What to expect from the next generation of The Walking Dead


The Walking Dead has been a major player on television for almost a decade, and while ratings and viewership figures have dropped significantly in that time, it remains one of AMC’s hottest properties, one that’s fast expanding its universe.

We’re halfway through the tenth season and the show is flourishing under showrunner Angela Kang, after she took hold of the reins from Scott M. Gimple following a divisive season 8. So far in its 10-season run, The Walking Dead has already generated one successful spinoff series: Fear The Walking Dead, which recently concluded its fifth season and has already been renewed for a sixth. Far from ending the franchise, AMC looks to want to expand!

The ever-growing Walking Dead universe will soon be making its first foray into movies with a Rick Grimes film in development at Universal Studios, with Andrew Lincoln signed on to reprise his iconic role.

There’s a ton of speculation about this planned trilogy of movies, but very few official details. Fans speculate that Maggie Rhee (Lauren Cohan) could make an appearance after she departed The Walking Dead in season 9, in pursuit of a mysterious character named Georgie who claimed to come from a large and thriving community. Maggie has been a key part of The Walking Dead since season 2.

In October, the first trailer for a brand new and anticipated spinoff series debuted at New York Comic-Con. This spinoff is set 10 years into the zombie apocalypse and focuses on members of an entirely new generation of characters who came of age in a world ruled by the dead.

The new series: The Walking Dead: World Beyond, received a 10-episode order in April 2019 and began filming late July 2019 in Richmond, Virginia. It’s written by Matthew Negrete, who’s been involved as a producer for The Walking Dead since 2013. Jordan Vogt Roberts (Kong: Skull Island) directed the pilot. The cast includes Alexa Mansour (Hope), Nicolas Cantu (Elton) and Aliyah Royale (Iris). Supporting cast members include Annet Mahendru as Huck and Nico Tortorella as Felix.

Former Walking Dead actor Michael Cudlitz, who portrayed fan favourite Abraham Ford, will direct episodes of this new show. He teased the series on Twitter:

Cudlitz is no stranger to directing. He was given the opportunity to direct two episodes of The Walking Dead season 10, taking the directors chair for Silence the Whisperers and Open Your Eyes.

Speaking to The Wrap, AMC programming chief David Madden teased that this show will be very much its own original story, unlike anything we’ve seen in the Walking Dead universe.  “The new show is really on its own separate path. It’s a different feel and different tone,” he said. “It won’t look anything like the other two shows.”

We get a first glimpse at our new, teenage survivors in the trailer. They come from a community said to have a population of 9,671, which if true would make it the largest community we’ve seen in the franchise to date. In fact, no other community in The Walking Dead TV universe comes close, at least at the moment.

Since they’re so young, all these characters know is the post-apocalyptic world the heroes on the other two shows have had to get used to. This is a central theme of the show, as the trailer says, we’re dealing with “a generation born into a dead world.”  Their community is set on rebuilding and bringing civilization as it used to be, but these kids are ignorant of that world and want to explore theirs. We’ve never seen anything quite like this on The Walking Dead, not even in season 1 when the apocalypse was young.

The group of teens we follow are massively out of touch when it comes to the dangers that lie behind their walls. This is a big change from the parent show, where the survivors are well-trained in the art of killing walkers.

Photo: Sarah Shatz (AMC)

In previews, we see the new characters adventuring in desolate lands. On one of their adventures, Iris appears hesitant to kill a walker, vomiting over it instead of stabbing it. This emphasizes her unfamiliarity with the world of the dead, having been locked in a safe community all her life. It begs multiple questions: Why are they searching outside the walls? Who/what, are they looking for? Only time will tell!

The trailer also gives us a fascinating look at the new world this community has built. There’s a school, and clean homes, rare things in this zombie-infested reality. They even play sports! There are times when you might think you’re seeing a preview with a high-school drama.

More recently AMC gifted us with a new teaser, which also confirmed the name of the show, which had befallen to widespread speculation beforehand.

Again, this short 30-second teaser gives us a further look at the advancements this civilization has made, an entire decade into the apocalypse. It’s our first look at Julia Ormand as the community leader Elizabeth, who is looking cooler than ever as she walks out of a helicopter surrounded by a group of seemingly well-trained armed guards, who gun down a horde of walkers in wonderful unison.

It looks like the beginnings of a civilized, impregnable community, but this is The Walking Dead, and we know that the good never lasts too long.

Besides the confirmed title and a look at Elizabeth, we aren’t offered much more in terms of story. The rest of the teaser shows off more typically gruesome Walking Dead zombie kills from our new band of teenage survivors, with a nice uplifting beat in the background.

This series could simply be a coming-of-age story about kids taking their first steps into the real world. One thing is for sure: it’s going to have a completely different feel to the other shows in the franchise. There’s a definite sense of humour to the proceedings, which contrasts with the grim brutality of The Walking Dead. It’s a show about a new generation of survivors. Those who didn’t know what the world was like before.

The Walking Dead: World Beyond is set to air Spring 2020 on AMC.

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