I’m fully aware that this was exactly the same thing that I said in Season 6, before it all crumbled and fell apart, but The Walking Dead so far appears to have returned consistently from its mid-season break with a very solid episode in The Next World. This episode did two major things – put Rick and Michonne together, finally, as a pairing and also introduce Jesus, a character from the comics. Now, I’ve not read beyond Volume 1 of The Walking Dead, but the character seems to have been eagerly anticipated by readers who are in fact up to date. With that in mind, it’ll be pretty interesting to see where the series takes us from here, because The Next World seemed to be establishing the calm before the inevitable storm.
The episode puts Rick and Daryl together for a simple supply run that goes wrong. It sounds like it could have easily been a basic filler episode of The Walking Dead, but it’s far more than that. The stakes were high and the time jump kicked things off with a bang, allowing Rick to possibly finally lighten up from his Governor-esque character that he was slowly turning into in the previous seasons. It’s interesting to see how he’s changing, and this episode showed that pretty well. The episode itself sees one of the lighter moments of the series happen in The Next World – Daryl and Rick have a disagreement about a choice in music that Rick puts into the CD Player on the car. It’s a pretty simple, but nice touch. See, it’s not all doom and gloom. Alright, it mostly is, especially when you have to take into account the fact that Deanna, the ex-leader of the Alexandrians, appeared as a zombie this week and her own son had to put her down also happened in the same episode. So, brutal stuff.
Anyway, Rick and Daryl go on a supply mission and end up meeting with Jesus after stealing Rick’s keys and taking his truck. However, the flat tire allows them to catch up with him and get their transport back, leaving Jesus tied up on the side of the road. He escapes, however, and climbs on top of the truck, clinging to it as it goes along and it’s only when they’re heading through fields that they notice it. Rick ends up deciding to try to bring Jesus back to Alexandria in order to get him fixed up, which caused him to butt heads with Daryl. This once again shows that Rick is slowly reverting back to his older self and is more inclined to save people this time around.
Meanwhile Spencer was searching for his mother in order to finish her off, which ended up pairing him together with Michonne whilst Daryl went off with Rick.
The relationship between Michonne and Rick was an interesting one that comes as one of the more welcome left-field additions. It’s clear that the show is setting up Rick to have more things to lose when the series’ inevitable conflict comes around with the big bad, who has been confirmed as Negan (played by Supernatural’s Jeffery Dean Morgan, no less), someone who I don’t know that much about, but comics fans likely will. So if things are starting to look okay for them now, it’s only a matter of time before (as is the norm on The Walking Dead) things go dramatically downhill.
Also, there were a few loose odds and ends that feel worth mentioning. It’s clear now that the time-jump was largely used as a way to not having to show the group cleaning up the zombies from Alexandria as well as give Carl time to recover so they didn’t have to deal with his whole issue of being heavily wounded. He’s better now and seems to be developing a friendship with Enid, and where that is headed remains to be seen. It also completely glossed over the loss of the Andersons, like they weren’t there at all. To be fair, I probably won’t miss them much either.
What did you think of The Next World? Did you enjoy it or were you left feeling underwhelmed? Let me know in the comments below and be sure to check out the next episode of The Walking Dead on Saturday at 9pm on AMC.