THE NEXT WORLD – 7/10.
As predicted, TWD slowed the pace this week following the action packed events of the mid-season premiere. The first half of the season was spread across 48 hours so it’s refreshing to jump forwards in time as we start a new chapter in the story. Weeks have passed since the Alexandrians united to reclaim their community; they have rebuilt, they have recuperated and they have apparently been sprinkling happy dust into Rick’s food. The Rick we see in this episode is one that we haven’t seen since he was first reunited with Carl and Lori in season 1. He is happy, optimistic even, to the point where he is singing along to music on road trips, much to the annoyance of Daryl. Rick promised Carl a new world and that is a promise he seems intent to keep.
It is interesting to see how the roles have reversed for Rick and Daryl. Daryl had previously tried to convince Rick that finding new people to live in Alexandria was vital for their survival, of course Rick was stuck in full ‘psycho, alpha-male’ mode at the time so the idea fell on deaf ears. Now it is Rick who must convince Daryl that finding new people is just as important as finding food for the community, or toothpaste for Michonne, or pop for Denise. As it happens they manage to find all of the above in this episode, but keeping hold of them proves to be a little harder than expected. After happening upon a truck loaded up with food and other supplies, Daryl and Rick are surprised to encounter a clean and very charismatic man named Paul Rovia, or Jesus to his friends.
Jesus is one of the most popular characters from the comic books and was someone that fans have been eagerly awaiting on the show for a very long time. While this page to screen translation may not be as seamless as Abraham or Michonne’s, Tom Payne definitely nails the confident charm of everyone’s favourite post-apocalyptic ninja although his beard does look awful. No he isn’t actually a ninja, but Jesus is more than capable of looking after himself and he is wily enough to steal the truck from Rick and Daryl without any kind of violence. Of course the violence comes later when Rick and Daryl manage to catch up with him. But even then he is able to fend off both men without causing them any real harm, it is only when they pull their guns on him that he is forced to submit.
They leave him tied up on the side of the road, but even this isn’t enough to stop Jesus from hitching a ride on top of the truck. Daryl and Jesus continue to fight over the truck, Daryl loses his gun which Jesus then uses to save him from a zombie before politely handing it back. Daryl continus to struggle with Jesus, nudging the truck’s hand brake and causing it to roll back into a lake. Daryl and Rick are forced to watch as their haul sinks to the bottom of the water, including Michonne’s toothpaste. Old Rick would have probably shot Jesus in the face long before this point, but shiny happy Rick decides to bring the unconscious thief back to Alexandria for medical attention; Daryl likes this idea even less than he enjoyed the country music.
Back at Alexandria, Michonne follows Spencer out into the woods, doing her best to keep her promise to Deanna to look out for him, but he still refuses to tell her why he is sneaking around the trees with a shovel. They aren’t the only ones in the woods, while his wound heals up, Carl hangs out in the woods with Enid because that’s what kids do, although as Enid quite rightly points out, they really aren’t kids anymore. But their ‘date’ is interrupted by a very familiar walker in the form of Deanna. Carl is unwilling to ‘kill’ her and instead leads her back towards Alexandria where Spencer and Michone find her and put her to rest. This is what Spencer had gone into the woods to do, but thanks to Michonne he didn’t have to do it alone.
Carl later tells Michonne that he couldn’t kill Deanna because it needed to be someone that loved her, he did it for Lori and he’d do it for Michonne too. Only in TWD can telling someone that you’d ram a knife into the brain of their reanimated corpse be a touching moment. Rick and Daryl return to Alexandria and lock the still unconscious Jesus in the prison cell/basement with some food, water and a note of good intent. Rick goes home where he and Michonne share a tender moment on the sofa that leads to a kiss… YES! Finally Richonne is a thing! It’s been building for a long time and both characters certainly deserve some happiness. However that happiness is interrupted the next morning when Jesus appears in Rick’s bedroom claiming that they need to talk.
Excuse me do you have a moment to talk about Jesus? Yes, he finally arrived on our screens. While this wasn’t the most exciting episode the scenes involving Jesus were a lot of fun. Especially pairing him with Daryl, as Jesus can be quite verbose and Daryl is more the strong, silent type. I wasn’t too keen on the circumstances of their meeting, stealing someone else’s food felt very out of character for the Jesus I know. But it is important to remember that this isn’t the Jesus I know, this is in essence a new character that fans of the comic can grow to love. I was worried Jesus’ abilities wouldn’t translate well on to screen and while his ninja skills did require a bit of suspension of disbelief, let’s not forget that this is a show where the undead walk around eating people.
This was also a huge episode for Rick, he really is changing as a character and while his new found optimism won’t stay forever it is good to see some growth happening. Michonne has also experienced a lot of growth as a character, becoming the mother of the community and providing a level of care that Rick can’t despite his new, cuddly attitude. This is one of the many reasons I am so delighted about Richonne finally happening. They work well as a pair, complimenting each other’s warrior and humanitarian sides and if we can’t have Andrea and Rick as a couple (yes it happens in the comics) then Richonne is the next best thing. This really is a brave new world for Rick, but what part will new characters like Jesus and Negan play in it?
POINTS OF INTEREST
- No Carol or Morgan in this episode, it is safe to assume that things have been frosty between them in the weeks since their confrontation over the Wolf.
- Carl was reading a comic called Invincible, this is actually another comic written by The Walking Dead creator, Robert Kirkman. The early issues are definitely worth a read.
- It is interesting to see how much Maggie has matured; I wouldn’t be surprised to see her and Glenn serve as parental figures for Enid moving forwards.
- Loved Rick and Daryl responding to Jesus’ accusation that they were out of ammo by shooting a walker in unison.