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After last week’s somewhat uneven and mostly disappointing mid season opener, THE WALKING DEAD recovered this week with a far smoother, intriguing episode, that offered a glimpse at what the show could be if it had the balls to make some drastic changes.

Episode 10, titled ‘The Next World’ essentially revolved around the aftermath of the massacre in the previous episode, and the inevitable¬†affects or rather peculiarly, the lack of affect, it had on the citizens of Alexandria. Set a few weeks afterward, we catch up with our survivors, going about their business, living their lives, and things seem, on the whole, pretty good. Everyone, for the most part, seems to have moved on, leaving all that rather dirty business behind them. The folks seem happy, they seem optimistic, that’s always a good sign… right?

The episode focuses on twosomes. Three of them to be exact. One of them pretty engaging, the other two pretty drab. First we have Rick and Daryl, adventuring out for much needed supplies. Then, Carl and Enid, just kinda hanging out in the forest, and then finally, Michonne and Spencer, again just kinda hanging out in the forest. I’m not going to spend much time on the two latter couples, there is some phony substance here, but nothing really to note down or care much about at all. The gist is Enid is still angsty, Carl couldn’t kill zombie Diana, wanting Spencer to be the one that finished her, something to do with family being the one to kill their loved ones. Oh and Michonne just kind of talked to Spencer about things people talk about when the world is a giant shit storm of misery. Great stuff.

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Anyway, blah, forget about all that. Rick and Daryl took most of the limelight this week, as they should. Let’s not kid ourselves here, these two are why folks tune in each week, the most watchable characters and actors the show has, even though I wouldn’t mind seeing Daryl kick the bucket just to shake things up — sacrilege I know. As I mentioned, these two had to head out on a pretty routine supply run, an excursion that always goes swimmingly. They end up bumping into someone, a man named Jesus, who steals their transport and newly found supplies, which they recover soon enough. Only for it then to be lost into a river after a proceeding scuffle with Jesus. Rick and Daryl then eventually capture the thief and bring him back to town, deciding after some discussion, that they need to recruit new people. I’m pretty sure this entire beat has happened before, in fact I’m positive it has, and there is nothing more fun than rehashed plot, but hey, that’s THE WALKING DEAD! They decide that even though it’s dangerous, that they can’t live the way they have been, without humanity, without trusting in their fellow man. We will of course see how that works out for them — not well, I am willing to bet.

As you can tell, I am not that upbeat on goings on this week, but as I mentioned at the top, this was much better than last week. Not because of the details of the plot, but because of how the episode was staged and then presented to us. This show worked, where so many others (like last weeks) did not, because it avoided the trap of attempting to include its asinine gallery of characters. It not only ignored so many of the other faces, but it chose to shine a light on the shows stars. The episodes where TWD closes in and focuses on a small number of characters, always work better than the ones that go the other way. As I have mentioned numerous times, this show needs to desperately downsize, it needs to shrink to a cast of characters that can all fit inside one vehicle. Allowing the characters remaining to shine, to grow, for us to form attachments, and for us to really invest in what is happening. This episode — while not great by any stretch — highlighted why this is the direction that has to be traveled. And I think the writers know this, I think they know their best episodes are the ones that focus inward; the bottle episodes. Perhaps they need a dip in ratings, perhaps that will give them the freedom to take a scythe and hack things up a little. I’d certainly appreciate it.

Verdict

Extra comments:

It was awfully odd that Rick didn’t take long to get over Jess. Little strange that after all the build up with her, and how much he clearly liked her, this episode skipped weeks after her death and any grieving process, no mention of her at all, and him completely moved on to now being with… Michonne?? I guess that’s interesting but I would have liked to see it affect him in some way. Hopefully it leads to something awful happening to his new lover, he doesn’t have much luck with this sort of thing. Actually here’s hoping he hooks up with 70 percent of the group. Maybe Rick’s passion for the ladies will be our Don Quixote.

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Film and TV Journalist Follow: @SamuelBrace Follow: @filmandtvnow

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