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[Movie] The Walking Dead: World Beyond season 2, episode 2 recap – “Foothold”

This recap of The Walking Dead: World Beyond season 2, episode 2, “Foothold”, contains spoilers.


The overall stupidity of The Walking Dead: World Beyond never ceases to amaze me. You can see it everywhere, from the high-level plotting to the worldbuilding to every minor or major decision that every character makes. Case in point: The opening of “Foothold”. You’ll recall that last week’s premiere ended with Iris rather stupidly deciding to kill a CRM guard in the middle of the woods, risking not just her own safety but that of the entire Perimeter, where they’ve only just found themselves. That’s stupid enough on its own, but when Felix arrives, having followed her tracks, the two of them get into a scrape with a few more walkers that only exacerbates the problem. The CRM goons, represented by bobbing torchlight, are closing in. And yet Felix, rather than simply killing two walkers as he’s clearly capable of doing, gets one in a sleeper hold so that Iris has to shoot it from distance with a crossbow like she’s firing at an apple on his head at the circus.

[Movie] The Walking Dead

[Movie] The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead: World Beyond season 2, episode 2 recap

This level of idiocy has always been the show’s downfall. It’s explicitly tied to the continuity of The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead, yet it does things that nobody who has ever seen an episode of either would tolerate. You can tell through the use of terms like “empties” that World Beyond is, on some level, trying to distinguish itself from other corners of the canon, but like The Walking Dead, but everyone in it is stupid” isn’t much of an elevator pitch. Perhaps the real point of the endeavor is to further characterize the CRM. We know they took Rick away, after all, and we’ve glimpsed them in several episodes of Fear, and they have a strong presence in this season already, much more than they did even in the first. Yet there’s nothing interesting about the CRM. They have resources and facilities, but they’re just evil in a garden-variety, impossible-to-justify way. Elizabeth sicced hordes of the undead on two of its communities for no real reason, and when Leopold confronts her early on in “Foothold” about the destruction of the Campus and Omaha colonies, not to mention her manipulation of Hope and Iris and his presently missing security detail, she just rather unsubtly threatens him into doing what he’s told.

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There’s no depth or nuance here. The CRM is so well-established that every scene set within it has no real relationship to the outside world; everyone dresses in a normal way, carries their lunch around on trays, and goes about their daily lives in the same way they would if there hadn’t been a zombie apocalypse in the meantime. Hope basically steps through the doors of her father’s office and into a high-school drama. When Lyla, her father’s colleague and secret girlfriend, offers to give her a tour, she takes it with the intention of filling out her notebook, in which she has written things like “Security: Cameras, guards, patrols”, like any of that is useful or surprising information. But nothing Lyla has to say is useful or surprising either. The facility is being used as a lab to try and determine the cause of the outbreak and a possible solution for the dead still roaming the earth — I’d be surprised if any functioning lab wasn’t trying to figure that out at this stage. Lyla, a scientist lest we forget, immediately falls for Hope’s excuse that she wants to use the bathroom and leaves her to roam around on her until she’s caught trying to enter a room for authorized personnel only by — the shock, the horror — a handsome guy named Mason who’s roughly the same age as her.

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It’s always quite funny to see the next way in which World Beyond decides to be ridiculous. In “Foothold” it comes when Hope finally wanders into her father’s lab, and since he isn’t there, Lyla literally plays an informational video he recorded laying out the nature of his research. Of all the clumsy ways to dispense exposition, this is definitely up there. Leo is working on, in general terms, infecting the infected with a modified fungus that’ll accelerate their rate of decay, hopefully eradicating them as a threat and allowing for expansive rebuilding efforts. Part of the data-gathering portion of this research involves sending walkers out into the woods wearing little backpacks. Science!

Silas, meanwhile, is taken by a man named Dennis to “decontamination”, another CRM offshoot — absolutely everything has the logo printed on it — staffed by similarly-aged misfits in Webb, Tiga, and Grady. The point of this place is to summon the dead using lights and music, blow them up, and dump their remains off-site. It’s all part of the rebuilding process, obviously, clearing the way — literally, in this case — for the progress the CRM is making. Dennis, it turns out, has a prior romantic relationship with Huck, which we gather in some throwaway dialogue and by looking at a picture of the two of them he keeps in his car. Something for subsequent episodes to unpack, I’m sure.

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But the theme of “Foothold” is this idea of progress; of the CRM taking steps to rebuild the world, steps so important that those within the CRM are willing to break any moral lines that might have held them in check before the Fall. The episode’s favorite way to communicate this is through Elizabeth, who shows up everywhere to be vaguely ominous and threatening. She does it to Leo. She does it to Indira when she and her goons arrive at the Perimeter to try and find their missing soldier (the one Iris killed). And she does it with Lyla, whom you’ll recall is working with her in order to keep Leo focused on his very important research. Elizabeth doesn’t really have a character beyond this. She’s just shorthand for unethical government meddling.

Then again, virtually nobody else in this show has a character either. It’s terrible, and not in a fun way. But we’re stuck with it for at least the rest of this season, so rather than lament that fact, let’s at least hope that subsequent installments are better than “Foothold”. I’m not holding my breath.

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