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‘The Walking Dead World Beyond’ Series Finale Spoilers Interview

After two seasons, The Walking Dead: World Beyond is in the books. But don’t worry, the spinoff wasn’t canceled in an untimely manner… The two seasons was always part of the plan.

“When Scott [M. Gimple] and I first sat down to talk about the series, we always knew this was going to be a series that was going to end,” showrunner Matt Negrete told Decider. “And so it was really helpful to talk about the story and the characters from an emotional standpoint, in terms of where they started and where they were going to end.”

Spoilers past this point! In the episode, we get to check in with all the main characters on the series, and where they get left off as the universe of Walking Dead continues around them. Iris (Aliyah Royale) and Elton (Nicolas Cantu) are headed off to Portland to warn them about the threat presented by the Civic Republic Military (C.R.M.). Meanwhile, Hope (Alexa Mansour) is back in upstate New York studying ways of slowing down, and perhaps even stopping the zombie plague for good. Felix (Nico Tortorella) is also doing well, having a rare, happy ending with his boyfriend Will (Jellani Alladin).

On the opposite side of things, Jadis (Polyanna McIntosh) has taken over C.R.M. from Elizabeth Kublek (Julia Ormond), who has been thrown in prison. She’s also recruited Silas (Hal Cumpston), who has been told not to drink the C.R.M. Kool-Aid, but definitely seems to be wavering when we leave him. And Huck (Annet Mahendru) is dead, having sacrificed herself to destroy C.R.M.’s reserves of a deadly gas.

…And then, just when you think it’s over, there’s a post-credits sequence. Though it’s not directly related to the action of World Beyond (as Gimple clarifies for Decider below), it does connect back to a surprising source: Noah Emmerich’s Dr. Edwin Jenner, a character from The Walking Dead‘s not-particularly-beloved CDC storyline in Season 1. In the scene, we see archival footage of Jenner talking to his French counterparts, as a mysterious woman watches. He explains that there are different variants of the plague all over the world, and he’s not sure where they’re coming from. In the middle of Jenner’s speech, a man comes in, killing the French woman, who turns into a zombie and starts banging on the doors of what’s revealed to be the French version of the CDC.

So what does that post-credits scene mean? And will the World Beyond characters show up again? We discussed all that and more with Negrete and Gimple, so read on.

Decider: Why was it important to stick this post-credits scene here and how, and does it connect to the rest of World Beyond?

Scott M. Gimple: It is a greater relationship to the greater Walking Dead universe. In some ways, this is all one story. It is extremely different in a lot of ways, and it’s even going to get more different with Tales of The Walking Dead, but they all live on the same planet together and the things that happen affect all of them. And so while this wasn’t unbelievably connected to World Beyond, World Beyond is unbelievably connected to the universe, and this is a big part of the universe. Seeing another corner of it.

I do love that you’re taking what’s arguably one of the most maligned storylines in Walking Dead history with the CDC storyline from season one, and trying to rehabilitate it in a certain way. Was there any hesitation at all to tackle this?

Gimple: The cool thing about season one, for me, the thing that means so much to me about season one is, I was a fan. I was watching live every Sunday. I remember when the poster went up on the bus shelter next to my house, or the place I was living. And it’s funny, it wasn’t quite the Twitter-verse yet, you know what I mean? And so I had fun every Sunday, including those CDC episodes. And then later, in my Walking Dead life, I hear people maybe taking shots at it. And I was not one of those people. I had a great time those Sunday nights. And there are some moments in the CDC that I love and I remember so… To work with Noah Emmerich, who I was just straight up a fan of, and we had set it up that it was this recreation of a thing that I had watched on TV and love, it was crazy, it was heavy. It was also extremely COVID-friendly.

There’s a bunch of talk about different variants, and it almost seems like the French zombie at the end is potentially super strong… Are we going full Resident Evil here?

Gimple: We know what it is. I don’t want to reveal it to the audience. I want the audience to have fun with it, but I will say one thing definitively, it is not super strong. But things might be different in different corners of the world, that’s for sure.

Are you able, at this point, to talk about where, potentially, we can see this storyline continued?

Gimple: You know what? I’m not, but I will say it is there because it will continue. It is setting something up. We’re giving a sneak peek to something. It will prove very, very important to the universe.

Alexa Mansour as Hope, Annet Mahendru as Huck - The Walking Dead: World Beyond _ Season 2, Episode 10 - Photo Credit: Steve Swisher/AMC
Photo: Steve Swisher/AMC

So big step back to talk about the series, you announced pretty early in the process that World Beyond would be a two-season series. So now that we’re in the rear-view mirror, what, if anything, changed for you in the overall plan? Did it follow that initial map? Were there little tweaks as it went along?

Matt Negrete: Yeah. I’ll say that there are always things that change along the way, things you discover. Even just in casting, you play to the actor’s strengths and they contribute so much to each character. So there’s a lot of little things that change. But when Scott and I first sat down to talk about the series, we always knew this was going to be a series that was going to end. And so it was really helpful to talk about the story and the characters from an emotional standpoint, in terms of where they started and where they were going to end. And if we know where they were going to end, it was great to have that runway to just kind of reverse engineer and work backwards, and figure out where they’re going to start, where they’re going to end and figuring out those orange cone moments in-between. So in that respect, I think it was really liberating, and it was really fun to be writing towards an ending.

