Talking Out The Dead: “The Next World”

Kelen Conley: Holy cow.

I haven’t been this excited about a development on a TV show since… ever. There have been revelations that made my jaw drop. Watching Breaking Bad’s “Oxymandias” is still one episode that ranks at the top of my all-time viewing experiences. There have been moments on TWD that have definitely left me speechless; “The Next World” did the opposite. I didn’t stop talking during the whole scene.

The scene of course that I’m talking about is where Rick and Michonne not only kissed, not only made love, they did the damn thing. That’s as far as I’d like to take it short of saying they were l—— f——. I’ve been calling for this day since the first time I wrote about TWD, way back when I was attempting to start a column for Tricycle Offense called The Email Exchange, almost three years ago with Heather (here’s the recently edited version). I had the small hope that we would finally see a Richonne payoff after their interactions at the start of the episode but I didn’t see this coming at all.

I want to credit Redditor fifthchevron for their excellent take on how the Richonne relationship has developed over the seasons. As I expected, there are plenty of fans who don’t agree with Rick and Michonne having a relationship. “It’s too soon after Jessie.” “They don’t have any chemistry.” “This is from out of nowhere.” Yada, yada, yada. If Rick was going to be in any kind of relationship after Lori, Michonne was the obvious choice. His love interest from the comics isn’t with the show anymore. We all saw what happened to Jessie (and his infatuation with Jessie from the start was really weird and forced. A clean, blonde chick makes him want to kill her husband before he even deserves it?).

If there is to be a major relationship besides Glenn and Maggie, putting Rick in it is the obvious choice. They had the perfect opportunity last season to have something happen with Daryl and Carol and they didn’t pull the trigger. Not even a near kiss. They also took away Beth; Daryl’s other potential love interest. Rosita barely gets enough screen time for it to be remembered that she and Abraham are together. Hell, it almost feels like an understanding at this point, especially how Big Red was talking that talk to Sasha in “Always Accountable”.

There’s also talk that Michonne will definitely be dying and that she will be the major character killed off at the end of Season 6. I just can’t see it because killing Michonne after this just seems like a cruel joke for our hero. Lori at the prison, whatever he had with Jessie two months prior, and then Michonne, the woman who he probably didn’t even realize he had feelings for until they were sitting on that couch? I get the whole idea that “anything can happen” and “no one is safe” but watching characters I care about get tortured isn’t high up on my list of priorities.

I also want to be cautious about all of this now as well. There could be a curveball coming, especially since Richonne were interrupted from their well-earned sleep by Jesus. I’m sure he might have some information on that group that Bud and the bikers were with and maybe even Negan. So if things get tense again, Rick and Michonne might make the mutual decision to not proceed with a true relationship and let their night together be just that: one night. This would be the easiest way to give some fans like myself some satisfaction all while keeping their relationship one of respect rather than love. That could also save Michonne from a horrible unnecessary death.

But for now, let me bask in the glory that is Richonne! It just feels right. They’ve both had to deal with a ton of loss and they’ve been to together for at least a year or so at this point. I’d say the prison was 18 months ago. There are always movies and other TV shows that expect us to believe two people can be in a relationship when circumstances force them together. Hell, this is the same reason there are still some people who try to justify Lori and Shane’s relationship. “Oh, she thought Rick was dead. Shane went back and checked and he thought Rick was dead too.” True, we did see Shane go back to the hospital and check Rick’s pulse and he thought his best friend was dead. But as I said before, Lori/Shane wasn’t a one-time thing like the comics. They were hooking up at every opportunity. Dale knew it and I’m sure others at the camp knew it. Lori wasn’t escaping; she was truly into Shane and from the brief moments we see them together before Rick shows up alive, it looked like she had been into Shane for a long time. I’m really not trying to slut-shame Lori (but I am so let me move on) but that doesn’t qualify for her and Shane being thrown into peculiar circumstances and falling for each other for me. Andrea and the Governor on the other hand? I’d totally buy into that theory.

