Being two weeks behind on The Walking Dead is interesting, because we had one great episode (No Way Out) and one really dull one (The Next World). Now, there were a few clunker moments in No Way Out, sure, and a few great moments in The Next World, but the incredible seesaw of The Walking Dead is consistent. In fact, when No Way Out was so great, I turned to Professor Spouse and said “They always screw it up after a great episode.” Yes, my predictive genius stands tall.
No one gets to clock out today. And hell, this is a story people are gonna tell.
Now, here’s the thing about No Way Out. What made it so incredible was the directing and the editing. (Greg Nicotero directed, I can’t find an editor credit.) When the episode relied on dialogue, you get the clunky final scene with Rick at Carl’s bedside. When the episode relied on plausibility and sense, you get Glenn surviving a hail of machine-gun fire. But that crap doesn’t matter when the episode grabs you buy the throat and tells a story of a community being torn down and rebuilt, of people coming together and finding strength and character against a common enemy. The Walking Dead is a deeply nihilistic show, but it also has this theme that awful things can build you up as well as break you down, and this episode is the break down/build up of Alexandria. Not told in words, but told in the rapid-fire into the camera editing of all the fighters together.
When Rick went out with the axe, I thought he was just doing pretty much what Tyrese once did—killing as much as he could because he was too distraught to give a fuck, and if he died, so be it. I don’t actually think he intended to clean up the community, or indeed, to survive. He was just venting. With an axe. It was terribly implausible, but also a little bit manageable because it wasn’t a horde, it was just a LOT of zombies; the walkers were directionless, not swarming. Of course, once Rick started fighting them, they were drawn to him, but he didn’t walk straight into a killfest. So there’s that. Eh, I’m justifying. It was a great scene, admit it!
Plus there was fire and a bazooka, so it is fair to call the episode explosive. See what I did there?
Oh, you had a day!
Naturally, this edge-of-your-seat stuff has to be followed with The Walking Dead Meets the Keystone Kops. I hated everything about the whole road trip/Jesus fiasco. Everything. When the truck went into the water I yelled.
Things I liked about The Next World: Denise is shacking up with Tara. Michonne and Rick get it on. Things I didn’t like: Everything else. On Talking Dead, Smarmy Host Guy likened this episode to The Dukes of Hazzard. Only the hardest of hardcore fanboys can latch onto that description, acknowledge its truthfulness, and still like the episode.
And yes, congratulations Richonne ‘shippers, I get you’re all very happy. In the comics, at just about this point, Rick and Andrea get into a relationship, so, since Andrea’s dead, I kind of thought this made sense. The comic book relationship has this same energy: These people are long-term family to each other anyway, so this is a deepening more than a change. Honestly, Michonne’s line, quoted above, was the best line (and the best line reading) in the episode. In that moment, with that clear, understanding sort of naturalism, the next part, the sexy part, felt really right.
But the “a day”? Hell, no.