Gene Page/AMC
November 09, 2015 at 02:35 PM EST

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.)

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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? 

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AMC’s zombie thriller, based on the classic comic book serial created by Robert Kirkman.
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