Published on February 24th, 2016 | by Bean0
The Walking Dead – Season 6 Episode 10 Review “The Next World”
WARNING WALKER FANS! SPOILERS HEREIN!!
With a piece of hand-acting worthy of Jeremy Brett, “The Next World” flashes us forward into a scene of normalcy, routine and contentment rarely experienced in The Walking Dead. This week’s cold open is like a special treat – a naughty, moreish delight to see our usually beleaguered cast loping around in dressing gowns listening to Boston, bickering about toothpaste. It felt like we’d dropped into an alternate universe, one in which a generous sense of peace might be attainable and where the tension of constant action stations has been replaced with relaxed conversation and ‘have a good day’ household equilibrium.
There is a pleasant sense of confidence about not only the characters and their interactions, but in the narrative pace and direction in “The Next World”. I found myself persistently willing the show not to drop everybody in it – a move which would be tedious and redundant after last week’s carnage and hopeful resolution – and the episode did not disappoint. Whether the weeks they mention are really months is not exactly clear (though Maggie isn’t showing yet), but the point is patterns have emerged, people are finding their roles in the Alexandrian community and mostly everyone seems to be following the ZAVs (be useful, get it done, move on) in a ship-shape, Bristol fashion. Eugene even relays some excellent grain-knowledge in a gorgeously droll exchange with Rick and Daryl. Yes sir, skill-set expanding.
We are dropped into a newly established community, where couples and group dynamics exist and evolve in a natural way, needing no introduction. Denise and Daryl have a sweet exchange about a little gift for her honey Tara, and there is no particular fanfare; just moments of kindness. The Walking Dead does best when it trusts it’s audience, and while the dialogue occasionally slips back into the didactic, over-explanatory “and that’s why I kept coming out here” vibe, for the most part what we receive is a markedly more relaxed approach, one that relies on nuances of body language (Rick and Michonne’s hand slap) and hints at comedic buddy bits (Daryl and his reluctance to hear an excitable R&B singer for the implied umpteenth time).
We have some nice interplay between various pairs – Daryl and Denise, Enid and Maggie, Carl and Enid – but it is Michonne and Spencer who make the biggest strides in terms of character development. Each is trying to find their true place in this ‘next world’ after an endless stream of upheaval and trauma. Family is a central theme, and the scene with Spencer putting down his zombie mother Deanna even allows a modicum of closure for old emotional wounds felt by both Carl, who had to kill his own mother, and Michonne, who lost her pre-apocalypse family and can finally acknowledge she has made another in Rick, Carl and Judith.
Of course, this is essentially an action drama and there needs to be an antagonist driving the momentum. Thus we meet Paul Rovia (I will not call this dude Jesus), who careens into the world of our heroes like a sketchy ninja with a tidy beard. Hackles appropriately raised, he proves to be more than a match for Rick and Daryl, two of the team’s most experienced fighters, besting them repeatedly. If there is one bug-bear to be had during proceedings, it is the newb-like way R&D deal with this obviously dangerous player.
Flipping back and forth in the debate about whether bringing new folk into the fold is a valid/safe move, they decide to do so anyway with their apparently unconscious captive. Really?! He’s already un-shackled himself and Captain Hammer-ed his way onto the roof of your truck. Their reasoning for allowing him to penetrate the perimeter of their safe haven is full of holes and inconsistencies and feels like a narrative crow-barring. But hell, he’s in now. Let’s see what he’s up to.
All this feels like it’s building to something, and in a pleasing turn from brutality, the show rather allows it’s characters to gravitate towards one another after a long, trying day. The penultimate scene with Michonne and Rick is beautifully written, played and shot, taking it’s time and framing the discovery of their newfound physical intimacy with a delicacy and close-proximity that lends the moment the gravitas it warrants. Shippers have probably been vying for this pairing for years (I know I have!) but the tenderness and awe which plays out between Dunai Gurira and Andrew Lincoln elevates this coupling above simply a long-awaited hookup. It feels real for Rick and Michonne, and is all the more charming for it.
Leave it to the bearded ninja to blow-up the afterglow. Thanks cock.
Review by Nina Clark
A prescient Rick to Michonne – “As soon as I get it, you will”. Uh-HUH.
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