‘The Walking Dead’ Season 6 Episode 10 Review: Finally, Something To Be Happy About
Recap and review of The Walking Dead – Season 6 Episode 10 – The Next World:
FINALLY, The Walking Dead manages to pull itself out of the mire and give us something to be happy about. This isn’t to say the show doesn’t shine brilliantly in its moments of bleakness and despair. But “The Next World” is an illustration of why the show needs to have moments of joy and levity. After all, without these moments, what’s the point?
I found it interesting how the episode starts off by hinting that Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Michonne (Danai Gurira) have hooked up, only to reveal they’re still platonic (with that casual low-five they share as Rick leaves in the morning). It’s a setup for the reversal that comes at the end of the episode, as Rick and Michonne unwind after a day of emotional and physical difficulties, only to discover that they’re each other’s happiness. One moment, Rick is handing Michonne a roll of breath mints he found for her on a supply run. The next minute, they’re holding hands. Moments later, they’re kissing, pulling back with smiles on their faces, as if to confirm this is really happening, before resuming the kissing with gusto. It’s a rapturous moment, and all the more so after what these two endured in last week’s episode. Sure, some time has passed since the incident, but those wounds linger beneath the surface. The union of Rick and Michonne is a story that’s been building for far longer than this episode, although this episode gives us the best thematic through-line we possibly could have gotten for this story. In both Rick’s and Michonne’s respective stories tonight, the theme centers on figuring out what kind of person you want to be, and acting in accordance. For example, Rick and Daryl (Norman Reedus) go on a supply run, only for their supply truck to wind up getting jacked by a man named Paul Rovia (Tom Payne), who goes by the nickname “Jesus” (for obvious reasons, given his long hair and beard). Rick had been considering offering Jesus a chance to join the Alexandria community, against Daryl’s wishes, but Jesus’ actions change his mind. They track Jesus down and a fight ensues over the truck, with walkers roaming near. Jesus saves Daryl’s life with a well-time gunshot, but gets knocked unconscious when the truck door slams into him on its way to the bottom of a river (*whomp whomp*). Rick opts to take the unconscious Jesus back to Alexandria with them so Denise (Merritt Wever) can check him out. Through his capacity for forgiveness, Rick comes to a decision about what kind of leader he wants to be, and he acts in accordance with that realization. He’s not inducting Jesus into their community, he’s merely showing mercy at a time when he could have just as easily left Jesus behind to be devoured by walkers. Sure, Rick has been unhinged in the past, but he’s basically been a good man. This more or less reaffirms that. That said, it’s Michonne’s solo story that leads to the hookup at the end the most.
Michonne follows Spencer (Austin Nichols) out into the woods to find out why he’s carrying a rifle and a shovel. It should be obvious, especially after Spencer notes that he’s been coming out into the woods every day after his patrols. But Michonne remains curious, to say nothing of how muddled her mind has been. She’s still haunted by the words Deanna (Tovah Feldshuh) spoke to her before her death, noting that Michonne should find out what she wants to do with her life. Michonne hasn’t really been able to figure that out, and although she says she’s working on finding out, she’s far more emotionally vulnerable than we’re probably used to seeing her. And her emotional vulnerability is only more pronounced when she realizes why Spencer is roaming the woods: he’s come to finally finish off his mother. As it turns out, Spencer thought he saw Deanna, and decide to go searching in order to put her out of her misery. Seeing Deanna as a walker is a punch to the gut, even while it’s not exactly surprising (with how they left her character, they almost had to bring her back as a walker, even if it strains credulity that she wasn’t devoured beyond all recognition by the walkers who stormed her room. Then again, maybe she killed each and every one of them?). Michonne pinning Deanna’s arms behind her back while a tearful Spencer finished the job was one of those scenes where I honestly needed a moment afterwards. Maybe it’s just the mama’s boy in me, but that was one of the rougher moments of this season, for me. And yet, I thought it was handled pretty delicately, with the burial of Deanna illustrating how Rick’s group and the original Alexandrians have formed a family, so that there are no longer divisions within the group. They’re just one group now, and while they might have their differences, they all deeply care for one another. This is never more evident than when Michonne confronts Carl (Chandler Riggs) about his actions in the woods, as he was spotted leading Deanna away. Carl admits he couldn’t bring himself to kill Deanna when he found her, because she deserved to be killed by someone who loved her. He then declares he would do the same for Michonne, essentially serving as a declaration of just how much Michonne means to him. Genuinely touched, Michonne embraces him, and it’s as if she’s come to the realization that what she wants out of life is to be a part of a family again. It’s downright life-affirming.
Of course, even the hookup has a catch, as Rick and Michonne are awoken the next morning by an escaped Jesus, who insists they “have to talk.” It’s a hell of a cliffhanger, and it leads to one of the more amusing closing shots in the show’s run, as Rick and Michonne brandish their weapons at Jesus while stark naked. In fact, this was a pretty comic episode, in some respects. Between Rick and Daryl’s hunt for Jesus, their back-and-forth about the “law of averages”, and their decision to go on another run the next day despite how disastrously this one went, there was a lot to smile about this week. Hell, I was even glad to see Maggie (Lauren Cohan) do her best to try and break through to Enid (Katelyn Nacon), since I think Maggie deserves to have more to do this season than just worry about Glenn. By the same token, I’m interested in Enid’s potential as a character, and she has a lot of problems that clearly need to be dealt with. I mean, do we even really know how she’s taking Ron’s death? Perhaps her moodiness with Carl out in the woods is a hint, but we don’t get any indication one way or the other. I’m genuinely intrigued by the possibilities for her character, especially since there’s still an air of mystery surrounding her backstory. But for now, I’m glad for an episode that delivered levity without sacrificing good storytelling. This is a show that does bleak drama incredibly well, but I’m continually impressed by just how well it depicts moments of joy and emotional release. “The Next World” is terrific television, and a great bellwether for what we can expect as this half of Season 6 continues.
But what did you think of The Walking Dead Season 6 Episode 10, “The Next World”? Sound off in the comments!
And for more on The Walking Dead, read our analysis of last week’s shocking midseason premiere, “No Way Out”!