The Walking Dead ‘Now’ Plot: Alexandria’s recovery from the sudden attack is cut short by Rick (Andrew Lincoln) returning with a herd of walkers. He does his best to keep everyone together, but the cracks have begun to form. Meanwhile, Maggie (Lauren Cohan) wants to find out if Glenn is alive.
“Now” is a requisite breathing episode for this season. These past few episodes have either had non-stop intensity or incredible character coverage. We all knew the show couldn’t maintain this forever, so the question mainly was how long it would take before things just slowed down. It was clear from the moment Rick’s big plan against the herd was to “lay low and wait” that this was that episode. The entire hour was dedicated to the fallout from very recent and major events. The Alexandrians, in all their weakened and entitled glory, took center stage in their recovery. So many of these characters just aren’t interesting or even have names, which makes it tough to really care about who they are. They’re all probably going to die soon anyway, right? Fortunately there were some much more interesting stories surrounding them, though even those had their flaws.
It’s clear that we’re supposed to care about the Alexandrians. They’re people, obviously, and we want people to keep living when the world is filled with undead. However, within the context of the show, it’s nearly impossible to give a rats ass about any of them. A solid portion of the night was dedicated to how people are handling their food rations. Olivia (Ann Mahoney) does her best to get people on board but they’re all upset because they want more food for their families. They’re using impending death as an excuse to essentially live large now. An expected outcome, for sure, but when you measure up their current issue to what our main characters have had to deal with, it all just falls flat. Oh, randomly introduced Bruce wants more cans for his starving family? Please sit down with Rick so he can tell you about the time cannibals almost killed them all. If all these people were to die next week, it would be no great loss.
This was also a big episode for Spencer (Austin Nichols). Despite being Deanna’s son, Spencer is not a very defined character. The most attention he received prior was when the attack first happened. So now that everything’s calmed down and there’s time to establish the role, the show quickly settles on him being the resident dick. He preaches rationing as a means to keep society together, only to run back in later and take things for himself. Deanna catches him drinking in the kitchen and Spencer overwhelmingly blames his mother for everything that has happened. Whether or not she holds some responsibility is up for debate, but we knew too little about Spencer for his words to carry any major weight. It’s not like we saw him transition into being a massive dick. He just already is, and we have nothing to do but accept it.
At least Deanna herself took some big strides. When Rick’s group first arrived in the back half of Season 5, Deanna was immediately placed as the community’s leader. A lot of the tension revolved around how she would handle Rick’s way of living and if she can truly live in this type of world. “Now” finally saw her acknowledge that, perhaps, she’s not cut out for this either. She’s well aware of how Rick’s plan didn’t go perfectly, but as Aaron (Ross Marquand) himself said, things would be much worse if Rick didn’t get involved. Deanna wouldn’t have done a thing and now she sees how it would have completely doomed their entire area. It was a big moment for the character because we know how serious she is about doing her job well. The episode also saw Deanna stabbing a walker repeatedly and getting covered in blood. It’s debatable if this suddenly gives her the courage to stand up to a herd, but it was definitely a necessary growth.
Jessie (Alexandra Breckenridge) is coming into her own quite nicely. Her killing that Wolf was an amazing surprise and she continues to be one of the better new additions. She has easily drank Rick’s Kool-Aid and it’s truly benefitting her as a character. From what we’re lead to believe, this is completely new ground for Jessie, and her changing ripples to her family for better or for worse. In one of the night’s more boring scenes, her mopey son Sam refuses to go downstairs because of how everything’s changed. Again, tough to care about these people. Ron (Austin Abrams) to his credit is trying to improve by asking Rick for shooting lessons. He also showed some necessary wisdom by telling Carl (Chandler Riggs) not to run after Enid. Now that Jessie and Rick are a couple, you can expect these changes to keep happening. We all knew they were going to kiss someday too and it’s good that we finally have that out of the way.
Speaking of kissing, Denise (Merritt Wever) and Tara (Alanna Masterson) might become a couple too. We already saw Denise grapple with her own inadequacies before so it was nice to see her actually win for a change. That nameless Alexandrian might actually live! Cool! All that discussion about not being afraid spurred her to kiss Tara too, revealing the romantic feelings behind all that fear. This moment was probably the most interesting for comic readers as Denise being a lesbian is a change from her print counterpart. Sexual orientation doesn’t need to be given as much weight as it does, but this shift was likely for narrative purposes revolving around Tara. A relationship is a great way to make a character more interesting, but as the previously only lesbian, Tara was doomed to be alone. Changing Denise in this manner fills that void without actually introducing an entirely new person. This is also the same Denise we had before. She just likes the comfort of women this time around.
Love and a need for answers dictated Maggie throughout the night. Her entire story was about trying to find out if Glenn is still alive. I didn’t expect any answers when the episode ended, but the show gets credit for keeping this focus legitimately interesting. Maggie doesn’t want to admit Glenn might be dead and reacts in a way any loving partner would. Aaron goes with her too because he blames himself for the Wolves’ getting into their community. Those decayed walkers in the sewer looked incredible, and the lesson that you don’t always need closure is an important one. Sometimes there just isn’t an answer available and it’s important to know when to stop your crusade. Also, Maggie is pregnant! Not much on that last night but you can expect it to be a focus in future episodes.
As the expected break in tension, “Now” was a much calmer hour that focused a lot more on rebuilding instead of actually getting things done. The walker herd is there but everyone is just going to wait until other people return. This meant so much of the hour was dedicated to the normal Alexandrians and it didn’t always work. The mostly nameless people fighting over food was boring, and our first real material with Spencer shows him to be a hypocritical asshole. Jessie’s son Sam is also very unhappy with his current situation. Jessie herself worked however, and her son Ron is improving. Maggie spent the entire episode on a tragic goose chase until accepting that she might never get an answer. Deanna also took a hard turn to more badass territory. All in all this was a fairly enjoyable breather, but now I’m ready for some crazy action once again.
Luke Kalamar is Pop-Break.com’s television editor. Every Saturday afternoon you can read his video game column, Remembering the Classics. He covers Game of Thrones, Saturday Night Live and The Walking Dead (amongst others) every week. As for as his career and literary standing goes — take the best parts of Spider-man, Captain America and Luke Skywalker and you will fully understand his origin story.