The Walking Dead - Season 6 Episode 10 - The Next World
For a quicker, less wordier review, see the video below, or over on YouTube at Cablepool14.
While I had a few (minimal) issues with the mid-season premiere of The Walking Dead's "No Way Out" last week, I thought it was a strong episode and was looking forward to this one, to see how the group would handle the repercussions and rebuilding of Alexandria after it was completely overrun by the dead.
Sadly, we get didn't get to see any of that as the series decided to jump ahead in time (2 months ahead is the word going around) and we now see our characters have already moved on from the brutality of last week.
Now this works in some ways, and fails in others. First, I'm glad we don't have to spend another 2 to 4 episodes with Carl recovering in bed from a gunshot wound (see Season 2). We don't have to watch our characters numbly talk about how lucky they were while they dispose of dead walker after dead walker (see Season 2, again).
But where it fails is that we never get to see the emotional repercussions in a key character - Rick. Rick was falling for Jessie - it may not have been a deep seeded love, but it was there, in the early stages of blooming. When Jessie is being devoured there were those brief flashes of her from past episodes, smiling and being happy, all while Rick with a pained no-not-you-too look on his face, watches her be torn to shreds.
Well, Jessie and the rest of the Anderson family's demise don't even get a mention in the episode. There is no room for growth from the seemingly tragic event and it is a wasted opportunity. Imagine if we had a scene where Rick tells Carol that Sam completely froze up, scared to the spot, and she begins to question whether she made the right decision in scaring the absolute bejeezus out of this kid.
Speaking of (be)jeezus, we get to meet him in this episode. Real name Paul, Jesus makes his TV show debut played by Tom Payne. I always envisioned Jesus as a little older than the youngish looking Payne, but insofar I have no real complaints about his character and thought it was nice to see a fresh face in the show...but here is where the ridiculousness ensues.
I didn't realise The Walking Dead had become a comedy. Leading up to Jesus' appearance, we see Rick hilariously snapping his fingers to some painful country music, all while Daryl begs him not to. After Jesus steals their van full of goodies and Rick and Daryl steal it back, Jesus asks if they even have ammo and in a Pulp Fiction-esque way they reveal that they do, taking down a walker together. Later, Daryl says Jesus is on the roof and Rick slams on the breaks and Jesus flies off. Rick chases him in the truck, Daryl on foot, and we get the strangest scene of the trio playing what looks to be touch football, minus the football. I half expected the Benny Hill theme music to come on during this scene - and it would've fit perfectly.
A few things I noticed. Would you really leave the keys in the truck when you get out of it? People are a constant threat, along with stealing your shit that you need to survive. Just last week, Daryl, Sasha and Abraham are roadblocked by a group that threaten to kill them if they don't hand over their supplies. Speaking of which, these guys aren't mentioned this week either? Did Daryl and the others tell anyone? Just a simple, "Hey, Rick, maybe don't leave the keys in the truck, because someone could come along and steal it - just a few weeks ago someone almost did the same thing to us at gunpoint. Just a thought?"
Also, after Jesus and Daryl accidentally back the truck into a creek and lose A TON of food and supplies, they decide to let Jesus live? Seriously? I mean, seriously? You're obviously running low on supplies, you're saying today is the day we will find food - then this guy, steals your gun, steals your truck, loses said truck in a creek, and you decide, yup, let's bring him back with us.
However, the entire episode wasn't a comedic chase scene. We get some nicer moments back at Alexandria. Carl and Enid share a bit of screen-time and show how much the pair have developed over the (unseen) months since last episode. Carl says, with the world weariness of someone far beyond his years, "It's what kids do", in response to being beyond the wall, and running around outside. He's been forced to grow up way too fast in this world, and losing an eye to "friendly" fire sure as hell didn't help.
The best scenes of the episode however come from Danai Gurira and Austin Nichols, who play Michonne and Spencer Monroe respectively. Having lost his mother, father and brother (all since Rick's group arrived in Alexandria, mind you), Spencer is the sole survivor of the Monroe family and I was hoping we would get to spend some time with him soon, to show how he is handling all this. Thankfully we get to see here, delivering the perfect line about Alexandria "It's just where I live, it isn't a home".
Michonne responds that she has been following him out in the woods all day - Spencer still has family in Alexandria and it is at this point that 'Mother' Michonne really shines through, taking both Spencer and Judith under her wing.
Heartbreaking, we watch as Spencer puts down his mother Deanna, whom he has been searching for since the events of "No Way Out". (Let's just ignore the logistics of how zombified Deanna somehow escaped the house she was in when she turned AND the walled off Alexandria without getting shanked during last week's gladiator spectacular walker slaughter).
Spencer and Michonne's scenes were the highlight of the episode for me, it is just a shame they were so few and so short.
Now, about that ending. Rick and Michonne has been something that has been on the lips of shippers around the world. "Richonne" finally happened here in this episode, and my feelings are completely mixed about it. Don't get me wrong - I love the pairing. I think it makes sense as the show has shown them to be extremely close and caring for each other, especially last week in Michonne's eagerness to get out and help Rick during his initial crazed outburst.
My problem with it, is that it is too goddamn soon. Just last week we saw Rick tearing up at the sight of his newest crush being torn apart by walkers, and this week we watch him getting it on with someone else. I get that it has been two months in the world, but for us, as viewers, it's been seven days. The object of his affection has shifted so quickly from the last episode to this one, that it feels completely rushed and out of place. Cut the episode as their hands intertwine, hinting at a possible romance in the future.
But then we couldn't have that last comedy shot, of a naked, post-coitus Rick and Michonne holding their weapons to Jesus (who at this point should be called Houdini), saying they need to talk.
It may sound like I'm bagging on the show, and in a way I am, but don't get me wrong - The Walking Dead is my favourite show on television. I review it weekly on my YouTube channel (Cablepool14) and have been reading the comics since well before the series began. But just because I am a massive fan doesn't mean that the show becomes immune to criticism. I get that it can't be all doom and gloom on The Walking Dead, but I can't be the only one who thought that the tonal shift from last week to this week has been a complete 180 and felt unbelievably strange; last week we see a child eaten alive, while this week we see Daryl play tag with a bearded man named Jesus.
I still enjoyed this episode and can't wait to see where it goes next week as we learn more about Jesus, and hopefully, just a little less comedy.