continue to undermine the innate horror of how the world ended in AMC’s Walking Dead TV universe. I can sort of perceive The Walking Dead: World Beyond slowly starting to limp its way towards being more engaging over the next couple of weeks, hopefully before its first season wraps at the end of this month. At this point though, it probably is too little, too late. At least the show is starting to formulate some real danger though, considering Tony’s brutal demise. Maybe the hunt for Percy might end up being a little more interesting next week?
- Illuminating flashbacks with Huck
- Hope confiding her dark secret in Huck
- Exciting, grisly conclusion
- Hope being bullied by Percy doesn't make sense
- Still too much idle time-wasting
- Continues to undermine the credibility of the world's end