By Dalton Ross
November 29, 2020 at 11:24 PM EST
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The Walking Dead: World Beyond

The core characters of The Walking Dead: World Beyond will be feeling some serious separation anxiety when the show returns for season 2 in 2021. That’s because Sunday’s two-part season finale saw the group even further splintered and heading off to different directions and destinations by the time things wrapped up.

After a knock-down, drag-out fight between former BFFs Felix and Huck, Hope agreed to go with the double agent to the research facility where her father, Leo, is residing and took off in a helicopter with the CRM’s enigmatic Elizabeth Kublek. (Hopefully, Hope can wake her dad up to the fact that his new girlfriend is something of a double agent herself.)

Meanwhile, Elton saved a dying Percy and followed a smoke cloud to find Silas. Just one problem: CRM soldiers followed the same smoke cloud, forcing Silas to embrace his inner hero and sacrifice himself to the troops to save the others.

While all these groups were breaking up, there was at least one reunion, as Felix happened to cross paths with his boyfriend, Will, who was leading a mysterious group in the woods. Why was Will on the run and who are these people he’s with? That’s just one of the questions we asked show creators Matt Negrete and Scott M. Gimple about the big finale, as the pair looked ahead to what’s on tap for season 2.

Credit: Macall Polay/AMC

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let’s start at the very end. The last thing we see is Felix reunited with Will and this group behind him. What can you say about why Will is not with Leo and who this group is?

SCOTT GIMPLE: Hoo-boy. Can't say much about who the group is. One thing I worried about was maybe people thinking, "This is a group we've seen before in the Walking Dead universe." This is a brand new group. So there's that. As for Will, there are some references to what Will was doing and Leo expecting him back. There was a little bit of an excursion that happened that Will was supposed to be back from, and he obviously is not and he's with these people and things are afoot. You know me, I'm a lockbox. I'm impenetrable, Dalton.

Well, when you're saying things are afoot, does that mean that this could be the start of some sort of resistance?

GIMPLE: It's a little more complicated than that. But that group isn't the CRM obviously, and things are happening, but it's even a little more complex and less binary than a resistance. Some very difficult relationships are being tested — and I don't mean personal relationships. I mean sort of big relationships of societies.

MATT NEGRETE: And I'll add that he says something to Felix, to the effect of, "I thought you were dead and you guys don't know." Know what? So there's an implication that he might know that something bad went down where they're all from. So there's definitely some blanks to be filled in there. We'll learn more as we get into season 2.

GIMPLE: Will straight up thought they were dead. Why do you think they were dead?

Is that because of what we saw at the end of episode 1?

NEGRETE: Yes. We also saw in the post-credits coda of episode 9 that Will is on the run and there are some CRM soldiers chasing him, or in hot pursuit. Something has gone awry and something's gone down, and there are definitely some blanks to fill that will be filling in season 2.

Let’s talk about the Hope of it all. Hope agrees to go with Huck and then Kublek because she says they will just keep coming for her and it will keep the others safe, but is there a part of her that wants to go with them because it means checking on her dad, and it means sussing out the CRM? Plus, she’s always been a little restless. Is that stuff in the mix at all?

NEGRETE: I'll say that I think it would make perfect sense that she would be wanting to check in on her dad. Huck has told her, "Your dad's fine." But those are words. She has no idea the kind of condition he's been in. She doesn't know what he knows about this organization or the lengths that they've gone to.

We see him with Dr. Lyla Belshaw having a nice dinner while his daughters are going through hell with Felix out in the wire. I think that she's eager to reunite with him to see if he's okay. But she ultimately has faith that no matter what it's like where her father is, she has Iris on the outside. And together they're greater than the sum of their parts. If she were, for example, to become a prisoner, she's confident that she's got her sister on the outside with Felix, and together they can figure this out somehow.

GIMPLE: That was one of my favorite aspects, that kind of ladder revelation in the episode of the kind of confidence that the sisters had with each other, that they were that much on the same page. It's such an extreme circumstance that Hope believed that Iris could take care of it no matter what, that she can help even upend the CRM. That's pretty big stuff. That speaks to how the relationship has changed by this story.

Scott, if Hope doesn't fire that gun in the air and then put it to her own temple, does Huck kill Felix?

