‘The Walking Dead’: Jesus took the wheel

The Walking Dead
“The Next World”
February 21, 2016

It’s been a couple of months since the whole catastrophe with the horde and the Sam and the Carl getting his eye shot out, and it’s probably taken about that long just to clear out the piles and piles of corpses that filled the streets. A freshly showered Michonne asks Rick to look for some toothpaste on his supply run and … wait … is something going on between them? IS IT HAPPENING? OH MY GOD, Y’ALL, IT COULD BE HAPPENING.

But before we get confirmation that IT IS HAPPENING, FOR REALS YOU GUYS, Rick leaves for the supply run with Daryl. Daryl has been given a shopping list, too, from Dr. Denise: medical supplies, batteries, food, gas and Cokes, or ~shudder~ “pop” as she calls it. It’s not for her, but for Tara who keeps talking about it in her sleep.

And Dr. Mullet also has a very specific request: sorghum.

sorghum
Sorghum!

So Rick and Daryl head out in a Chrysler 300, and — look, no offense to anyone out there who drives a Chrysler 300, but the Chrysler 300 is maybe the worst car I’ve ever rented. It had no power, no pickup, no torque whatsoever. I still remember worrying that we weren’t going to be able to climb over the mountain range we were driving over in that stupid car and my point is, Rick and Daryl pretty much have their choice of ANY CAR IN THE WORLD and they choose the Chrysler 300? Hope you’re not going over any mountains, boys.

Rick and Daryl stop at a barn with “SORGHUM” painted on the side in giant letters, which is about as much of a sign as one could ask for, I would think. Inside, they discover not piles of grain, but a truck filled with cans of food and other supplies, which will leave Dr. Mullet deeply disappointed. And great luck! The truck’s battery isn’t somehow long dead! Because on TV car batteries never die and botulism doesn’t exist.

The pair swing by a gas station for more supplies, where Daryl finds an overturned vending machine. They chain the machine to the truck and flip it over when Rick is suddenly tackled from behind by Jared Leto in a stocking cap. Rick and Daryl chase him around the back of the building where they pull their guns, but Jared Leto in a stocking cap is like, “Oh hai! Just running from walkers! It’s all good!” Rick lowers his gun and thanks him for giving them the heads up about the walkers, while Daryl continues to glower. Jared Leto in a Stocking Cap claims to not have a camp, and Daryl lies that they don’t either. “Great talk, gotta go!” Jared Leto in a Stocking Cap chirps before beginning to run off. But he doesn’t quite get around the building before Rick introduces himself, and asks what his name is. “Apocalypse Jared Leto Paul Rovia,”  he answers, pulling his the handkerchief down off his chin revealing a clean and neatly trimmed beard. “But my friends called me Jesus.”  And with that, he runs around the building and promptly steals Rick and Daryl’s new truck.

Running down the street, running down the street, running down the street. Rick and Daryl eventually find the vending machine, raid it for a couple cans of Crush, before getting back to their sweaty half-marathon.

Running down the street, running down the street, running down the street. Rick and Daryl finally spot Jesus and the truck sitting in the middle of the road for no good reason. They sneak up on him, but Jesus has a few tricks up his sleeve.

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Fight fight fight and Jesus holds his own … for a while. Eventually, though, the two guys with guns are able to subdue the one guy with no gun. Rick reclaims the keys, before tying Jesus up in knots that he explains he should be able to work his way out of long after they’re gone. But Rick and Daryl just keep underestimating this Jesus guy and instead of jumping in the truck and driving away as fast as they can, they sit in the truck and fiddle with the radio station and make the jokes and twiddle the keys for a while.

Which is why as they drive up to a farm, they realize that Jesus is somehow on the roof of the truck. Rick brakes hard, flinging Jesus off the roof, and Daryl jumps out of the truck to chase Jesus around the field. Running through the field, running through the field, running through the field.

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Rick hops out of the truck to contend with a bunch of walkers whose rope bindings have serendipitously chosen this exact moment to fray. Jesus jumps back into the truck, where Daryl takes the fight. When a walker sneaks up behind Daryl, though, Jesus grabs Daryl’s gun and shoots it. This earns him a square punch in the face from Daryl. YOU’RE WELCOME.

However, somehow in the struggle, the truck is popped into reverse and proceeds to roll backwards into a retention pond.

Daryl and Jesus manage to hop out just in time, but Jesus is knocked unconscious by the truck door as it rolls backwards into Davy Jones’ (foot)locker. Rick suggests to an incredulous Daryl that they take Jesus back with them, pointing out that Jesus never pulled a weapon on him, and in fact saved his life not two minutes ago. “FINE,” pouts Daryl poutily.

On the drive back to Alexandria, Rick tells Daryl that he was right when he urged  Rick to bring more people into Alexandria, and Daryl is all, “NUH UH, you were right when you didn’t want to.” This boring non-fight ends with Rick and Daryl delivering Jesus to Denise’s hospital-prison basement. There they agree that it’s dumb of them to go outside of the walls, before agreeing to do it the next day.

Over in our B/C storylines, Michonne notices Deanna’s Dumb Son, Spencer, head out into the woods with a shovel strapped to his back, and is like, “The hell?” So she follows him to make sure he hasn’t been stealing saltines and bourbon again. She eventually catches up with him and is like, “The hell?” And he gives her some run around non-answer.

