Walking Dead: World Beyond… Really Irked Me… (*Warning – Rant with Spoilers*)

*Warning – Spoilers!*

I love apocalypse and post-apoc fiction.

Largely I believe because of experiences I have had in the military and police. The breakdown of society and how humans react to that fascinates me. If I was more academically minded I think I might be back in university studying disaster psychology and humanitarian crisis management.


Zombie fiction gives us a tool to look at a fictional humanitarian crisis.

So I take this stuff seriously. Well, sort of seriously anyway.

Like the US Government.

Here is some information I dug up just now looking into this topic.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CONOP_8888

And from the actual CONOP8888 document…. I strongly recommend you read the disclaimer on pages 2 and 3 to better undertand the exercise.

Click to access dod.zombie.apocalypse.plan.pdf

I know you are probably thinking, “Rick is going to go off on one about the black clad pseudo-military of the Civil Republic”… but as annoying as I find their poorly done “wannabe” martial antics that is not what really irks me.

*Warning! Spoilers! Last Chance…. Turn Back Now or Else!*


No, it is the post credit stinger at the end of the final episode of World Beyond.


If you do not mind spoilers and have not yet seen it, here is a clip of that scene.

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Walking Dead is adding fast zombies. Wait.. what?!

*You Were Warned!*

In case you are not familiar with the slow zombie versus fast zombie controversy here is some background…to quote from the following…

https://zombie.fandom.com/wiki/Differences_Between_Surviving_Fast_and_Slow_Zombies

“Many zombie enthusiasts deny that the creatures depicted in 28 Days LaterThe Dawn of the Dead remake, and Zombieland should be considered actual zombies. Fans of the genre feel that the slow, inevitable pace of doom is a separate, and vital component of Zombie Fiction which Fast Zombie films lack.

Max Brooks (whose works largely inspired this wiki, and whose consistent depictions of zombies is the focus of most of its content) has defined zombies as slow-moving, minimally cognitive predators who are technically dead and suffer from natural decay. George Romero has spoken semi-passionately against the notion of fast zombies. Max Brooks himself dislike Fast Zombies, and had explained in The Zombie Survival Guide that a rotten corpse that hasn’t eaten or drunk water in days would not have the energy to sprint. However, zombies (fast or slow) generally are not scientifically accurate anyway, as they are constantly shown to be able to move even though they had no nourishment for a long time. Most notable is a decapitated zombie head which can sense and bite humans even after years of no nourishment (such as the zombie head in a jar mentioned in The Zombie Survival Guide). The universe operates according to the First Law Of Thermodynamics, which basically states that you can’t get something for nothing; if you consume no fuel, you get no energy. Zombies are often stated to be self-sufficient and require no nourishment of any sort, so even Slow Zombies are not realistic. Also, there has been more and more general acceptance of the idea of fast zombies as a more realistic alternative to zombies, with a more immediate, in-your-face style of terror. While it is still hotly disputed as to which kind of zombie is the most dangerous or terrifying, few can debate that the recent popularity of Fast Zombies has left an indelible impression on the greater horror genre. As such the definition of a zombie, as defined by popular consensus, is an unintelligent humanoid predator, devoid of even the most basic survival skills. It is not even necessary for a zombie to desire the consumption of human flesh. The 28 Days movies and the Spanish film REC do not feature ‘zombies’.  They are rage infected humans or infected by a rabies-like virus, not the living or reanimated dead.”

Now you may or not be aware that I favor slow zombies. I think the subconscious narrative given by the threat of slow zombies is very different from that of fast zombies (what I tend to call ghouls).


Slow zombies never stop. They are stupid, clumsy, weak but they never get tired, they are relentless and it only takes one small mistake to get caught out with them. It is like the very nature of death itself in an otherwise relatively peaceful life. It is a sudden car accident, a slip and fall in the bathtub, it is cancer. You have to be smart, plan ahead, take only moderate risks and you can generally avoid trouble unless you get unlucky.


Fast zombies (or ghouls/feral vampires/ragers etc) are more aware, stronger, faster, still single minded but more frantically aggressive. Not exactly clever but less a “force of nature” except in a bestial sense. This is adrenaline fueled death in a high risk combat zone.

Slow zombies are not apex predators but fast zombies can often compete with humans for that title. You need a completely different mindset to combat this threat. This does not mean they are not still interesting. I have enjoyed apocalypse and post-apocalypse shows with fast zombies but the narrative is different for fast zombie stories often confuse the nature of its threat with the other big threat in zombie apocalypse shows…. other human survivors.


One of the reasons I like slow zombies is that they provide a very different threat from other human survivors. Fast zombies, while not identical to human survivors in threat level due to lack of ranged weapons, are a lot more like their human opponents. To me this blurs lines that I personally prefer between separated in my apocalypse fiction.

