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The Walking Dead: World Beyond - Shadow Puppets - Review

  The Walking Dead: World Beyond “Shadow Puppets” was written by Maya Goldsmith and was directed by Michael Cudlitz, who naturally does a great job. Goldsmith’s other credits include How to Get Away with Murder, Pretty Little Liars, and Lipstick Jungle. This episode, at least, felt a little less like a CW show, despite the teen jealousy/romance angle, even if they still seem to be pulling writers from that general pool. The episode introduces two new characters – Percy (Ted Sutherland) and his Uncle Tony (Scott Adsit).

I really liked the conceit of starting and ending the episode with the shadow puppet show, which was spectacular in and of itself! We get Iris (Aliyah Royale) doing a voiceover narration of the show at the beginning and then we get the reaction of everyone as they watch, charmed at the beginning and then crying by the end at the stark portrayal of what’s been lost. The show itself, of course, it a metaphor for Plato’s shadows in a cave analogy. That we are all sitting in a cave and that “life” is just shadow playing out on the wall that we are watching, forcing us to consider what is real life – that outside us or that inside us. This plays well with a number of the themes of the show and episode. Is Percy a good guy because he comes back or a bad guy for being a grifter in the first place? Was life at the College just a beautiful dream and real life is what they are in now? Definitely yes to the last question…

As the episode opens, the group “captures” Percy. He plays them perfectly. He gains their trust with his tales of adventure and bison herds. He also teases out the story of being robbed by two guys – enough to inspire caution but not put them off ultimately wanting to help get the truck back. Felix (Nico Tortorella) remains cautious, but Silas (Hal Cumpston) doesn’t trust Percy at all – mainly because he’s jealous that Iris is clearly completely infatuated. Elton (Nicolas Cantu) is also quickly enthralled by the tales of adventure, and Hope (Alexa Mansour) simply goes where Iris leads. Iris, at least, does demand that Percy drive them to where they want to go – New York – if they help get the truck back. Percy agrees because he has no intention of really doing it. Silas points out that if they try to hurt them, they will have to hurt the thieves. Elton insists that they have the element of surprise, and Felix goes along because they will be able to steal the truck themselves if they want to. 

Hope continues to torture herself over killing Elton’s mother. We learn that he was indeed named after Elton John, his mother’s favorite singer. He tells Hope that his mother wasn’t afraid of death, seeing it as a natural cycle. He wants to pass the book to someone else when he’s done to share his mother’s knowledge and outlook. We also learn that Hope and Iris Dad had read the manuscript and had met his mother. He respected her work. By the end of the episode, he gives it to Hope to read – so she can go on torturing herself…

When they find the truck, the scam begins. Tony is playing dead – with some really good make up! They remove him from the truck, but the keys are gone and they can’t hotwire it because there’s a metal plate over the wires – and while Felix looks at this, he doesn’t seem to notice that it wasn’t done recently, so shouldn’t Percy have known about this?

Then we get the stupid splitting up of the team as they go to try to find the other “thief” and find the keys. Iris is supposed to stay with Silas to watch over all their gear, Elton and Hope are on watch. Felix and Percy go to search. But of course, Iris refuses to stay put. We get a couple of fun scares as Iris almost stabs a mannequin and Felix is fooled by a mirror in a dressing room. When Tony stops playing dead, I thought at first he was reanimating – despite being shot in the head, but of course, he’s not dead and just steals all their gear before jumping in the truck and driving off as he had the real keys all the time.

Percy and Iris seem to find the keys, and Percy finds his other “stuff” sending Iris ahead with the fake keys. She hears arguing and a gunshot. She’s supposed to run away to the truck, but instead she goes back to help Percy, who she sees running out a window.

Iris, naturally, falls into a dumpster and can’t get out. I thought his scene beautifully mirrored the famous trash compactor scene from Star Wars! Iris comes very close to being bitten – but I’m still not feeling any real tension or danger in this show – though I think Uncle Tony will be the first to die – so nice foreshadowing of him playing dead in this one. In the end, everyone shows up to help Iris and they get the door open to let her out and kill the empties – though it’s Percy showing up to kill the one about to bite her who really saves her. There’s also a herd on the way now – and Tony has killed a bunch of them with the truck – finally some good, old-fashioned walker gore!

It turns out that Tony is Percy’s Uncle who used to be a magician. Elton is fascinated by his ball and cup routine! Percy explains that grifting is how they get what they need without hurting people. They also perform shows for friendly settlements. 

Iris is furious with Percy, but is really mad at herself as she thought she had good instincts. Percy points out that he did come back to save her. He then tells her that he came back in large part because she came back for him – she saw him as somebody worth saving and he wants to be that. So the male version of Hope? Blerg. I don’t have a problem with the sentiment behind this, but this show feels like it has to explain everything – I prefer when The Walking Dead assumes that the audience ISN’T walkers/empties/has beens and has brains and can think! 

Felix and Tony have a more frank conversation. Tony has noticed the symbol on Felix’s jacket – it’s also hidden on the truck and Tony’s seen it on the helicopters. I’d love to know how the helicopters failed to see his truck and follow up on that… At any rate, Tony has been stealing gas from CRM and wants to know if the symbol on Felix’s jacket can get them out of a jam if they get into one. Felix says it can – though of course, he’s lying at this point. Tony agrees to drive them where they want to go – they’ll pick up Huck (Annet Mahendru) tomorrow – but first the show.

We got another post-credit scene with Dr Bellshaw (Natalie Gold). No sandwich this week, but she pulls a manuscript with Leopold Bennett as author and a card with a drawing of Iris and Hope on it paperclipped in the middle of it – so clearly their father’s work. She takes a phone call and says that Dr Bennett and his security detail won’t be a problem. She is sitting in an observation room and we hear noises that sound like walkers… Clearly the danger to their father is increasing – good thing they have that truck now!

This was definitely one of the better episodes. There was still a bit too much explanatory soul searching, but I like these two new characters and we finally got a couple of good scares. Thank you Michael Cudlitz! What did you think of the episode? Did you like Percy and Tony? Do you think we can trust them? Who do you think will be the first to die? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below! 


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