The Walking Dead has been going strong for four-and-a-half seasons at this point, but we’ve really only ever explored Georgia. No offense to the Peach Tree State, but we’d like to see what’s going on elsewhere in the world, to check out how other folks cope with being overrun by hungry undead cannibals. That’s where the long-gestating spinoff comes in. We know that it is called Cobalt, we even know a couple of the main actors, but we weren’t sure where it is set, until now. And the setting couldn’t be any more different from rural Georgia, as the action takes place in Los Angeles.
TV Line reports that the zombie apocalypse is indeed spreading to the City of Angels. Not only is that more than 2000 miles away from Atlanta, but it’s also a totally opposite environment. Sure, the core series has ventured into Atlanta a time or two, but they primarily stick to the small towns and less densely settled areas. Setting the series in a major urban center, in such a population center, automatically makes this a different kind of narrative, which is exactly what we want out of a new show.
I’m curious to see how they go about setting this up. The Walking Dead is primarily about a group on the move, but set in LA, that’s presents it’s own specific set of difficulties. It’s hard enough to navigate the roads on good days, let alone when the walkers, or whatever SoCal nickname they have, swarm the streets. Plus, more people means more zombies, so how the characters survive is going to be interesting to watch. Surviving in the city provides a different set of difficulties than surviving in the woods. Do they hold up somewhere? Maybe try to wall off a section? We’ve seen that in the comics and at Woodbury (and possibly in season 5 of The Walking Dead).
We’ve heard rumors, though unconfirmed, that Cobalt is set at the beginning of the outbreak, and rather than jumping right into the middle, we’ll get to see the world go to hell. That’s another way this will likely differ from the main series, and again, it’ll be nice to see this world from a different angle. If nothing else, it certainly sounds like they’re not simply trying to rehash The Walking Dead and they’re trying to do something unique.
Though we’ve read character breakdowns for a number of the primary players, only three of them have been cast already. Cliff Curtis plays the lead, Sean Cabrera, a divorced teacher and so-called “good man.” Frank Dilane and Alycia Debnam Carey play a brother and sister, Nick and Ashley Tompkins, a drugged out fuck up and an ambitious good girl, respectively. Their mother, Nancy, also figures prominently into the story, though there is no actor attached to play her yet (Fringe star Anna Torv was reportedly one name linked to the role, but that didn’t pan out).
Cobalt is also eschewing standard spinoff strategies. Usually how this works is a character from the main show gets their own opportunity (like when Matt LeBlanc got his Friends spinoff Joey). Set so far apart, it’s hard to envision a scenario where the two shows crossover at all. I’m more than fine with that, I don’t need any back and forth, but I expected that AMC would try to capitalize on the massive popularity of the franchise and the fan favorite characters. Granted, if the new show is set earlier in the outbreak, it’s possible that characters could appear in LA and make their way across the country to Georgia later in the timeline. As with everything else, we’ll have to wait and see.
Season 5 of The Walking Dead is currently on its annual midseason hiatus, letting fans stew on the latest shocking death, but it returns in early February.