This was the worst episode of THE WALKING DEAD’s sixth season so far. It wasn’t a bad episode but considering the premium quality we have been treated to in previous episodes, ‘Now‘ felt like a slip, one that was unfortunately always coming our way. There was no doubt solid stuff in here however as we watched the citizens of Alexandria deal with the aftermath of all that has happened so far this season.
‘Now’ was an episode about recovery and altered expectations. There wasn’t a whole lot of action going on here, we weren’t treated to Rick, Morgan or Carroll cutting through hordes of walkers, but we got to take a breath with our heroes and catch up with some of the peripheral characters. There has been a lot to process for the men and women of TWD and some of them are coping better than others. This episode showcased that fact pretty well.
I suppose at the heart of this episode was the fallout from Glen’s apparent death. One of the first things we bore witness to was Michonne telling Maggie about what transpired beyond Alexandria’s walls, how Glen never made it back to them and that the worst had to be assumed. Of course Maggie wasn’t just going to take her word for it so she, with a little help from Aaron (who we’ve barely seen this season), decided to venture beyond the safety of the town and look for her presumed dead husband. Maggie’s attitude during all this, her pragmatic approach to the situation was entirely refreshing and appreciated. The way she sees it, and the way she puts it to Aaron, is that if Glen is indeed dead, she needs to know for sure so as to not be waiting around for someone who may never be coming back. I enjoyed that train of thought as long as it lasted, which actually wasn’t all that long.
Before making it out of Aaron’s secret tunnel, and past some disgusting sewer zombies, she decided to turn back, cutting her mission short. Maggie decided that given the circumstances, and the fact that she is pregnant, that risking so much in order to find Glen would be foolhardy. She’s wasn’t wrong. Any traction to be found here, with this particular story beat, depends on if we are willing to believe that Glen is actually gone. The show has tried its best to convince us that he is actually dead, but I just won’t believe it until I see a body. I think that’s fair and the fact that we haven’t seen a body, the fact we have been denied any real closure since the incident, leaves me feeling rather sceptical. But it would be pretty awesome if we just never found out one way or another, at least not for a good while. I’d be down with that.
There were a couple of speeches this week, not great ones, but ones drove the point home well enough for the two characters that delivered them. One delivered by Rick and one later on by Jess. Rick’s, after making it barely back to Alexandria, was just trying to keep everyone in order, to keep them thinking about the task at hand, about surviving. Jess’s speech was given just after she despatched a walker lurking within one of the town’s homes, a now dead neighbour as a result of the Wolves earlier invasion. Jess has proven herself to be a quick learner, while not keen to embrace this new way of life she has realised the things that now need to be done and has proved herself numerous time to be capable of getting with the programme. Her speech to the on looking town’s people essentially reiterated these facts. Will any of them listen though? Will any of them be able to adjust to the new world as she has? I doubt it, but if all we get from this Alexandria adventure is Jess, then I will be pretty happy. I really like her character and I welcome her gladly into the main group. She’s going to be a fantastic addition. That’s if she doesn’t get chomped before being inducted.
Jess isn’t however all the way there yet, she still has some way to go before being fully equipped mentally to tackle the apocalypse. She’s a strong woman but she’s still dreaming of a world where all this works out. After laying lips on Rick, seemingly igniting their relationship for real, she asks him if there will be a future. There’s no nice answer to that question and even the straight talking Rick was too nice to tell it to her straight. There is a future out there but it’s not one she will recognise, it’s not one of peace and prosperity. Rick can indeed offer her a future, but only one with the happiness that can be gained in this basic world of survival. He can offer her companionship and whatever pleasures can be gained from living day to day, of being alive with someone you care about. This might not sound appealing, but for these people, any future, any happiness, is all about adjusting expectations. Jess can’t go back to the way things were, but in Rick she has hit the jackpot, if there is any happiness in her future it will be better served with him by her side.
‘Now‘ was the quietest, least eventful episode of the season. It was a pause in proceedings that had to be taken. When you have 16 episodes to fill this kind of episode has to happen, it’s the unavoidable truth of the matter. What we got to see this week was the town and its citizens trying desperately to cope with a world the vast majority had no idea existed, a reality that they are now learning how to cope with. This fifth episode wasn’t immaculate television, but I enjoyed it for what it was and look forward to where it will lead us in the future. I would have liked to have seen more of Morgan coming off last week, capitalising on his episodes success but there will be plenty of time for that I am sure. I have no problem with the more character based episodes but it definitely felt like a step down for the first time this season. The bar was set so very high; there is only so much high octane drama that can take place. THE WALKING DEAD often gets bogged down when it tries to serve too many characters, unfortunately this is what happened this week and this is why the last four episodes were so successful — they narrowed their scope. So let’s hope this formula returns next week. It’s still been quite the start.