Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Walking Dead S6x05 Now

Last week's episode focused on an extended flashback on Morgan, leaving us with heavy-loaded questions about Rick and Glenn's survival as hoards of zombies came their way.

Episode 5 titled Now returned us to Alexandria following the Wolves' attack and how the dwindling number of civilians would move on despite such a severe blow to their community. Below includes spoilers of the series so far. You've been warned but hope you enjoy!

6. Carol & Michonne MIA?
Now acted as nice padding in between chaos and character studies and let us see how Alexandria was going to fail or succeed after their violent attack. What were their baby steps of recovery going to be? But, instead of coming away feeling more supportive of Alexandria, there were just some bizarre choices made in how the scenes were arranged and some characters were featured over others.

As one main example, Carol and Michonne were completely MIA. We only heard of them in conversation or in passing from Rick to another character. Maybe Carol needed a long deserved break and she was sitting on her porch smoking some of Pasta Ladies' last cigs.

But what would Carol think of Daryl missing? What are the dynamics between her and Morgan, and what will Rick think of each of their choices? Rick banished Carol from the prison when she confessed to killing David and Karen. He won't even bury the bodies of murderers in their yards, so what will he think of Morgan keeping one of the Wolves as a pet project? Obviously the writers are holding out...but there are enough details about their assailants at least for them to be more cautious right now - even if hope has wavered and the death count has risen.

And, then Michonne's lack of participation in Maggie's attempt to find Glenn was puzzling. Again, there wasn't a more dynamic conversation about Glenn (and Nicholas) missing because he is a prime member of their family. The news of his absence was like talking through the grapevines. Even in the previous episode, Michonne sensed something was wrong with Glenn when he didn't make the signal. Even though Heath and Scott were able to get home safely on their own, she didn't go back for him? She didn't go with Maggie to go find Glenn? What was she doing this whole episode since we never saw her with Heath or even at Scott's bedside?

These seem like small moments, but usually we get a stronger sense of what characters are up to when they are not the central part of the story. In Now, that wasn't the case.

5. Alexandrians: Survive and Conquer, please!
Alexandrians continue to play the fine line of "I care about them" and "Really, Rick just take over the whole damn place already". The wool has been lifted from their eyes: their safe-haven was never that - ever. So, after the attack and the walkers are led right to their gates - what do they do?

Loot the pantry and hide from any new responsibilities.

Deanna's son Spencer seemed to turn the tide against the other Alexandrians committing wrong against each other. He gave a sweet little speech about not thinking irrationally because that will lead to the community's downfall. And then he swiped some booze and crackers for himself.

I liked that promise of chaos within Alexandria: another added element of how people will turn on each other when the chips are down, especially since they all have been living pie in the sky for so long. They'll have to start rationing food, the use of electricity, and ban noise so as not to attract the walkers. They are all trapped, so what will that be like?

But, the individual Alexandrians are not that interesting to examine or pay that much attention to. I'm not necessarily bored because there's Aaron, Eric, Deanna, Heath, Denise, Jessie and her son Sam (ixnay on her son Ron) but some of them are really pushing my buttons... That's my biggest struggle. Some people might have extra on-screen presence but do they rally up feelings of empathy? compassion? excitement? even hate or love to hate? Not right now. I'm not at the point of feeling manipulated to care for one character because he/she will replace somebody else...but maybe our core family is the ones we've been with since the beginning, and there isn't room for other minor ones.

I will say thank heavens for Denise, because like Jessie, she was another example of a character coming to terms of her capabilities. Glenn showed Tara his faith in her, and that strength lives on in Tara. She was able to give Eugene some building blocks to courage, and now do the same with Denise. Tara's belief that it isn't the end of the world was met with Denise's impetus of believing that it's the end of the world so she is going to take a chance on Tara. Their shared intimacy isn't wasted one way or the other. I love them together and hope their relationship continues to build.

4. Chances
One chance that is completely bogus is the one Rick is taking on Ron. The kid had a crush on Enid and she hit the road after the Wolves' attack. Of course, raging teenage hormones and leftover angst after seeing your stepfather-to-be kill your father being what they are, his tunnel vision is to blame everything on Carl.

Yet Carl saved Ron's life when the Wolves' attacked. In wanting to skip over the fences to find her, Ron held that against him saying he will tell Rick and everyone else, they will go looking for him and someone will end up dead over his impetuousness.
So cue to Ron asking Rick to give him a gun and teach him how to fight. All of a sudden he wants to know how to defend himself? Maybe he did see his mom fighting off the Wolves and that scared some courage into him. However, to me, that little twerp is t-r-o-u-b-l-e.

