After big battles, you usually learn a lesson. The severity may depend on whether you won or lost. Regardless, you want to at least walk away from a fight with something to show for it. Or, in the case of “Now” and our Alexandria residents, learn things that you should have already been aware of in the first place.
The episode begins in the aftermath of the battle in the Alexandria Safe Zone. Deanna scales a ladder, looks at an inscription on the walls, and watches some of the citizens tend to the bodies. All of a sudden, here comes Rick Grimes running fast with a swarm of walkers behind him. Michonne and Maggie throw open the gates and Rick enters just as the swarm bangs at the gates behind him.
I’d say that didn’t last very long, but no one really expected that these people would catch a break.
So the walkers are at the walls and the community is worried. Rick tells the people that they can indeed hear the walkers, and there are still enough to surround them. Though the people may be scared and haven’t been through anything like this, Rick assures them that they’re safe for now. The walls will hold together, but now it’s time for the community to do the same. As for the others? They’ll be back soon. Sasha, Abraham, and Daryl are still leading the other walkers away from the zone.
Right now, it’s time to make the place as quiet as a graveyard. Not the best metaphor, Rick. And Francine insists that this is a graveyard. Aaron backs up Rick. He tells the people that the quarry broke open and those walkers were headed this way. Rick’s plan to keep them away worked. Aaron admits that he was out recruiting and wanted to scavenge, but Daryl wanted to keep looking. They did what Aaron wanted and wound up in a track. He admits that his pack was lost and used by the Wolves, so this was all his fault.
For now, Rick says that there will be more to talk about. Deanna, though, walks off.
Jessie returns home and drags the dead Wolf to the graveyard, where it soon rests with the other bodies. She gets to digging, though Rick advises against that. They don’t bury killers inside the walls. So where, then? Rick tells her to wait.
Olivia is rationing supplies, and the townspeople aren’t fans of this plan. But then, she’s only one person and the crowd pushes through to start taking supplies. Spencer soon enters and tells them to stop, but they inform him to make sure the gate is closed. He reminds them that the truck would be inside if it wasn’t for him.
Where was Bruce? I mean, who is Bruce? No really, who is this? Spencer tells the people that starting with taking food will take them down a dark path. It’s enough to make them see the error of their ways. Speeches tend to have that effect.
Aaron spots Maggie from afar, but the two exchange no words. He goes to the walls and finds the townspeople inscribing the names of the dead on the walls. Hell, Nicholas and Glenn’s names are even there, never mind that there are no bodies. Haven’t these people ever watched television? Anyway, Aaron follows Maggie to the armory. She’s packing to go out and find Glenn. He knows that she plans to open up a path and is waiting for dark.
But what happens if she drops a gun or twists an ankle? Or if a walker slows her down and she has to deal with a herd? Aaron won’t allow her to do this, but Maggie finally opens her mouth and says that he can’t stop her. Okay, fine, but then Aaron will go and help her. After all, he knows a safer way out. I feel like if he’d led with that, Maggie would have talked a lot sooner.
In her study, Deanna starts taking notes on a map of areas in the community. She hears glass breaking and finds that Spencer has dropped a glass. He’s close to intoxicated due to booze from the pantry, along with a few other items he stole. He doesn’t call it stealing, though.
So yeah, the guy’s a giant hypocrite. If everyone raided the pantry, then that would be the end of the food. But one person, Spencer argues, no one would notice. So why not him? He did stop the truck, after all.
He admits that they were right. They’ll all be dead soon. He rages at Deanna, saying that she made them all this way. They were never safe, but Deanna wanted them to dream. What’s happened is all on her. I’d say go home, Spencer, you’re drunk, but he’s already home.
Carl meets up with Ron to see if he’s okay. Ron, safe to say, is in a pissy mood. He hasn’t seen Enid since he last saw her with Carl. Now that she’s over the walls, Ron thinks that she’s dead. He refuses to help Carl, who insists that finding Enid isn’t for him, but Enid…who is apparently now Ron’s girlfriend. He told her to stop going over the walls because it’s dangerous, but not if you know what you’re doing.
Ron attempts to stop Carl, even going as far as threatening to tell Rick, who he knows will go after him, and others will go and eventually, someone will die. This is one of the lamest fights ever, if I can even call it that.