I’m just glad that we’ve had this moment, whether it is fleeting, or torn away at season’s end, or whether they endure and have a lasting relationship until the series finale. There was a continuous build of trust and loyalty and friendship between Rick and Michonne. Take away the walkers and you have the perfect romantic comedy setup. Hell, I’d watch a totally different movie starring Andrew Lincoln and Danai Gurira if they were a couple. Their chemistry is that magnetic and kudos to TWD for putting them front and center, even if it’s for a limited time only.

This was the perfect, happy way to deal with the events of “No Way Out”. Skip all the messy rebuilding and crap and make Richonne a real thing. I love it.

Was there anything else that happened in this episode?

Thomas Crawford: Praise Jesus!

Okay I apologize for that, but you know that was funny. I mean finally getting Richonne to happen, and they wake up seeing Jesus. I think we can insert whatever jokes we want and they will work.

Well when I’m wrong, I’m wrong. I have been saying for forever it seems that you were just hoping. I thought it would be cool if it did, but I really held out for so long on Richonne. I don’t know why, maybe I’m just a total cynic when it comes to the show sometimes. Perhaps I just lost faith. Okay, last Jesus joke I swear.

I’m kind of torn because now I’m worried. Like you said, it would be a cruel joke if Michonne ended up being the big kill this season. I would like to think that after so long, Michonne and Rick finally getting together, the writers wouldn’t do that. Then again, it is TWD; surprises are sort of their thing.

People think this wasn’t natural? Really? Don’t get me wrong, I have said again and again that Rick and Michonne have been more like best friends, even siblings at times. However, to say this was completely unexpected is a stretch. Even without that Redditor, anyone could still see times where they were closer to romantic partners.

They do have a great chemistry. I will say at the start of the show I was thrown. I knew Michonne lived with Rick and Carl. However, I was like, did they go and get together off screen? Take away the walkers, and the actions and conversation in the beginning are pure domesticity. It was like the opening of an old sitcom, a wife asking the husband to pick up some toothpaste while out. There were some flirting smiles, and they both grilled Carl about being too loud.

I was half expecting her to give Rick a playful spank as he left the way they were acting. Wasn’t that you saying something like that while watching the opening?

The writers wanted there to be no doubt what went down. The ending after the intense make out session both of them laying in the buff. With all that tension, wonder who wore who out? My bet is Michonne had Rick begging for mercy. Just think about it honestly. Rick had experience with Lori, and was attracted to Jessie. He had a specific type before TWD started. Not sure that would have given him the experience to hang with a warrior woman like Michonne.

Then again who knows? Maybe Chris Hardwick was right. Maybe Michonne got a wild, crazy Ricking.

I have to say, jokes aside; it was great to see it happen. I was never really against it. Like I said, I just never thought the writers would push it that way. When they put Rick together with Jessie, I really never saw it happening. Like I said, I’m a bit of a cynic when it comes to the show. I don’t like to get my hopes up to see them crushed.

Moving on. Did anything else happen in the show? Well yes sir. Actually this episode was really strange to me. It was the first time watching the show that I remember cracking up so often. Did you have that feeling too?

Luke and Bo, sorry Rick and Daryl had a crazy adventure. I got to admit I kept thinking of the Dukes of Hazzard. I was waiting for a freeze shot, and then a narrator saying, “Uh oh, those Duke boys are in trouble again!”

We mention Rick and Michonne’s chemistry. What about Rick and Daryl? I think I may have to reevaluate my thoughts on their relationship. I have said in the past they are like a General and trusted Captain. Rick is in charge. Daryl may disagree and offer advice or alternatives, but he follows orders. This episode really shifted that perspective.

From the time they left Alexandria, it was way more laid back dynamic. Daryl even rolling his eyes and chastising Rick for his music choices. Got to admit, that was weird as well. They seemed to joke, and even give jabs to each other throughout the episode. Did you see the look Daryl gave Rick when Jesus drove off with their box truck of supplies? It was like, “Really man, you fell for that?” Definitely was fun to watch.