GIMPLE: Yes, I think. I'm going to give it to Matt to overrule.

NEGRETE: I approve of that. Yeah, I agree. I'm in full agreement. I think she would. I don't think she wanted to by any means.

GIMPLE: Oh, yeah. There would be no evil laugh afterward. She's obviously a believer in the cause.

Talk more about that, because that was my next question, whether she is a believer of the cause and this mission that, seemingly, her mother has put her on, or if she's just following orders when she kills Tony, shoots Percy, slices Felix's leg? And you said she is a believer of the cause.

GIMPLE: What she was trying to imbue Hope with through this trip in many ways is belief, not just motivating her, making her less of a delinquent. In the episode 3 coda, Elizabeth says, "We are the light of the world," almost sounding a little Beta, sort of the opposite of that. And it's said again and again about the future, about what it takes, Lyla's rehearsal of her statement to Leo, that according to their models, within 30 years, there would be no human life on the planet, or at least now undead human life. Those stakes are pretty high. And though I don't think that Tony and Percy were... they were acceptable losses.

Even we talk about how the group other than Hope is expendable, even to her. These aren't things she relishes, but this is the future of the planet they're talking about. They aren't just shrugging and being like, "All right, you can't make an omelet without breaking some eggs." It isn't light like that. This is a very solemn thing. I guess the pithy statement that we have, that Matt and I have, is sometimes you got to do bad to do good. That kind of boils it down — it's not quite grandiose, but that covers it.

NEGRETE: And that's exactly what she went through in the flashback of episode 7, which is she murdered her fellow soldiers in arms to save innocent people. So she had to do something horrifically bad in that moment for what she felt was the greater good, which is saving these innocent civilians.

It's interesting, because in a lot of ways, I wouldn't say that's necessarily any sort of origin story, but in terms of the things that she's grappled with, and now that is sort of the mantra of the CRM in a lot of ways, we can look back and see how that philosophy kind of paved the way for where she is now.

Credit: Macall Polay/AMC

Matt, what can you tell us about Huck's dad?

NEGRETE: Huck's dad? Oh, boy. We don't know much of anything about him in season 1. It's really about the reveal of who Elizabeth is. He does get name-checked.

And watch-checked.

NEGRETE: Yeah, watch-checked. Exactly. He gets watch-checked as well. So we do know there's a history there. It's a great point: That watch is a link to their father. It's almost like there's this love that they have for their father who is not there, and it's expressed through that watch. Actually, I'm going to end it right there. I'm not going to spoil it.

I want to talk about Leo and Belshaw a little bit. First off, does Belshaw really care for Leo as a boyfriend? Or is this just all an act?

GIMPLE: We've kind of talked about that. I would say that she does, but she doesn't care about Leo as much as she cares about the future. And [she's a] terrible cook. I mean, really bad cook.

So what does that mean then for Leo after he tells her that he doesn't trust the CRM and questions what happened to Dr. Abbott? And if she does care somewhat about him, but cares more about the CRM, what does that mean for Leo moving forward?

NEGRETE: You raise all really good points, and those are things that we're definitely going to be exploring in season 2. But Leo's not in a very good place at the end of that dinner, because he's about to confess more about his suspicions of the CRM and potentially a plan to find out more to his girlfriend who we've just learned is incredibly loyal to the CRM.

So if he does divulge something, what is she going to do with that information? And is she willing to expose him to the higher-ups and maybe potentially put him in endanger? Those are all sorts of questions that are going to be lingering at the end of this episode going into the next season. But yeah, it's just a matter of waiting to see how that plays out. He's walking into a minefield by opening up to the wrong person there.

I want to talk about Silas, who sacrifices himself so Elton and Percy can get away. Obviously, it's a valiant move. But the one thing we've seen from Silas all season is a lack of self-worth, and almost seeing himself as lesser than the others. So is this move — as heroic as it is — a continuation of that? Because this could be seen again as putting his own value below theirs. Or is it something else completely?

GIMPLE: The character, from the start, even physically, had struggled with being looked upon as a potential monster. And the rumors that went on around him about his past when he arrived at the campus colony, he was internalizing them. And then it came to a point in episode 8 where he straight-up believed them, like, "Oh, this must be true." And to be released from it, to be freed from it, he's not the monster, he's the hero. And he wants to be the hero.

