The Walking Dead series feels like it’s gone through every iteration it can find. The main show is slated to wrap up soon, Fear the Walking Dead is still chugging along, a brief series set around teenagers occurred, and a future limited series with popular characters, Rick and Michonne. It feels like we’ve covered every morsel of team-ups, betrayals, and alliances you can do while trying not to get eaten by zombies. What stone is left to be unturned? Well, there’s more — Tales of the Walking Dead comprises six self-contained episodes in a world based on two people. In the premiere’s case, the characters are total opposites.
Joe (Terry Crews) is a doomsday prepper who was infinitely prepared for society to meet its end. He lives in an underground bunker with his old dog, Gillian, where he passes the time watching old Ohio State college football games. (If you’re getting I Am Legend vibes, you will hit the nail on the head). Because of an unfortunate accident, Gillian gets bit and dies. This leaves Joe dejected and clinging to chat room conversations with a woman he still believes is alive — hanging on to the promise they will meet each other one day; Joe goes out to search for his pen pal, and while in trouble, he meets Evie (Olivia Munn). She’s a hippie, earth-centric person who blesses zombies after she kills them.
Evie happens to be on a separate journey herself, and Joe has a bike to get there. Most of the episode follows the opposites-but-conventional allies template. Joe and Evie aren’t fond of one another at first and guard each other’s motives beyond the surface level. Then a run-in with some zombies allows them to bring the walls down a tad to give the audience a glimpse of who they are. It’s not groundbreaking, but Crews and Munn implement humor and some dramatic elements as we go forth with these characters.
There’s a concept of love and longing which is touched on within ‘Evie / Joe,’ and if that matters when all hope is lost. Joe has hardened himself so much that hope and human interaction are foreign concepts to him. All the while, Evie is holding on to faith to find the man she loves after they had a falling out. But in a place where a million flesh-eating zombies are walking around, can you be sure? It’s a concept touched upon throughout the Walking Dead catalog, but it’s nice to see it occur outside it for once.
The ending is what you would also expect from these types of stories. In a heated argument, Joe and Evie decide to split paths, and Joe finds the person he’s looking for, named Sandra. However, being in isolation for so long has not done the greatest for her mental state. Thus, Evie circles back to help her fellow survivor, and we presume everything ends hunky dorky. No, ‘Evie / Joe’ does not follow a conventional romantic story of these two characters falling for each other. It’s more like finding a friend you can have to watch your back and tell a joke or two.
Our first entry of Tales of the Walking Dead exists to show what the structure will be going forward. So far, it’s free from all the tie-ins other Walking Dead spinoffs have to adhere to. That might be a relief for long-time fans or new ones.
Photo Credit: AMC Networks