In some ways, the Walking Dead: World Beyond series finale, “The Last Light” is the best episode the show aired. It’s emotional, it’s surprising at times, and it proves that Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh) is… actually pretty darn cool now, bowl cut and all… in a villainous kind of way.
In other ways, it’s also the most tragic. World Beyond was just hitting its stride in its second batch of episodes, and there are moments in the series coda where it’s possible to see how the show might’ve progressed in a hypothetical third season. Instead, because it has to, the show quickly wraps up plot points and character arcs that could’ve gone on longer and carried another ten episodes. Alas, that’s not to be — but there’s still plenty to enjoy in the show’s final 50 minutes.
We start the episode with two distinct groups: Leo (Joe Holt), the scientists, Felix (Nico Tortorella) and Will (Jelani Alladin) in group one, and the teens, Huck (Annet Mahendru) and Dennis in group two. Group one is eventually cornered by CRM soldiers, but they manage to get free and eventually head to a safe place in a department store (more on that later). Group two manages to rig the gas to blow, but they all wind up splitting up; Iris (Aliyah Royale), Elton (Nicolas Cantu), and Hope (Alexa Mansour) leave, thinking the job is done, while Dennis (Maximilian Osinski) and Silas (Hal Cumpston) go to retrieve a detonator at Huck’s request.
Things then go from bad to worse. Jadis figures out that the “traitors” are going to take out the gas, so she has her team “ready [her] helicopter” in order to fly over there and stop it. So… let’s take a moment to appreciate how far Jadis has come. She’s gone from leading one of the oddest groups on the main show to having her own helicopter — and, more importantly, feeling like a genuinely chilling and capable antagonist on World Beyond. That’s quite an arc.
Anyway, she gets to the place where the gas is being kept, and Huck immediately attacks her. They fight and argue for a bit — Jadis justifies what she’s doing by saying that Huck never lost a whole community and that she, too, has blood on her hands for providing intel about Omaha. She also drops a tiny Rick tidbit, saying that she bought her way in to CRM by giving them something they want. “A” folks were test subjects for the lab, but she said Rick was a “B” because “she owed him that.” In the end, the villainous warrant officer stabs Huck, and she dies. Fortunately, she gets to see the gas being blown up before she goes. (Jadis survives: She makes it back to her helicopter in time to fly away.)
Elsewhere, Dennis and Silas see the explosion and realize Huck sent them on the errand so they wouldn’t be in range of the explosion. They wait around for a bit to see if Huck will meet them, but she doesn’t arrive, and Dennis knows two things for sure: That his wife is gone, and that he doesn’t have much time left. CRM arrives on the scene to take him and Silas in, but he realizes there’s a way he can save Silas — Silas has to shoot him. That way, he says, Silas will just be “a prisoner who got the upper hand over his captor.” But for better or worse, Dennis is much more than that to Silas — he’s a big brother-type figure and a friend, and it’s not easy for him to pull the trigger. Eventually, he’s left with no choice; at Dennis’ urging, he shoots him in the head and is taken in by CRM.
Felix has an elaborate and exhausting fight with one of the main soldiers from the military, but he survives. From there, he, Will and Leo head to rescue the teens, who are making their way away from the not-yet-exploded facility with the gas. They, plus Indira’s group, reunite and watch the place explode, celebrating their victory — but they’ve forgotten there are still walkers all around, and Elton is bitten on the arm. Oh, no!
The whole group heads to an old department store miles away, where they plan to set up shop for… forever. The plan is for that place to be their new base, and the scientists can conduct experiments there while everybody else has a place to live. That works for Hope, but Iris, along with much of Indira’s group, wants to make her way to Portland to warn them of CRM’s true motives. She has a heartfelt goodbye with her father and sister (they flip each other off as a callback to the first episode), and then she leaves along with a recently awoken Elton — who survived having his arm amputated — and Asha.
At the CRM headquarters, Jadis feigns sympathy for a grieving Lt. Col Kublek (Julia Ormond)… but in reality, she’s staged a coup. She calls in soldiers to imprison Kublek and send her to trial for treason. Kublek hasn’t committed a crime, but Jadis says someone needs to take the fall for what happened at the research facility, and rather than it being her — which is, as she says, the reason she suspected Kublek brought her in in the first place — it’s going to be the Lt. Col. And as such, Jadis has risen even higher within CRM, fully believing in its mission as “the last light of the world.”
Speaking of Jadis, she has an interesting scene with Silas, too. Of course, she knows what happened between him and Dennis wasn’t what it appeared to be: She realizes Dennis told Silas to shoot him, but she doesn’t care because she sees in Silas the potential for an excellent soldier. “I can’t wait to see who you become,” she tells him, and, as such, he begins soldier training — but he’s likely also going to carry out Huck and Dennis’ mission of spreading info about CRM’s true motives to the government.
As the episode ends, Hope’s group makes a breakthrough by infecting walkers with yeast, as she’d once suggested, and Iris’ group makes it to Portland. As they walk over the hills toward the city, Elton remembers the beginning of their journey and how they discovered who they would become.
The post-credits scene, though, is where things get really interesting. Set in France, we see a scientist watching footage of Dr. Jenner (Noah Emmerich) — yes, the very same Dr. Jenner from the main show’s Season 1 finale — comparing notes with them and discussing a different variant of walker they have overseas. She’s interrupted by a man who enters and points a gun at her, saying she won’t be imprisoned like the other scientists: She’ll be killed. (The rest of her team went to a research conference in Ohio, and then the world ended, and they didn’t come back.) The implication here is that this woman’s team was either responsible for the zombie virus, or they made it worse by trying to cure it and instead creating a whole new, worse kind of walker. Or both.
The man shoots the woman, killing her, then he flees. Moments later she gets up, reanimated, and… holy moly, she’s a totally new(-ish, if you’re counting the “smart” zombies in TWD’s first season) kind of walker. She sprints over to the metal door the man left through and pounds on it hard enough to leave dents: So not only are these walkers fast, but they’re also strong. Yikes. It’s not clear from the scene where, exactly, this’ll take the franchise. But one thing’s for sure: If Rick’s time with CRM took him overseas, he’s in for quite a shock.
The Walking Dead: World Beyond, All Episodes Now Streaming, AMC Plus