I don't think it was him not feeling he was worthy. I think it was him feeling he was responsible, that he was able to do it. He was able to be the hero. If you're able to be the hero, be the hero, as said at the Kingdom.

I think there was something beautiful about that, considering his vector. A lot of the things that are achieved in this final episode from an emotional point of view, I think, was everybody completing their journey to a degree, to launch into the next journey. Because, obviously, a lot of things are about to happen to them that we're super interested in, or we hope the audience is. But this was him transforming into the hero.

There are a lot of people nowadays who are apologizing for their existence, that are feeling just bad about who they are. And Silas was one of these people. But through that journey, he discovered that he's as heroic as anybody else, if not more. And I hope some people come away with that for themselves.

Matt, I remember when we spoke before the season started and you said that this season was going to be, like Scott just said, a journey. Okay, we just saw the journey. So if season 1 was the journey, what is season 2?

NEGRETE: I've just tonally been thinking about season 2 as chapter 2 of a two-chapter book. But the second chapter, I think, is going to feel much different. I think in this world, when you're the age of our characters, you're forced to grow up very quickly and forced to make these decisions that define who you are and who you're going to become. And I really think that they're on their way. I think season 1 was a journey in that respect emotionally, and they've still got some big things to face.

It's like they've traveled a distance and now they're all in New York, in one area or another. Push has to come to shove now. They're on the CRMs doorstep in a lot of ways. And the CRM, in a lot of ways, has brought the fight to them. And now I think that the role's been reversed. And now that they realize who Huck is, they know more about what they're up against. The ball's in their court to a degree.

I think season 2 is going to be about the decisions they make and the actions they take to get what they want. And through that, that's really going to define who they're ultimately going to become. And I think by the end of the series, that trajectory is going to be very clear for all of them.

Credit: Macall Polay/AMC

What it like in terms of mapping out season 2 knowing you will also be wrapping up the entire story?

GIMPLE: It's been funny, even just working with 10 episodes rather than 16, living in 2020 —because there aren't that many shows that do as many as 16 episodes a season anymore — has been weird. Putting together an end game has been... We've had a good amount of time with it now as well, but we've also been making the show.

There are some interesting opportunities narratively to it. I will say, on The Walking Dead, I remember when I started in season 4, with its popularity, I was like, "Oh, well, if the ratings half every year, we have three or four more years." So I was able to plan four years ahead. There were things that we laid out that we didn't get to for years. I knew it because it was like, "Well, in the worst case, we'll still be doing it."

With this, you're sort of starting from a point of knowing your ending, or knowing that you are ending. I suppose there's a little claustrophobia in that, considering that Matt and I are coming from 16-episode seasons that we're talking about telling a big story in just 20 episodes. That's like, "Holy crap." And really wanting to establish these characters, really wanting to feel these characters.

That said, we knew very early on that it was going to be two seasons. It made it a different mission with these stories. We needed to be very cognizant of it with every step we took forward. Season 2 establishes three very different worlds that are connected, but tenuously. And they couldn't be more different, each one of these worlds.

Beyond that, we wanted to complete the vibe of these characters growing up. Twenty episodes is a little tough for growing up, but people do that in movies that are an hour and a half. It's different for Matt and I coming from where we came from, but challenge accepted. We're getting near the end of the journey from a writing standpoint. We're liking how it's going.

Are we going to pick right back up in season 2? Or is there going to be a time jump between the two seasons?

NEGRETE: From a conceptual standpoint, I've always loved starting seasons with a time jump. But there's some pretty urgent business to attend to coming off the end of season 1. We have Hope heading towards the research facility. She's hoping to be reunited with her father. There'd be some things we wouldn't want to skip over. Let's put it like that. It's definitely a reunion that we want to see and want to capture and feel.

We also leave Iris and Felix meeting Will, and we're going to have to find out who he's with, what he's gone through, and what he knows. And then we have to tend to Iris wanting to get, not just her father back now, but her sister as well. So there are some pretty immediate concerns that we're going to be dealing with in season 2. As much as I love a time jump to justify Nicolas Cantu being three feet taller and probably 30 pounds heavier.

GIMPLE: All muscle though. All muscle.

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