The Walking Dead Review: The Next World

Editor’s note: this review of AMC’s The Walking Dead will contain some spoilers. I will try to keep them to a minimum, but they’re be there nonetheless. You’ve been warned.

“The Next World” stand in stark contrast to the mid-season premier, “No Way Out”. Where the latter was oppressively dark and filled with loss and misery, the former is uncharacteristically light. It’s almost whimsical.

The Walking Dead Episode 610

The Walking Dead smartly decided to skip forward in time a bit following the zombie attack on Alexandria, giving the community time to heal, mourn, and begin to rebuild. No where is this more evident than in the Grimes household, where Carl seems to be getting along just fine despite his grievous injury, and Judith is happily rolling over in her crib, and Rick has found a real human connection in Michonne. Their pairing caught me be surprise, but it makes a lot of sense. Certainly much more sense than Rick and the abused soccer mom.

This was also not an episode where a ton happened. The story was divided roughly in half between Rick and Daryl’s adventures, and Spencer coming to terms with his mother’s death. Let’s tackle Spencer’s story first.

The Walking Dead Episode 610

I really liked that way his quest brought support from Carl (AKA Coral) and Michonne. Their instant readiness to help him out really shows how much this community of survivors has finally grown together; a cohesion that they desperately need. That said, I really don’t think too much of the Spencer character. He seems extremely uneven, like the writers use him less as a real character than as a way to fill various holes in the story. Perhaps this is the beginning of a real arc for him.

The lion’s share of “The Next World” focuses on Rick and Daryl’s trip out to gather supplies, and their run in with an extremely capable survivor whose friends call him Jesus. The trio play out a back and forth game over the possession of a panel truck filled with supplies, ultimately losing everything due to their mutual unwillingness to trust and cooperate.

The entire sequence was light and fun, but felt more than a little out of place considering where these characters are now. This is a story that would have fit much better in the show’s first or second season. Now that supplies are in much more demand, it seems strange that anyone would jeopardize such a bonanza over what turned out to be a bizarre competition between three hyper-competent survivors.

The Walking Dead Episode 610

My favorite moment in the episode was one of the smallest, which happened right at the beginning. Dr. Denise and Tara are now a couple, and the good doctor petitions Daryl to locate some pop (the Michigander in me appreciated the regional nod) for Tara. Her shy awkwardness was really endearing, as was Daryl’s struggle to converse with her in any meaningful way, only buttressed later by his continued efforts to secure Tara’s gift.

This was a fun, but uneven episode of The Walking Dead. I enjoyed it, and appreciated the reprieve after all the bloodshed of last week, and before whatever awfulness is coming near the end of the season. A little light fare is nice every now and then, even in the zombie apocalypse.

Grade:
4 zombies heads out of 5

18 Comments

Evan

The timing for this episode and its story was much needed. When you think back to last season and the season premier the timeline is what…two weeks? Three?

Possible insight – For anyone confused by coral playing with the tennis ball, when Rick and Coral said “PT” they meant physical therapy for his eye injury. A tennis ball drill would help Coral regain a touch of his depth perception.

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Dave

Excellent point on Coral’s PT. I should have addressed that and pointed out the increased role Denise is playing on the show, despite getting relatively little screen time.

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Evan

Dave what about the timeline? Does three weeks between episode one last season and this season sound right’ish?

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pi3rk

What I liked most about this episode is that the story was supposed to be like a middle class couple normal day of life. Dad gearing up to go to work (Rick), wife getting ready in the bathroom (Michonne) giving recommendations to the kids. Everybody spending his day at the “office”, then comes back to home for dinner, telling about his day.

Timeline was smart, I wouldn’t tell I liked that episode that much, I think I will appreciate it much more when I start watching episode by 3 or 4.

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Dave

Wow, you hit on something I hadn’t really thought about, but I’m now thinking is exactly what I liked about the episode. I was like a bizarro-world version of a traditional family day.

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Mattexian

I don’t know much about a timeline, other than what the actress playing Michonne said in “The Talking Dead,” that three months had passed. It confused the hell outta me, as the episode opened and they panned across the desk, lingering for a moment on the photo (?!?) of Judith and Carl (in eye-pad). Where are they getting the material to develop a new photo? Did they find a full, working Nintendo Game Boy Color with camera and printer?? Do they instead have a very talented artist in their midst?

The whole opening seemed like some fantasy dream sequence, as much as could be had in a world full of walkers. Ricky and Daryl’s excellent adventure had so many holes, the wife and I both yelled at them, “What are you doing?” Starting with their discovery of the truck loaded with pallets of food: do not stop, do not pick up hitchhikers, head to Alexandre (by alternate route, if you insist, but just GO). It just kept snowballing from there, with the antics of ninja Jesus.

The romance between Rick and Michonne surprised us a little, tho I suppose it shouldn’t have, as they were obviously becoming familiar, all living under the same roof. That first kiss elicited a Takei-ish “Oh myyy!” from both of us, which reminded me of that first on-screen interracial kiss between Kirk and Uhura. (What’s the old Virginia Slims ad slogan, “You’ve come a long way, baby”?) The next morning drew of a longer “Oh myyyy!”, and then ninja Jesus popped up. How does he keep doing that, and does Carol know there’s another ninja in her territory?

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Dave

Three months does seem way too long. I figured it was a matter of a few weeks.

As to developing the photo, I’m guessing someone had a photo printer somewhere. Probably Deana. She seems like the type.

It’s funny you mention Jesus the next morning. The only thing I could think about there was whether Rick was wearing pants, and how awkward that whole scene was.

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Dave

Yes sir! Originally I’m from the Oscoda area (northern lower Michigan, on Lake Huron a couple hours south of the bridge). Now I live outside Lansing.

How about you?

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Eric

Very cool. I grew up North of Detroit in Utica, and now I’m West of Detroit in the Novi area. Small world! And I loved the whole pop thing in this episode. Classic!

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Dave

Very cool indeed. There are a couple of Michiganders on here the comment from time to time. I always get a kick out of it.

I drive through Novi damn near every day. I hate that interchange so much.

Mad..

Good review Dave, it was a slow down episode from last week but it helped us get our bearings, the other thing that might turn into something more was the talk Maggie had with the young girl. Maybe Maggie and Glenn will become pseudo parents for her?

Some of the Daryl/Rick vs Jesus scenes made me laugh, just add some Benny Hill music to the scene when Daryl is chasing him on foot and Rick is in the van and you have comedy gold. 🙂

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Dave

I think you’re exactly right with Glenn, Maggie, and Enid. I don’t know how I feel about that, because Enid annoys me as a character. On the other hand, it feels like Maggie has taken such a smaller roll since they got to Alexandria, it’d be nice to see her get more to do.

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Mick

I agree that this episode’s change of tone was welcome. For both the characters and the audience.

I’m not sure about this new Jesus character, though. Just something about the way he acted with Rick I found really annoying. How Rick kept from just shooting him, I don’t know.

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