This episode had a lot of that. There were some serious parts too, even besides the final few minutes. However overall this episode felt like a pressure release. I watch a lot of shows that are serious. Dramas and action shows tend to have a serious tone, but most have one or two episodes to just release some pressure. It is more about showing a different side to the characters.

Before this episode, I really can’t remember a pressure release episode for TWD. I may be wrong, but every episode has really been about stress, pushing the storyline, drama, or flat out boring filler. This is what makes a pressure release episode different from a filler episode. It has some important elements, but is more about some laughs. I don’t know if the term is right, pressure release, but it sounds good to me.

What about Jesus? I mean, this is probably going to be some screwed up character, or he gets the group in trouble. He could also be a possible future ally. The verdict is still out. However, the interactions with Rick and Daryl were really good. The start, oh sorry just bumped into you. Oh by the way, a lot of walkers coming this way, see you later.

Then he almost takes Rick and Daryl in hand to hand. That was awesome. He even threw a front snap kick and countered Daryl and threw him up against the truck and on the ground. If Rick hadn’t bull dogged him to the ground while he was focused on Daryl, he could have gotten away.

This is Rick and Daryl. They have been fighting with and without weapons since TWD started. Before that, Rick was a trained police officer and Daryl was obviously the product of a tough upbringing. They know how to fight. This long haired guy almost took them out with no weapons. I was shocked and laughing at the same time.

Jesus flies as well. How can you not be intrigued by a guy that got out of his bonds, and hitched a ride in less than thirty seconds? It took Rick and Daryl that long to get in the truck and drive away, and Jesus was out and on the truck by then.

He took a crazy spill, then eluded Daryl in a pretty comical run through the field. I think he was using Eugene’s slow jog zig-zag get away from walkers technique. I might be wrong but it looked similar. The entire time, he never seemed to want to hurt Daryl or Rick though. That has me wondering.

Finally, he is standing over a naked and most likely exhausted Rick and Michonne. Gives them a warning and they jump up, in the buff still and weapons drawn. Once again, this guy was tied up and supposed to be under guard. “Uh oh, has that boy Daryl fallen asleep on guard duty again?”

I am actually really intrigued by this character. I am wondering, friend or foe? I am also wondering how he got out of the makeshift jail Alexandria has. Well, it is a basement of a townhouse, but he was tied up and supposed to be under guard. I am also a bit jealous. Come on, seeing a full on nude Michonne in all her glory? Sorry, I’m wandering.

Anyways, that is just two of the major things that happened in this episode. I’m going to throw it back to you. What do you think about Jesus? What do you think about Daryl and Rick? I know you have something to say about Daryl trying to help out Denise. Denise, who was trying to get something special for Tara, who “talks about Crush in her sleep.”

Tara is getting some booty! Tara is getting some booty! Sorry I’m immature. Ahem, you know what I mean. What are your thoughts man?

KC: Yes Thomas. Tara got some booty. And we clearly we care about Tara and Denise getting freaky more than Rick and Michonne. But I digress.

I really like Jesus so far, so that’s just going to make it worse if he ends up betraying the town to Negan. Paul Rovia seemed like a pretty standup dude in this episode, despite stealing the truck. He must have a reason to take it though right? You don’t think he’s a Wolf minus the W do you? That would be a twist.

I’m intrigued to see how Jesus fits into “the next world” if he doesn’t have some form of bad intentions to start with. That would be the more difficult way to go at least.

I love the fact that Daryl went out of his way for Denise, especially since he was the aggressor when they were chasing Jesus all over God’s country. If they didn’t stop for that vending machine, they don’t get the truck stolen or run into Jesus, and most importantly, Rick doesn’t get those fateful breath mints.

I don’t mind Denise asking Daryl to get the Crush; it’s a nice way to add some depth to the Tara/Denise dynamic without having to spend time with them onscreen. I still have to say that I’m sold on Denise as a viable character as well. After how she took care of Carl with no hesitation, you can’t help but have some respect for the lady.

