Season Six, Episode Ten — “The Next World”
By Jarrod Jones. For all the whack-a-doo mayhem we’ve sat through so far, it can be said that the sixth season of The Walking Dead is easily one of the more introspective of the whole series. For instance, consider the fourth episode from late last year — “Here’s Not Here” — where we learned as much about Morgan’s time alone in the wild as anyone probably ever wanted to. It was a quiet, lovely, heartbreaking interlude between jaunts through The Great Walker Walk of Season Six, and for this viewer it decidedly placed me in Team Morgan in the seemingly endless moral debate between TWD‘s un-caped crusader and the show’s true sociopath, Carol. The point here being that when The Walking Dead peels back the guts-encrusted muck of the show to reveal the beating heart of its characters, we begin to truly feel stakes. It makes watching a long-running show more worthwhile.
And that’s what “The Next World” did. It offered us one more thing we could attach ourselves to. And after last week’s bananas midseason premiere, TWD decided to jump ahead in time (two months, to be precise) in order to give its characters — and its audience — some much-needed downtime. It’s a cute enough episode (and holy shit, that ending!), but it begs the question — where the hell is Negan already? It would seem that, as Rick bores a new hole in his belt, we too must tighten our grip… on our patience for this show.
WHAT WORKED: It’s fascinating to see how adjusted these people have become to switching gears, from casually enjoying each other’s company, to being instantly prepared for murder — all in a matter of one single second. It happens twice in this episode: once, where Rick and Daryl shotgun a can of Orange Crush only to go into mayhem mode when a twig snaps about twenty feet away, and then again, when Michonne & Rick sleep through the afterglow of a well-earned roll in the hay, only to jump out of bed upon the intrusion of Jesus in naught but their skins, weapons already drawn. (Does Michonne sleep with her katana? Now we know for sure.)
And while we’re on the Rick & Daryl subject, there’s quite a bit to glean from how comfortable Norman Reedus and Andrew Lincoln are with each other. Watch them drive away from the Alexandria compound and feel a pang of jealousy that you aren’t cool enough to go with. Admire Daryl’s feigned repulsion to Rick’s finger-snappin’ to Ronnie Dee Dawson’s “Action Packed” (you can practically hear the butterflies in his tummy flutter like mad over the tunes). Thrill to the boys putting their mouths all over the same spot on can after can of Orange Crush. (Those were meant for Tara, you guys!) When the bottom finally — finally — drops out upon the reveal of Negan later this season, we are going to look back at these moments with wistful heartache, make no mistake.
WHAT DIDN’T: It’s remarkably simple to take The Walking Dead‘s realism for granted. While we have come to appreciate certain flourishes designed to remind us that TWD is a comic book TV show (primarily the alliterative Daryl Dixon and his uncanny crossbow marksmanship), it’s easy to lose sight of that when you spend so much time watching these people hoof it through the Virginia wilderness trying to simply survive. The sudden appearance of the eye-rollingly named “Jesus” — with his crystal-blue eyes, his poofy boy lips, and his strange ability to Peter Parkour all over a speeding truck — is a sobering reminder that, yes, this is a silly-ass comic book TV show. And it always has been. But damn if Jesus’ high-flying ninja kicks didn’t my next three glasses of wine rapidly disappear.
The episode’s time-jump shows us a Coral who has grown somewhat accustomed to having one eyeball. For all the depth this show has supplied its stalwart characters, you would think that The Wee Grimes has earned an episode or two in order to adjust to his new lot in life. Instead we’re treated to a bit of twee bickering with Enid over whatever who cares. Coral deserves so much more than implied pathos. Chandler Riggs has proven time and again he can handle the deeper-context stuff. So let’s make it happen.
BEST LINE(s): More nada this week. Michonne and Spencer play vocal gymnastics over tried-and-true concepts like family and honor before jamming a blade in the back of Deanna’s skull, but none of it really sticks. (And I just don’t care about Spencer. There, I said it!) And Rick’s meaningful interactions with Michonne and Daryl were conveyed mostly through long, loving stares and whiskery smirks. No lines this week.
BEST MOMENT: As squee-inducing as the “Richonne” smooch-fest totally was (and it toootally was), it was the morning after that set everyone visiting DoomRocket HQ Sunday evening upright. This Jesus guy is already getting on my damn nerves (you know how to knock, asshole?), and it seems that Rick & Michonne share that sentiment, ready to skewer/blast away The Chumpy One at the smallest provocation. Only they prepared themselves to do so completely in the buff. Which got me thinking: there isn’t nearly enough naked tush on this show.
EPISODE’S MVP: Richonne. Is it comic book canon? Absolutely not. But who cares? It was such a relief to finally see these two cuties put their lips together. It felt natural, it felt earned, and most importantly, it felt right. Can we — can we just skip Negan this season, guys?
BRAY OF THE DEAD:
– This week’s episode of The Walking Dead is brought to you by Orange Crush.
– Aw. Rick doesn’t litter.
– Hey! Coral got spotted reading Invincible. Which is in keeping with the minifig we spotted during the midseason finale. Only question is… why is it magazine-sized? A magazine-sized Invincible don’t exist.
– No Glenn/Maggie reunion this week. That is beyond unfair. After all you’ve put us through, Show? Come on!
– Somehow I always knew Rick had dubious taste in music. Boston, Rick? Boston?!
8 out of 10
Next: “Knots Untie”, soon.
Before: “No Way Out”, here.