And it makes for faster paced stories…

Which runs the risk of pulling the story out of being more of a Horror story and turning it into more of an Action Adventure story. I know the genres can overlap but pacing and atmosphere really help add different flavors to these stories.


Consider the various different versions of “I am Legend” (ie “Last Man on Earth” and “Omega Man”)….

and…

…. and…..


Horror or Action Adventure? Both? Done well?

Of course your opinion may differ from mine…


However, fast zombies alone do not really irk me… no, it is that the Walking Dead showrunners seem to want to have their cake and it too!


I have not read the comics… er I mean graphic novels. My Walking Dead is pure TV. And I have watched the original as well spin-offs. Despite Fear the Walking Dead being absolutely awful the first couple of seasons it got better. Even as Walking Dead went down hill, then got a bit better, then dropped again, only to improve again a bit later. A real roller coaster. Still I watch.


World Beyond has been terrible from the start and never got better. Do not get me wrong it has a couple of interesting bits but more in the sense of good ideas not really explored or delivered well.


And Walking Dead certainly jumped the shark with having not just the zombies but also catastrophically extreme weather and even nukes. Nukes. Cannibal humans. Genocidal soldiers. Humans wanting to be zombies. Religious fanatics. I mean is there a threat they have not added to the show yet? Aliens and giant insects I suppose.


Adding fast zombies now after the Fallout/Stalker nukes feels like now they need to add 28 Days Later to the Walking Dead franchise…. how long before we get mutated supermutant monsters like in Resident Evil as well?


I wish the showrunners would just focus on interesting character interactions, like the showrunners of the Expanse seem able to do, and focus less on trying to always up the threat level.

Give me suspension of disbelief with interesting characters dealing with somewhat realistic survival issues.


The genocide plot in World Beyond is mindboggling to me.

If you think about just how reduced the living population is on Earth at this stage the idea that you would gas such a large percentage of the remaining survivors and turn them into more undead enemies is insane. I realize that may be the point. The plot may be that military political expediency is insane rather than just coldly logical. But as a plot point it is a step too far. Disbelief no longer suspended.


And I guess at some point we have to expect conflict between the Commonwealth (White) and the Civil Republic (Black)? Sigh.


I really want to like Walking Dead. I very much liked some of the characters and the potential they had. Rick, Michonne, Carol, Morgan and Daryl in particular. Rick of the first couple of seasons was someone I could identify with. How does a good cop cope with the apocalypse? Fascinating premise. I have not been that keen where his path has led over all this time but still I continue to hope.

If Rick Grimes actually returns for the planned Walking Dead movies I will likely watch them in hopes that he can resurrect my love for this intellectual property.

Hope dies last.

PS. I really, really wish the Walking Dead showrunners would hire competent military and police technical advisors and then actually listen to their input to improve the suspension of disbelief in these shows. With some many experienced people available it galls me to see such poorly done military and police portrayals. Individual weapon handling has gotten better but correct wear of uniforms, tactics, movement, equipment, training, mindset and culture just do not ring true at all.

Captain Dale Dye we need you!


So, my zombie rage aside… what do you think? Tell me in the comments below so we can further discuss this. If you think I am wrong, please tell me and why you think so!

14 comments

  1. Good post. Thanks! I’m with you that slow and fast zombie stories are completely different types of stories, different types of fears.

    So I read that and then went on this morning to read an article my uncle pointed me at about how American culture and economics have changed since before WWII. https://www.collaborativefund.com/blog/how-this-all-happened/ Interesting piece and it fits with my lived experience and what I’ve read. But also maybe it fits with the changing nature of the cultural fears? The slow threat is avoidable by being careful and not being unlucky. The fast threat is at a scale you cannot do anything about; your own actions cannot save you from it; the deck is impossibly stacked against you.
    Just something that occurred to me looking at the charts and numbers and thinking about fast zombies…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am glad you liked it.

      That is an interesting point you make. I believe art often reflects contemporary social consciousness. Some might argue zombie fiction is not art… but I would disagree of course.

      Like

  2. While I enjoy fast zombie/ghoul movies, I’ve been a firm believer in slow zombies since I sat in the dark at the movie theater watching The Night of the Living Dead when it first came out. The idea of a slow, relentless threat led my imagination to how to zombie-proof a Californian ranch house but the sliding glass door off the patio was always my downfall.

    I still believe the best defense is a series of trip wires. While it doesn’t stop slow or fast, it does buy some time. The Walking Dead disappointed me in one episode where it was very obvious that the actors playing the “zombies” very carefully stepped over some railroad tracks without one stumbling or tripping on them.

    Your point of when a horror becomes an action flick is illustrated by the progression of the I am Legend movies. Why I enjoy each of them in their own way, they are a product of the time when they were made and audience expectations.

