Okay, so it would appear that the ‘Next World’ that Rick wanted to show Carl at the end of last week’s episode makes for much less interesting programming. Don’t get me wrong, I totally expected things to calm down somewhat after the epic events of ‘No Way Out’, but ‘The Next World’ was quite the slow-burner. It didn’t exactly drag out too long, but it equally didn’t grip me in the same way that the show usually does. Here’s why.
So this week we met Jesus. No not the messiah, but a guy who goes by the same name. Now it may not be immediately clear from this week’s episode, but Jesus is going to become quite a key player in the show. That being said, I feel like his introduction was a bit lacklustre. Although he’s already proving himself to be quite the badass, both by the firecracker/van theft manoeuvre and the ‘duck’ scene where he shot the walker behind Daryl, there’s something that just doesn’t sit right with me about the way he was brought into the show this week.
To be honest, it was probably the chase scene in the field between Daryl and Jesus after the latter had made his way on top of the truck. When Daryl was trying to catch him on foot, it just looked like two schoolboys playing a game. If you could, in theory, play ‘Yakety Sax’ (the Benny Hill theme for the uninitiated) over what is supposed to be a dramatic moment, something has gone wrong. ‘The Next World’ does seem to be going for a more light-hearted approach to the show than last week, but somehow I don’t think this ridiculous scene was meant to be all that funny. Since the Jesus storyline was the main trajectory of the episode, and that this moment came so close to the end of that story arch, I really feel that the absurdity of this chase really retracted from the viewing experience.
Although, one thing I really did like about this episode was the search for the zombified Deanne. Like Carl said to Michonne at the end, it was down to someone who loved her to put her out of her misery and as a result, we actually got to see some good character development for Spencer. Granted, I was a little surprised at how immaculate her corpse was after the time that had passed since her presumed death (especially since said death came about by a horde of walkers piling into a room, who would presumably tear her to pieces), but it was still as heart-breaking as ever to see one of our beloved heroes reanimated. It gave good closure on her character and I suppose, dispelled even the mildest possibility of a ‘Glenn-under-the-dumpster’ situation happening with her too.
Finally, the Rick-Michonne moment at the episode’s close has to be addressed. For some avid fans out there, this was a dream came true. For others like myself, it felt a little cheap. I mean, even if the time-gap between episodes was fairly substantial, I think a large part of the audience is still getting over Jessie (something that we’d assume Rick would be doing too). It probably makes sense to do this so that the mourning doesn’t drag out too long on-screen and bore us all to death, but at the same time it would have been nice for there to have been some shred of it shown after the fact. Maybe there will be some kind of regret next week, but I truly doubt it.
All in all, I’ve got to say that I was a little disappointed by ‘The Next World’. It wasn’t a bad episode by any stretch of the imagination, but The Walking Dead can’t just keep contrasting brilliant episodes with these sub-par ones. It’s done this quite a few times in the past and all it does is give fuel to the critics who say that a large part of each series is pure filler. Hopefully this is merely a bump in the road on the path to the series finale and that, with next week’s episode, the showrunners will soon bring the show back up to scratch.