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The Walking Dead: World Beyond Season 2 Episode 1 Ending Explained

After spending most of Season 1 on a journey across post-apocalyptic America, "The Walking Dead: World Beyond" ended its inaugural outing with a flurry of plot developments and shocking revelations. Teen sisters Iris (Aliyah Royale) and Hope (Alexa Mansour) Bennett are continuing their mission to rescue their father from the clutches of the Civic Republic Military in Season 2. However, the closer they get to success, the more hurdles the CRM throws in their way.

Toward the end of Season 1, we learned that Huck (Annet Mahendru), who presented herself as an ally to the Bennett sisters, was actually a spy for the CRM and the daughter of Lieutenant Colonel Elizabeth Kublek (Julia Ormond). Huck, real name Jennifer, had been tasked with making sure one of the sisters made it to CRM headquarters because she had been identified as a potentially important asset for the organization's plans to rebuild society. In the finale, we found out that this asset was rebellious and street smart Hope, not conscientious and book smart Iris.

Now that she has Hope in her clutches, Elizabeth puts the teen to yet another test in the Season 2 premiere "Konsekans." Elizabeth believes in Hope's good qualities but also recognizes that her penchant for free-thinking could end up being a major hindrance to the CRM's plans. So, she sends Hope off on another mission to give her a first-hand experience of what it's really like to go it alone in the world they live in.

Meanwhile, Iris is coming to terms with not just being separated from her sister, but also her growing realization that playing it safe is no longer an option. She doubles down on this new worldview and puts the CRM itself firmly in her crosshairs.

Hope's lesson

As though the trek across the country wasn't enough of a test, Elizabeth needs Hope to endure one more before she can be sure she's ready to work with the CRM. Elizabeth wants to break Hope of her anti-authority instincts by proving to her that the only way forward for humanity is cooperation. So, she sends Hope out into Albany, New York to spend the night fending for herself and see how much she actually likes being a lone wolf.

Hope is a tough cookie, but even she is rattled by her experiences on the city streets. At a local high school, Hope becomes transfixed by posters of a student named Candice (Hannah Alline). Later, she finds Candice in the wild and sees that she has become an isolated scavenger living alone in a hovel. When Candice acts aggressively toward her, Hope asks what she wants. Candice replies, "I want what you have. You have a helicopter ... you have clothes and food and when you have, you fight to keep it. And when you have nothing, you take ..."

During their encounter, Hope realizes that Candice is a look into the future that awaits her should she choose to run and try to make it on her own. Hope does not want to do the CRM's bidding. At the same time, though, her night in Albany has made her realize that she has to make smart choices for herself. Candice has lost her tether to reality after living alone for so long and whatever freedom she has comes at a terrible price. It may not seem like a desirable decision, but going along with the CRM, for the time being, is Hope's best option.

Elizabeth's worldview comes into a clearer focus

Another important thing to note about Hope's encounter with Candice is that Candice is not actually real. Earlier in her night, Hope hit her head during a scuffle with a walker (or an *empty* as they call them on "World Beyond") and began experiencing hallucinations. When Hope kills Candice and her body vanishes from the room they are both in, she realizes that the woman was one such invention. The experience solidifies for Hope what her next move is. She almost immediately picks up the walkie-talkie and contacts Elizabeth to be brought back in.

In Season 1, Elizabeth had an enigmatic quality to her. In the premiere of Season 2, though, we get quite a bit more insight into how she views her role in everything that has been playing out.

"It's okay to hate us, Hope. You should," Elizabeth says when Hope returns and begrudgingly agrees to join the CRM. "But the bad things we do must be done. We carry that burden so that others don't have to, so that there can still be good in the world."

Elizabeth isn't under any false pretenses that her actions are good but she is driven by the belief that the tough decisions she makes are in the greater service of humanity. However, in some ways, this makes her a potentially even more dangerous person. As we saw in the flashback at the beginning of the episode, she didn't hesitate to blow up the walls of Omaha and allow a column of empties to destroy the city. She may earnestly believe she works for the greater good, but that is a matter of her own perception, not tangible fact.

Jennifer tries to reason with Hope

Another character whose motivations have been rather nebulous thus far is Jennifer. In the Season 2 premiere, she tries to win Hope's trust by commiserating with her about the difficulties of working with the CRM. However, at the end of the day, it's clear that Jennifer is her mother's daughter.

After Hope is brought in, Jennifer comes to talk to her. She starts the conversation by revealing that she has arranged for Iris and Felix (Nico Tortorella) to be kept safe in a community out of the Civic Republic's reach for the time being. This is something that could get Jennifer into potentially lethal trouble if Hope were to tell anyone. In looping her in, Jennifer is hoping to build trust with Hope by making herself vulnerable to the young woman.

But she also has another message for her. "You and me, we're just sliding pieces of a big mosaic ..." Jennifer says, describing her and Hope as small components of a plan that will likely play out over generations. "But this place, it's safe. It's good for everybody. As long as we play by the rules and don't stir sā€” up."

Jennifer is surprised when Hope reveals that she still has no intention of playing by the CRM's rules. "I knew I wasn't going to make it back there," Hope says. "You were just my ticket out."

Hope's continued rebellion will likely put her in continued danger but Jennifer may not be the one to rat her out considering she seems to take more of a "catch more flies with honey" approach than her mother. For the time being, Hope gets to reap the biggest reward of turning herself over to the CRM: a tearful reunion with her father.

Iris has a realization about the way she approaches life

"World Beyond" has been exploring a number of themes related to coming of age in an extraordinary time. For Iris, her journey across post-apocalyptic America and entanglement with the CRM have led to her slowly shedding her goody-two-shoes approach toward life and adopting a more hard-edged attitude. The premiere of Season 2 sees the metaphorical birth of Iris 2.0, who has realized that it's foolish to try and follow the rules in a world run by people who break them at will.

When Iris learns about the destruction of the Campus Colony, it triggers a profound realization. As she tells Felix, the only reason that they are still alive is that they took a major risk and left the colony to search for father Bennett. It was something that Iris 1.0 was terrified of doing, but she now knows that taking risks is the only way to survive.

There is something else on Iris' mind. She's been having dreams about ripping the face off of an empty and seeing something that she can't quite make out underneath. At the end of the episode, she is thinking about the story she's been told about the destruction of the Campus Colony ā€” that it was overtaken by a column of empties ā€” and remembering her dream. There's a connection there, but she can't quite figure out what it is. However, an encounter with a CRM guard soon helps bring everything to light.

Meet Iris 2.0

Iris gets her answer later that night when she goes to do reconnaissance at a nearby CRM base and ends up stabbing one of the guards in a scuffle. As the man bleeds out on the ground, Iris sees her vision of pulling off the empty's face again. This time, she can see what's underneath: one of the CRM's distinct black helmets. Iris has realized something very important about her current situation. While the empties pose a danger, the real enemy she faces is the CRM itself. The CRM doesn't just see the empties as obstacles to overcome, they also view them as weapons that can be used to subjugate and destroy anybody who gets in their way.

While killing an adversary in the heat of battle is a regular event in the day of your average "The Walking Dead" or "Fear the Walking Dead" character, this scene represents a huge change in Iris' character. Think back to the beginning of Season 1: Iris could barely manage to take down an empty, let alone kill a grown man in a brawl to the death.

In realizing that the CRM was behind the attack on the Campus Colony she found the righteous anger she needed to complete her transformation. The CRM is a powerful organization, but they've now got two fired-up sisters working against them.