Showrunners, do not think I missed that camera shot of Ron holding onto his knife while gazing at Carl. I did see that. And hopefully plenty of other fans did to and might sense the foreshadowing or warning ahead. My red flags shot up and now I'm concerned that Rick, or Carl, is going to get in this assholes' crossfire.

At the top of the series, Rick said that he doesn't take chances anymore. But, he really is: with the plan that they thought was going to work, with thinking they can handle the Wolves without being more prepared, with letting his guard down for Ron.

He is a complicated teen, and I may be jumping the gun, but his intentions are dubious at best. Ron is going to be the biggest chance Rick takes. I don't think it is going to pay off. And, I will be done with this show if something happens to Rick because of this little punk. I could handle if a comic book "accident" happens to Carl but not Rick.

3. Deanna
Some fans' reception of Deanna this week was a little unfair. She lost her husband and her son, one right after the other. Then, Alexandria was overthrown by the Wolves. While I sometimes take the point of view that characters have to learn faster about the world they are in instead of moping around (aka 95% of Alexandrians), she has a lot on her plate. The Safe Zone Congresswoman's rose-colored glasses has been torn from her face and the new reality she faces is tough. Rick is treading on safe water, and somewhere deep, I think he wants her to pull through and they can both lead the community. It's just up to her to get to that place of perseverance.

When finally facing what the community had lost, Deanna drew the community on a map and writing Dolor hic tibi proderit olim. From the Roman poet Ovid comes the longer phrase: Perfer et obdura, dolor hic tibi proderit olim. When translated means "be patient and tough; someday this pain will be useful to you." This was a perfect mantra for her at this time, as well as a common theme throughout the show.

She went from talking about planting crops with Maggie to hiding in a truck during the Wolves attack, to taking down a walker. Her only other son blamed her during his alcoholic rant for all the losses and false sense of hope. Deanna spent most of Now shell-shocked and wandering the streets with an empty look in her eyes. Her first walker kill, who seemed to be on circus stilts for gods' sakes, was pretty brutal. And, I was really excited to see her take one down!

Tovah is really a fiery actress; the venom and anger in her eyes is amazing. There's a ferocity underneath that cold exterior that I pray we get to see play out more. Her rage, if not also stupidity, to slam her hands against the fence in outrage, as walkers crammed against the outside gates, like "I'm still here! Come and get me! See if you can really take me down!" attitude was showing there's still a fighter in there.

Harking back on season's passed, the showrunner did not do Lori and Andrea justice. But, there was a lot to analyze those characters nonetheless. Whether they were loved or hated, they were two female characters who butted heads with the lead males, one an anti-hero, the other a villain. I don't think we've had that in a while. Michonne and Carol are great examples of strength and complexity, and the show has an eclectic group of women hands down. But, I'd love to see specifically Deanna rise to power - whether that means working against or alongside Rick. Tovah is truly enigmatic in interviews about her character, and I'd love to see more of what she can do when she has her emotions in check, her head on straight, and the capacity to lead Alexandria without a naive sense of optimism.

2. Jessie and Rick sitting in a garage
Oh, speaking of interesting women, (say what you want Richonne shippers) but I really like Jessie. Since JSS, and especially in that episode, she's shifted gears entirely. She killed one of the Walkers in cold blood. She managed to kill Betsy (David's wife) who committed suicide and turned into a walker. For her to grasp so quickly on doing what needs to be done to survive is miraculous in a place like Alexandria. She heeded Rick's calling to kill or die, she protected her family, and it was awesome.

But, in protecting her children, Jessie's also lost their trust. It's a rough exchange. She's not winning any cool points with her youngest Sam, who she tried to bribe with cookies. She's not winning Mother of the Year awards with Ron - ever. Her "kill or be killed" new stance is off-putting to her children who suffered abuse from their father, who her boyfriend killed. Complicated, much?

But does her grasp of reality warrant a major propulsion into a relationship with Rick? I'm not sure. I've never been a hardcore shipper in any fandom. Those feelings of "these two people have to be together or I'll hate everyone who dare comes between them" have never resided in me as a fangirl. To me, I see Rick with Lori; even though, yes, she's dead, and he's automatically shipped with her because they were married. But I don't hate that Rick is with Jessie but I don't love it either. I don't hate that Rick wasn't with Michonne, even if he wasn't with Jessie. I just didn't see Rick with anyone - in general.

