The fifth episode in The Walking Dead‘s sixth season, entitled “Now,” is another moderate “side-step,” as compared to the first three episodes. Now that things have settled down some, the characters are left with time to reflect on those ghastly events of the first three episodes.
That said, there are no “wow” moments in this most recent episode, though writer Corey Reed and episode director Avi Youabian delve into a few characters’ arcs at great length. The lucky characters that are fleshed out (no pun intended this week) and are propped before the cameras, left to react to this world following the Wolf attack are Jessie Anderson (Alexandra Breckenridge), Aaron (Ross Marquand), Deanna Monroe (Tovah Feldshuh), and Maggie Greene (Lauren Cohan).
For some of these characters, the events of “Now” are helpful and allow them to proceed in this apocalyptic world, but for others it sort of holds them back, keeping them cynical and questioning the very foundation of Alexandria, and humanity. Those of the former category — Jessie, Aaron, and even Denise Cloyd (Merritt Wever) — experience some sort of epiphany or are at least altruistic. Those of the latter category — Deanna and Maggie — experience a sort of setback, and continue to function in a clouded, divisive world. For them, all they have is either dead or missing; they cannot waste time dwelling on the greed at the pantry.
Again, “Now” is a character episode. There are no flashy scenes, no compelling chases through the dense forests outside the wall. Heck, Daryl isn’t in the show — which automatically disengages a portion of TWD viewers. Nonetheless, there is a whole storm that these characters must confront. Maggie does so in a way that contextualizes her future, and Deanna suddenly, and in a fit of rage, relinquishes her power as head of Alexandria.
While there are other characters featured — including Rosita (Christian Serratos), Carl (Chandler Riggs), Ron Anderson (Austin Abrams), and of course Rick — this is an episode that establishes the scene moving forward, and adds some life to our disheartened Alexandrians (who by the way, have to face half of the “herd” which has found its way to Reg’s wall).
Highlights of the episode include Jessie’s desertion of her earlier apprehension to get violent, Rick’s overture with her, Deanna’s bloody encounter with a turned Wolf, and Maggie’s big reveal while she and Aaron move through the sewers beneath the community to find Glenn. What is that big reveal? Read on.
(Specific) spoilers ahead!
The episode opens with Rick hustling back to the community after being trapped in the RV. The Alexandrians fling the gate back open for him, but not too far behind is half of the “mega herd.” Inside, the group decides to hunker down, although most of the Alexandrians believe that it is now officially the end of the world.
Spencer the watchman
Spencer Monroe (Austin Nichols) shares a poignant scene with his neighbors, warning them against looting the food pantry on the heels of the walker approach. While Spencer is noble in this moment, he caves later in the day, sneaking back into the pantry to steal food and booze — where he proceeds to be the lookout for the community; a formula that does not completely add up.
As for Deanna, she completely checks out of reality for the duration of this episode. We see her devise new plans for the community, also writing “Dolor hic tibi proderit olim,” meaning “the pain will be useful to you.” While she wrestles with looking ahead, and reverting back to her grief over Reg and her other son, she stumbles into a loose walker (once a Wolf), who she proceeds to stab with a broken bottle about 20 times. One tactic she should have picked up on by now, though: aiming for the head!
Aaron and Maggie share a few powerful scenes in “Now,” for Aaron feels somewhat responsible for Glenn’s disappearance because he lost his pack with the community’s photographs, which was picked up by the Wolves in Season Five. So, he decides to accompany Maggie on her quasi-journey to find Glenn. The two enter the sewers beneath Alexandria to get past the walkers which line up “twenty (people) deep” at the wall. After encountering two “sludge walkers,” the pair gets to the end of the tunnel, but Maggie hesitates before moving into walker territory. Why? Well, she’s carrying Glenn’s child! Aaron, the nice man he is, suggests she consider “Aaron” or “Erin” for the baby.
There is more
And as for Jessie, well, she’s been through it all these past few episodes (counting the end of Season Five). She’s lost her husband, her son Ron is sort of untamed, and to top it all off, she’s somewhat passive when it comes to getting the job done. In “Now,” though, Jessie comes a long way — she grapples with parenting, feeding Sam (Major Dodson) some cookies, and Rick’s slow-but-steady advances. By the end, she has killed a resident who’s turned, and has even made out with the show’s central character. That’s right, and it’s about time: Rick and Jessie share a moment as he pleads with her to believe that there’s something more to this apocalypse.
Let’s not forget: Denise and Tara (Alanna Masterson) also share a passionate moment after the former saves an Alexandrian’s life.
It’s evident that the showrunners intentionally weave in and out of the psyches of each prominent character within the Alexandrian walls (excluding Morgan, who filled the screen last week). Youabian films “Now” competently, but what a fan can really take away is how the story takes hold. Again, it’s confirmed that it is not only the environment that these people have to battle — it is themselves, their emotions, and their persistence.
Next week, in “Always Accountable,” Daryl makes his now-long-awaited return to the small screen. Be sure to catch the episode at 9 p.m. on AMC.
Catch The Walking Dead on Sundays at 9 p.m.
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