The Walking Dead recap: The Next World
With romance, rebuilding, and a guy named Jesus on everyone's minds, life in Alexandria gets domestic
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
The two escape, though Jesus is dinged in the head by the car door and knocked out cold. While Daryl is content to leave him out there, Rick admits he has tried to help and never once pulled a weapon on them, so maybe he deserves a little compassion.
While not Daryl’s original intention, the two drive Jesus, still unconscious, back to Alexandria, set him up in a back room with a glass of water and a note to welcome him. Rick tells Daryl he was right: They do need to let more people in, and Jesus may just be the start of that new mentality. And with a new group member, a lost van of supplies, and a few close calls, Rick and Daryl end the day planning to do the same damn thing tomorrow.
Enid and Carl Walk Through the Woods
In the weeks since the attack, Enid has evidently been barely a whisper in town; she sought solitude instead of pitching in on the rebuilding effort. Maggie, who is sinking into an apparent role as Deanna’s successor, at least when it comes to the town plans, offers her friendship and help, considering everything Enid did for her and Glenn.
But rather than immediately jumping at the opportunity, she runs off with Carl into the woods, who takes them both there because he believes they’re kids, and kids are supposed to wander the outdoors.
They do little other than walk through the woods, finding signs of other life here and there, but generally their day amounts to little. They eventually go to what appears to be a favorite spot of Carl’s. (He has a cache there where he holds some Invincible comics, a nice call-out to Robert Kirkman, which is only a reminder of how great an Invincible adaptation could be if done right. At least Kirkman’s got his hands full with Outcast, too.)
And so their day continues on quietly, until they notice they’re not alone in the forest. Spencer is nearby, as is a walker. Enid and Carl approach it, and she’s ready to kill it and get it over with. But Carl is caught like a deer in the headlights. He recognizes the walker, and though it’s not revealed until later to be Deanna, he knows he cannot be the one to kill her in her walker state.
Spencer Learns to Move On…With Michonne’s Help
The person who is meant to kill her is her son, Spencer. He’s been going out on walks alone into the forest, searching for his mother’s dead body. Michonne, while on watch, is the first one to notice him going off on his own. So she follows him, and though he’s reticent to have anyone with him, she tries to connect to this still-living soul stumbling through the woods.
Spencer believes he no longer has a family, a home, for as long as his current task remains uncompleted. Today is the day he gets to cross it off his list, though. Some rustling alerts them to the walker Carl encountered. (And Michonne spots Carl running away right before the walker appears.) Deanna appears through the treeline, ambling toward her son and Michonne.
And Spencer prepares to strike because this is what he has to do. Michonne holds Deanna back as Spencer takes the moment in, grabbing his dead mother’s head and driving his knife through the back of it. The walker threat dissipated, he cradles his mother’s body, finally able to say goodbye and let go.
He and Michonne dig a grave for Deanna, carving a D in the tree next to her makeshift grave. In the place of a eulogy, Spencer admits that his mother left a note for him, saying he always knew his way but that he has never known what his way is. Michonne wants to show him his mother was right because Spencer has always cared about his family and his home. Alexandria is still his home, and those living in it still want to be his family.
The Domestic Life of Michonne and Rick
Michonne obviously believes what she says because she has found home in Alexandria with Rick, Carl, and Judith. Their home situation has become comfortable, so comfortable in fact that the night after this day in the next world takes an unexpected turn.
Rick and Michonne sit slumped on their couch, letting the long day wash over them, neither really wanting to go into detail about what they’ve endured. Rick couldn’t even get her the toothpaste she wanted, so she’ll have to settle for some mints he found in the vending machine. As the two laugh over the moment and their days, their hands close over the pack of mints…together. Before you know it, the two are making out, ending up naked in Rick’s bed together later that night. (Coupled with Denise’s attempts to be a good girlfriend, the show might as well be re-named The Walking Romantics for the week.)
An unintended turn of events, the two surely will want their privacy and enough time to figure out how to tell Carl and the others about this if they intend to make things last longer than a night. Unfortunately for them, an unexpected third party has found out about their tryst, as the two wake up to someone calling Rick’s name. Naked with nothing but their katana and gun respectively, Michonne and Rick face the uninvited guest in Rick’s room.
It’s Jesus, and he thinks it’s time they talk.
What did you think of the episode’s end? Did you like Jesus’ introduction? And what about the episode’s tonal shift from last week’s all-out walker-fest? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @jmdornbush.