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Well, “Now” wasn’t the finest hour of The Walking Dead. In fact, it was by far one of the weaker episodes of season six. That isn’t to say that there weren’t some strong moments, or that it wasn’t an episode that needed to occur. The show desperately needed to start fleshing out the named Alexandria residents (after all, how can we care about them when they inevitably die if they aren’t actual characters by that point?), but I can’t help but wish the writers had gone about their task in a more nuanced manner. I spent a great deal of the episode rolling my eyes and wishing several of our new cast members had been offed during the great Wolf attack.
I still can’t seem to muster up a reason to care about Jessie. I really can’t. Yes, her story leading up to this point has been a tragedy, and I’m glad she’s out from under her abusive marriage. But even after getting a quarter of the episode’s screen time, I don’t understand why she’s a character we should care about at all. If you asked me to name three things about her, I would list that she’s a mother, she had an abusive husband, and she cuts hair. We don’t know what makes her tick. We know she’s attracted to Rick, but she certainly hasn’t dealt with the emotional impact of her marriage. She hasn’t really spoken to characters on the show beyond her kids and Rick. Giving us more time with Jessie isn’t the key to creating a multi-dimensional character. Rather, it’s giving us time with Jessie interacting with other characters. I would love to see Jessie and Carol spend some time together. Or Jessie and Maggie. Just anything other than turning Jessie into a character who is defined more by her romantic relationship with Rick than anything else.
I’m also not particularly sympathetic to Spencer, Deanna’s son. Heck, I didn’t even remember his name until it was used in the episode. While he certainly wasn’t a boorish and spoiled as the nameless band of Alexandrians who were raiding the pantry, he definitely didn’t win any points by getting drunk and unloading all of his anger on Deanna. Did she willfully stick her head in the sand regarding the threat posed by the walkers? Yes. Was she responsible for the attack by the Wolves? I don’t think so. Could the Alexandrians have been more prepared to fight? Definitely, but there is no way Deanna could have anticipated that a deranged group of people from the woods would create a coordinated attack on the town right when all their best fighters were out. Aaron’s error with his backpack was far more to blame for that attack than Deanna’s refusal to accept that the new world order calls for combat training. But, lest I come off as too harsh on poor shell-shocked Spencer, I don’t blame the man for getting trashed after witnessing the carnage of a few hours before. He’s earned that drink and then some.
While I was less than pleased with the bulk of the episode, there were a few bright spots. The characterization of Denise (played by the immensely talented Merritt Weaver) was one of the stronger elements of the episode. While we already dealt with Denise being scared a few weeks back, I was glad to see that the character has used the recent attack to bolster her courage a bit. After all, the town is going to need her to be strong going forward. I also really loved how the episode dealt with little Sam’s fears stemming from the attack. While we saw the various town adults become selfish and isolationist in the aftermath of the tragedy, watching Sam struggle to accept that his quiet worldview has been shattered was really hard. His fear of going downstairs resonated far stronger than any of the other elements of the episode.
— I have to admit I’m a bit encouraged that in this zombie apocalypse, the show’s two gay characters seem to be doing better than most of their straight counterparts in the dating arena. Good for you, Aaron and Tara.
— One thing that always amazes me about The Walking Dead is how a brilliant episode like “Here’s Not Here” can be followed by an episode like “Now,” where the dialogue is so clunky and the acting is so hit-or-miss.
— So Rick just ran away from the zombie horde? Yeah, sure, fine Walking Dead writers. Way to go with that simplistic solution.
— Now that Maggie is pregnant, I can’t help but think Glenn really is alive. After all, wouldn’t it be far more horrific to kill Glenn off at a point where he’s about to become a father?
— Speaking of Maggie, that whole trip through the sewers with Aaron was a complete waste of time. We learned precious little about Aaron and it made Maggie appear impulsive and scattered (which, considering all she’s dealing with, I don’t blame her for).
— I still don’t trust Ron, Jessie’s son. I don’t trust him at all.