Whose Episode Is It?
It’s mostly the Rick and Daryl show this week, with Michonne, Spencer, and Carl in a dull sub-plot. Very few of the other regulars show up, so no word on whether Abraham ever broke up with Rosita or if Carol and Morgan came to an accord. Also, no mention whatsoever of the Anderson family.
Little Town, It’s A Quiet Village
After last week’s community-building murder-thon, it’s time for a cool-down. Unfortunately, quiet character-building has never been "Walking Dead’s" forte, and "The Next World" offers nothing to contradict that.
We open with some Boston, which is as good a start as any. Several weeks have passed since the events of the last episode, and the Alexandrians have patched up the walls and life’s back to normal. Rick and Daryl are heading out on a supply run, and Dr. Denise requests some soda for Tara, since they’re now a confirmed couple. Daryl agrees to keep an eye out. Spoiler: the soda turns out to be much more trouble than it’s worth.
A Shred Of Humanity
But first, let’s get that dull sub-plot out of the way. Michonne sees Spencer wander into the woods with a shovel and follows him. She’s not wrong that Spencer could use a little back up, since Spencer’s primary character trait so far is making bad choices. Meanwhile, Carl, who is also out in the woods, finds zombie Deanna and tries to lure her back to Alexandria. Let’s stop right there. The last time we saw Deanna, she was on the second floor of a house in Alexandria, screaming defiantly at a herd of zombies who were just a few feet away from tearing her to pieces. Now she’s outside the walls as a zombie, basically intact. This is less "suspension of disbelief" and more "hoping the audience has amnesia," but let’s just go with it, because this is all just to get us to where Spencer can kill his zombie mom and gain some closure. Look, I’m not going to say I understand what it would be like to live in the zombie apocalypse, but I will say that insisting on murdering the shambling corpse of your loved one as the only way to know peace doesn’t seem that psychologically sound. I guess it’s the Old Yeller principle of the thing? Anyway, Spencer’s fine. This is all well-worn territory for this show.
Achievement In Grossness
Barely any zombies this week, but one we do see has a hole rotted straight through his neck. Now I really want to see a zombie whose body is in such rough shape that his head just falls off.
The Name Is Monroe, Paul Monroe
Daryl and Rick hit the mother lode on their supply run, finding a truck loaded with goods. They stop at a gas station so Daryl can break into a vending machine for Denise’s soda, and run into Paul, aka Jesus (due to his long hair/beard combo), a lone wanderer who manages to steal their truck with a clever bit of misdirection. Paul is the total package: he dresses like Jay (of "& Silent Bob" fame), is an expert pickpocket, an excellent hand-to-hand fighter and seems to be some sort of escape artist. Perhaps in a future episode he’ll also be revealed to be a rapping surfer? Paul’s hyper-competent to the point of ridiculousness; Rick and Daryl may as well have stumbled across Jason Statham playing The Transporter. Except, y’know, dressed like Jason Mewes.
Unfortunately, nothing much comes of Paul’s appearance. We learn next to nothing about him, other than he doesn’t kill Daryl when he has the chance. He’s supposed to be intriguing, but I just wanted the story to get on with it. Negan’s guys at least had the common courtesy to be obviously evil from the get-go. Is Paul good? Is he bad? Is he Ben Linus? No answers are forthcoming. Instead, he, Rick, and Daryl all run around a field for what feels like forever, until the supply truck ends up in a lake and Paul gets knocked out. It’s all too goofy to take seriously, and too serious to be any fun. All will be forgiven, though, if the next episode reveals that Paul wants to recruit Rick to join his secret ninja clan.
Something For The ‘Shippers
Once they’re back in Alexandria, Rick and Michonne crash on the couch and tell each other about their days. Then they hold hands. Then they kiss. Then they have sex. Sure, why not. It all comes completely out of left field, especially since Rick spent the whole season up until now wooing Jessie, who you’ll recall was messily devoured just last episode. Don’t make Michonne your rebound girl, Rick! That’s just mean. Their post-coital slumber is interrupted by Paul, who insists that he and Rick have to talk. This gives us the admittedly hilarious sight of Michonne and Rick wielding their signature weapons butt-naked. Too bad the episode had almost nothing else to offer.