On the other hand, yes, it’s so adorable that they needed to give Deanna some closure (even though it makes no sense that she was able to get out of the house and not be ripped to shreds by that hallway full of walkers) so that Spencer could follow her through the woods and put Michonne, Carl, and Enid at risk. Ugh. I still don’t care about him at all. It’s great that he and Carl could possibly bond over putting down their own mothers… but I just have a whole bag of meh over here for him.

And how about Carl and Enid hanging out in the woods together? That was sure a good time. “Hey. Let’s sneak off alone so I can read comic books while you feed me food? Does that sound like a plan?” Despite the time jump, Carl is still showing signs of not being okay with everything that’s happened. I’m actually kind of glad because losing an eye is a major thing; it shouldn’t be glossed over in a few months.

Carl seems to have his wits about him because he had full intentions on killing walker Deanna until he realized it was her. I just like to see the flip flop between him and Enid from last season to now. For someone who’s made a living on being by herself, Enid has definitely turned into a wuss all while Carl wants to be outside the walls for no other reason than to just do it. Are attics not good enough anymore? You know there’s plenty of empty houses they could kick it in too. So why outside the walls Carl? I’m guessing it’s just another form of rebellion for him, maybe even a coping mechanism. We’ll have to see if this new behavior rears its head at an inopportune time.

I thought it was fitting that Michonne be with Spencer when he put down walker Deanna. You could tell that Deanna had a huge impact on her in a short time (you could really tell by the way she figured out what she wanted from Rick), so I appreciated the fact that she got some closure with her as well. While Deanna didn’t live up to the potential I thought her character had, I expect to see a lot of these little nods back to her at least for the rest of Season 6.

But enough fooling around, this is hands down the most fun I’ve had watching an episode of TWD ever. There’s been a lot of cool moments (Carol taking down Terminus immediately springs to mind) but Road Tripping with Rick and Daryl needs to be a reality show, now. This was pretty much the Rick and Daryl dynamic at the peak of its powers. We’ve seen them meet and feel each out, we’ve seen them become friends, then brothers, we’ve seen them at their lowest. Now we finally got to see them with their hair down and it was excellent.

If there’s one thing “The Next World” got right was its emphasis on relationships in TWD world, something we don’t see a lot of outside of Maggie and Glenn because bad things are always happening. I said way too much about Richonne earlier but it’s nice to see Rick and Daryl have a relatively “good day” together. They’ve been together longer than Rick and Michonne have; there’s a lot of downtime that we don’t see. You think they just frown all the time and wait for the bad news to happen? No, that would drive anyone crazy in this world if they kept that mindset all the time. That’s why people opt out, that’s why people keep their walker daughters, etc. Having regular human interactions as much as possible is something that keeps anyone in the town going.

Their day together reminds me of the time Daryl and Beth spent together before she was kidnapped by Grady Memorial (which still makes no sense to this day. They told her that they found her on the side of the road, when we clearly saw that funeral home was used as a trap. I’m guessing those crooked cops were just picking off innocent women and bringing them back so they could have their way with them?). Sure there were walkers involved but I think they had a pretty good time together. Same case with our Duke boys. Sure, they lost a truck full of supplies, got their butts momentarily handed to them by Jesus, Rick got chased by Jesus, they tussled with Jesus, lost the aforementioned truck because of Jesus… you know, forget “Thanks Obama”, how about “Thanks Jesus”?

I know that all episodes of TWD can’t be as fun as this one. We are dealing with a zombie apocalypse where your life isn’t promised to you for the next hour, let alone the next day. But it was wonderful to see everyone have as normal a day as possible. I hope that the show incorporates more of these episodes to go along with the character driven ones to break up the monotony so to speak. I’m not asking for a musical episode of anything (I don’t know if I’m not either) but this whole episode was wonderful.

Did it bother you how much noise Rick and Daryl seemed to be making on the road? I’m probably nitpicking but they were firing their guns and blaring music in the car, then the truck. Maybe the music was used as a distraction to get any walkers headed toward Alexandria turned around the other direction? Maybe they think they killed so many back in Alexandria and since they rebuilt everything that they can get away with making a little noise?