In the infirmary, Denise reads up on medical know-how because that’s her job. You’d think all the time spent working with Edie Falco would teach her a thing or two. She pushes a book aside just as Tara enters in a bit of a convenient moment. Tara promises not to tell Denise that she’s being brave. Scott hasn’t woken up yet.
Tara is here because her head hurts. It’s a load of shit, but she’s just here to check up on Denise. Denise thinks that Scott is going to die and she’s afraid of what’s going on inside that she can’t think about what’s happening out there.
Now, she just wants Scott to live, the roamers to go away, and for a doctor to show up at the gates so she can go back to reading War and Peace. It’s not like she doesn’t feel the end of the world.
Jessie gets a surprise from a walker at one of the windows. Judging from the walker’s attire, I’m guessing this was one of the citizens that recently turned. Jessie pulls out her handy dandy knife, opens the door, and guts the walker right in its eye. She could use a bit more thrust, I know that much.
She admits to others nearby that she didn’t want to see the way things are before. Not that she couldn’t, but she just didn’t want to. But this is what life looks like now. The people have to see and fight it. If not, they’ll die.
You know, it shouldn’t take you until now to realize this, Jessie.
Back to Maggie and Aaron. Aaron has a secret passageway that leads to a sewer under the wall and, hopefully, past the walkers. I’m going to assume that the sewer smells of poo gas. Maggie is still going on her own, despite Aaron’s insistence to go with her. He can’t watch more names go up on that wall, so another adventure we have.
If Glenn truly is dead, Maggie doesn’t want to be kept waiting. She tells Aaron that it isn’t his fault, but he maintains that he’s part of the reason people are dead. He has to live with that.
Now Aaron hasn’t been down here since the beginning. The ladder has fallen since then. They manage to pull it off, but then walkers crawl out of the water. After a bit of false tension, Aaron manages to kill the walkers. Maggie tells Aaron to go back to deal with his head wound, but again, he presses on with her.
Outside, Rick radios to Sasha, Abraham, and Daryl, but gets no response. Ron joins him to say that Enid used to spend time over the walls. He thinks that she went out there over the attacks and no one knows where she is…even if she knows how to take care of herself.
He then says that Carl wanted to try, but he stopped him. Ron offers to stay up there as guard. Also, he thought about what Rick said about everyone protecting themselves. Rick, for whatever reason, gives Ron his gun and tells him to find his target.
Denise gets a bit of inspiration and goes to work on Scott’s wound. She extracts some blood and his heart rate lowers. A bit later, she joins Tara and, for whatever reason, kisses her. It’s the end of the world, supposedly. But as Tara said, being afraid sucks. Well, I suppose the show has to give Tara something to do.
Back underground, Aaron and Maggie arrive at the gate. Maggie insists that this is all over and they can’t keep going forward. It doesn’t help that she raises her voice and draws some walkers to the gates. She admits that if she was out there, she could have helped him. If Glenn was alive, he would have shown her by now. She doesn’t get to know why or how Glenn supposedly died.
Not now. She and Aaron have to live with that. Oh, and Maggie’s pregnant. Surprise.
Jessie won’t bring cookies upstairs and Sam won’t come down because nothing changed up there. Well, Jessie is halfway up the stairs, so technically, she’s upstairs. Even still, Sam won’t take the cookies. Maybe she should just throw them at him. She does concede and leave them at his door.
That evening, Deanna replays Spencer’s words in her mind. A reanimated Wolf comes her way, but she grabs the broken glass bottle and stabs the roamer over and over again. Rick soon joins her and mentions that apparently Carol got one of the Wolves, but couldn’t find the body. But then Deanna admits that she wants to live and the community to stay strong. However, the zone doesn’t need her. What they need, she says, is Rick.
She asks Rick if what she really wanted for the zone was pie in the sky and Rick responds that no, it wasn’t.
Aaron and Maggie have returned to the Safe Zone. She heads to the wall and, as expected, takes Glenn’s name off of the list of deceased. Aaron joins in and starts removing Nicholas’ name. He tells her that when Glenn returns, that Aaron is a good enough name for a baby, depending on the spelling.
Spencer heads to the top of the wall to relieve Rosita, as he elected to take Carol’s place. Rosita never got a chance to say it, but admits that he did well with taking out the truck driver. Spencer admits that he got lucky, but even still, he should keep doing what he’s doing. She leaves as Spencer begins his watch.
