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The Walking Dead, TV

The Walking Dead – “The Next World”

This week is all about finding Jesus

This episode of The Walking Dead was about as carefree (and funny) as you could probably get for a series which is generally dealing with depressing stuff. Normally, after an episode like last week, we get a reflective episode where not a lot happens. Those types of episodes are not necessarily bad. In fact, they are quite realistic in depicting a natural response from people after traumatic events. It is good not to get the Star Trek treatment where we just move on to the next problem and forget last week happened. Yet as far as the entertainment and story value those episodes end up having it can be quite minimal. To be fair though, I still enjoy those reflective, somber episodes because it is good to see some character material from such solid actors in a world full of zombies.

Yet this episode featured a flash forward in time where the events of last week happened a while ago (probably months). The town of Alexandria has survived and been rebuilt with everyone getting on with the routine of living in this new world. The main story featured Daryl and Rick on a supply run, which felt more like a buddy road trip at times. While out they find a van full of goods and end up running into a dude named Jesus (Tom Payne) who is apparently a well-liked character from the comics.

At first he seems like a decent enough person and Rick is willing to give him a chance (which is a huge change in this character due to the events of last week). Yet they get distracted by what sounds like gunfire only to discover it is fireworks and the van’s keys from Ricks pocket have been stolen by Jesus (what a great sentence!). The rest of the story involves them trying to get their supplies back from him.

Rick and Daryl do catch up with him only to learn first hand Jesus is not telling them everything because the guy handles both of them easily with some fancy fight moves. They tie him up and head off with the truck only to discover a ways down the road Jesus has managed to (very quickly) get free and jump on top of the truck for a ride. This leads to a funny roundup to catch him yet they end up losing the truck in a lake with Jesus left unconscious, injured and brought back to Alexandria.

“I am more interested in finding out about Jesus, because it is clear from this episode he is clever and knows more than what he lets on.”

Here we get the major reveal about Rick and Michonne being an item. It might seem a bit odd coming after last weeks episode which featured the death of Jessie, who Rick had strong feelings for. Yet months have passed and both of them have become closer, with both actors really making it seem quite natural they are together. Even Carl has a nice moment with Michonne, seeing her as part of his family now.

Most of the side stories here are not terribly interesting and almost feel like filler rather than leading to something else. We have Spencer finding his zombie mum still lurking around the woods and coming to terms with her death by killing her (again). The story with Carl and Enid is just there, I am not sure if these two are a couple yet or just ‘kids trying to be kids’ in a crazy world.

This episode ends with Jesus somehow managing to escape his cell and walking in on a naked Michonne and Rick saying they finally needed to talk, which ends up being a cool and funny way to end the show.

Next week is promising to open the world up to us, hinting there is far more going on in this ‘new world’ than we realise. I am more interested in finding out about Jesus (not too much cryptic crap I hope with promises of answers in six weeks) because it is clear from this episode he is clever and knows more than what he lets on. Fortunately, I do not think he is a bad guy or aligned with bad people (the few we have seen in this season so far anyways). Yet when he encounters Daryl and Rick he is well ahead of them and able to take care of himself, this guy knows what he is doing. I want to go so far as to say he is the voice we heard on the radio way back in “Always Accountable” (episode 6), but this is just speculation.

FINAL VERDICT

This series has its strong and weak episodes (although never poor in quality), yet this season has been pretty solid so far with the back half ramping it up to eleven. Surprisingly, after last weeks non-stop badass-ery this episode does not feel worse off for following such a hardcore episode. In fact, this is mostly a carefree episode where no one (living) dies and Jesus seems more playful than threatening. Yet if this show teaches us anything about karma (or the ‘law of averages’ as Rick says), this zombie universe cannot let people be happy or content for long. Sooner or later, the shit is going to hit the fan, with those involved saying the back half ends in all out war. Here is to hoping they can keep this momentum going, because it is really good.

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