If you haven’t watched the newest episode of The Walking Dead, then I would suggest not reading any further, because there will be spoilers. You have been warned.
This week’s episode of The Walking Dead slowed things down quite a bit from last week’s episode. We’re talking 100 mph, slamming on the brakes, and now we’re just idly cruising. That’s not to say that nothing happened during this episode, because by oh boy, plenty happened.
Carl and Enid
Teenage romance: the stuff of novels. Or, as Daryl Dixon would more properly term it, “It’s like a damn romance novel.” Yeah, I’d say that that could sum up Carl and Enid.
A nice walk through the woods on a sunny day; that’s what we find Carl and Enid doing during “The Next World.” It’s something that they’ve done before, but this is different. The two are more comfortable in each other’s presence, and they no longer have the awkward reminder of Ron in the back of their minds. Now, I wouldn’t recommend sneaking out of a safe zone and walking through the woods during a zombie apocalypse, but as Carl puts its, they’re kids, it’s what they do.
The two teenagers have a spot where they hang out and read, complete with magazines and food. Carl seems perfectly content out there in the woods, but Enid, the girl who had previously told Carl that this is where they’re meant to be, seems to be more uncomfortable and eager to get back. Perhaps this is due to the sudden connection that she has with Maggie, who had told her earlier in the episode that instead of going nowhere, Enid could stay in Alexandria and do something.
It turns out that they aren’t the only two wandering the woods, either; Michonne and Spencer are out there, too. And just as Carl and Enid are about to head back home, they encounter a walker, whom we later discover to be the zombified Deanna. Enid is about to put Deanna down, but Carl stops her, refusing to let her kill Deanna, protesting that they can’t kill her. Oh, teenage romance, there always has to be silly little fights. So Enid goes back home, and Carl stays behind to lead Deanna to Spencer.
Carl not killing Deanna is a very pivotal moment. Carl has never before hesitated to kill a walker. The action has always been second nature for him; it’s something that he’s learned to do and has become accustomed to doing. So why does he choose not to kill Deanna? Carl recognizes that putting Deanna down is not his job to do; it is something that he can’t do. Rather, it is something that he knows Spencer has to do. In season three, Carl experienced the loss of his own mother, Lori, when she gave birth to Judith via a C-section performed by Maggie. He had been adamant that he be the one to put his mother down before she became a walker. In a sense, it was closure that he was giving himself, and it was this closure that he was seeking to provide for Spencer.
Michonne and Spencer
While taking watch up on one of the guard posts, Michonne spots Spencer walking into the woods alone with a shovel. That’s not weird at all. She follows him into the woods and later catches up to him. He won’t tell her his reasoning for being out there, but it is apparent that he is out there for a reason; he is searching for something. When asked why she won’t leave him, Michonne tells him that Deanna had told her that she needed to figure out what she wants in the world, what she wants for the rest of her life, and right now all that she wants is for Spencer to come back to Alexandria.
The two continue their journey, and soon enough Spencer is faced with the thing that he has been searching for: his mother. He had seen her the night that the walls had come down, and he has been searching for her ever since. In an emotional moment, Spencer takes out his knife and approaches his mother, Michonne restraining Deanna so that she cannot harm Spencer, and after a brief pause of hesitation, he finally puts his mother down and ends the search. Their journey ends with Michonne and Spencer laying Deanna to rest in the woods below a tree, a “D” carved into the bark to mark her final resting place.
Rick and Daryl find Jesus…and Play Tag
Much of “The Next World” focuses on a supply run that Rick and Daryl go on. The Alexandria Safe Zone is beginning to run low on supplies, and now that the community has recovered from the walker horde, they are finally ready to go out and retrieve what they need. What’s on their list? Food, plenty of food. Anything medical. Toothpaste for Michonne. Pop, as per special request from Denise, who wants to surprise Tara (all together now…”awwwwww”).
Their trip begins smoothly. Rick puts in a CD, despite Daryl’s begging him not to, and they continue their way down the road, signing along to the lyrics. No walkers in sight. Everything’s good. They find a truck full of supplies, including toothpaste, and Daryl is even able to find a vending machine that has a few cans of pop left. Before they can leave, though, a man runs straight into Rick and quickly apologizes. His name? Paul Monroe but his friends used to call him Jesus. Rick considers bringing the man back to Alexandria with them, and even begins asking him the three questions, but sudden loud noises stop him, and Jesus runs off before he can say anything more.