Jessie, meanwhile, is joined by Rick, who tells her that the wanted the bodies away from the graveyard because they don’t know if Glenn, Daryl, Sasha, Abraham are still alive. He wanted those bodies gone, but he also needed to wait. The walkers could still be out there for some time, but Jessie says that it already has been awhile.
There’s no moving past that. Right here in this moment, though, this is what life looks like. There has to be a future, Jessie pleads. Is there more? Well, a Rick Grimes kiss seems to confirm that yes, there is indeed more.
Deanna heads to the gate and bangs on it. Dunno whether she gets off on that or just wants to piss off the walkers, but there you go. Also, there’s a crack in the wall. Or it looks like it, anyway. That or blood. I dunno.
So after a bunch of fast-paced episodes and a Morgan-centric flashback-filled episode, “Now” focuses on the aftermath of the Wolves’ attack on the Safe Zone and bridging the gap between the folks within the zone and everyone on the outside. It’s mixed, to say the least. The Alexandria Safe Zone just suffered through losses due to a surprise attack, and things aren’t getting any better with the walkers knocking at their walls.
Ideally, this would be the time to assess what the people are going through in light of the assault on their homes. It’s a chance to see if anyone has warmed to Rick’s methods of getting things done and people, after feeling secure and coddled for so long, need to start asserting themselves in this ugly world.
People can feel too complacent if they’re used to things being a certain way for so long, whether it’s living in one place for years, working the same job, and just going through the motions of life, over and over again. As this show has demonstrated before, the comfortable can be shaken out of apathy and forced out of their comfort zone if something dramatic happens.
Something slips through the cracks- or through the walls- and turn everything upside down, forcing you to reassess your situation.
The second things go awry, everyone loses their minds. They’ll start taking up arms, stockpiling food, becoming paranoid, pointing fingers- anything that they can use as an outlet to vent, they’ll take it.
So really, it wouldn’t be unexpected for the show to examine what the people of Alexandria think and feel after this attack, but I think the problem with “Now” is in execution. It juggles dealing with multiple characters’ reactions in short bursts. And while some character changes, like Deanna, feel a bit more significant, others come off as a little too synchronized, just so we can add some supposed depth to the Alexandria residents.
As we’ve known for some time, the Alexandria Safe Zone provides some security and stability, but it’s not 100 percent walker-proof. Of course, the people inside know about walkers and the world beyond the walls, but some try to go back to the way things were and act like life is relatively fine. Some are a bit smarter and aware than that, but not as experienced to the level of Rick and the others.
Here, Spencer blames Deanna for all the bad things that have happened and the zone’s complacency, Jessie realizes what this life is and the need to fight against it, Denise gets inspiration to try and act like an actual doctor, the townspeople start stockpiling goods in case their days are numbered, and Deanna questions whether her visions for Alexandria were just pie-in-the-sky. All within the span of one episode.
These conclusions and moments would have felt much more natural if they occurred as the season progressed instead of just in one episode because it’s too convenient for everyone to have this realization that life within the Safe Zone doesn’t guarantee safety.
They’ve had to banish people outside the walls and people like Heath have been on scouting missions for extended periods, so they know it’s dangerous to go alone- take this. I mean, it’s dangerous outside the walls.
Why would the Wolves’ attack suddenly cause the people to change their minds about their safety? This feels like the perfect time to have a town meeting or allow people to air out their grievances, not just people like Spencer. Extreme as Rick is, as Aaron points out, his methods at least ensure some form of safety and protection. Even Tobin, last season, said that Abraham was a better fit to lead the construction crew than him.
So these people know the good that these newcomers can bring, not just with their raw strength. While I’m fine with the people of Alexandria being woken out of their slumber, I wish it didn’t all happen at once because I don’t buy that these people would all have these sudden revelations about their circumstances. Obviously this isn’t their first encounter with roamers or even bad people.
Alexandria isn’t some bastion of hope. Like the prison or Woodbury, it’s a haven where people can feel secure, even though they know the walkers are always lurking out there. The Safe Zone is no different, so I would think that these people would already be more alert and aware.
I think back to something Jessie said to Rick last season: life is better within the walls, but that doesn’t mean that everyone outside of Rick’s group hasn’t lost something or someone. They’ve had their fair share of tragedy, but a lot those feelings disappeared.
