*SPOILERS AHEAD … AND A LAKE FULL OF GROCERIES … YEAH DON’T ASK*
The Walking Dead is a lot of things my friends – dramatic, touching, sad, scary, occasionally happy, doom-laden and portentous – but tonight it was also instructive in the ways of apocalypse etiquette.
Yes etiquette, in the time of undead people and low life human activity; surely a luxury in an age when simple survival is an undertaking of epic, often thankless, proportions.
Now any thought of etiquette and zombies may conjure up images of an undead Miss Manners stumbling through the forests of Virginia, a tattered copy of Miss Manners’ Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behaviour clutched in her bony, half-decayed hands.
And entertaining though that might be – are you listening Scott Gimple, this MUST be done! – the reality is that there are some pretty important life lessons you need to learn if you’re going to survive out in the brave new environs of “The Next World”.
If you find a truck full of food, you take it back home IMMEDIATELY.
I cannot stress this enough. In a time when foodstuffs are scarce and industrial production has ground to a halt making things like toothpaste and soda pop – on Michonne (Danai Gurira) and Denise (Merritt Wever)’s shopping list when Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Rick (Andrew Lincoln) set out an yet another daily supply run – if you find a truck FULL, I mean FULL of groceries, you hightail it back to the newly-rebuilt cosy surrounds of Alexandria. IMMEDIATELY.
Do not pass GO. Do not stop at a gas station to check out a vending machine full of chocolate and soda pop. And most definitely do not engage a charming beard man in brilliantly-attired leather goods Paul Rovia aka Jesus (Tom Payne), running from a supposed pack of zombies in awkward, passive-aggressive conversation.
Do not do ANY of those things – unless of course the script calls for it and it’s essential to introducing anew character in which case have at it … but TAKE THE TRUCK BACK FIRST for god’s sake – and do NOT go driving onto a farm with a great big deep lake in which said truck could sink without a trace, no matter how attractive you think its barn could be.
Don’t do any of that and if possible don’t play blues music lest Daryl reach over and try to rip you limb from limb. OK that didn’t happen but he wasn’t happy and frankly you want to keep Daryl happy, just saying.
Family is not what you once thought it was
I know there are entire walls of greeting cards that proclaim that family is more than our immediate flesh-and-blood companions but who really takes that all that seriously? It’s a lovely thought and a reality for many of us but it’s hardly do-or-die stuff now is it?
In the time of zombies, it definitely carries way more importance than a simple greeting card slogan. Your very life depends on having each other’s backs, looking out for other people when they’re in pain or suffering great loss – a mother, an eye, whatever – and DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT.
Like if you’re Michonne and you see Orphan Spencer (Austin Nichols) heading out into the wood with gun and shovel, and decide it might be a good idea to follow him, given his propensity for acting out emotionally in times of great stress.
And so you follow him, talk about the importance of family, of his dearly-departed mother Deanna’s (Tovah Feldshuh) words of life wisdom – I am fairly sure, nay CERTAIN, she would have said TAKE THE TRUCK BACK HOME STRAIGHT AWAY! – and insist you can help him with the very Secret Squirrel mission he’s on that he says you can’t help him with.
Turns out, you can and you can’t, as Zombie Deanna, lost out in the woods – yup remember you last saw her screaming defiantly, sans bullets, but did NOT see her die; well in the non-zombifying way anyhow – stumbles up to her son and all you can do is stand by supportively, as family do, while he does what must be done and despatches his mum with as much tenderness as a knife through the stem of the brain allows.
It’s gripping, harrowing, touching and deeply sad as he clutches her to him – actually dead this time, thank you; holding zombies close is frowned up in the new apocalyptic etiquette for obvious reasons – and buries her and then walks back, well hopefully home and not just to where he lives.
Oh and once again, TAKE THE TRUCK BACK. NOW, YOU HEARD ME. DO IT.
If love comes a-calling, don’t waste time answering the (metaphorical) door
Granted, hoping cupid’s arrow strikes you is probably not the overriding priority in a time of death and zombies. (Besides which what the hell Cupid, shoot some damn zombies through the head will ya? Like now, please … and where were you last week huh?)
To their great surprise, and yet everyone’s delight, Rick and Michonne finally admitted that they were family of a far more intimate kind, not that long after Carl (Chandler Riggs) had told everyone’s favourite katana-wielder that she was family and that if she’s zombiefied and was walking the woods Deanna-style that he’d take the time to knife her brain; awwww.
Yes Rick and Michonne got it on, mere WEEKS, weeks after Jessie’s (Alexandra Breckenridge) untimely demise – to be fair, that’s an eternity when life expectancy is no longer the statistical average – and looked to be blissfully, goofily happy about, especially after such a long wait AND a pretty exhaustingly shit day that neither of them wanted to talk about just then.
And no doubt as they drifted off to sleep, and before Jesus – Paul Tovia, not the Son of God we must be clear, who appears to be rather good at sneaking out from places – appeared at the end of their coital bed, they thought to themselves “YOU SHOULD ALWAYS TAKE THE TRUCK BACK STRAIGHT AWAY.”
And so ends our etiquette lesson, as does an episode that nicely lowered the adrenaline level but not to near comatose levels, screenwriters Angela Kang and Corey Reed, and director Kari Skogland, all too aware that while we need a breather, we don’t need to ratchet down to watching paint dry level either.
It was a finely-paced episode, picking up weeks after the events of the mid-season opener, where we saw life returning to normal after a great deal of work by everyone (save for Enid (Katelyn Nacon) who, new Alexandrian administrator Maggie (Lauren Cohen) reminded her, wasn’t exactly pulling her weight; it was not in a maternally encouraging way that acknowledged how integral Enid had been to her and Glenn, played by Steven Yeun) not dying.
“The Next World” did an exemplary job of making it clear that even with all the loss and death of late that Deanna and now Rick’s dream of a new world is possible, even if Negan is about to throw a great big sociopathic spanner in the works.
One made all the worse by the fact that Daryl and Rick didn’t TAKE THE TRUCK BACK STRAIGHT AWAY.
- What’s up next you say? “Knots Untie” in fact, a simple title which does not bode well for Little House Without Zombies continuing it’s just-restored beatific run …