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The Walking Dead: World Beyond Creator Teases New Villain - Exclusive

In the first episode of The Walking Dead: World Beyond, we meet the inhabitants of the Campus Colony of Omaha — a guarded educational compound that's predominantly populated by young adults. Set ten years after the events of the very first season of The Walking Dead, most of these adolescent colonists were in their pre-teens during the initial zombie outbreak. They've been growing up during "the new normal" and lived sheltered lives while the world beyond their community gates spiraled into chaos. Unlike Judith and Carl Grimes, most of them have never had to face the harsh struggles of the undead apocalypse or defend themselves in a face-to-face encounter with a Walker (also referred to as "Empties"). Let's just say they've lived polar opposite lives compared to the children of the flagship series.

Things change for colonist Iris Bennett (Aliyah Royale) when she suspects that her father is being held against his will by the mysterious Civil Republic Military (CRM). Iris is the daughter of Dr. Leopold Bennett (Joe Holt), a well-respected scientist who was on the verge of finding a cure for the virus. Sometime after an alliance was formed between the Campus and the CRM, he was assigned to a secret research facility, and hasn't been seen since. Everything about the CRM and why Dr. Bennett was summoned is cloaked in secrecy, and that doesn't sit well with Iris or her rebellious sister Hope (Alexa Mansour). After receiving a distressing message from their father, the two sisters, along with two other companions, embark on a dangerous rescue mission on-foot. Their only clue to the research facility's whereabouts comes from the intriguing Lieutenant Colonel Elizabeth Kublek (Julia Ormond), a CRM representative who has a chummy exchange with Iris and Hope during a routine visit to the Campus.

The burning question is, why would she break protocol and provide a clue to Iris and Hope? Her intentions remain a mystery, but by the episode's final moments, it seems the friendly persona she displayed during the Campus Community's welcoming rally may have been a façade. Let's just say that, thanks to Kublek, school is out of session — permanently. Everything about this cold-blooded reveal screams "villain," but during an exclusive interview with Looper, Chief Content Officer and Executive Producer Scott Gimple hinted that fans might be prematurely pulling the trigger when labeling Kublek.

Julia Ormond is an unbelievable force of nature

"First of all, Elizabeth, I'm not going to totally cop to whether she's a villain or not now, I think that's to be discovered," says Gimple when asked about how Kublek stands apart from The Walking Dead's rogues' gallery of villains. "But I will say going down that line, saying if one were to think of her as a villain, I think she's incredibly different than the villains we've seen before. She's a part of a much greater whole. Negan was the boss, Alpha was the boss, even Gareth at Terminus was the boss. This is very different in as much as she is absolutely a boss, but she is part of a much greater whole, and she has duties and responsibilities that she is executing. I don't know, that makes it very, very different."

So, is Kublek simply a misunderstood character with ulterior motives? Or perhaps she's a corporate puppet, and there's a greater villain pulling all of the strings — we'll just have to see how the rest of the season plays out. Gimple, of course, likes to keep his fans guessing. "It's a very modern situation, it's a very contemporary situation, and it's a level of organizational and technological sophistication that we haven't seen on the show before," says Gimple in a further effort to convince Looper that Elizabeth may or may not be what she seems. "And that's what makes her a very interesting character. You're like, 'What is she doing? Is this her duty? Is this her choice? What is her vision for the world versus the people that she's a part of?' It's a very, very different situation. And Julia Ormond is unbelievable, a force of nature."

Catch an all-new episode of The Walking Dead: World Beyond this Sunday on AMC.