NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “The Walking Dead: World Beyond”, including multiple major character deaths, are present in this review
We’ve officially made it to the end of The Walking Dead: World Beyond. AMC’s embattled limited series certainly hasn’t set the world on fire since it premiered last year, and now that its final episode has aired, it sadly doesn’t feel like The Walking Dead: World Beyond ultimately gained any significant ground in its quest to keep furthering the diminishing appeal of AMC’s Walking Dead TV universe. To the show’s credit, it at least does its best to close out its central story arc on a high note, with series finale, “The Last Light” presenting no shortage of action in its first half at least, while also doing everything it can to assure us that the scope of AMC’s Walking Dead TV universe will continue to widen in the future. By this point though, does anyone truly care?
That’s the tough question at the heart of The Walking Dead: World Beyond, a limited series that ultimately ended up being a failed experiment, and one that was thus doomed to be unsuccessful when it comes to generating further excitement for future Walking Dead projects to come out of AMC. In that case, trying to approach, “The Last Light” as The Walking Dead: World Beyond’s final episode will inevitably be coloured by the fact that this limited series as a whole just isn’t very good. It initially looked like this year’s second and final season could have turned things around during its more engaging early episodes, but with the season’s narrative ultimately devolving into an aggressively dull CRM heist plot that barely resembled a Walking Dead storyline anymore, there’s only so many ways that The Walking Dead: World Beyond could have satisfyingly tied itself up without completely betraying its own tired narrative.
As I mentioned, this series finale isn’t wanting for action at least, as the protagonists battle against the CRM, all while the kids, Huck and Dennis try to put together a plot to blow up the CRM gas, and save Portland. This episode does a decent job of referencing just how young and uninitiated the kids were before they set out, and how much more hardened and resourceful they’ve become since leaving Campus Colony, but that examination would have worked better in a limited series that wasn’t so often boring. Even Elton getting bitten to save Hope’s life during an escape with the Perimeters ultimately feels like it means little. Elton simply gets his arm chopped off, and is completely fine from there. Maybe this arm amputation will better affect Elton’s character if he ever shows up again in some future Walking Dead project from AMC, but at this point, that’s not a guarantee.
Where this finale tends to excel most is during its early action sequences, the best of which is predictably stolen by Jadis. Jadis has been a huge bright spot throughout this season! She’s hugely evolved from the somewhat annoying leader of the ‘trash people’ Scavengers community on the flagship Walking Dead series, to a legitimately ruthless, brilliant and imposing CRM bruiser on The Walking Dead: World Beyond. On that note, Jadis ends up confronting Huck after Huck sends Dennis and Silas away to secure supplies, at which point Jadis teases that she used flagship Walking Dead protagonist, Rick Grimes to secure her spot in the CRM, albeit in a way that preserved Rick’s life, as a gesture of respect. This Rick nod might be one of the few legitimately interesting teases for Walking Dead fans of all stripes in this finale. Either way, Huck ends up being fatally stabbed by Jadis during their fight, though not before Huck tells Jadis that the gas is already rigged to blow. Jadis nonetheless escapes, but Huck ultimately sacrifices her life to destroy the gas and save Portland, having tricked Dennis and Silas into leaving the area, so they would be safe from the blast.
This gesture doesn’t amount to much for Dennis in the end though. In another of this finale’s better moments, a dying Dennis commands that Silas shoot him and finish him off, so that Silas can still appear to be loyal to the CRM. This scene is actually fairly heartbreaking, especially so fresh off of Huck’s death. Left with no choice, Silas thus shoots Dennis in the head and kills him, before ultimately being taken in by Jadis. This final turn for Silas is arguably one of the best among The Walking Dead: World Beyond’s surviving leads. Silas joins the CRM himself, becoming a soldier under Jadis’ personal supervision, which seemingly indicates that Silas has defected from his friends. This feels a little abrupt, as there wasn’t much of a hint that Silas was treacherous or in danger of defecting during this show’s prior episodes, but it’s also possible that Silas is implanting himself as a mole within the CRM, using Jadis’ approval of him as a way to enhance his disguise. Or, am I giving a mediocre Walking Dead spin-0ff too much credit?
