After the midseason premiere’s bloodbath of a return, The Walking Dead winds the clock forward by a few weeks for what is quite possibly its most domestic episode ever.
And it’s a largely segmented, walker-free hour at that, too. (Presumably after the sheer scope of last week’s Alexandria attack, it’s no small wonder the effects team needed some time to refresh the walker makeup reserves.) Instead, the hour feels like a snapshot meant to crystallize how the chapter pre-assault chapter of these survivors’ lives is coming to a close and glimpsing at what the next chapter looks like.
For the moment, that chapter looks like walkers are the least of the group’s problems, and because “The Next World” takes such a divided perspective on Alexandria’s current worries, lets break down a day in the life of this supposed next world.
Road Trip: Rick and Daryl Edition
Isn’t it nice to see people just smile now and then? Daryl and Rick radiate so much positivity — well, as much as the two of them can — during “World” you’d be forgiven for thinking they may have had personality transplants in the missing weeks on the show.
Rick wakes up at home, joking around with a still-bandaged but awake Carl and Michonne (in a towel and bathrobe, no less, but more on that later). He’s heading out for the day with Daryl on a supply hunt. Daryl has been given directions by Denise to keep an eye out for soda as Tara loves it. (Or she hates it, but she talks about it in her sleep, so Denise thinks it’s worth the gamble of surprising her with it.)
Eugene tells the two to be on the lookout for sorghum, a plant that he promises will change the whole nutrition game for Alexandria, but the two are open to whatever the road may hold for them. Even if Daryl has to listen to Rick’s music.
They eventually come to a building that just so happens to have “SORGHUM” printed on its garage door. Inside they find not a sign of life but a truck filled to the brim with supplies, promising a much better haul than either of them likely expected.
Ditching their car for the truck, the two stop into a gas station, where Daryl does what he can to free some snacks and soda from a vending machine. But as they’re looking through the leftover pickings, a man in a trenchcoat, hat, and scarf covering his face runs directly into the two of them.
Unarmed, he’s forced to play along as Rick and Daryl question him and what he’s doing, which is running from a pack of walkers, he claims.
“This is the next world. I hope it’s good to you guys,” the man says after they lie about having a camp. He intends to keep running, but not before he tells them his name: Paul or, as his friends call him, Jesus.
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Rick attempts to ask his three questions, but he keeps running, and a series of bangs sound off from behind the gas station soon after. All the duo finds are firecrackers going off in a trash can, but they come to an unfortunate realization. Jesus stole the keys to the truck right off of Rick, and so the two pursue him on foot to reclaim what they took.
They find the vending machine, previously attached by chain to the truck, lying in the middle of the road, which offers a quick pit stop before they continue on and eventually catch up to Jesus.
The two surprise him, but he fends them off for a surprising amount of time until the two get him both in their crosshairs. They tie Jesus up and leave him by the side of the road (Rick wants to expand their group, but he doesn’t think they have to do so with this guy). They drive off, thinking they’ve won the day.
Unfortunately, Jesus has a few tricks left up his sleeves, as the two pull into a field as they hear banging on the truck’s roof. It’s Jesus, and though they throw him off the van, they decide to hunt him down and end this game of cat-and-mouse.
This field just so happens to have a few walkers in it, as well, which Rick steps out of the van to deal with as Daryl chases Jesus like it’s an episode of The Three Stooges. Eventually Jesus makes his way back to the truck, tussling with Daryl until he actually saves the Dixon brother’s life from a walker. But that’s not quite enough for Daryl, so the two continue to fight, accidentally letting the hand brake falter and causing the truck to casually slip backward into the neighboring lake.
NEXT: Michonne helps Spencer move on…and hooks up with someone else