The Walking Dead S06E10 “The Next World” REVIEW
Airing in the UK on: FOX, Mondays, 9pm
Writers: Angela Kang, Corey Reed
Director: Kari Skogland
Essential Plot Points:
- Rick’s getting tooled up to head out. It’s clear time has passed, as there’s a photo of Carl with his eye bandaged holding Judith. Michonne, who’s clearly showered there, asks to borrow some toothpaste and Rick and Carl both give her good natured crap about it.
- Nearby Denise stops Daryl to go over lists of supplies and ask him to look for a particular brand of soda. She doesn’t drink it but, she says, Tara talks about it in her sleep. This pair of scenes are just so sweet.
- As they head out, Eugene tells them to keep an eye out for Sorghum, as it’s an immensely useful crop that should still be easy to find. The two light out, and to Daryl’s disgust, Rick starts blasting the old school tunes…
- Back at Alexandria, Michonne sees someone head into the woods and follows them.
- Nearby, Maggie finds a brooding Enid and firmly, but lovingly, tells her she isn’t going to be alone anymore.
- Out on the road, the New Duke Boys find a Sorghum barn with a truck inside it. One full of supplies! Rick decides their luck’s changed, Daryl is unsure. Especially as, when they later stop to raid a vending machine for the soda they’re accosted by a man with long hair wearing a mask.
- Jesus, as he introduces himself, warns them that walkers are on the way. He’s odd: charming, funny, gentle and… a thief. He distracts them, steals the truck and Rick and Daryl head off in pursuit.
- Michonne catches up with Spencer in the woods. They talk, and it’s clear Spencer is desperately sad about something. He refuses to admit where he’s going and she says she’ll follow him.
- Nearby, Carl and Enid are also heading out. Just like everyone else, they’re suddenly finding space in their life to do something other than survive. They hang out in the woods because “that’s what kids do” although Enid is increasingly uncomfortable. They see Michonne and Spencer go by and begin to head home.
- Back on the road, Rick and Daryl find evidence the truck’s broken down. They sneak up on Jesus who pretty much kicks their asses singlehandedly until they both tackle him. Rick ties him up and they head out.
- They don’t get very far before they realise he’s got free and is on the roof. Daryl jams on the breaks and Ninja Silent Bob is catapulted onto the ground. A wonderfully rubbish chase/fight scene ensues which concludes with Daryl’s life being saved by Jesus, the truck rolling into the lake and Jesus being knocked unconscious.
- In the woods, Carl and Enid confront… something. It’s clearly a walker and Enid panics and wants to kill it. But Carl doesn’t and, when h tells her she wouldn’t understand, she leaves in disgust.
- Nearby, Spencer and Michonne hear something. Carl runs past, followed by the Walker.
- It’s Deanna. Or it was.
- Spencer admits this is why he comes to the woods: to find her. Michonne restrains the thing that used to be his mother and, with tremendous care and heartbreak, Spencer puts his mother to rest.
- They bury her and Michonne marks the spot with a “D” carved into the nearest tree. Then, she tells Spencer he has a home, and a family and they head back. It is, like the opening two scenes really sweet and kind. Which is a very odd thing to say about a show that killed two kids on camera last week but trust us, it works.
- Meanwhile, back at CopOut 2: The Post Apocalypse Years, Rick, Daryl and a very unconscious Jesus are driving home. Daryl tries to point out that he thinks this is a bad idea. Rick doesn’t take any of his crap and also apologises for being the last one to see Alexandria really is home.
- Carl is tending to Judith when Michonne arrives. She tears a strip off him, realising that he led Deanna’s Walker towards them. She tells him he should have killed it and Carl retorts that it should have been someone who loved her. He also says that he’d do it for Michonne and, clearly staggered by this, she hugs the kid.
- Rick and Daryl bring Jesus to the Doc’s house, waking her and Tara up. The Doc has AWESOME pajamas by the way. They treat Jesus and Rick heads home, with Daryl staying to keep watch.
- At home, Rick passes out on the sofa when Michonne arrives and tells him to make room. They chat about their days and then, slowly and chuckling at finally being able to let go, they kiss.