So they know about the world beyond the walls and have just repressed all that negativity. I don’t like that the show has the characters we spend time with all experience some form of change when they’ve experienced loss before.
Deanna, though, gets the most positive change, and thank goodness for that. She already realized that Rick had a point about the people being too comfortable, but this was pretty much a full blown endorsement when she said that the people need him, not her. In effect, Rick got what he wanted when he suggested that his crew just take Alexandria. But Deanna sees what that has led to when Spencer calls her out for her rampant optimism.
So when Deanna stabs the random walker, it feels like a giant weight has been lifted off of her shoulders. She refuses to be a victim any longer and instead of trying to pretend the roamers aren’t an issue, she bangs the fence in order to antagonize them.
She’s becoming bolder and given how long the residents have been complacent because of her pie-in-the-sky optimism, I can see her making this gradual change, given how she gave Rick the go-ahead to execute Pete.
Spencer reminds me a bit of Nicholas. He’s quickly warming to the methods of Rick’s group and understands that the stability within Alexandria won’t keep anyone alive when you’re on the other side of the wall. He’s not a complete coward, as he does still steal supplies from the pantry, but his eyes have been opened.
I do think he came off a bit harsh towards Deanna since every resident is responsible for how they live in this new world, but it did help spur her into action.
There’s not a lot to say about Denise since she doesn’t progress much further than the last time we saw her. The new world is scary and she’s ill-equipped at saving people’s lives. We know that. And I guess because Tara is the only other character thus far that likes girls and the show needs to give her something to do, Denise kisses her.
Whatever. It adds nothing to the plot, so I’m struggling to figure out why we even needed either of them in this episode since, as of yet, I don’t see what Tara brings to the group since her addition.
Curiously, Jessie doesn’t seem all that concerned with Ron not being back home yet since he’s off having tidbits with Carl. Like Spencer and Deanna, I’m glad she’s more assertive, but even she acknowledged before that everyone has had their fair share of tragedy, so even if she wants to give a little speech about this being the world everyone has to live in, we already know that she’s not blind to the outside world.
At the very least, she wasn’t timid about killing roamers. And it looks as if she’s getting a shot at happiness through the kiss with Rick.
Sticking with Rick for a moment, there’s the big question of his return. When we last saw him, walkers approached the RV and he just realized that the intruders had made it to Alexandria. Now, he’s not only escaped, but attracted enough of a swarm to lead back to the Safe Zone. And even then, his talk to the residents seems only based on the walkers he attracted.
We don’t know if he’s aware of everything that happened and I don’t recall him having checking in on Carl or anyone else, so did someone bring him up to speed? If so, his warning would feel more warranted if he knew what had happened in his absence. But we don’t see that happen.
Given Rick’s overprotective nature, I’d think the first thing he would do is check on his son and daughter, or at least get an update from someone like Carol, who I don’t remember seeing, or Morgan, who somehow still managed to return to Alexandria faster than Rick.
If there was any lingering feeling that Glenn was lost, the show wiped it away with Maggie’s pregnancy announcement. Like Judith surviving the prison attack, we’re probably going to have a happy reunion down the line. Not to mention Maggie wiping Glenn’s name from the deceased list, so now he has to return.
I appreciate her scenes with Aaron because they helped get him out of his guilt that would have gotten him killed. That and the scenes with the grotesque walkers, though lacking any real tension, was at lease ramped up to balance out the quieter moments of the episode.
“Now” feels like a transitional episode that helped change the hearts and minds of the Alexandria residents. They’ve suffered losses and are now coming to grips with the reality of their situation within their walls.
While some character development was handled better than others, the episode suffered a bit because these residents ought to know better by now and it feels like there are missing moments, like Rick not asking what happened while he was gone.
Alexandria has endured suffering and pain before, so a few Wolves shouldn’t be what ultimately shakes the community out of apathy. And I’m just not invested in characters like Ron or Denise.
Again, the decision to have multiple characters see things in a new light, I feel, was a mistake because it feels like this is the event that will redefine their lives instead of anything prior, like the quarry incident Aaron spoke of early in the episode.
We didn’t see life in Alexandria prior to the arrival of Rick’s group, so maybe some of the people buried their grief deeper than I’m to believe. Even still, you wish the people of Alexandria got with the program sooner than they do here.