After last week’s excellent interlude, The Walking Dead returned to the clear and present danger at hand for the Alexandrians, as the zombie masses have made their way to the town’s gates.
But “Now” feels oddly paced in the drive of this season. “Here’s Not Here,” in many ways, gave us the pause for breath needed after the first three episodes pushed forward at an unceasing rate, yet “Now,” in the context of the present-day story line, serves that same purpose. There’s some wheel-spinning involved with the episode’s proceedings: Daryl, Abraham, and Sasha are unaccounted for, and no one at home knows what happened to Glenn or Nicholas. (This also means that, for now, whether Glenn’s name actually belongs on the wall remains up for debate, a sentiment shared by characters in the show.)
Yet “Now” is about accepting the reality of the moment, reality of course being quite subjective, it seems. For some, the attacks on town are a signal that the world is over. To others, it’s business as usual in the fight to survive. It’s all a matter of perspective as Alexandria rests in a state of stasis, its future unclear. The present has to be dealt with first, after all.
That present is becoming all too difficult for Deanna to handle. The once beloved leader of the town walks about its streets in a near-catatonic state. She surveys the damage and overhears Michonne informing Maggie that they never saw a signal from Glenn.
The only thing to snap her back into reality are Rick’s screams from outside the gates as half the quarry’s zombies trudge on behind him. Surrounding the walls of the city 20 deep, the horrors Rick’s group has known for so long are finally infecting the minds of the Alexandrians. But he wants them to remain strong. The walls will hold for now, Rick tells the townspeople, and they need to hold, too. Daryl and the others will return to help drive them away. The town must remain as silent as a graveyard but not believe they are living in an actual graveyard.
Some doubt Rick’s words, but Aaron comes to his defense. More than that, he comes clean about how the Wolves found their town. He mentions the pictures he lost on his recruitment mission with Daryl. “Now” is about all of Alexandria coming to terms with the horrors before them, but it’s perhaps Aaron whom the hour belongs to, as he tries to rectify the sins of his past.
To a lesser extent, “Now” is also primarily concerned with Deanna and Jessie. The former merely walks off in silence during Rick’s speech, while the latter attempts to be proactive, wanting to bury Wolf bodies while trapped inside. (Rick, naturally, stops her, not wanting killers to be buried in the town’s walls.)
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For the most part, the Alexandrians have given up, though. A pack of them rummage around the food storage despite Olivia’s protests. And it’s not Deanna who makes them take a hard look at their actions, but her son, Spencer. He proves to be more about words and less about actions, however, stopping the other Alexandrians from hoarding food but taking a little booze for himself later.
Some of the safe zone has put its time to better use, writing a memoriam to all those who have perished. Among the names they assumedly paint on the wall are Glenn and Nicholas’, but Maggie is not so confident in the death of her loved one. She’s preparing to go out alone and look for hi and fight through the zombie hordes to find the truth, but Aaron won’t let her fly solo on this. He’s going to help, partially to atone for his sins, and it doesn’t hurt that he knows a safer way out than facing the walkers on the wall.
He takes Maggie to a sewage drain used before the viral outbreak, which should steer them clear of the walkers. They find more danger than expected, however, because Aaron has not explored the sewers since the walls first went up. While moving some debris Aaron sustains a head injury, and two water-eroded walkers emerge out of the tunnel. Looking like two Pirates of the Caribbean extras strapped to the side of Davy Jones’ boat, the decaying walkers prove more forceful than their decayed forms would suggest.
NEXT: Maggie faces the here and now — and is love in the air of Alexandria? [pagebreak]
They survive, Aaron still riddled with guilt and refusing to go back despite his injuries. Their journey stops, though, when they come to a final grate at which Maggie decides to not move forward with the walkers waiting on the other side. She’s so adamant about it she yells to attract their attention and make progress impossible. Maggie believes she doesn’t get to know what happened, as much as she wishes she could just see Glenn’s face again. She stayed behind at his behest and took the photo of her away from him because she promised to never be away from him again. That’s something they have to live with, just as Aaron has to live with what has happened for him, and she has to live with (surprise, surprise) being pregnant to a baby that may never know its father. (ASIDE: Of all the main characters, there’s a good argument for Maggie having suffered the most unceasing amount of terror during the show, losing family at every turn. Whether or not Glenn is dead, it’s just sad to have to watch her, and Lauren Cohan, have to go through similar torture again and again — and now with a baby on the way. END ASIDE)
Whether that’s true, it wouldn’t be the only child in Alexandria to face some daddy issues. Jessie’s son Sam continues to hide out upstairs, refusing to leave the upper floor of their house, while Ron decides it’s finally time to learn how to protect himself from Rick. (Ron also warns Rick that Carl wanted to go out beyond the walls to find Enid, but he supposedly stopped him with the threat of telling Rick.) One of her sons has seen the reality of life, and she wants to make not only Sam understand it, as well, but the rest of the town, too. They watch in horror as she kills a walker trapped in a house, an Alexandrian who seemingly killed herself, but she tells them this is the way life now. If they don’t accept that, they die.
And acceptance seems to be difficult for Deanna, until she reveals to Rick just what she’s accepted. The Alexandrians don’t need her anymore; they need him. Her son blames her for the deaths in their family, that her ideas were all just pie-in-the-sky ideals (This is what Spencer tells her in his drunken stupor just after she’s plotted out plans for a prosperous Alexandria). He tells her they never were tenable, but she seems resigned that her time to enact those ideals is over.
(ASIDE: Spencer doesn’t seem much interested in the power his mother once had over the town, only having stepped in at the pantry because he didn’t want the town to descend into chaos. He’s willing to take credit for stopping the truck during the Wolves assault with his fellow Alexandrians, but when Rosita compliments him later for his work, he merely calls it a lucky shot. END ASIDE)
It’s Rick’s time to lead, in her mind, and though he’s been doing plenty of that already, “Now” seems to signal not just the power shift in Alexandria but the entire safe zone’s morale. Denise feels trapped, unable to help Scott in the infirmary, with Tara being the only person to wish her well. End of the world or not, Denise has found comfort, friendship, and maybe something more, as she kisses Tara later that day, having found a possible aid to Scott’s condition.
Romance is in the air of Alexandria for Rick as well, who approaches Jessie after hearing about her speech to the town. As surefooted as she attempted to sound to her fellow townspeople, she’s honestly as afraid as the rest, asking Rick to tell her that there is a future for them. He doesn’t exactly tell her because he starts kissing her. I think she gets the message, though.
And Maggie suggests that — despite having admitted in the tunnel that all signs, or the lack thereof, point to Glenn being gone — it’s not wrong to hold out hope. She and Aaron wipe his and Nicholas’ names off the memorial wall, the latter taking the moment to suggest his name for the baby’s as they discuss “when,” not “if,” Glenn returns to her.
Of course, if Glenn is still alive, there’s the matter of the zombie masses pawing at the walls of Alexandria to overcome first. And as some of their blood begins to seep through the metal siding, there may not be much time left before the threat must be addressed.