Meanwhile, back inside Alexandria, Enid is sullen.

Later, she and Carl go for a walk in the woods, where they find a deflated balloon with an illegible note attached. Enid finds it a hopeful symbol, a message that they aren’t alone. But Carl is like, “Duh, we already knew that, duh.” Enid returns to being sullen.

They find a place to sit and read some comics when they happen to see Michonne and Spencer walk by, but aren’t somehow noticed in return? Enid decides that she doesn’t want to come out to the woods anymore, which is a step in the right direction, and they pack up their things and begin to head back to Alexandria. On their way, they cross paths with a walker, whom Carl decides he should kill rather than leaving it to wander. But then he recognizes the walker, and comes up with an alternate plan. This freaks Enid out, so he angrily orders her to go back home. Enid hits peak sullen.

Meanwhile, Michonne tries to convince Dumb Son to return to Alexandria and he’s like, “NOT NOW, GAH.” And that’s when Michonne and Dumb Son find Carl followed by Walker Deanna — who, somehow, wasn’t completely torn apart by the walkers that overtook her in the mid-season finale, but whatever. File that one away with immortal car batteries and well-timed rope fray. With Michonne’s assistance, Dumb Son stabs Deanna in the back of the head, before explaining to Michonne that this is why he was out in the woods, uh doy.

They bury Deanna, and Dumb Son tells Michonne that Deanna left him a note telling him that he still knew his way which is ironic because, as he explains, he never knew his way. Michonne assures him that he loved his family, and that was his way. Dumb Son protests that his family is gone. But Michonne reminds him that she spent all day chasing his fool self through the woods: if that’s not family, what is. And with that they head back.

That night, Michonne scolds Carl for being a dumb dummy trying to get himself killed. But Carl argues that he felt Deanna deserved to have someone who loved her be the one to kill her, before promising  (threatening?) that he would do it for her. Uh, thanks?

And so after putting Baby to bed, Michonne joins Rick on the couch where they don’t talk about their days to each other. Rick then presents her a pack of mints instead of the toothpaste she asked for. This leads to hand holding and this leads to kissing and this leads to sexyfuntimes. Looks like someone is earning himself some Red Lobster.

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SO, YES! IT HAPPENED! RICHONNE! IT’S REAL!

 

 

 

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And that sound you heard was Tumblr imploding.

However, once again, Rick underestimated this Jesus character and Rick and Michonne’s sexy naked sleepytime is interrupted by this guy standing in their bedroom, wanting to “talk.” IS IT REALLY A GOOD IDEA TO STARTLE AWAKE THE GUY WITH THE GUN AND THE WOMAN WITH THE KATANA? COULDN’T THIS HAVE WAITED, JESUS, UNTIL EVERYONE HAD PANTS?

rick-things-to-do-list-michonne

Well, that was a delightful episode! And not just because of the whole Richonne element — although, do not dismiss the Richonne element, it’s great to see those two together. But after a tense slog of the first half of the season, it’s nice to see these characters, even for a brief moment, be calm, happy, content. It won’t last, obviously, but it’s a nice pause to take a deep breath and fall in love with the characters a little bit more. Also, Jesus’ appearance was easily the funniest introduction of any character on this show, and Lord knows this show needs humor.

As for the episode’s themes and whathaveyou, the focus really seemed to be on this idea of family being what you make it. Spencer is reminded by Michonne that though his biological family might be dead, he still has a family in Alexandria; Carl and Lori’s story is mirrored by Spencer and Deanna, and the closure he receives by helping Spencer gives Carl room to tell Michonne that she is his family; Enid finally seems to be coming to grips that she is not alone and doesn’t have to JSS anymore; and Michonne finally finds in her makeshift family with Rick, Carl and Baby that thing that Deanna challenged her to look for. (I just hope this whole relationship isn’t being set up so as to kill Michonne. They better not have been foreshadowing her death with Carl promising to be the one to take her out if that time ever comes. I PREEMPTIVELY SHAKE MY FIST AT THAT.)

There was an interesting recurring symbol that played into these themes this week: notes and messages. Enid and Carl find the illegible note on the balloon; Rick leaves a note (whose content we don’t know) for Jesus in the hospital-prison basement; and Spencer mentions the note his mother left for him before she died. As Enid explains, a message — even one that we can’t read — is still a sign that we’re not alone, that there is someone out there trying to communicate with us. It represents hope, a reason to go on.

As for this Jesus character, COMIC SPOILERS! Roll over to read: In the comics, Jesus belongs to the Hilltop Community, another group of survivors. The Hilltop Community had been terrorized by the Saviors, the same guys Daryl blew up in the previous episode. He introduces the Hilltoppers to the Alexandrians, with the intention to set up a trade relationship. He’s a decent guy who ends up living in Alexandria for a little while before moving back to Hilltop. Here, I suspect he wants to discuss the Hilltop Community and the Savior problem with Rick.

They can certainly always diverge from the comics — Michonne, for instance, is the TV replacement for Andrea in Rick’s love life. In any event, I suspect Jesus will prove to be a crucial link for the Alexandrians to the rest of the big bad world out there, and how our heroes will be reintroduced to the Saviors. After which there will be a lot fewer trips to Red Lobster, methinks.

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The Walking Dead airs on AMC on Sunday at 8/9 p.m.

This post originally appeared on the Hearst site Chron.com

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