NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of The Walking Dead are present in this review
A lot has happened on The Walking Dead since the start of Season Six. With the onslaught of Walkers coming toward Alexandria, and the massive attack by the Wolves undertaken during “JSS” a few weeks ago, we’re now given a breather from so much action and trauma with “Now”, an episode that is meant to exclusively explore the fallout behind the damage done to Alexandria and its citizens since the start of the season.
Some particular scenes are very good, though it’s pretty obvious from the get-go that “Now” is a bit of a filler episode. Rick simply runs back into the community, the gate is shut, and from there, the town pretty much wanders in a circle, griping, moaning and examining themselves for a forty-minute stretch. Like I said, some scenes are legitimately interesting, though sadly, most of the episode is disappointingly boring.
Fortunately, there are enough solid character moments to make the episode watchable, if a little dull. I get the need for a wind-down episode after so much action, but we already had that last week with the Morgan-centric, “Here’s Not Here”, and that was an excellent episode, even if it abruptly shifted gears from the rest of what was going on. Unlike “Here’s Not Here” though, “Now” seemed to labour the same point for most of its entire runtime, and didn’t actually feel like it was going anywhere, beyond a couple of big reveals.
One of the more interesting plots in the episode involved Maggie being told by Michonne that Glenn and Nicholas are missing, and most likely dead. Unable to accept Glenn’s apparent death, Maggie decides to venture out, despite the community being surrounded by a legion of Walkers. Aaron forcibly tags along with her however, leading her into a sewer that will apparently lead the two outside of the wall. Maggie keeps insisting that Aaron go back, but after Aaron saves her from some hidden, sewage-obscured Walkers, the two press on, and encounter a wall.
Ok, we knew that Maggie probably wasn’t going anywhere. That would have led to a rehash of one of Season Five’s problems, which had the group too scattered and disorganized, hurting the storytelling. We already have several people outside of the wall, and throwing Maggie and Aaron there would have stretched the season’s overarching plot too thin. That said however, the reveal that Maggie is pregnant was a good surprise, even if that declaration came out of nowhere, though given that the two were scared by Walkers just then, maybe that’s not so unrealistic. Regardless, this story ends with Aaron and Maggie simply sneaking back inside the walls, and scrubbing Glenn’s and Nicholas’ names off of the memorial wall. Maybe they shouldn’t count their chickens before they hatch, but hey, at least not everyone in Alexandria has given up hope.
Another strong character this week was Jessie, who tried her best to adapt to the new life that she’s been forced into, now that her husband is dead, and Walkers are literally banging down Alexandria’s door. After Jessie has to stab a woman that committed suicide and became a Walker through the brain, to the horror of several nearby citizens, she goes on a tirade about how this is what life is now, and the community has to accept it. Despite this tough stance however, she tries to coax her young son out with cookies, which she eventually has to leave at the door when the boy won’t come downstairs. It effectively shows that Jessie is still a caring mom, even as she’s hardening into a surefire new mainstay of Rick’s crew.
Oh, and speaking of Rick, he had some decent moments too, but even Rick just didn’t seem to get any material that was all that interesting this week. Rick shares some sensitive interactions with Jessie and her older son, while coaching the community at large about staying strong, and being quiet, in hopes that the Walkers will eventually move on. He also reveals to Jessie that he doesn’t want to bury any of the bodies yet, since he doesn’t want to give up hope that Daryl, Abraham, Sasha, Glenn or Nicholas can still make it home. This leads to the two sharing an emotional kiss, and that’s where the episode ends off. Obviously, anyone could see this coming a mile away, though it should prove to be a cool catalyst to have Jessie defecting from Alexandria to Rick’s side, especially as we see Deanna starting to really lose it here.
Yes, Deanna’s coming apart at the seams now, something that we also could have anticipated would have happened in short order, given how Season Five ended, and the present predicament of Alexandria. You can see her gradually slipping away more and more, particularly after she discovers her son falsely scolded Alexandrian citizens for stealing community supplies, only to steal the supplies himself. Deanna asks Rick if everything she worked for in Alexandria was a pipe dream, which Rick denies, though as the episode ends with a shadowed Deanna banging on the gate and walking away, we see that Deanna is approaching the point of no return. I get the unshakable sense that Deanna would rather doom the community than pursue a cause that she now deems to be hopeless.
A few other small things happened, such as Carl wanting to go outside the wall to look for Enid, and not doing it, and Denise kissing Tara after Tara gave her some encouragement when it came to saving a man’s life. None of these events really registered though, and they felt like they were awkwardly stuffed into an episode that already tried to cover a lot of ground in Alexandria, to mixed effect. Both of these are interesting concepts for future episodes, but for now, they’re not going anywhere. Hell, even the spoiled discontent of the Alexandrian citizens doesn’t currently feel like it’s going anywhere.
This leaves “Now” feeling like it’s just filling a space, and by the end of the episode, it simply felt like the storyline had gone in one big circle. It’s an acceptable episode of The Walking Dead, if you’re into some character drama, but it sadly fell short in several respects. Moreover, it completely glossed over several characters that should have gotten at least some attention. With Abraham gone, we’re really not going to explore Rosita’s feelings? What’s Carol doing after fighting off the Wolves? Why didn’t Michonne get to really chime in, beyond delivering bad news to Maggie? I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but what’s Gabriel thinking right now?
I get what “Now” is trying to achieve, but its final product is sadly uneven and too often uninteresting. It lays some promising groundwork for future episodes, but for now, the citizens of Alexandria still don’t feel like they’re moving forward in their struggle. In that case, maybe it won’t be so bad if Deanna just lets the Walkers shamble through and devour a bunch of them. If they don’t care, then nor will the audience.
- Seeing Deanna slowly slip into madness
- Jessie being strong for her kids and the community
- Maggie's surprise pregnancy reveal
- Boring plot with no real momentum
- Glosses over critical characters
- Maggie, Aaron and Carl are obviously not going to leave successfully