“The Blaze of Gory” confirms that this show isn’t very good, rife with the idiocy the franchise exhibited at its worst.
This recap of The Walking Dead: World Beyond season 1, episode 2, “The Blaze of Gory”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
After the disappointing premiere, I can’t say I expected The Walking Dead: World Beyond to get much better, but I certainly didn’t expect it to get this much worse. “The Blaze of Gory” is, to me, this franchise at its most difficult to tolerate, full of stupidity, lazy storytelling, played-out drama, and second-hand ideas. At least in the campus setting the supposed teen focus was there; there was something different about a show being set so far into the apocalypse that some of the children had never killed a walker of their own before. I say “walker” since that’s the longstanding franchise nomenclature, but here they’re called “empties” for no reason at all.
That’s actually where The Walking Dead: World Beyond episode 2 begins, with Iris trying – and failing – to kill a single zombie while flashing back to lessons from the campus about how to do so; lessons she obviously never paid attention to. We are much, much too far into this franchise’s lifespan to be making a big deal of killing zombies. We spent years watching characters learn how to do this expertly. To return to the easy drama of kids being barely able to stave off a single shambling corpse feels like an absurdly lazy way to create “tension”.
Also lazy: Flashbacks. I watch an awful lot of television, far more than the average person, and yet I can’t remember the last show I watched that didn’t include flashbacks. Their usage can be justified, of course, but historically, The Walking Dead at its absolute worst would lean against flashbacks and other structural gimmicks to obscure the fact that it really had no story to tell. In “The Blaze of Gory”, the flashbacks pertain to Felix, who, along with Huck, is pursuing the kids. We see his father kick him out of the house for coming out as gay. We see the family fall apart. We see his recollections of the earliest days of the apocalypse. And so on, and so forth.
The titular Blaze of Gory is an endless tire fire that lures walkers with its noise and light, keeping most of them out of the way but standing as a monument to the ruination of the world. The kids are heading towards it and plan to pass right by it, but of course, they’re sidetracked by their complete inability to handle even the most minute of threats, although I’ll concede that insect-spewing hive-head zombie makes for a nice visual.
I’ll even concede that the treehouse the gang takes shelter and plays Monopoly in is very on-brand if we’re really pretending this is a teen-focused show. They have the high ground in there, luckily, so they’re safe from threats, but Hope predictably – and idiotically – tries to handle the walker problem herself and almost pays the price for it. This, I suppose, is the problem of doing a teen drama in the Walking Dead universe – teenagers are even dumber than adults.
Speaking of dumb, Iris talks the gang into going right through the walkers amassing by the Blaze of Gory. Elton is particularly irritating in this back half of The Walking Dead: World Beyond episode 2. His chirpy nihilism – not to mention that awful, awful suit – is just really ill-fitting on such a young character. There’s arguably a compelling idea in the discussion about the end of the world, but the stiffness of the writing undermines it; I never bought the idea that Elton is just resigned to the demise of humanity as a mathematical inevitability.
Of course, we build towards a rather unearned cliffhanger, with Hope making another stupid decision that it seems pointless going into. Stupidity seems to be this show’s whole thing, and not in a way that feels like an intentional critique of the youth or anything like that. It’s just a boring consequence of bad writing, the same patterns of idiocy that the shows under Gimple always seem to fall into. I haven’t yet reached the point where I hate this show and wish all the characters ill – besides Elton, obviously – though I feel like we’re going to get there sooner rather than later.
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