- And then wake up together the next morning. Which is again, so sweet.
- Jesus being at the end of the bed saying they need to talk? Less so.
So, who’s for a buddy cop movie with Rick and Daryl? Because you get one this week and it’s great!
The A plot here reminded me constantly of the B plot in Kevin Smith’s movie CopOut. Don’t worry if you haven’t seen it, it’s one of Smith’s most commercial and least successful movies. It is fun though and the horror stories he tells about it are vastly entertaining.
I mention it here because that B plot features the two lead characters repeatedly butting heads with a charming, somewhat eccentric and physically terrifyingly able cat burglar. Which is pretty much beat for beat what we get with Rick and Daryl vs Jesus this week.
That entire plot comes at you from left field but it’s – in the words of Salt’n’Pepa – very necessary. Every episode of the season to date has been nothing but escalating tension and this is very much an hour for people to get their breath back. That’s neatly set up by the time that’s passed since the last episode, as well as the new-found relationships which we’ll get to in a moment.
Because that A plot really is huge fun. It’s a really smart, deceptively simple script that gives two of the show’s leads a chance to shine and it tells us some really interesting stuff about both of them.
First off, Rick really is a believer now. His quiet, methodical optimism is a welcome change from Captain Nihilist Beard. It’s clearly fragile; he’s clearly trying it on for size but this really is Rick out the other side of his years-long dark night of the soul. Alexandria is home now, for better or worse, and he knows he can’t and shouldn’t defend it alone.
That brings us to everyone’s favourite Dixon brother. This is the first extended period we’ve had with Daryl in a while and Norman Reedus is on typically good form. The opening, gentle teasing of Doc about the soda is a really sweet touch. Likewise the fact he apologises to her for not getting any as soon as he sees her again. Daryl is a man of few words but Reedus is so good at what he does you can absolutely tell how fond of these people Daryl is.
But it’s Jesus who brings out something really interesting in Daryl. He’s uncomfortable around him to the point of belligerence. There’s been a lot of speculation as to Daryl’s sexuality and even more that the introduction of Jesus would bring that to the fore.
This is an interesting, difficult crossroads the show has come to. There’s strong evidence, and narrative precedent, for Daryl’s sexuality to be at any one of a dozen points and the show risks offending and alienating viewers if it does go down any particular road. But at the same time this show has never been better than it has been this season. It’s turning in constantly excellent work and has a tremendous, micro-focused understanding of its characters. Now’s the time if it’s going to happen and even if it doesn’t, his interactions with Jesus are amongst the sparkiest most fun exchanges the show’s ever had.
Together the three men have an endearingly rubbish adventure that gives us a look at all three personalities; the newly hopeful Rick, the apparently newly distrustful Daryl and the completely charming and distinctly odd Jesus. Were the episode just them, it would be fine. But the B plot here is just as good.
Last week we talked about the horrors of having to put down Walkers that used to be family. This week we see it happen. Spencer’s confrontation with his mother is the most loving Walker death we’ve seen, and the scene works on two different levels. It’s closure for the character, bringing him in from the cold the same way the Battle of Alexandria did for Rick last week. But it’s also the final, definitive nail in the coffin of the old town. Deanna is now, finally, truly dead. Like Jesus said, it really is the New World now.
A new world where people feel safe enough to fall in love. The reveal that Doc and Tara are together is honestly my favourite thing this episode. Not just because Denise asking Daryl to look for the soda is really sweet but how little fuss is made of it. There’s no, “Look! Lesbians!” No sniggering or teasing. It doesn’t play as token or forced. It’s just who they are.
Then there’s the ending. Rick and Michonne getting together is a plot nuke of a sort the show hasn’t dropped in a while but, again, it feels right. Especially as it’s preceded by the very touching moment between Carl and Michonne where he tells her he’d kill her if she turned. That entire scene is The Walking Dead in a nutshell; horrific violence wrapped around a battered, defiant refusal to abandon compassion and love. That’s why the Rick and Michonne scene works so well. If anyone has earned happiness and love its them.