    One reason I liked the 28 Days movies is that the infected decayed over time, which is why the Walking Dead disappointed me. I can suspend belief that their bodies don’t decay but to have their clothes stay intact just bothers me no end. Not that I want a bunch of naked zombies but some more frayed clothes would not be amiss.

    On a totally unrelated note, I just discovered that Bernard Cornwell has written a new Richard Sharpe novel – “Sharpe’s Assassin”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Some excellent points my friend. As usual I tend to agree with you.

      One thing I have picked up in later Walking Dead franchise shows is that the Dead have become increasingly indistinct, ie their clothes are rotting away and you do not see many quirky, characterful zombies anymore. So no zombie brides, zombie sports mascots, zombie mimes, etc.

      I will need topics up that new Sharpe novel at some point.

      Like

      • I only watched the first season of Fear and you’re right, the zombies seemed less pristine in the few episodes if World Beyond that I did watch.

        Liked by 1 person

      • In the latest Season of Fear you have a number of naked burned zombies duentomthe nukes. The rotting clothes in each of the latest Walking Dead makes sense given the years that have gone by but I do miss some of the quirky outfits.

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  3. I actually don’t watch Zombie movies much at all so I can’t really weigh in on the small versus fast. One thing I will say is that Rick becomes less and less a cop in the comics too. He kind of loses his identity and that does drag on the comic. Its almost like they didn’t know what to do with him but make him more extreme and desperate as tragedy hit him and those around him. Maybe that is believable but I think they sacrificed likability going that route and the TWD comics didn’t have a ton of characters that are particularly likable so it hurt the series overall. I know this is kind of a tangent from what you wrote but I wanted to contribute to the topic/conversation in some way if I could 🙂 It was a fun read and I enjoy it whenever you share your thoughts on a topic like this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is a good tangent. Testing the character, the morality, of a person in extreme situations is good drama. And not everyone can weather tragedy well. But I would have liked to see Rick, as a heroic protagonist, be a person who stands to the challenge. Sure he can lose his way from time to time but the kind of personality that made him a cop in the first place (if it is anything like mine) would hopefully reassert itself.

      And likability is something many showrunners seem to miss out on with their characters.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I……………………..really………………………….prefer……………………………….sloooooow………………………..zombies!!!!

    Loved the post. personally I am not a real zombie movie buff but love playing Last Days of the zombie Apocalypse published by Osprey. The Zombicide game system also has a variety of zombie types including “runners” and “toxic” zombies. I love their figures but not their game rules. They are however one of the cheapest sources of very good figures.

    For me, however, zombies will always be a shuffling irresistible tide.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks mate! Seems we are in agreement. I have looked into Last Days, especially he Seasons expansion but I am not sure. Ash is fun to watch in his videos but for some reason he does not seem able to sell his game to me. Perhaps too much comedy.

      Like

  5. A bit off your topic, but thanks for posting that clip on Dale Dye. When he mentioned the film he wanted to make, No Better Place to Die, that reminded me of a quote from a soldier in the 82nd that held the La Fiere Causeway for a few days during Overlord. I did some research, and sure enough, that’s what it’s about. Hasn’t been made yet, but I’ll be keeping an eye on it. Looks like he’s trying to raise funds to show Hollywood that a lot of people are interested in accurate war films.

    As far as zombies, some of my friends are deeply into the lore, to the point I’m not sure I’m qualified to make a call for a preference since I’m not that invested. But it does seem to appeal to different kinds of fear.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Talking about Dale Dye is always on topic with me mate. He is hero of mine. I hope he can get the film made but I am a bit pessimistic, especially given the timing now with Covid.

      Slow zombies for me in most cases!

      Like

  6. Back to the Walking Dead. I just watched the first two and 1/2 seasons again, stopping after Shane shoots Otis. I fast forwarded this time through some of the ponifications between Dale/Andrea, Rick/etc and realized why I liked and disliked the show. It had such great promise undone by lack of continuity and not knowing where they wanted the show to go. I think AMC was surprised that it was so popular and didn’t know what to do with it. The CDC episode bothered me more this time with the doctor saying it was just a brain stem now with the part that made you you gone. But earlier in the season Morgan’s wife returned to her home. The show wasn’t consistent in how they showed the Dead move either, sometimes faster, sometimes slower. The show had great promise, wasted in my opinion.

    Just started watching All of Us are Dead, a South Korean “zombie” series with High Schoolers. Haven’t watched enough to make an opinion yet.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Rewatched the beginning? You are a better man than I. There is no way I could stomach going back and rewatching the beginning. You are right about the continuity issues and not knowing what it really wants to be. That gets worse and worse with each season and each spin off series. Missed opportunities.

      I will keep an eye out for All of Us are Dead, thanks for the tip.

      Like

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