The last time we were in Alexandria was during The Wolves’ big invasion, leading to chopped up bodies, brutal action, and a whole lot of death. “Now” marks the first time we have properly caught up with Alexandria (Michonne stumbling into a broken down Alexandria, and Morgan entertaining his Wolf hostage with his backstory do not count) since the carnage, so you’d expect some pretty big reactions, especially from a returning Rick. Nope. Zip, zero, zilch. Nada. “Now” was a breather episode, that much was abundantly clear as we slowed down to spend some time with Alexandria and how they react when seeing the world for how it really is now.
Despite “Now” being a breather episode, it still felt like a few missed opportunities were present. Rick came running back with the horde following him, meaning that the cliffhanger ending of “Thank You” lost it’s value; we completely skipped over Rick finding out about The Wolves and all the terrible things Alexandria has been through in the past day or so; and we ignore Carol, Michonne, and Morgan for the sake of looking at how Alexandrians deal with death literally knocking (again) at the front door.
All this glossing over some really meaty drama just so we can flesh out these Alexandrians. This does seem like a mistake for The Walking Dead, to pull the brakes after four episodes of back-to-back brilliance. But, the more I think about it, the more I’m liking this decision, as boring as it was; if Season 6 were to have at least one episode (and let’s hope it’s just one) focusing more on the seemingly random characters that pop up in Alexandria, as well as Deanna, Spencer, and Jessie, then let it be now rather than later, because later is when the show is supposed to both head towards the mid-season break and keep evolving, as we have seen from episode 8 to episode 9 since Season 4’s acclaimed second-half.
Last week’s Morgan-centric episode was one of the best stand-alone pieces of storytelling the writers have ever delivered, this is because Lennie James is a fantastic actor and Morgan has implications that bring new depth to the overall story of The Walking Dead. On the other hand, all Alexandrians bar Deanna and Aaron just aren’t that interesting and many feel like re-treads of past character evolutions. For example, we have already seen what the show is seemingly doing with Jessie; we have seen it in Carol and anyone else who has shed fear and replaced it with determination. Yes, that is kind of the same trajectory with Deanna, but Deanna is in a unique position being the ‘leader’ of Alexandria and so her journey has some bigger implications; Tovah Feldshuh is also a stronger actor.
Aaron’s survivors guilt is meshed with Maggie’s guilt surrounding Glenn and his supposed death. Saving for a distant shot of Michonne bringing Maggie up to speed, we don’t really get to see the reaction surrounding Glenn’s whereabouts; we just jump right into a solemn Maggie ready to scale the wall and brave a horde of walkers to find her husband. Much like the gloss over with Rick, this leap takes away some of the pent-up emotion that surrounds Glenn and what is now the show’s biggest mystery.
Although, Maggie and Aaron heading down into the sewers (the sewers that are strangely linear and just lead to the outside of town) was one of the stronger parts of “Now”, and Lauren Cohen brings the necessary weight to make her “big reveal” – that she is pregnant – effective. Despite it being predictable, and us knowing that the show had to find a way to get Maggie to stay put in Alexandria (for now) the scene was fantastic and will go down as one of the only reasons “Now” will be remembered as more than just a filler episode. It was also a good way to explore Aaron (the most likable of the Alexandrians) a bit more.
It’s surprising that the show has done more, so far, with Denise than they have ever one with Rosita despite Abraham’s gal being much more regular, and likable, then Tara’s new gal. That little fact can be generalised to the bigger cracks in current TWD story, it tells us that although the writing has gotten better and much sharper, it still isn’t perfect and there are still elements of The Walking Dead that are being mishandled.
Review Score: TWO AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
- Maggie and Aaron in the sewers
- Deanna taking her frustrations out on a Wolf walker
- Carol, Michonne, Morgan completely ignored
- Rick’s reaction the The Wolves glossed over
- Maggie’s reaction to Glenn glossed over
- Denise and Spencer more fleshed out than Rosita
- Carl wanting to chase after Enid seemed off for the character he has become
- I still don’t know how to feel about Spencer. I don’t think the writers do either.
- How did the walkers end up in the sewers? It’s shut from the top and from the outside; some people just died there randomly?
- A few new faces in Alexandria that we haven’t seen before; I just take it that every episode in Alexandria needs at least one burly man echoing Pete.
- That walker that Jessie killed was Betsy, she must have killed herself when she found out about her husband’s fate.
- Next episode focuses on Daryl, Abraham, and Sasha. I get the feeling that either Abraham or Sasha will be biting the dust in this episode.
Episode MVP: Maggie
The Walking Dead screens on FX every Monday at 1:30pm and 8:30pm AEST