I’m looking forward to finding out what Jesus’s story is and what his plan is for our town. I highly doubt he went through all that trouble just so he could live in Alexandria. I’m just hoping he’s not some crazy serial killer who is now loose within the walls. The previews for next week’s episode didn’t hint at that but the previews for this episode made Rick and Daryl’s road trip seem super serious as well.

I also have to bring up the looks that Rick and Daryl gave Eugene when he stopped them at the gate to explain to them what sorghum was. They both looked at him like he was speaking Spanish. I guess the reason for that was because they already knew what the plan was but Eugene had to do Eugene things and make sure he explained exactly what it was they were looking for. Rick’s face was absolutely priceless. And I loved the slow drive off as they stared blankly at him.

I didn’t take much from Maggie’s conversation with Enid. Maybe she’s asking her to be more involved since she has shown that she can be a valuable contributor? It could have just been a throwaway scene to give Enid more reason to get antsy outside the walls but there could be more to it.

TC: Okay first thing’s first. It isn’t that I care more about Tara and Denise than Richonne. Maybe it seems that way, but that’s not the point I was trying to get across. I will say that Tara has sort of become one of those characters I’m rooting for, but I can’t put my finger on why. Maybe it is the fact that she was an outsider, an enemy that redeemed herself? Maybe it is because she has constantly shown a much underappreciated toughness? Maybe it is the fact that she had some great exchanges with Eugene and I really like their dynamic (kind of hoping it comes back this season)?

Overall, it is a combination of those factors. She isn’t one of the major players in the story, but is definitely one of my favorites as a supporting character. That being said, how hard is it to find some love in the real world? Now imagine finding love in TWD world? Now imagine being a lesbian, in a town of fifty or so people, in TWD world? The odds were against Tara coupling up, let’s put it that way. To be blunt, I thought Eugene had a better chance of finding nerd love than Tara finding someone. Yes, I still felt that way after Tara and Denise’ first kiss. So, I’m not apologizing for being happy she is getting some booty.

The whole Michonne and Spencer thing… I understand why they did it. I’m going to say it was weird that they managed to slaughter an entire swarm of walkers, yet walker Deanna slipped through the ranks. One thing that Spencer said, he thought he saw her that night. Did that mean he saw her and didn’t have it in him to end her? Or did it mean that literally, he thought it was her but couldn’t find out for sure?

I will also say that I’m sort of like you. I don’t hate Spencer or anything like that. However I’m wondering if they are trying to build a connection to him and Carl? Or are they trying to build some empathy for him through Deanna? I can’t say for sure. I guess I am meh at this point on the subject.

As for her getting through a wall of walkers… we don’t know that she did. The last moments Deanna was alive she finished firing into the oncoming swarm. We didn’t see anything after that. We assume that they just swallowed her. What if she just shut the door? She was pretty close to death as it was. Rick thought she was a walker…so we know she was close. Maybe it was simple as that. Just like Rick making it out of the RV and back to Alexandria, it is probably just going to be one of those things that bugs you.

Carl and Enid. You know at first I was going to agree with you. I was thinking Carl was being kind of lame, just going outside to hang out and read comics with Enid. Then I got to thinking. You know nothing really good happens when I start doing that.

First off, Carl almost died. We had a time jump, but I’m betting that between Rick, Michonne, plus the gang that has practically raised him, he got a lot of attention. During a tough time of rebuilding and cleaning up, he probably spent most of it under the watchful eye of Denise, Michonne, Maggie, or Glenn. I’m also willing to bet that Rick didn’t leave his side for long periods of time for weeks. Not to mention, he was probably stuck to bed rest for at least a few weeks, and wasn’t allowed to help much in the rebuilding efforts.

We may never know because of the time jump. It could be teenage angst. However, could it just be he needs to get out from under the watchful eyes? Maybe the guy is suffocating some. It is just a thought I had when I realized that Enid was getting some weird treatment as well from Maggie.

