Episode 6 of The Walking Dead: The World Beyond was a pretty decent entry into AMC’s latest zombie spin-off.
The episode focused on our happy gang of heroes meeting a newcomer, Percy, who enlists their help in retrieving his truck, which he claims was stolen. It turns out Percy is a con artist. He’s running a scam, and he would have gotten away with it too, if not for those pesky kids.
World beyond is one of those shows where very little happens in every episode until something happens. Lots of slow build followed by great action.
In “Shadow Puppets,” we pick up where last week’s episode left off. Percy actually appeared at the very end of this episode, although we didn’t see who it was before this one.
After a moment of tension, the children invite Percy back to their fire, where he recounts how his things were stolen by other men. But there are flaws in his story, like the way he traveled such a great distance in such a short time. So he confesses: he has a truck. That’s what the thieves took. He was only lying to Hope and the others because he was trying to protect them. After all, if they found out he had a vehicle, they would be too tempted to go and find it themselves and it could be dangerous.
Indeed, the scam works. They agree to go and help him. Arrived there, they see the truck. They rush in and find a man inside, injured and cold or dead. It’s Tony, Percy’s uncle. He’s in the scam, but they don’t know it. They laid him against the building.
The thieves are apparently in a building across the street and Felix and Percy enter. Eager not to be able to help, Iris also enters, leaving Hope and Elton outside and Silas with the truck.
Inside the building, Iris meets Percy. They go upstairs and find the keys and a pile of Percy’s things. He tells her to go start the truck. He’s going to collect these things and look for the bad guys. She goes down the stairs and hears a scream and a gunshot. Torn between wanting to get the hell out and wanting to go help Percy, she hesitates. After a while, she goes upstairs.
Percy cannot be found. She sees her things and reaches inside the backpack. It is filled with paper. She realizes it’s an accessory.
Meanwhile, outside, we see Tony stand up and grab the children’s bags. He throws them in the truck and runs away. They are almost gone when they see a pack of “has-been” – a kind of funny term for zombies – and decide to return to save the children and Felix. They might be crooks, but they’re not heartless.
At the end of the day, everyone is nice, although it does take a little while for the girls to forgive Percy and his uncle. Silas never trusted Percy to begin with and his instincts were strong. Elton seems to genuinely like the two men, regardless of their attempt to blindly steal them.
We learn that Tony was a magician, and Elton wins it over by asking if all of his tricks are sleight of hand.
The conversation about Hope’s father and Elton’s mother also continues in this episode. Hope wears her secret like a ball and chain. She knows that Elton’s mother shot and killed her mother and that she killed her mother in revenge. It’s something she clearly wants to tell him, but I can’t imagine how it would help anything. The truth will set you free, but sometimes discretion is the best part of bravery. What is the use of offloading Elton? He’ll know his mother killed someone first. His memory of her will be marred. His friendship with Hope (and Iris) will be compromised.
It’s also not like it’s the kind of secret that might never be revealed otherwise. Hope is the only one who knows what happened and has visual confirmation of who the woman was. Maybe the secret is gnawing at her and she just needs to tell him. I’m not sure that would be a nice touch, however.
“Shadow Puppets” opens with what appears to be an animated segment with narration on top. This show loves its storytelling. It is generally quite sappy. Ultimately, we realize this whole segment is a shadow puppet show that Tony and Percy put on for the kids and Felix. They team up and I guess a great shadow puppet show and emotional music is just what it takes for new compatriots. The children watch. The girls cry. Dark images flicker and scroll across the screen.
This episode was directed by Michael Cudlitz — Abraham from The walking dead-and I think he did a good job with it. But like a lot of the rest of this show, it’s just not very exciting material. Cudlitz is doing his best and the kids are all doing a really good job too, but the material is still too flat. Perhaps we have already covered this ground too much. There is nothing new and quite interesting about World beyond to really make it stand out. The CRM stuff maybe, but that’s a very small part of the show at this point.
We have four episodes left in the first (and penultimate) season of World beyond. It will be over at the end of November. I’m not sure it happened enough in six episodes to warrant the existence of this show just yet. What do you think?