Daryl and Rick work on their bromance with an epic road trip that not only brings a bit of cardio, but another possible Alexandrian. Michonne goes for a hike through the woods with Spencer on what seems to be a wild goose chase. Carl and Enid have a lovely picnic in the woods and their first lover’s spat. So if you haven’t watched tonight’s episode, stop reading now because there are spoilers ahead and you really don’t want this episode ruined for you. 5…4…3…2…1.
After last week’s episode of nonstop action and drama, this week the writers decided to show a more domestic side to the apocalypse. The episode starts with Michonne and Rick getting ready for their day. Carl is down the hall in his room, bouncing a ball against the wall, a typical teenage past time, although he is doing it for PT as per doctor’s instructions. Rick and Michonne are joking about not having any toothpaste and needing to change Carl’s bandages. The whole scene seems like something you would see in any household throughout the world on any given morning, other than maybe Carl’s bandages.
The day continues on with Rick and Daryl going on a road trip together for the first time in ages. They are heading out for supplies and both have been given lists from those in Alexandria who have special requests. Daryl has a list from the doctor for medical supplies but also for ‘pop” which he has to have her explain because he calls it soda. She explains that it is for Tara and she wants to give it to her as a going away present before Tara leaves on a two month supply trip.
The boys head out and start acting like typical brothers on a car journey, arguing over music and directions. Daryl seems to get very aggravated with Rick over his choice of music. They come across a barn and decided to break into it. Inside they find the mother lode of supplies. There is a truck inside the barn that has bath supplies, food, water and other essentials such as medicine. The guys decide to take the truck back to Alexandria and come back for the Chrysler later.
While heading back toward Alexandria, they stop at an old gas station. The point of the stop is to get Crush Soda out of an old pop machine, soda machine if you are from somewhere other than the Midwest. They run into the problem of not being able to turn it back over correctly, so they hook it up to the truck with a chain to move it. Inside, Daryl finds the soda, but before he can get it out, a stranger comes running around the corner of the building and runs into Rick. He introduces himself as Paul Rovia but says that his friends call him Jesus. He tells the guys that he is running from Walkers and they have about eleven minutes before the walkers will be on them. He takes off running while Rick and Daryl are arguing over inviting him back to Alexandria.
They regret letting him take off, because he steals the truck and leads them on a merry chase to get it back. The truck leaves a trail because Paul doesn’t unhook the soda machine from the back. Daryl and Rick follow the trail on foot and eventually catch up to Paul, who is changing a flat tire on the road. After a short fight, where it is discovered that Paul can actually fight, the guys together are able to get the better of him and they manage to get the truck back.
As they are driving, Daryl hears weird noises and figures out that Paul is on the roof of the truck. This guy has become a royal pain in the ass. Rick slams the brakes, throwing him from the roof. Daryl jumps from the truck to chase him on foot while Rick tries to box him in with the truck. Paul ends up getting knocked out by the truck itself, as it is coasting backwards into a pond. Rick had left the truck to kill some walkers that were tied to farm equipment and managed to get loose. So the mother lode of supplies is now at the bottom of a pond. Rick and Daryl end up taking Paul, who is still out cold, back to Alexandria, even though Daryl wants to string him up in a tree.
While all this is going on, Michonne is walking through the woods with Spencer. He won’t explain to her why he is out there, just that he has something to take care of. They aren’t the only ones in the woods though. Carl and Enid are out in the woods reading comics and eating some junk food that they have stashed. They hear Michonne and Spencer walking around, which scares Enid. She tells Carl she no longer wants to leave the walls, she doesn’t want to come out into the woods with him. He packs everything up and stashes it in what looks like a refrigerator and heads back.
While they are walking back to camp, they come across a walker who is very familiar. Enid wants to kill the walker but Carl won’t allow her to and sends her back to Alexandria without him. Carl leads the walker toward Spencer and Michonne because he has figured out why Spencer is out in the woods with a shovel. Once the walker heads toward Michonne and Spencer, Carl heads back to Alexandria. Spencer and Michonne take care of this very important walker by ending her life and burying her in the woods. They have a heart to heart in which Michonne tells Spencer that he still has family back in Alexandria and it is still his home. They head back together after Spencer tells her he completed his purpose for being in the woods.
Michonne has a discussion with Carl about being in the woods. She didn’t like him being out there and she didn’t want him to do something like leading the walker again. He explained the reason he led the walker to them instead of killing it himself was because he felt someone who loved her should be the one to give her peace. He tells Michonne that he would do it for her, letting her know that he loves her.
The last five minutes of the episode was enough to give fans plenty to talk about. Finally, Rick and Michonne end up kissing, hooking up, and then facing an enemy naked. Fans have been hoping for Rick and Michonne to start a relationship for a very long time and they finally get together, because of a pack of mints.
Thank the TV gods Rick and Michonne are now a couple, or at least seem to be headed that way! It could be argued that this isn’t a good thing because Rick’s love interests always seem to end up dead. Others are saying that this is the first relationship that Rick has been in where his partner is bad ass enough to survive in this world. What are your thoughts? Is this a good thing or does this mean Michonne’s time is limited.
Paul “Jesus” Rovia. Is he to be trusted? Should Rick have let Daryl string him up in the tree? The group has had a bad track record with strangers, with the exception of maybe Alexandria and the people there. Could Paul fit into Alexandria? It could be argued that he already has a camp somewhere even though he told the guys he didn’t. Both observed that he was too clean to not have something set up, maybe not a permanent camp, but something. Is it possible that he is another part of Negan’s crew, just presented in a different way? There has been speculation that Negan witnessed Daryl blowing up his biker gang. Is it possible that he decided to send a different type of spy into the group? One thing is for certain, he knows how to fight, but more like Morgan’s style of fighting than Rick’s.
The hardest part of tonight’s episode was hands down, Spencer having to end his mother as a walker. It isn’t the first time a character has been faced with giving peace to a family member. Fans will remember that Carl had to shot Laurie after she gave birth to Judith. Michonne has also had to end family in the past although we don’t know a great deal of that story. Carl seemed to understand that Spencer needed the closure of finishing Deanna, and there also seemed to be a feeling that it would be what Deanna wanted as well. How will Spencer deal with this situation? He hasn’t been the most stable in the past when dealing with loss and stress. Fans will remember him being on guard duty drunk after having plundered the pantry. Will he slip back into his old ways?
One last thought. What do you think of the crew’s new motto? “Mercy for the Lost, Vengeance for the Plunderer.” Is this a warning for Negan? Is this foreshadowing for what the crew has in store? They are after all, plunderers in Negan’s territory now. Will the crew see his vengeance soon?
“The Next Word” overall grade – A-
‘The Walking Dead’ airs every Sunday at 9 PM EST on AMC
Check out a preview of next week’s episode “Knots Untie”