This The Walking Dead: World Beyond review contains spoilers.
The Walking Dead: World Beyond Episode 8
The implications of Silas killing his father have followed the character around during his journey on The Walking Dead: World Beyond. Throughout his arc in the first season, that hint of violence, potential or actualized, has been the thing Hal Cumpston has projected most strongly. Not threatening, per se—Silas has never looked like a direct threat to anyone, shrinking back rather than using his size to menace—but fear. Silas is afraid of himself in a way the other characters are not, and that hints more strongly than his zombie-bashing fugue state that he’s done some Very Bad Things. These haven’t been explicitly detailed, just hinted around with almost subliminal flashbacks, until this week, where the whole bloody affair is revealed in full.
The episode is divided pretty distinctly between two running plot threads. One, after the death of Tony and the disappearance of Percy, is the group deciding what to do about Silas, if he’s even involved in the death. Silas maintains no memory of events, and Tony and Percy were grifters, but Silas was found at the scene of the murder in an unresponsive state, and his wrench was coated in Tony’s blood and brains, so unless there is some compelling evidence to exonerate him, he’s guilty of murder. Some, like Iris and Elton, are willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Others, like Hope and Huck, are ready to cast him out or figure out some other way to deal with him. Felix hovers in the balance between the two poles, and a good subplot concerns various groups trying to sway him one way or another, with the group’s democracy hanging in the balance.
That no one asks Silas how he feels is unsurprising, as the destabilizing efforts the two adults undertook in the beginning of the series continues to separate the group out even to this day. No doubt, that’s an unintended consequence of Huck and Felix’s efforts, because the Endlings now realize that there are no rules, and that they have just as much say in their destiny as the adults; there are no leaders anymore, they’re in a whole new world engaged in a whole different mission than the two over-18 members of the group have. Huck and Felix wanted to stop the group, but now there’s no real turning back, with or without the truck they’ve been gifted by their dead companion. By attempting to divide and conquer, Felix actually empowered the children under his care to wrest control from him, and Huck’s admonition to Hope to keep the greater mission in mind only encourages that shift of power and results in the ultimate disintegration of the group by the end of the episode.
Felix promised Silas a fresh start, and yet, in “The Sky Is a Graveyard,” the person least likely to give Silas a fresh start is himself. Elizabeth Padden’s script doubles down on his guilt, his lingering doubts about his own ability to keep his friends safe, not from external threats, but from himself. The more Silas doubts himself, the more Felix, Huck, Hope, and Iris doubt him, despite Elton’s faith in his friend’s unwillingness to engage in violence save for self-preservation. That Silas doesn’t believe this about himself damages any arguments Iris or Elton might make to back him up, in spite of no dead or turned Percy on the premises and the fact that the both of them had enemies all throughout the American wasteland.
In order for a fresh start to be made, the person asking for the fresh start must first let go of their past sins, which is a recurring theme for the show. Hope struggling with the death of Elton’s mother at her hands, Felix struggling with his desire to be part of a family, Elton’s refusal to give up on the hope of seeing his mother and sister again, and Silas. Silas seems resigned to his fate, passive even to the point of allowing an empty to kill him when one breaks into his playground prison; he’s saved, ironically, by one of the people who seems least likely to trust him long-term, Hope.
Padden makes it clear that Silas is in no real way responsible for his actions, at least as far as his father is concerned, but also exposes just why he’s so guilty regarding his father’s death. Silas’s dad (Kai Lennox) is a classic abuser, capable of both being charming and being violent in turns, and until Silas’s teenage years, it seems that they have a good relationship with one another. Lennox has a good chemistry with Braxton Bjerken, who plays Young Silas, and when it’s time to turn adversarial, he’s big enough to legitimately menace Hal Cumpston, who does a great job of retreating into himself whenever confronted or threatened and who manages to do some solid facial acting in his silent imprisonment staring up at the sky.
Their confrontation is brutally filmed by Loren Yaconelli, who does a great job of both illustrating the father’s bouts of violence and the frightening capacity for violence Silas has. It’s no wonder he’s scared of himself; he grew up watching his loving father lash out at his mother, and eventually him, and like a lot of children from abusive situations, he’s terrified of carrying that power dynamic forward in his life, so he over-correct until he simply can’t keep himself bottled up anymore. That’s neither a healthy coping mechanism nor a good way to get your friends to have faith in your ability to not flip out and beat someone to death with a wrench over a school-age crush. If Silas can’t speak up in his own defense, why would anyone care that Elton is willing to go to bat for his friend to the point of leaving the group to make sure Silas knows he’s not forgotten?
Undoubtedly, this is only a temporary separation. You can’t lump the Endlings together and then have them not see things through as a unit. Granted, this is The Walking Dead, and anyone can die at any moment (usually after asking off the show or wanting more money), but I don’t see Silas and Elton leaving the show this early; Hal Cumpston and Nicolas Cantu will get the opportunity to carry a bottle episode or a few subplots, and then something will force the group to reunite at some point per Walking Dead tradition (something probably related to the little reveal at the end of the episode). At least this decision wasn’t stretched out over multiple episodes; if nothing else, World Beyond‘s shorter run makes for quicker resolutions, and the more Julia Ormond we get, the more I want to see of the Civic Republic.