On to that, you know Glenn told Maggie everything. Maggie probably told everyone that Enid was trying to escape, didn’t want to come back, and didn’t trust being inside the walls. That is what I’m guessing that awkward conversation was about. It was probably something that Maggie had planned, or thought about doing for a while. Though, with the rebuilding process going on, there probably wasn’t a lot of time for it to happen. However, I’m guessing Enid was also getting a lot of attention and watchful eyes. Not that they didn’t trust Enid, but they thought she would run off and put herself in danger.

So you have two teenagers, who have literally grown up and know how to survive, being treated like kids still. Remember being a teenager and thinking you could take care of yourself? How about being a teenager, and proving that you could handle quite a bit in TWD, as both Carl and Enid have done? That is what their forays into the wilderness seem like to me. Not so much about hooking up or dating. It seems more like two teens that are feeling the pinch of overprotective adults, while at the same time feeling like they have proven themselves capable of handling quite a lot. They just need some space, and I’m guessing an attic isn’t cutting it.

Or I could be overthinking it. It could be that Carl knows more about surviving a walker attack than taking a relationship to the next level. A possible drawback to hitting adolescence in TWD. A hint Carl. She is risking death, literally, to spend time with you, away from adults. I think you have a shot, just saying.

Paul, aka Jesus, did seem like a standup guy. He did steal and got into a fight, but he didn’t seem that bad. On one hand, it sort of threw me for a loop. He had a gun, pointed at Daryl. All he had to do was fire twice, close the truck door, and drive off.

He could have escaped the town I am guessing as well. Instead, he wandered around, and then decided to creep up on Rick and Michonne. He gave them a good warning at the end. So what gives?

I’m not up on the comics, this you know, but this character feels like he is straight out of the comics. I’m not going to push for spoilers or hints, but I think this is leading to Negan. I definitely am not thinking Wolf at this point. If he were a Wolf, he would have slipped out, or perhaps killed some people. He didn’t do either.

Though I’m wondering, is Jesus a scout for Negan? That doesn’t make sense either. We saw how Negan’s people work at the end of the first half of the season. They don’t play nice, and usually kill at least one person to start off with. If Daryl hadn’t reached that rocket launcher, we’d be down Sasha and Abraham. That is the way Negan and his men work. Jesus… he doesn’t fit into that mold either. So I’m going to say at this point, I don’t know what his deal is. I think Negan is coming this half of the season. They wouldn’t have had Daryl, Sasha, and Abraham run into them otherwise. I’m just wondering how Jesus fits into the whole thing.

I am on the topic so I might as well throw out some thoughts. I know a lot has been said about Negan and what it means for this season. You know I’m not familiar with the comics past a certain point, but I have caught snippets to know that trouble is ahead.

To put it into perspective, one person wrote that if you took the Governor, the Terminites, the Claimers, and the Wolves and put them together… Negan is a level beyond as a badass. That statement made me stop and think for a moment. I haven’t read any of the graphic novels past the prison, but that statement is scary.

Another thing I couldn’t help but read. Negan kills, or is responsible for the deaths of two main characters in the comic. Supposedly, those two characters are still alive and well in the show. Again, I didn’t dive too deep but couldn’t help reading that bit of a spoiler.

Now of course, we know that the show deviates regularly from the comic. This is done for a lot of reasons, but mostly because the comic is a bit darker than the show. I know, I read the first couple. However, to bring Negan into the show…. excited to see what happens is an understatement. I guess we will just have to wait to see how this pans out through the rest of the season.

Overall, I really enjoyed this episode. I thought it was a much needed break. Like you said, we rarely see the day-to-day relationships during the show. Usually the show is about waiting for something terrible to happen, or dealing with something terrible that has happened. This episode seemed to be more about the moment in between the two main moments. Now, the big question. What is the next moment going to be? Waiting for something terrible to happen, or dealing with something terrible that has happened? I guess we have to wait and see.

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