That’s the crux of the entire episode too: the Alexandrians breathing out. That’s why Spencer searches for his mom’s Walker. That’s why Carl doesn’t kill Deanna. That’s why Rick and Daryl will go out again tomorrow and that’s why Rick and Michonne get together. Because they can. Because at last, they’re able to live in the world, not just survive in it. At least, for now…
- “…Tara was talking about in her sleep.” The cute! IT BURNS!
- “Law of averages, gotta catch up.” Rick Grimes, grubby, brutal optimist.
- “You’re the first one to notice.” This is one of those perfect lines this show is so good at. Every ounce of Spencer’s sadness, regret and isolation is wrapped up here.
- “We’re not kids.” Again, three words and it’s perfect. They’re not kids. They’re just pretending to be.
- “Do you even have any ammo?”
“Okay.” Lethal Weapon 5! Starring Rick Grimes and Daryl Dixon!
- “She left me a note. She said I still knew my way. I never knew my way.”
“You loved your family?”
“Then you know your way. It’s home.”
“I’ve been out here chasing you all over the woods. You still got family. You still got a home.” Michonne as the new heart of the show works so well. She’s pragmatic and calm, with the same capacity for violence as any of the others but coupled with a refusal to leave anyone behind.
- “I know, almost as soon as we got to Alexandria you got it, you saw. You, Michonne, Glenn, you all tried to tell me. So shut up. Cos I’m finally listening.” The fact Rick apologises for being an asshole while telling one of his best friends to shut up is perfect.
- “Because it should be someone who loved her, someone who’s family. I’d do it for you.” This entire scene is perfect. It’s also, as I say, everything that makes the show work in one perfect moment.
- “It is pretty stupid of us to go out there isn’t it?”
“Yep. Do it again tomorrow?”
“Yep.” This too. These two guys can go head-to-head over ethics and trust but at the end of the day, they’re the same: two tired, battered, road-hardened optimists looking for other people to rescue and be rescued by.
- “Oh, so you had a DAY!” Best line of the episode. Such clever, minimal funny writing and delivery.
- All we need to know about how much time has passed is in that opening shot of the photo of Carl with the eyepatch. The episode’s chock full of nice directorial touches from Skogland but that’s a standout.
- Very few shows write relationships better than The Walking Dead. This episode proves it. There’s no big emotional moment with Doc and Tara or Rick and Michonne; no swelling music or heartstring yanking. Just a reference to Tara talking in her sleep and her being at the Doc’s when Rick, Daryl and Jesus show up. Outstanding work.
- Likewise, the ending with Rick and Michonne feels, for a relationship that blossoms in one episode, completely earned. That gentle, relaxed banter in the opening scene is another indicator of how time has passed and the pair of them have relaxed into each other’s presence. It’s subtle, compassionate writing and it’s also completely new ground for the show given the comics never went there.
- Rick has clearly levelled up his Perception stat. I love that he figures out Jesus isn’t tell him everything because he’s clean and doesn’t have a ragged beard.
- Jesus. Charming and relaxed and just a little weird and he steals every scene. I love that he clearly has a plan and that he has weirdly useful skills. Much more of him please.
- Every single moment with Spencer, Michonne and Deanna. Especially the payoff at the end. This show gets a lot of flak for being misery porn and at least some of that is valid. But very few TV dramas do compassion and love this well.
- No Carol and no Morgan this week, which is a shame as they’re always good value.
- The Enid and Carl scene feels a little bit like resetting the clock with Enid. She’s whiny and isolated again and is arguably the only character still out in the cold. Here’s hoping Maggie’s on the case.
And The Random:
- Rick’s magnificently country boy music taste is a joy. The two tracks we hear are “Action Packed” by Ronnie Dee and “If My Heart Was A Car” by Old ’97s. Oh and the opening song is, of course, “More Than A Feeling” by Boston.
- Tom Payne, who makes such a splash here as Jesus, is actually English. He’s been in Waterloo Road, Skins and Marple: They Do It With Mirrors as well as movies like Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day and The Task.
- Shot of the week is, of course, “We should talk”. Waking up with Jesus at the end of the bed and they didn’t even have a chance to look busy.
Review by Alasdair Stuart