In tonight’s episode of The Walking Dead, “The Next World,” love is in the air. The term Richonne will be trending on social media in no time because tonight was the night when tension broke, romance blossomed, and a power couple was born.
The events of “The Next World” occur two months since, against great odds, the people of Alexandria fought the Wolves and zombie herd and won. With Alexandria’s perimeter secure, emotional walls crumble, bringing viewers an alarmingly optimistic Rick and emotionally available Michonne.
Michonne’s journey begins when she spots Spencer shuffling through the woods, shovel in hand. In an act of concern and friendship, she follows Spencer into the woods. She shares with him how his mother, Deanna, challenged her to figure out what she wanted for herself.
As she coaxes Spencer back to Alexandria, reassuring him that following him is an act of family and Alexandria is still his home, it’s clear family and a home is her true desire.
The subtext of family obligation and love comes clear when Carl refuses to kill zombie Deanna, confiding in Michonne that he wouldn’t kill Deanna because someone who loves her should do it.
In an act of heroism and kindness, Carl leads Deanna to Spencer. He does not engage with Michonne and Spencer.
He would, however, give Michonne’s walking corpse rest should she, heavens forbid, ever become a walker. She, Judith, and Carl embrace, making clear they three have been family for a while.
Luckily, Spencer, without prompting, sought out his mother to do the honorable thing, bringing to light the potential for love that still exists during the zombie apocolypse.
When Spencer does kill zombie Deanna, it is reminiscent of one of Carl’s most heartbreaking memories, killing his mother, Laurie. At that young age, all that time ago, Carl knew it had to be him.
Love swelled as Rick and Michonne sat on the couch, smiling at Judith’s baby monitor and sharing their days like an ordinary couple. Before the two knew it, they were holding hands…kissing…and sharing a bed.
Rick’s new found optimism helps him let a new life begin, but how will this new dynamic bode for the tightknit group? After all, Rick’s significant others have a relatively short shelf life. Will all of that change now that he’s with a woman equally matched in wit, strength, and experience?
As Rick and Michonne lie sleeping, a new character- Paul Monroe, AKA Jesus- disrupts their sweet dreaming. In a preview for next week’s episode, Jesus is seen promising Rick and his community that their world is about to get bigger. Is Jesus, though, someone Rick can trust?
That’s right, in one of the most anticipated The Walking Dead moments, Jesus made his debut, complete with clever hijinks and a display of his bad a@$ self defense skills. While Jesus may have cost Daryl and Rick their day’s booty, he will bring them to the Hilltop community, and you know what that means…
Once at the Hilltop, Rick will become acquainted with its weak leadership,leadership exploited by none other than Negan. It’s just a matter of time, now, until Negan joins the action. How long must we wait for his highly anticipated debut?
In the meantime, as we wait to see what is on Grimes and company’s horizon, let’s enjoy this opportunity to exhale and bask in all the love. Tara and Dr. Denise are happily coupling and even Daryl and Rick’s bromance brims with playful banter and affectionate discourse on trust.
Their dynamics have shifted and now Rick is determined to find new people to bring into their community while Daryl things new folks are more trouble than they’re worth. Will Rick’s new enthusiasm for growing their community be a detriment to its survival?
What did you think of tonight’s episode of The Walking Dead? You can leave your insights, questions, and predictions in the comment section.