The Walking Dead slowed down majorly with “The Next World,” but we also got some moments audiences have been waiting for. While it is true that not a whole lot happened, there was enough that will open up the rest of the season for a lot of growth. Let’s digest this ep!:
Buddy Cop Daryl & Rick: Shane was awesome, and shared a lot of past with Rick, but Daryl is a much better friend and companion to Rick, and it’s nice to see these two BAMFs take care of business and be hilarious at the same time. Tiny quirks like Daryl pleading Rick not to play “Action Packed” by Ronnie Dee Dawson in the car, or seeing them shotgunning an Orange Crush was just great. You also never feel like either of them are in danger when they are alone together.
Rick’s change of heart: In all the craziness of the previous half of the season, it sure seemed Rick was on the verge of losing his shit with the Alexandrians.The Rictatorship was upon us again. It took a herd crashing through the gates and the loss of Deanna and pleas from Daryl to get Rick to realize that people need help, and it’s nice to see Rick winning back the trust of his people.
Jesus, Take the Wheel!:Finally! We’ve been waiting all season for Jesus to make his appearance, and when he does, he doesn’t disappoint. He’s a spitting image of his comic book counterpart, and his personality matches perfectly. Jesus pulls punches, helps when he doesn’t have to, and kicks ass. He outsmarts both Rick and Daryl in comical fashion, but tries to keep them alive even at the price of supplies and possibly his own life.
Skips the rebuilding time: It’s looking like maybe a couple of months since the crazy night that Carl got his eye shot out. Usually I see this as a cop out – a lazy storytelling device used to get out of telling the hard parts of a story. Here, though, it’s a great way to not have to bore the fans with episodes full of superfluous emotion that we can instead infer already happened. Rick has a new lease on life, there’s no insufferable building montage where the wall is rebuilt, and the group is now stronger together after one long night of cleaving the undead.
Richonne: Or as we like to call them, Mick (it’s underwhelming, yet funny!). It seemed like they were together at the beginning of the episode, anyhow, so when they actually got together at the end, it seemed like fate. She has been Carl and Judy’s mother for some time, so why not? Their kiss was more passionate than anything he ever had with Lori. By the time they woke up the next day, it was all we could do but yell “SMASH!!!!!”.
Not much really happened: Michonne and Rick, Daryl and Rick, we met Jesus, and Carl and Enid had their first lover’s spat. Otherwise, did the story really move forward? Jesus seems to be the only thing that will cause much to change. Half way through the episode, it seemed like nothing had been accomplished.
Extremely limited cast: This isn’t exactly a con, because I felt that the limited cast they did use had good story arcs, but this is more so a dig at the show, for having so many compelling characters just bottle-necked without enough time to properly delve into them the way we did with Beth, Herschel, or even Axel at the prison. When it’s finally time to cull the weaker characters, it’ll be frustrating that they didn’t have enough time to grow on their own.
Time Hopping: We liked that the episode skipped the boring rebuild of the walls. However, how much time has passed? It feels important that we know. It seems like a long time and a short time… all at the same time. While Carl is up and walking around, Maggie isn’t any more pregnant. Was this just oversight from the creators? It’s hard to tell. Maybe we will find out, maybe we won’t.
Benny Hill and the Apocalypse: Did anyone else get a Benny Hill vibe from the Daryl/Rick/Jesus escapades with the truck? It was all a little too silly, and honestly made Rick and Daryl look like the bad guys. But for real, can someone PLEASE edit these scenes with the Benny Hill music? That would be fantastic.
[Edit: Hell yes. Somebody did just that! Thank you, 43eyes]
Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher: Oh… we meant Carl and Enid. Their trip into the woods played out like Mark Twain’s young lovers. A secret reading space, a quest to find something, and a fight about nothing. This C plot didn’t add much to the storyline this week.
How convenient was that truck?: Well, what are the chances that our heroes come across a treasure trove of supplies, unguarded in a truck hidden away in a garage with the keys inside? Zilch. There’s no way that supply truck fell from the sky. They had to belong to somebody. My guess is that they belonged to Negan. This is BAD for Rick and Daryl.
Jesus is not a prophet here: Jesus is arguably the most important characters from the books to debut since Abraham (all of the Alexandrians have been shells of their comic book selves), but I always got the feeling he was too good to be true. Wouldn’t it be cool to see him as more of a neutral character? He dresses like a Wolf, although he does not share their dental hygiene habits. There are many ways the show could go with him, but it’s a safe bet that he will follow the comic book storyline.
Walking Dead Easter Eggs & Other Tidbits:
Michonne is the new Andrea: Michonne has all but taken up mommy duties for Carl, and while there didn’t really seem to be any sexual tension between the two in the show, the love and respect was there without any need for prior sexual advances. The same happens between he and Andrea in the comics, and it’s one of the most natural relationship progressions in the series, so we have high hopes about Richonne/Mick working out, too. It’s also gotta be said that a relationship between a white male and a black female is almost unheard of on television, and having one of the biggest shows on TV reflect that is a BIG deal.
Paul Rovia: In the books, Jesus’ name is Paul Monroe.We’re still not sure why the call was made to change his name from Monroe to Rovia; it doesn’t look to hold any significance. Perhaps it was done to quell any fan confusion that he may be related to the late Deanna Monroe.
Inspired episode title: “The Next World” is likened to Volume 16: A Larger World. In this collected edition of issues #91-96, the group meets Jesus, and learns a very revealing piece of information that will shape the next 50+ issues. It’s the calm before the storm, so don’t get too attached to anybody.
Veritas Aequitas, bitch!: You know that total boss moment when Rick and Daryl finally manage to toss Jesus to the ground and draw their guns at the same time? If that’s not a total callback to Normas Reedus’ other fandom, Boondock Saints, then it’s at least subconscious reassurance that Rick and Daryl are brothers from another mother.
Hyundai is out, Chrysler is in: AMC is heavy on the product placement, so it’s hard not to notie the gaudy Chrysler 300 in place of the Hyundai Sonata as the vehicle of choice. Although it’s no SRT-8, the Chrysler 300 was also the car of choice for The Heisenberg in Breaking Bad. They did just leave the 300 in the middle of nowhere to fetch the truck, so who knows if we’ll see it again.
Surrogate Parents, Glenn and Maggie: It may be hard to believe, but at this point in the comic books (150+ issues in), Sophia is still very much alive. After both Carol (comic book Carol was total weak sauce) died, it fell to Glenn and Maggie to become stand-in parents for her. Same thing seems to be happening to Enid – although, unlike like Sophia, it seems that Enid is hiding something…
Invincible: Robert Kirkman’s other work tends to pop up around Carl on The Walking Dead. This time, it was Carl’s reading material. He is reading the comic series Invincible, which started in 2003, is written by Robert Kirkman (and will be releasing issue #127 this April). This reading could speak more to Carl’s life than just the same creator. The superhero Invincible was given his superpowers from his father. He is sworn to protect Earth, but he is having troubles with his newly found powers. Sound familiar? Losing an eye isn’t exactly a superpower, but you get the idea.
Hush Comics gives “The Next World” a B- for finally putting Rick and Michonne together, but ultimately being a fairly campy episode.
All images belong to AMC.