After last week’s phenomenal, fast-paced and bloody The Walking Dead, this week’s episode, “The Next World,” necessarily took a breather from death. The focus of this episode was on family, and the formation of new families within Alexandria. With a brief time jump of a few weeks, the Grimes’ family officially added a new member in Michonne, who is filling the hole Lori left behind, and Enid is getting parental figures in Maggie and Glenn. Meanwhile Spencer was a reminder of what becomes of those families in the world of The Walking Dead. He had to put down his zombified mother, but he did get some closure and will be able to move on and hopefully be able to call Alexandria his home.
It was a more lightweight and unusually upbeat episode of The Walking Dead with a surprise twist that prompted Twitter to lose its damn mind. Here are ten questions we have going forward.
1. Did the Rick and Michonne romance work?
That’s going to be one of the bigger questions coming out of the episode, with audiences split about 80/20. Eighty percent of viewers will say it was inevitable: Michonne is the closest person to Carl on the show; she’s been mothering Judith for three seasons; and she’s basically Rick’s closest confidante (and the only person who could’ve gotten away with knocking him out when he was raving at the Alexandrians last season). They’re practically family, plus Rick and Michonne have a history of being flirty, and there’s clearly great chemistry between the two. The two should’ve been together ages ago!
The naysaying 20 percent will say it came out of nowhere, that it was shameless fan service, and that their relationship will ruin the show. All legitimate points, but with due respect, these people are wrong.
2. How long had they been sleeping together?
I don’t know that this is in any way important to the future of the show, but curious fans may wonder if this was the first time Rick and Michonne hooked up. I’m not so sure. Michonne had been stealing Rick’s toothpaste for two weeks; there was definitely a flirty vibe between Rick and Michonne in the beginning of the episode; and when they were making out, it seemed natural to the characters, rather than the surprising, “Should we be doing this?” variety typical to first-time experiences in TV. I suspect that Rick came to Michonne after the death of Jessie out of friendship, and one thing led to another, and that they have been a couple for a few weeks. How else to explain Rick’s sudden change of demeanor? His optimism? His choice of music? I suspect that when Deanna said to Michonne, “Figure out what you want for your whole life” a few weeks prior, Michonne reckoned that Rick was what she wanted for her whole life, and with Carl treating Michonne like a mom, the Grimes’ are suddenly the apocalyptic version of a traditional family.
3. Can the relationship sustain itself?
That’s the scary thing, isn’t it? This is The Walking Dead, after all, where happiness never lasts for long. It’s a show where sometimes they build up characters in order to kill them off. Unfortunately, it does not bode well for Michonne in the future. We know that, when Negan arrives, some major character is going to die, and nothing would provoke Rick more than the death of either Carl or Michonne.
This happiness is temporary. Whoever destroys it, however, will have hell to pay. In the meantime, be very afraid for Michonne.
4. Should we be worried for Tara, too?
Tara and Denise’s relationship seems to be going very strong, what with Denise wanting Daryl to fetch a soda for Tara. But again, happiness is rarely lasting on The Walking Dead AND Tara and Heath have a scheduled “two-week” run to ferret out supplies. That could be the subject of a future episode or it could have simply given Alanna Masterson some time away from the show so she could have her baby in real life.
On the other hand, she did recently need a body double.
6. Do you call it Pop, Soda, or Coke?
Where I’m from in the South, all soda is called “Coke” and conversations go like this:
“Can I get you a Coke?”
“I’ll have a Sprite.”
This makes no logical sense, but it’s still better than calling it Pop.
7. What’s with Daryl’s sudden dour disposition?
When they arrived in Alexandria, it was Daryl who was intent on finding new people and bringing them to the Safe Zone. Now, it’s Rick who wants to find new people, but Daryl who is reluctant and distrustful. Why the sudden change of heart? It probably had to do with the people he met while he was out with Abraham and Sasha. Not only did he meet — and nearly get killed by — the Saviors, but he also had a run-in with Dwight, who briefly abducted him and eventually ran off with his motorcycle and bow. He’s seen the other people out there, and he was not a fan. It’s no wonder he’s distrustful. He knows better than anyone what danger lurks around Alexandria.
8. What’s up with Enid and Carl?
The relationship between Carl and Enid is rocky at the moment, but I think it’s understandable, given the situation. Not only did Enid leave Alexandria after Carl begged her not to, but her ex-boyfriend shot his eye out. Also, Enid seems to be feeling less alienated in Alexandria, especially after Maggie said to her, “Maybe there are better places for you to go than just nowhere.” I think Enid decided she didn’t want to go out into the woods (“nowhere”) with Carl anymore because she’s ready to make Alexandria her home, and the people inside of it her family, in particular Glenn and Maggie. People familiar with the comic may recognize Enid to be filling the Sophia storyline.
9. What’s Jesus hiding?
Jesus gets a fun introduction to the series — a good-natured Trixter with amazing fighting skills and the ability to escape from rope extremely quickly. What’s he got to talk to Rick about? It’s clear that he’s from another community — the Hilltop Colony — and I think Jesus is likely to eventually lead the Alexandrians to Negan. My guess is that Jesus also wants to talk alliance with Rick.
10. Will Spencer become a major character?
The fact that Gimple and Kirkman killed off the rest of the Monroe family, but kept Spencer alive and gave him a featured storyline suggests that Spencer’s role in the show may become more important in the coming weeks. The question that still remains is whether he will be friend or foe. In spite of Michonne’s overtures, there’s not a lot of love lost between Spencer and Rick, and if there is going to be anymore friction within the Alexandrians, Spencer will almost certainly be the source of it.
Bonus via Reddit: As always, The Benny Hill theme song makes everything better.