I took a week off from reviewing The Walking Dead since “The Next World” was a fairly quiet episode that gave us a glimpse of what life is like in the zombie apocalypse when the undead aren’t trying to eat you every single minute of every single day. As such, it was a little bit boring, a little bit bittersweet, a little bit comforting, and a little bit wacky. And by wacky, of course I’m referencing this: Props to Charles Creech over on YouTube for that. It’s freaking brilliant. We were also introduced to new recurring character, Jesus (played by the poorly-wigged-and-bearded Tom Payne) and treated to a brief glimpse of pre- and post-coital Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Michonne (Danai Gurira). Contrary to all the show’s previous sexual and emotional tension between the two, this appears to be the first time they actually hook up. Good for them! It’s about time Rick saw what was right before his eyes. He’s clearly too crazy for a regular relationship with a regular person. He needs someone who’s been through the fire and come out the other side like he did. Or, if not like he did, in a way similar enough to create a connection. A bond of sacrifice and time spent exploring psychotic breaks. Oh, and Carl’s (Chandler Riggs) okay. Nothing to see here (no pun intended), move along. And that’s pretty much that with “The Next World.” Last week’s episode, “Knots Untie,” proves to be the real turning point of the season. So much so, in fact, that I really wish they’d used the mid-season premiere as the finale and combined these two episodes into a single special episode. Oh well. Beggars can’t be choosers. In what was a great relief to me, Carl is extremely cool about his Dad and Michonne getting it on. I’d like to avoid that sort of family drama as much as possible if we can. Plus, seeing how easily his previous potential step-mom went out (as well as the potential step-siblings) Carl knows the score. I was hoping for a more flat-affect Carl after the gunshot that took his eye, but a more mature Carl is better than nothing. The big news of the episode, though, is that Jesus isn’t just a homeless-looking bad-ass with beautiful eyes and fake hair. He’s a scout representing an entire new community called Hilltop. And in bigger news, Hilltop’s not the only other community out there. Negan and his Saviors are directly mentioned and for the first time in two episodes, we find out that our heroes know all about Daryl (Norman Reedus) Bazooka-Joeing Negan’s henchmen an unspecified length of time ago, but nobody’s bothered to worry too much about it. That would have been an interesting sequence to watch play out, but instead we happily skipped forward to “The Next World.” Hilltop is an interesting place. It’s mostly self-sufficient with a small but thriving population. They have food and medicine, but are all out of guns and ammo, which means the guards on the gate threaten our heroes with spears. Yes. Spears. Thankfully, Rick and Company are good guys or they could just roll in and take everything they want. Um. Waitaminute. By the end of the episode we’ve discovered that Negan’s crew take fifty percent of everything Hilltop produces in a protection racket. If they don’t pay up, they’ll really pay up, as we see when he sends a message to the dickbag leader of Hilltop, Gregory (played with perfect slime by Xander Berkeley) about shorting their take. And by message, I mean a knife to his guts. Thanks to the quick actions of Rick and Michonne, Gregory survives, providing us with the single best moment of the episode when a horrific Rick stands around casually ready to shoot dudes with spears as though he didn’t just shove a knife into a guy’s throat and get covered in blood, simultaneously murdering a citizen of Hilltop while saving their leader (in a fantastic scene right from the comics). Just another day at the office, guys. This leads to a pretty hard-core negotiation between Maggie (Lauren Cohan), who is being positioned front-and-center as Alexandria’s new leader, and a bed-ridden Gregory — who signs away half of everything they’ve got at the moment (after already sending half of their monthly stash off to Negan) to hire Rick and Company to take out Negan. And essentially put themselves in Negan’s place without the pesky threats of murder and annihilation. Although you can’t help but think from Gregory’s point of view, he’s trading one evil for a slightly lesser one. This is why you need guns and ammo in the zombie apocalypse, boys and girls. Everybody wants something from everyone else, and weapons — along with the will to use them — are going to play a major deciding factor in who winds up on top in the end. This also brings to the thematic forefront a new addition to the whole “how do you define morality in the apocalypse” question. All along, I’ve been arguing that sentimentality is deadly in this world, based on the predicate that our heroes are isolated and alone. They have been essentially a small nomadic tribe until recently, and when everything and everybody is out to kill you, you have to make hard, brutal choices. With the introduction of at least two more communities out there, suddenly those hard, brutal choices are not alone in the wilderness. We now have a situation where what we saw as Rick introduced brutality to the gentlefolk of Alexandria, will have to play out on a larger scale. But where in Alexandria Rick essentially needed to take over (if not physically, at least ideologically), here, that urge to control everything for safety’s sake becomes more political. Except Rick isn’t political and his impulse here is decidedly anti-political — or maybe it’s politics without the sheen of civilization. By confidently assuming that he and his crew are the baddest-asses the zombie apocalypse can produce, they are attempting to force their personal means of survival into the political arena, opting for war and shows of force to match those of Negan rather than entering into a negotiation of powers. Apocalyptic politics apparently translates most clearly as the “walking up to the biggest inmate on the first day of incarceration and trying to kill them.” And then claim half the belongings of the weakest. This could be seen as the lesson learned by dealing with the Governor, and with the tales of murder being told about Negan, there’s probably no point in trying to ally oneself with him, as that would most likely translate into a duel of superpowers (politically speaking). But initiating conflict in a first-strike scenario (to keep that metaphor going) never plays out well. And with Hilltop caught in the middle, we have the potential for a devastating amount of collateral damage. The Walking Dead 6.10 "The Next World" & 6.11 "Knots Untie""The Next World""Knots Untie"3.8Overall ScoreReader Rating: (0 Votes)Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.