A Closer Look: The Walking Dead – “The Next World”

So THAT finally happened. From the long overdue to the surprisingly new, this week’s Walking Dead had it all; but what it did more than anything else was initiate a dramatic shift in the world Walking Dead. So let’s get right to analyzing this episode because there’s a lot to discuss!

“The Next World” – Episode Meaning & Story Shift:

Now in a literal sense, “the next world” refers to what Jesus told Rick and Darryl at the end of their first meeting “This is the next world, I hope it’s good to you guys”. Though on a series level, this name actually represents how this episode kicks of an ENTIRELY new phase of the show. In many way, you can consider everything that came before this episode – even back to Season 1 – the first world. And now, our heroes will begin “the next”. But what does this mean?

Until now, Rick and his group have been struggling to find where they belong and make ends meet – whether on the road, at the CDC, the farm, the prison, etc. Now they’re not only at Alexandria, but now everyone gets along. It’s not them being the outcasts or Alexandria itself being a new place to conquer. The prison gang and Alexandrians are no more. Now they are united as the Alexandria Safe Zone. Similarly to this, we also find a Rick that is more optimistic and control – something we haven’t seen in a VERY long time either. Although no matter how much of their world seems at piece, the “next world” will come with bigger challenges and even bigger rewards.

Rick’s group is now one big cohesive and established unit. Jesus is the bringing point that will lead Rick to another group of established survivors known as the Hill Top Community. I won’t get into this too much since it’s kinda spoilery, but you can already tell that Jesus is part of an established group due to his skills, clean shaven look and kindness. Though with the meeting between Alexandria and the Hilltop, they will also meet – or remeet – Neegan’s group. Plenty of new battles lie ahead, and with it challenges and payouts that the group never expected to achieve. It’s no longer about finding sanctuary as they have it now. Now the mission of “the next world” is to preserve it and bring even more of the world back from the edge.

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The Law Of Averages – Character Reversals & Balancing The Lucky With The Unlucky:

A big theme this episode was “the law of averages” and although we never get an explanation for exactly what Rick’s talking about, we see the idea of averages coming through on two front. The obvious is the balance between good and back (or more specifically lucky and unlucky). It’s been a few weeks since the walker attack, and its been a slow go on finding food. So considering it’s a numbers game, sooner or later they have to find something and get lucky. Though what Rick forgets is that they’ve also been VERY lucky in other regards. For example, think of how many survived the attack?

This balance continues in the episode as we find Rick and Darryl constantly hit a lucky break only to have it undone – USUALLY because of their own fault. The first loss was because of them backtracking for the cans of Pop – rather than stopping there on the way. When they FIMALLY get the truck back, they loose it again because they keep going after their pursuer – and because WHO PARKS ON THE EDGE OF A LAKE?!?! And yet, things still will pay off because Jesus will introduce them to more allies and help their plan of ‘self sustainability’.

The other meaning we can take from the law of averages is less spelt out – but  just as noticeable – is role reversals. This episode we saw how Enid (the usual ‘let’s go outside’ person) had to be coaxed to go outside by Carl (the usual “we don’t have to go out if we don’t have to’ person). The more noticeable example – and even explicitly pointed out example – was Rick and Darryl. Last we saw Darryl, he was pushing for recruiting more people and yet here he’s against it and Rick of all people is pushing for it. Their roles have been perfectly reversed so the average is maintain.

Finding Your Way – Honoring DeAnna’s Legacy:

Another theme this episode was “finding your way”, which we got a literal allude to as we heard Carl talking about the “North Star” and finding your way home to Judith. Although the bigger one was actually an extension of what DeAnna asked a lot of the group to do – find themselves and what they wanted. Spencer finally got a chance to move on now that he knows his mom is at rest, and also learned that he has a new family with Rick’s group. Though the biggest example of this was of course Rick and Michonne FINALLY getting together! We’ve seen for a few seasons now how these two have gotten closer and Michonne’s opened up more – and it’s so fitting that this happened with Rick as Carl is one of the people who helped her most. Sure Rick’s last girlfriend got her hand sliced off last episode as one son was eaten and the other shot Carl – but hey, we all have our ugly Ex stories lol Rick and Michonne are absolutely a power couple, and what makes them even stronger is that both are incredible leaders. These are two warriors who don’t have to worry about the other, because they know they’ve got each others back – and can usually handle their own as well.

Quick Bites – Easter Eggs, Quotes & Other Notables:

  • Those spiked car traps for walkers is very reminiscent of Morgan’s old compound.
  • Considering the last time they opened a trailer there was a horde of walkers in there, maybe there is something to ‘law of averages’.
  • If this episode taught us anything about Jesus, it’s that he’s an incredibly skilled fighter, runner, stalker, etc.
  • Is Enid like Glenn and Maggie’s adopted daughter now? I mean I’m kinda okay with that if she is.
  • Keeping Walker Monroe secret until the final reveal was a nice touch.
  • Alexandria Safe Zone – Mercy for the lost, vengeance for the plunderers
  • The length to which Darryl and Rick are going to to get the Pop for the Doctor not only shows how they now accept the Alexandrians, but also how close Rick’s group is. We’ve seen Rick and Darryl call each other brother before, but this shows that even Darryl considering Carl like a nephew.
  • Favorite Quotes
    • “Change our food situation from scary to hunk dory” – Eugene
    • You know it’s a lot more fun working with you than Norman” – What Andrew Lincoln actually said to Danai Gurira after their final scene together HAH!
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