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We are heading toward the end of the second batch of season 11 episodes of The Walking Dead, with a final run of eight more after that before the series ends for good.
But as we know, once the main show ends, a number of its highest profile characters are continuing on with their own spin-offs. The two main ones are a Daryl and Carol series, and the Negan and Maggie series which already has a name and concept, Isle of the Dead, where the two will be forced to work together to take on zombies in Manhattan.
These join three other Walking Dead series. Fear the Walking Dead, a Fear submarine spin-off (miniseries?) and the Tales of the Walking Dead anthology series. It’s a little exhausting to consider, and yet I think there’s one twist that at the very least, the post-TWD shows need to employ to keep things fresh, and it’s already been set in motion.
While The Walking Dead: World Beyond was not actually a very good series in the end, it did do some really, really important universe building in its final moments. At the close of the series, it transported viewers to a lab in Europe where it was strongly hinted that the virus originated. But past that, there’s talk of a “variant” of zombies not seen in the US.
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Then, we see that variant. A woman is killed, and resurrected, and instead of becoming a slow, shambling walker, she instead becomes a ravenous “28 Days Later” style fast zombie, sprinting and slamming herself against a locked door.
This, this is what these future shows need.
The split between slow zombies and fast zombies has always been a core division in zombie fiction. Slow zombies are the George Romero kind, while in addition to 28 Days Later and the Dawn of the Dead remake, fast zombies are key to (extremely excellent) Korean zombie offerings like Kingdom and Train to Busan.
The Walking Dead has long struggled trying to keep zombies scary, figuring out new places they can pop out of to act like a real threat, but at this point, someone like Daryl or Maggie can kill a room full of two dozen walkers without breaking as sweat, given that they just wander around waiting to be stabbed in the head. Fast zombies? Not so much, and The Walking Dead would not have to rely on volume, huge zombie swarms, to be a threat. Even one zombie with speed and strength is terrifying. I’m also reminded of Black Summer, the Netflix alternative to TWD that does a ton of work with small handfuls of these fast zombies.
At the very least, these are the kinds of zombies I would want to see Daryl/Carol and Negan/Maggie take on in their spin-offs, which could work with the timeline if we’re fast-forwarding a bit, given that the end of World Beyond is further in the future. I don’t know why AMC would have bothered introducing the concept of fast zombies if they weren’t going to use it, and it would be a way to keep the universe fresh. What I don’t want to see is normal slow zombies in four of these shows and then maybe like, one anthology episode is set in fast-zombie Europe. Go all the way in. It’s time.