Warning: the following review contains spoilers. Proceed at your own risk!
After three solid episodes of action (“JSS” and “Thank You”) and backstory (“Here’s Not Here”), The Walking Dead settles down for a bit of introspection. In fact, “Now” is the first episode of the season in which no one is killed! Playing once more with the order in which the show’s events are presented to us, we open with Rick running for his life from the zombie horde and straight into Alexandria. Just how he got out of the RV in which we saw him trapped two weeks ago is apparently a tale we’ll have to see some other time. For the moment, we just know that Michonne’s group has made it back to the town, and that Glenn, alas, has not.
Much of “Now” is seen from the perspective of Deanna, Alexandria’s once-proud leader. Now with her son and husband dead and her other son a hypocrite who steals food rations even as he tells the rest of the town’s citizens to conserve, she’s finally come to realize the magnitude of the threat they face, and she’s all but paralyzed with fear for her own life as well as that of the town. When she finally tries to kill a walker in this episode, she’s not all that good at it. (You can hear fans across the globe shouting, “Aim for the head!” as she stabs it repeatedly in the chest with a piece of glass.) Staring into the abyss, she tells Rick to take over, believing Spencer’s accusations that she’s just a dreamer. But it’s a responsibility Rick’s not all that sure he wants.
While Rick spends a large portion of the episode convinced Glenn is coming back — as well as Abraham, Sasha, and Daryl — Maggie is already preparing for the worst. But she can’t bring herself to mourn Glenn until she sees his body, so she heads out, reluctantly, with Aaron, who ignores her pleas to stay behind. It’s a good thing he does tag along, however, since he winds up saving her life when they run into walkers in the sewer. Aaron is, I suspect, many fans’ least favorite character in this episode. Not just because he’s gotten people killed through his own admitted ineptitude, but because it’s easy to resent his sudden closeness to Maggie when we want more than anything to see Glenn standing by her. The fact that he suggests his own name as a name for Maggie’s baby doesn’t help matters that much. Yes, it appears the rumors were true and Ms. Greene is indeed bearing Glenn’s child. Which explains in part why she rubs Glenn’s name off the town’s list of deceased, since she knows some part of her husband is still alive in her.
There’s another Alexandrian who I’m not sure I’m all that ready to trust: Ron. This week, he claims he’s trying to save Carl’s life when the lad decides to leave town in search of Enid; by fighting with him to stay. Yet I can’t help but wonder if he isn’t still afraid of losing his girlfriend to Carl. And when Ron asks Rick to teach him to shoot, it appears, on the surface, that he’s finally willing to let a new father figure into his life in the wake of his own father’s death. But what if he’s instead intent on making Rick himself his first target? The rage he’s been feeling towards his mother lately will by no means subside once he catches wind of the fact that she finally hooks up with Rick at the end of this episode. (Seriously, the kid’s got an Oedipus Complex a mile long.) But after her own experience killing a wolf in her kitchen, Jessie has almost completely come around to Rick’s point of view, a fact she makes clear when she gives her neighbors a Grimes-patented speech after killing one of them who’s turned walker.
In other coupling news… Denise, after getting another pep talk from Tara, manages to save her patient’s life, and thanks her new life coach by kissing her full on the mouth. It’s the show’s first lesbian kiss, and, after six seasons, it’s cause for celebration.
Despite its penchant for pep talks and speechifying, “Now” serves as a perfectly adequate bridge between bigger, more important events. Some of which we’ll no doubt see next week, whether we want to or not.
— Despite their presence in the town, we see little to nothing of Morgan, Michonne, Carol, and Eugene this week. Nor of the wolf that Morgan has locked up for safekeeping; a gun just waiting to go off if ever there was one.
— Jessie just doesn’t have Carol’s way with cookies, does she?
— I swear I haven’t flinched so much this season as I did when Maggie almost got killed in the sewer. After Glenn’s apparent death, the danger facing the rest of the show’s core cast, if only on some deep unconscious level, has never felt so great.
— “What I wanted for this place, was it really just pie in the sky?”
— So what are the current Las Vegas odds on how long that wall is gonna hold?
What did you think of this week’s episode? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@JMaCabre).
Image Credit: AMC