“The Walking Dead” Made A Major Mistake With Its Time Jump

Photo Credits: Gene Page/AMC

Spoilers for last night’s The Walking Dead past this point!

When we last left Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and his post-apocalyptic heroes on The Walking Dead, the Alexandria Safe Zone was littered with hundreds — if not thousands — of slain walkers, the leftovers of the Grimes Gang’s berserker rage taking out a whole herd of the undead. And on a smaller level, Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) had been shot in the eye, lying in bed with his life in the balance.

But on last night’s episode “The Next World,” we jumped forward in time a few weeks/months… And it was a huge, show-threatening mistake.

Because of this time jump, we never got to see everyone taking a full episode (or more) to clean out the dead bodies. We never got to see them react to those dead bodies, or wonder what “killing” that amount of undead did to their souls; or what separates them from the zombies themselves. We never got to hear someone wonder what the world was like now, or talk about how times have changed.

Instead, we got a frequently funny, exciting hour of television with some real character growth; and occasionally some truly powerful scenes full of understated emotion. That’s not The Walking Dead we know and love!

Carl’s recovery is a prime example of where things have gone horribly wrong. In this week’s episode, Carl had a bandage on his eye, but otherwise seemed fine. He was able to navigate the woods, take care of former baby/now toddler Judith, and any scars he had from his injury were below the surface. In fact, if anything, as seen in his climactic speech to Michonne (Danai Gurira) where he talked about making sure to always care about your family, Carl has grown more loving and mature from the experience.

Where were the episodes of filler where Carl lay in a bed? What about his recovery, where he would grapple with only having one eye and Rick would give him lots of spoken-out-loud metaphors about seeing the world in a whole new way? Instead of having the question of Carl’s survival dragged out interminably, we got our answer to whether he was okay or not in the first few minutes of the episode.

How did the show go so very, very wrong?

And don’t get me started on Rick and Michonne finally hooking up. Just last episode, Rick’s first love since the death of his wife Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) also died, right after her two sons were eaten by zombies. The Internet has certainly shipped Rick and Michonne (fondly called Richonne) in the past. But we skipped past multiple seasons of Rick moping and going nuts after his new girlfriend died, the awkward flirting between Rick and Michonne that would slowly and painfully develop — allowing everyone else to see how they felt about each other long before they did — and got right into a relationship the viewers knew was there anyway.

This is making me fondly recall season two, when we spent all that time hanging outside a barn looking for Sophia (Madison Lintz). That’s prime Walking Dead right there.

Look, it’s entirely possible this was an aberration, and this focused, exciting episode will give way to the repetitive meandering pace of The Walking Dead we’ve grown accustomed to. But if the show keeps being as exciting, funny, heartfelt and visually innovative? Count me out.

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