The loud noises? Firecrackers. Jesus? He didn’t really run off. Nope. He stole the keys to the truck full of supplies when he bumped into Rick, and now he’s driving off down the road, the vending machine trailing behind him. Jesus just took the wheel (I’m not even sorry; it had to be said). So logically, the only thing that Rick and Daryl can do is chase after him, and soon enough they find the vending machine, grab the pop from it, refresh, and then continue running. When they finally do reach Jesus, they pull their guns on him, demand for the keys, tie his legs and arms together, and then drive off.
Things seem to be going well as they pull up the driveway to a farm. Music is blasting from the speakers; it’s a true bromance. But they can’t get rid of Jesus that easily. He’s on the roof of the truck, so Rick slams on the brakes and sends Jesus tumbling to the ground. Daryl jumps out of the truck, and a game of tag ensues, Rick chasing Jesus by truck while Daryl chases him by foot. Rick eventually parks the truck to take care of a few walkers that were approaching, while Daryl continues the chase. Jesus jumps in the truck, but not before Daryl can reach him. Jesus pulls a gun and tells Daryl to duck, Daryl listens, and Jesus shoots a walker that had been approaching Daryl from behind. Jesus saved Daryl. Daryl’s thank you to Jesus is him pulling the man from the truck and throwing him to the ground. Jesus accidentally pulls the emergency break, though, and the truck rolls backwards into the lake. So much for that great haul that they were going to bring back.
After a short debate about what to do with Paul Monroe (aka Jesus), who is now unconscious, the two put him in a car and head back home, much to Daryl’s dismay. Things have changed, their outlook on things have changed. Rick, after the events of the prison and everything that had happened afterwards, was weary of letting anyone new into the group, but now we see him wanting to bring a stranger back to Alexandria. Daryl, on the other hand, had undergone a complete change after the fall of the prison. With the help of Beth, he had begun to believe that there were still good people in the world, but with her loss and the events that have taken place at Alexandria, he has begun to regress in his progress and instead believes that they shouldn’t be bringing somebody back with them.
Has a Ship Just Sailed?
Richonne. Yes, Richonne. It has sailed. It is official. You may continue fangirling. The episode opened with the two, and it concluded with the two, and I don’t think that their moments together could be any happier or lighthearted. Rick and Michonne together in a house with Carl and Judith are the ideal zombie apocalypse family, complete with jokes about dental hygiene, mints, and disciplining the children.
The relationship between Rick and Michonne hasn’t always been smooth, and it definitely hasn’t always been verging on the romantic side of things. When Michonne was first introduced in season three, Rick wasn’t trusting of her and even considered handing her over to The Governor in order to protect the rest of his family at the prison. Over the seasons, though, the two grew closer, and their relationship transitioned from two people forced into a situation together under common ground, to them being acquaintances, to a close friendship, and now finally to a romantic relationship.
But, as The Walking Dead has proven time and time again, simple and happy moments like this can’t last, and Richonne was not an exception to this rule. After sharing a very intimate moment and falling asleep in each other’s presence only covered by a thin blanket, Jesus awakens the two. No, not that Jesus, Jesus as in the Paul Monroe Jesus. Apparently, he and Rick need to talk.
“The Next World” was an episode that was desperately needed on The Walking Dead. The fast pace and heart-stopping moments from the mid-season premiere were amazing, but episodes like this are rare and hard to come by in a show where death is a constant threat. In ways, the episode was a callback to season two, when the group was still camped on Hershel’s farm and things were simpler. The threat of walkers and humans is still present, but it allows a chance for the viewer to breathe and regain their composure. Episodes such as this one give the viewer a chance to focus on the characters rather than the events and circumstances that surround them. The viewer is allowed a chance to focus on the character development that has taken place and it shows that there is still hope in the world that these characters live in.
- Let’s settle this now. Pop or soda? Which is it?
- So many Jesus puns tonight…
- Can somebody please find Judith actual toys to play with? The child was playing with red solo cups back in the prison…things haven’t changed in Alexandria.
- We need more moments of Carl and Judith together. The brief moment they shared this episode was too sweet, and it’s something that I desperately need more of.
- Carl seems to be dealing quite well with the loss of his eye. Kudos to you, Carl, for being able to recover so quickly!
- Maggie and Enid. Yep. I need more of them, too. Throw Glenn into the mix, and we may have another ideal zombie apocalypse family.
- Denise asking Daryl to get pop so that she can surprise Tara…please tell me that mine wasn’t the only heart that melted?
- Is Jesus a good guy or a bad guy? Can he be trusted?
- We had a nice, easy, happy episode, so does that mean that bad things are coming? Are things about to get really bad really quickly?
Don’t miss an all-new episode of The Walking Dead Sunday at 9 EST on AMC.