‘The Walking Dead’ Review: ‘Now’ Tells Us Nothing About Glenn, But Plenty About Maggie
Recap and review of The Walking Dead – Season 6 Episode 5 – Now:
The Walking Dead gets a lot of its drama not from walkers crowding the scene, but from the dissolution of human relationships within the communities defending against the walkers. The Alexandria Safe Zone has become far less safe in recent weeks, and “Now” illustrates how fear has taken root, while also showing how various citizens of Alexandria have chosen to combat that fear.
This was a pretty self-contained episode in that it simply focused on the core group in Alexandria, with Rick (Andrew Lincoln) returning after escaping the walker-surrounded RV. Deanna (Tovah Feldshuh) formally gives him control of Alexandria, but that isn’t the only major development for ol’ Rick, as he finally hooks up with Jessie (Alexandra Breckenridge). Well okay, “hook up” is probably the wrong word. From all we saw, it was just a kiss. But it was still a lot more than I was expecting this early into the season, when you consider that Rick is the man who killed her husband. Sure, Pete was an abusive jerk, but it really hasn’t been that long since Rick snuffed the man out, so it seems strange for Jessie to be giving in to passion, at this point. Then again, the episode doesn’t really frame it as a moment of passion, but rather as a reaction to despair. Jessie pleads with Rick to tell her that this isn’t all there is, that there’s more to the world than just survival. The kiss is his response, and it’s the culmination of an emotional journey Jessie has been enduring throughout the entire episode, from the time she has to kill a turned neighbor, to the moment immediately after in which she tells onlooking Alexandrians that this is what life is now, and they need to stop resisting it. It’s a realization Jessie has reached of her own volition, but it’s not one she comes by easily, since it has a clear affect on her emotional well-being. Especially when you consider everything going on in that family, with Jessie’s youngest son refusing to come downstairs, to her oldest son getting into shoving matches with Carl (Chandler Riggs), who proposes they go over the wall in search of Enid. That family is a hot mess express, and so it’s not that surprising that Jessie seeks comfort in Rick’s arms. His word carries authority with it. Basically, if Rick says everything is going to be okay, there’s a far stronger likelihood it will be than when, say, Deanna’s jerk of a son, Spencer (Austin Nichols), says it.
Why ARE all of Deanna’s sons jerks anyway? Here, Spencer chides his fellow doomsday prepping Alexandrians for raiding the pantry, stating that they’ll look back on this as the moment their community started to fall apart. Deanna is proud of him in that moment, but that pride quickly evaporates when she finds out it was all a smokescreen so he could steal supplies from the pantry for himself. When Deanna tries to give him the business for it, Spencer blames his mother for everything, saying her pie in the sky fantasy of a safe community was unrealistic, and his father and brother ultimately paid the price for it. It’s a pointedly cruel thing to say, although I suppose you could make an argument about whether or not it’s true. After snapping and using a broken bottle to rip a walker to shreds, in the episode’s bloodiest scene, Deanna outright asks Rick if her attempts at creating a safe community were just a pipe dream. It’s a poignant moment, honestly, even though this isn’t exactly a new argument The Walking Dead is asking: can a safe community ever truly exist on this show? Can any community ever remain safe? Will life ever get back to something resembling normalcy? It’d be a tall order for anyone, much less Rick and Deanna, both of whom are wrestling with their own emotional issues. This was the first sign of life we’ve seen from Deanna since her husband and son died virtually back-to-back, while Rick is weighted down with concern about Glenn, Sasha, Abraham and Daryl, who still haven’t returned yet. These are people struggling to keep their community together, and realizing that it might not be possible. That doesn’t mean there isn’t still hope, and it certainly doesn’t mean that the dream isn’t worth fighting for. It simply means it’s going to be hell to build a heaven in this universe.
But beyond the questions of whether or not doomsday is on the horizon, we’ve got other revelations this week. First and foremost, Maggie (Lauren Cohan) is pregnant! It all gets revealed in a climactic scene opposite Aaron (Ross Marquand). Both characters are plagued by a sense of guilt: Maggie for allowing Glenn to leave in the first place, and Aaron for losing his satchel, which ended up leading the Wolves right to Alexandria. And so they both leave Alexandria through a hidden sewer passage. The plan is to find Glenn and any other Alexandrian survivors out there. This is easier said than done, of course, as Maggie nearly gets killed by sludgy, decomposing walkers, and Aaron ends up cutting his head in the process of opening up one of the passageways. It’s a bit of a miracle that they even make it to the end of the tunnel without getting killed, considering it’s a dark passage, and it’s hard to tell just what’s lurking around the corner. However, once they get there, Maggie breaks down and reveals that she can’t allow herself to continue, since she’s going to have a baby. Whereas Maggie could be cavalier before, she can’t be now, since the specter of motherhood looms large.
But it’s more than that, for Maggie: it’s both the fear of having Glenn’s death confirmed, but also the realization that, sometimes, there really is just nothing you can do. Whatever happens, happens. It’s fittingly moving to see Aaron embrace Maggie in the sewers, comforting her as a horde of walkers snap at them from the exit gate. These are two people wearing their guilt like an anchor, and through their newfound friendship, they come to a sort of peace about the unknown. Sure, Maggie isn’t certain if Glenn is alive or not, but Aaron encourages her to think not in terms of if Glenn will return, but when. It’s a storyline that’s surprisingly affecting, even though it’s somewhat obnoxious that we still have no answers on Glenn (granted, we won’t until Episode 7 in two weeks). Until then, we bide time by developing the Alexandrians through their contact with Rick’s group. Here, we get a better sense of Aaron through his desire to be there for Maggie. Similarly, we get to see how Denise (Merritt Wever) combats the pressure of being the town doctor through her interactions with Tara (Alanna Masterson), who encourages her. In a subtly affecting storyline, Denise is able to save one of her patients from the aftermath of the Wolves attack, essentially restoring her self-worth. In response, Denise thanks Tara by planting a big kiss on her lips, which gives us another potential relationship to explore. Say what you will about whether or not these are stories worth exploring when we’ve still got the Glenn mystery looming large, but I thought both subplots were effective, and helped develop characters we might otherwise have felt nothing for.
“Now” isn’t the most exciting episode of The Walking Dead this season, but I thought it was a worthwhile exploration of a community in disarray. I also thought it offered a decent look into how these people are dealing with their newfound vulnerability in the wake of the Wolves attack. Survival is never easy in a world like this, and some people are more cut out for it than others, but it’s clear this season is a season of determination, resolve, and accepting the inevitability of what’s coming, and preparing for it.
But what did you think of The Walking Dead, “Now”? Sound off in the comments!
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