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Walking Dead: World Beyond Finally Revealed Elton's Tragic Backstory

In the first few episodes of the latest series in AMC's horrifying vision of the zombie-filled future, The Walking Dead: World Beyond, viewers have been getting the backstories of the show's protagonists. Episode 5, entitled "Madman Across the Water," put everyone's favorite nerd Elton (Nicolas Cantu) in the spotlight. During a series of gut-wrenching flashbacks, viewers got a first-hand look at the tragic backstory of the corduroy-clad explorer.

The show has dropped bits and pieces about Elton's life before the zombie outbreak, but "Madman Across the Water" ties everything together and provides a clearer view of what kind of parents produced such a precocious kid. The episode also shows the origins of some of Elton's personal belongings, like that triceratops horn and his mother's manuscript. We also gained insight into his claustrophobia and his relationship to his unborn sister, Esmerelda, who died along with his mother on the night of the outbreak.

It was an episode rich with details, so here's the breakdown of Elton's tragic backstory on The Walking Dead: World Beyond.

We learned what happened to Elton's parents on the night the sky fell

With his interesting choice in activewear and boundless curiosity about the world around him, it's no surprise that Elton is the product of two scientists. In "Madman Across the Water," we finally get to spend some time with the people who raised the boy wonder. In his flashback scenes, we see young Elton (Roger Dale Floyd) with his very pregnant mother Amelia (Christina Brucato), and very nerdy paleontologist father, Isaac (Reece Rios), while the three hang out in his father's fossil storeroom.

The scene features a lot of wholesome family bonding, including a lecture from Isaac about the meteor that killed the dinosaurs. We also learn that Elton picked out the name Esmerelda for his unborn sister. Although his parents don't seem sold on it at the time, considering both she and Amelia died later that night, it's clear why Elton still refers to his sister by that name in the present.

Right before the world went to hell, Amelia left to attend a meeting, which means Elton and Isaac were alone when they began to hear gunshots and screaming outside. Isaac leaves to find a safe escape route for him and his son. He gives Elton a triceratops horn to protect himself and tells him to hide in a crate. The horn is the very one Elton was looking for in episode 1 — the same one that is currently affixed Iris' (Aliyah Royale) staff.

This experience proves to be extremely traumatic for Elton. We see the young boy cowering in fear as the sound of chaos rages outside the crate. In the episode "The Wrong End of a Telescope," it is revealed that Elton suffers from claustrophobia. His night spent in the crate is likely the cause of that fear.

Elton's mother's manuscript tells us more about his character

Earlier in the season, we learned that one of the items Elton carries with him is a copy of a manuscript his mother was working on before the apocalypse hit. At the beginning of "Madman Across the Water," we get a taste of what Amelia's book was all about thanks to a voiceover of her reading a passage at the top of the episode.

In her book, Amelia asks the question, "What is the strongest force in the world?" The answer, according to her, is, "the force of nature." She waxes poetic about the ways in which humanity attempts to subvert or overpower the forces of nature, before proclaiming that, "It gives no consideration to wants or needs, feelings or sentiments. We think we can steal from it and come away with its bounty without consequence. But it contains us, from our beginning to our end." It's all an echo of his signature catchphrase.

We've heard similar views echoed by Elton before, when he and Hope (Alexa Mansour) talked about what it means to possibly be the last generation of people left on the planet. More than any other character on this series, Elton is driven by a desire to see and explore the world. He helps the others in their struggle to find their missing relatives or survive to uncover the mysteries of the CRM, but ultimately, he's on the journey across the country because he wants to witness what the world is like now. He understands that, regardless of what they do, these are likely the last days of humanity, and thanks to the lessons from his mother's manuscript, he has found some amount of peace with that sad fact.

Hope discovers the shocking truth about Elton's mother

Elton's extended walk down memory lane in "Madman Across the Water" also lights the fuse of a potentially destructive bomb that has been sitting in the middle of our group of teens since episode 1. If you were paying attention during the series premiere, then you've already put it together that Elton's mother Amelia was the same pregnant woman who killed Hope and Iris' mom on the night the sky fell, and then was killed by Hope afterward. However, thanks to nobody comparing notes on the subject, none of our protagonists have made that connection ... until now.

While sharing a tender moment with Hope, Elton flips to the back of Amelia's manuscript where he has inserted a picture of his dearly departed mother. When Hope sees the photo, she recognizes Amelia as the woman she killed on that fateful night, but she keeps this revelation to herself. Presumably, Elton is ignorant of that information. However, now that Hope has put the pieces together, it seems like a beef that is destined to cause major conflict within the group.