That mediocrity continues to drag down the final resolutions for the other characters here, which too often feel middling and unimpressive. Felix has a final duel with Newton, Jadis’ underling (whose name I just learned in this episode, so that’s not a great sign of Newton’s worth as a character), and Felix kills Newton successfully, before letting Newton get eaten by walkers. Meh. Meanwhile, Iris goes off to protect the Perimeters, while Hope stays behind with Leo to keep researching ways to ensure that walkers degrade faster. In the end, seeing where almost everyone ends up after The Walking Dead: World Beyond’s conclusion doesn’t feel rewarding, least of all for the leading Bennett sisters. With the exceptions of Silas, Huck, Dennis and Jadis, almost every resolution in The Walking Dead: World Beyond’s finale falls flat, because this show hasn’t earned enough affection for its characters to make their fates worth investing in, even at the end of this limited series.
I will admit that there’s another potentially intriguing tease in a lengthy post-credits scene however, one that serves as a very deep cut throwback to the earliest days of the flagship Walking Dead series. This scene occurs when a French scientist finds a video from CDC scientist, Dr. Edwin Jenner, the same Dr. Jenner that met with Rick Grimes’ group, and showed them the basics of how the Walker Virus works, during the very first season of The Walking Dead in 2010. The French scientist is ultimately confronted and killed by a mysterious assailant, while referencing a group of ‘teams’ that seemingly deserted an unknown project.
If you recall from The Walking Dead’s first season (and I won’t blame you if you don’t, as this twist is built largely off the back of a throwaway line), the French were apparently close to discovering a cure for the Walker Virus back when the walker apocalypse first began a decade ago. At some point however, the French, and potentially other nations outside of North America, seemingly created new variants of the Walker Virus, one of which turns the dead scientist into a super-strong, super-fast walker after she re-animates. Granted, new walker variants go completely against original creator, Robert Kirkman’s rules for the Walking Dead franchise, but considering that AMC has almost completely betrayed Kirkman’s original vision from the Walking Dead comic books through their shared TV universe plans anyway, I suppose new walker strains might as well happen in AMC’s Walking Dead TV continuity by this point.
For better or worse, “The Last Light” is among one of the more interesting episodes of The Walking Dead: World Beyond, but it’s still often ruined by the fact that it has to exist in a limited series that turned out so poorly. Like I said, The Walking Dead: World Beyond is a failed experiment, one that fails to serve as a satisfying addition to a shared TV universe that’s already suffering from diminishing returns. This final episode for The Walking Dead: World Beyond at least manages to close out the series with some excitement though, while teasing a potentially controversial, but still fairly intriguing new vision for this universe’s undead threat. Jadis usurping Elizabeth’s role in the CRM is also a standout final development, suggesting that Jadis will continue to evolve and become more dangerous throughout AMC’s future Walking Dead projects.
It is however a shame that The Walking Dead: World Beyond’s often unsatisfying storylines ultimately fail to create any heartfelt connection to the bulk of its characters, most of whom are given thankless send-offs in this finale, likely leaving viewers apathetic about whether or not they’ll ever want to see them again. Not every resolution in The Walking Dead: World Beyond is a bust at least, with Silas and Jadis promising greater things to come from the CRM, but even that doesn’t do enough to distract from this limited series ultimately exacerbating Walking Dead burnout, rather than alleviating it.
The final episode of The Walking Dead: World Beyond, "The Last Light" sets up some decent teases for the Walking Dead franchise's future, but this finale still predictably struggles to wrap up a sub-par limited series.
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THE GOOD STUFF
Some solid action scenes
Huck's and Dennis' final sacrifices
Silas and Jadis getting promising new ranks within the CRM
THE NOT-SO-GOOD STUFF
The Bennett sisters get weak resolutions
Elton being bitten is quickly made pointless
Felix and Will have no real bearing on the story anymore