There definitely seems to be a lot of inevitably to where the characters will end up from watching these two seasons. But were there any major deaths that changed, or maybe characters that got saved because they really popped in a certain way?

Negrete: I don’t think so. I will say that when we were breaking the first season, we didn’t know exactly who the new supporting cast of season two necessarily was going to be. We knew, broad strokes, that the characters were going to end up more immersed in the world of the CRM. But talking in terms of specifics about the character of Indira, for example, or for Dennis, their fates weren’t set in stone when we came up with them in season two.

But in terms of the larger arcs, for Huck, for example, it was always going to be a redemption story. She’s someone who is revealed to be not a hero at the end of season one. She was the enemy in a lot of respects, and so her arc was always going to be: can she redeem herself? And the big sacrificial move she makes at the end is really what seals the deal in terms of her story, and giving her a really satisfying arc at the end of the day.

Iris and Elton end up heading to Portland together… Matt, I know you and I talked about this a little bit at the beginning of the season. Two of the headiest, two of the most intelligence-focused characters become two of the most physical characters by the end. So what led to that choice in particular?

Negrete: For Iris, in particular, she always exhibited these leadership qualities and even back at the university, in the pilot, she was a very different character in terms of, she was a more innocent version of the person she became. But she was always a leader and outside the walls of the university, she became a leader in a much different way. And it just felt right at the end of the day, if someone’s going to march towards Portland, it was going to be her. And that scene where she says goodbye to Leo, for example, towards the end of the finale, it really feels like she is leaving the nest.

It’s part of her growing up, part of her process. It’s just being independent and growing into her own person and not necessarily being with her family. And that’s her calling, it’s what she’s meant to do and that was really, I think, important to solidify who Iris was becoming and who she, in fact, has become.

Gimple: And her, there’s a very basic thing there that we were playing around with. When she was in the safety of the university, she was having dreams of being dead. And out in the world, in a place that is dangerous, she’s alive.

Negrete: Yeah.

Gimple: And it’s, I think, the purpose that gives her life, that gives her that feeling of truly being here.

Aliyah Royale as Iris - The Walking Dead: World Beyond _ Season 2, Episode 10 - Photo Credit: Steve Swisher/AMC
Photo: Steve Swisher/AMC

Let me ask you about Hope because of course, she ends up in the opposite direction. I really loved seeing this montage of her, happy, staying in one place, really focused, again, in the opposite way from where she started off.

Negrete: For Hope, it’s really about… it just felt like a natural evolution for her where she started off being the prankster, the person who was not paying attention in class; but it was ultimately because she was bored, I think. I think that people who are students, for example, who are really bored in class, a lot of times, they’re too smart. They’re bored because they’re just not engaged, not feeling challenged by the material.

And so that’s really, in my mind, who Hope was. And the fact that she was rebelling was a result of that. And through everything with the CRM, even through all the manipulation from Huck and from Elizabeth, she realized what was important to her, starting, even the beginning of season two, was that she believes in the future.

And what is her role going to be in that future? At the end of the day, it was following her dad’s footsteps, something that she had been totally against season one. But it felt right and through learning about the importance of her future, she understood the meaning behind what her father was doing. So at the end of the day, that just is what felt right for her and for her arc.

Are any of the main cast, at this point, contracted further than this final episode? or is it sort of a wait and see how it’s necessary for them to pop up situation?

Gimple: In a lot of ways in The Walking Dead universe, it’s kind of wait and see. And it’s questions of keeping in touch with people and seeing what they’re working on, and keeping them in the loop on things that we’re working on. Pollyanna is a total example of that. I’ve been talking to Pollyanna since she left Walking Dead, and there’s been different versions of what we saw. But really, in that same sort of umbrella. Even season one of World Beyond, we had some long discussions on that. So yeah. There’s that hashtag #TWDFamily, that’s kind of how we got to do it. We check in with people and keep them abreast of what our hopes and dreams are, and hopefully everything works out.

Given CRM is sort of this bigger bad of The Walking Dead universe, are we potentially going to see Silas and Jadis, at this point, before the other characters?

Gimple: In talking to everybody who’s on World Beyond, I talk to them and tell them that we have these wishes and dreams for these characters and we hope that we can make them happen. There’s also just the order of how we do things in the universe, and then there’s all sorts of things that play into it, availabilities and also just the bandwidth of how many productions we have going on at once.

We’re still a smaller company, or AMC’s a smaller company. It’s a lot of juggling, but I think showrunning is a really good preparation for this, which so much about showrunning is hopes and dreams and doing a lot of work that you wind up having to put aside because of everything from budget, to availability, or whatever. And then you have it for when that person or that moment or even that location is available. So do we want to continue these stories in some way, even separate? Absolutely. Absolutely.

Before I let you go, I wanted to thank you, as a Cornell alumni, putting the fate of the world in the hands of my former campus.

Negrete: Yeah. It’s making the future possible.

Gimple: I so wish I knew what they were because I would say go-

Go Big Red. You can say, “Go Big Red.”

Gimple: …go Big Red.

Negrete: Go Big Red.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Where to watch The Walking Dead: World Beyond

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