This review contains spoilers for episode 202, “Foothold.”
On this week’s The Walking Dead: World Beyond, Hope sees what her father has been up to, Iris taps into her rage, and Silas learns the basics of culling the herd as a foothold to the future. It is an episode filled with complicated grand plans and good old-fashioned thirsts for revenge.
HOME SWEET CRM
After Hope is reunited with her father, they spend most of their first day back together apart. Leo’s girlfriend Lila takes Hope on a tour of the facilities. Hope uses the opportunity to do recon on the security of the facility. On one detour, Hope meets a boy her age, Mason. After a meet cute in a supply closet, Hope catches up with Lila in her father’s office.
Lila shows Hope the work that Leo has been doing for CRM. Leo’s work is light years ahead of the work of previous scientists. Lila explains that Leo’s research has given CRM a foothold in the future. Because of Leo’s genius, the facility is hoping that Hope will follow in his footsteps. The current research shows that a particular fungus can expedite the decay of the dead. With the fungus, CRM hopes to speed up the process of rot until the dead are no longer a threat.
Leo spends the morning celebrating Hope’s birthday over breakfast. Worried about his daughter’s state of mind, Leo gently asks about her life. Hope is still experiencing PTSD from both her mother’s death and her journey cross country to CRM, so she opts for the teenage favorite, “I don’t want to talk about it.” Leo stresses that he does not work for the military, and that his sole purpose is to save humanity. That work just happens to be completely controlled and dictated by the military. It would appear Leo’s quarters are situated in the state of denial. With a sigh, Leo says that he understands that Hope is now like him, stuck.
Leo announces that he wants to work on locating Iris and Felix. In a flashback we learn that Leo already had a discussion with Lila about her snitching to CRM. Leo forgave Lila because her “indiscretion” ended up saving his daughters from the fall of the campus colony. It is pretty clear that Leo still does not know the extent of his girlfriend’s treachery.
Leo goes to Kublek, and he demands that she locate Iris and Felix. Kublek says no. When Leo tells Kublek that she cannot understand how he feels, Kublek pulls the Huck card. Despite the shared fear about daughters in the undead world, Leo points out that he still has one daughter out in the wilderness. Leo threatens to quit working if Iris and Felix are not found.
With a sigh, Kublek explains that Hope was a resource for the future that was worth tracking down. Kublek adds that it had been necessary to let Hope experience the undead world so that she understood “the stakes and her role.” Kublek adds that Leo’s psychological review shows he was making an empty threat to quit. Kublek tips her hand that she knew all about Leo’s communications to the campus colony, and she warns him not to make any further errors in judgment.
Leo returns home late that night, and he promises that he will locate Iris and Felix. Hope tells Leo that if his work is important to him, it is important to her. Hope says she wants to learn and help.
In Kublek’s office, Lila dutifully reports that Leo is demoralized because CRM had not located Iris. “I thought that was what you were for?” Kublek shoots back. It has been very apparent from the start that Lila’s relationship with Leo is planned, but that she also cares for him. I don’t doubt this friction will play a part in the end. There will be no happy ending for Lila, but I am pretty sure she already knows this. Whether Lila’s loyalty to CRM is because she believes that the good of the work outweighs the bad actions of CRM or because she is terrified of Kublek has yet to be confirmed. Honestly, either one feels valid.
BEHIND THE CURTAIN
Iris’s story picks up right after she murdered the security guard in the woods. Felix finds her, and he hurriedly attempts to drag the body back across the line into neutral territory. A passing patrol almost discovers them, but they manage to wait the hunt out. In the daylight, Iris thinks again about her dream of a CRM guard in the body of an empty. Felix saves her from a very real empty in that moment, and he asks if she is okay.
Iris shares her theory with Felix that CRM caused the fall of the Omaha and Campus colonies instead of a rogue horde. Will admits that the thought had crossed his mind too. Felix does not think the CRM would execute such an elaborate plan just to secure Hope as an asset. I agree with Felix, but I also know that Kublek did exactly that. There has to be more to the decision, but Kublek has not said anything else to this point.
The heads of the artists’ colony, the Perimeter, are understandably furious about the ramifications of Iris’ actions. One wants to turn her over to CRM, but Indira thinks they should give Felix’s decoy plan a chance. Before the group can reach a consensus, Kublek rolls into town with soldiers. Though Kublek does not find Felix, Will, and Iris hiding behind a tapestry, she does make it clear that she suspects the colony is hiding Will. CRM is there to find their missing soldier, and they believe Will is to blame.
Fortunately, Felix and Will’s plan to stage a crime scene with the body of Iris’ victim and an empty dressed like Will works. The heat from the CRM appears to be off. The heat of Iris’s anger is very much on though.
As a prisoner of CRM, Silas has been assigned to decontamination duty. Basically, the teenage boys attract herds of walkers with lights and music, and then they blow up most of the empties. The boys then put the bodies in burn pits for disposal. For those empties that are not destroyed, “the dead ones” are tagged for research work at CRM and shipped out. The men chatter about how the work is a way to start over and rise through the ranks. Although Silas is a prisoner, he does not mention it to the other young men. All the other boys are volunteers with the hope for the future. Per the CRM sales pitch, mass culling of herds is a way to gain a foothold for the human race’s future. To that end, CRM has six other bigger sites that use stadiums and arenas to draw in the dead.
Silas is buoyed when he realizes that the main CRM research facility is close, because it means that Iris is likely there. For Silas’ boss Dennis, he has a similar feeling. That’s because Dennis is Huck’s ex-boyfriend. And Dennis makes the deliveries of the “dead ones” to Huck’s new home.
There is a little bit more world building in this episode, which is interesting. The explanation of the decontamination facility shows that CRM has an actual plan for the future. However, there is still no explanation for why Kublek and CRM are okay with killing perfectly fine humans. Humans that would be a good building block to a future for the human race. Kublek’s reason is still a mystery for me. If Kublek’s reason to wipe out tens of thousands of humans was purely to secure Hope as an asset, this series will be a failure. There has to be more. We are only at the start of the season, but I hope this mystery is yet to be unraveled.
As for Iris, I look forward to her growing need for vengeance. Felix is still a bit chill considering all that has happened. But Iris is ready to burn it all down, and that is a story I look forward to seeing unfold. Kublek focused on the wrong sister.
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