[Comic-Con@Home Panel Recap] AMC's THE WALKING DEAD: WORLD BEYOND
Still from AMC’s The Walking Dead: World Beyond Panel
THE WALKING DEAD: WORLD BEYOND, which is the franchise’s newest spin-off, will air directly after the next episode of “The Walking Dead” Prime that will air on October 4, 2020. WORLD BEYOND is a limited series of two seasons about the generation that grew up during the Zombie Apocalypse who has lived most of their lives in a gated community away from the zombie threat entirely.

The panel consists of “The Walking Dead” Universe chief content officer Scott M. Gimple, showrunner and executive producer Matt Negrete and cast members Aliyah Royale (Iris), Alexa Mansour (Hope), Hal Cumpston (Silas), Nicholas Cantu (Elton), Nico Tortorella (Felix), Julia Ormond (Elizabeth), Joe Holt (Dr. Leo Bennett) and Annet Mahendru (Huck).

Here is a description of the new series:

THE WALKING DEAD: WORLD BEYOND delves into a new mythology and story that follows the first generation raised in a surviving civilization of the post-apocalyptic world. Two sisters along with two friends leave a place of safety and comfort to brave dangers, known and unknown, living and undead on an important quest. Pursued by those who wish to protect them and those who wish to harm them, a tale of growing up and transformation unfurls across dangerous terrain, challenging everything they know about the world, themselves and each other. Some will become heroes. Some will become villains. But all of them will find the truths they seek.

The first question addressed during the panel was what percentage of the DNA does THE WALKING DEAD: WORLD BEYOND share with the other shows in the TWD Universe and what’s the new take on the world?

Scott Gimple answered that Rick woke up from a coma and found the world different and that the two sisters who are the central characters in this show wake up in a way too. Although they know that the world is a dangerous place, they don’t experience it on a day to day basis and they leave their place of safety on a quest. He also makes the point that what all the shows have in common is that while bad things happen, love exists and that’s the reason all the characters put themselves through what they put themselves through. It’s for love.

The next question addressed is that in the trailer, and the first real trailer for the show is shown at the beginning of the panel, there is a reference to Monument Day and what that means to their world.

Matt Negrete answers that there are actually two events that are referenced in the pilot and that are very important to the show. First is the ‘Night The Sky Fell’. There are flashbacks in the pilot, very dark and bad things are literally falling from the sky. During the ‘Night The Sky Fell’, the characters were moving towards a place of safety where they have been ever since. It’s the last time that these characters, as young children, experienced this type of fear and the real world. Then the story picks up ten years later and the day of reflection that is called Monument Day, where they think about the people that they lost and what kind of monuments they want to leave in the world in the future. It’s also about how their knowledge of the world and Zombies or Empties, as they are called in this show, is all theoretical rather than practical.

The main characters are a family, Hope, Iris, and their father, Doctor Leo Bennett. Hope is the more cynical of the two and Iris is the straight-arrow who keeps Hope strong and who Hope depends on. Their father Leo leaves the encampment to teach other groups of survivors what he knows about the virus and hopefully find a cure for the Zombie plague. Hope and Iris are joined by their guardian Felix, his partner Hope, and their friends Elton and Silas.

Julia Ormond plays Elizabeth who is part of a mysterious organization and arrives in a helicopter that has the same symbol that was last seen on the helicopter that took Rick Grimes away on the original series. She’s one of their leaders, high up in the organization. Of course, Ormond was unable to really reveal anything about the organization or her role. You’re going to have to watch to find out as is usual with TWD Universe shows. She did reveal that she hadn’t actually watched the show until she was cast, but after she was, she binge-watched the entire show and is now a big fan. This interview also revealed that Andrew Lincoln has never watched a single episode of the show. Scott Gimple told the story of doing a DVD commentary with Lincoln, for an episode Lincoln isn’t in – The Grove,  and asking him, “You’re not watching this are you.” and Lincoln replying, “No, I’m not.”. So apparently the biggest reveal is that TWD shows really enjoy casting British actors who don’t actually watch the show. Yes, you heard it here first. Okay, maybe not first, but I definitely am letting you know the important details here.

In the second half of the panel, Matt Negrete introduces the rest of the cast: Elton, who is the “brains” of the operation and thinks that the walking dead are an extinction event and that this is his last chance to see the world before humanity dies off entirely. Silas, the loner with a secret – he’s got a dark past, Felix is the sisters’ guardian while their father is gone and Hope’s nemesis, Huck is Felix’s partner in crime and feels responsible for Hope and wants to get people back safely.

The first question goes to Nicholas Cantu who plays Elton and it’s about the suit that he wears which seems a strange choice in the Zombie Apocalypse, but that Cantu reveals is made of Tuffy Stitch and is a bite-resistant material. That definitely explains why he would wear such a seemingly inappropriate type of clothing, but is still amusing. Elton is also a black belt in Karate and an instructor for the other kids in the safe zone.

The next question goes to Hal Cumpston who plays Silas. He is asked why Silas goes along with the group and leaves the safe zone. He responds that Silas doesn’t feel welcome among the people there and that he stays isolated from the others. That Silas feels like people just talk about him and not in a good way. Because of this, Silas figures that he might as well go out into the world and kill zombies.

Nico Tortorella as Felix gets the next question and says in addition to being the guardian of the Bennett sisters, Felix is in charge of the safety of the “campus” and the children. He’s in charge of keeping the kids safe by teaching them how to fight for themselves and teach them how to survive. Like Nicolas Cantu, he also did extensive fight training and,  in addition to having a really cool mustache, he feels ready to be an action star for the rest of his career because the fighting sequences of the show really appeal to him. He’s had enough of romcoms, thank you.

Annet Mahendru who plays Huck said that she is part of the security team who normally is outside the community alone and who is a friend and partner of Felix. Michael Cudlitz who played Abraham on TWD directed an episode of The World Beyond and is an actor in the film Mahendru is also working on that is directed by her husband, Louie Gibson, called Manifest West.

The next question is for Scott Gimple is about the CRM, the secretive organization that Elizabeth is a part of. While he doesn’t really give a lot of detail, Gimple says that they are a constant presence in The World Beyond and that we are going to learn more about CRM and how they relate to the entire TWD Universe and yes, it is an arc that ties the entire group of shows together.

Matt Negrete gets a question about how the Walkers or Empties will be different on the show and what he says is that the difference is related to the fact that the zombies have had ten years to decay. He also related a story about a particular zombie design, how sick it made him, and that they will basically be going for the most disgusting zombies that they can come up with.

The next question is the important question of whether or not the show is finished shooting. The good news is that the entire first season was wrapped before the COVID 19 lockdown happened and that Negrete and the writers are working on Season Two right now.  Scott Gimple added that one of the good things about this show is that they can actually surprise the audience because while this show is part of the Universe, the future is not already written in a comic book. Which is definitely a plus for anyone who is looking for a bit of a new direction with this series.

There you have it, new characters, a sinister organization, and a cast of young actors with a new perspective that can surprise the audience. That’s what THE WALKING DEAD: WORLD BEYOND is about and I guess time will tell if it is indeed a limited series and if those surprises are there.

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