The concept of "now", being in the present moment, and seeing value with the future was a core characteristic of this week's events. After killing the Wolves Jessie didn't want to delay what went on between them. Rick was feeling vulnerable, perhaps finally he wants to feel something other than responsibility for everyone else, so he's acting out on humankind's instinct for closeness. So the progression of the kiss Rick and Jessie shared in the garage was....just kinda there, I guess. I didn't see the sexual chemistry or spark the producers' claimed they've had since the beginning, but it too was just kinda there.

1. Maggie's pregnancy and I LOVE YOU AARON
Maggie is pregnant. That was the shocking news not heard around the world. Because as soon as Glenn was thrown into the sea of walkers, every blog regurgitated theories about what Maggie and Glenn's conversation in this season's pilot was about and every which way Glenn could've or didn't survive the walkers who were enjoying an intestines brunch. It was a bit of a media overkill, to say the least.

So, the news itself might not have been shocking - but the delivery of it was beautiful.

After receiving word from Michonne that Glenn didn't succeed in making a signal, Maggie decided to see if he was still alive. Immediately, Aaron stepped up to the plate. This seemed like an odd friendship, just because of the newness of it, but both Lauren and Ross did a splendid job.

First, I loved that Aaron took the initiative of deflecting the Alexandrian's brewing outrage towards Rick. He didn't wait to confess that dropping his bag of photographs in their enemies' territory is how the Wolves found them. He wasn’t a coward; he didn’t take Rick aside and tell him about the photos - he unburdened his guilt to everyone and was courageous enough to take backlash.

So, Aaron tags along with Maggie and continues to be a cabbage patch kid unicorn of humanity and awesomeness. He isn’t a nuisance, or a hard-ass, or a know-it-all. He goes with her as a friend, not making the side-trip about himself. He genuinely wants to help and be there for her with whatever the outcome may be. A small part of it may be to recover the damage that was done in Alexandria, but they both share a commonality to accept or battle against the unknown.

For Maggie, it’s was what would’ve happened if she had gone with Glenn; would he still be alive? would they both still be alive? What if she told him not to go and stay with him - how would they feel if others died or went missing instead of them?

For Aaron, his doubts comes from what would’ve happened if he didn’t drop those photos - would the Wolves still had attacked? How much of that is purely on his shoulders (since we the audience know that Morgan let three Wolves go)?


Both of them come clean with their doubts, and Maggie announces she's pregnant. She's terrified. She wants to see Glenn's face, she can't believe she doesn't have a photo of him, she told him to burn the photograph he had of her because they would never be apart. Instead of charging ahead with her instincts to track him down, she doesn't endanger herself and her baby. It's such a grown-up moment because Maggie and Glenn are each other's homes. But there is nothing she can do about his survival or demise.

Each other's safety is a core element of their love and marriage. To think that Glenn made that call to try to get home by putting himself in danger is the opposite of what Maggie has to do now. She and Aaron don't go into the marketplace. They accept the terms that because Glenn's gone doesn't mean he's dead. They don't have a choice to ponder the what ifs or why things happen. They just do, and they only have the now to deal with.

Continually, I just loved their scene together. It wasn't hugely filled with action or a drawn out character study but it was profound.

Because what does Aaron do when Maggie tells him she’s pregnant? He immediately hugs her. There isn't a seconds hesitation. And, it’s so sweet; he doesn’t back away in shock, or frown, or look shocked, he’s not invasive about their relationship, he’s just there for her. It's rare in this world filled with tears of grief, anger or frustration, there is a bundle of joy coming (hopefully) and it will affect the community in a positive way.

Even later while patrolling the fence and staring down the monsoon of walkers, Aaron is clearly willing to believe in what Maggie wants to believe about Glenn. He isn’t telling her she’s wrong, that Glenn doesn’t stand a chance, he doesn’t even judge their relationship or their past; not like when Sasha fought internally against trying to find Glenn back in season 4. Surely a lot of this comes from Aaron's relationship with Eric and how he treats others like he wants/demands them to be treated, but I just love how kind Aaron is.

Ross makes Aaron a complete person: complex, emotional, wanting to survive, willing to help, knowing to kill walkers, willing to lead, to take chances on people - almost like a flash back of season 1 Rick. I came away loving him even more than I did. This probably means he’s going to die. Bastards.

Maggie's pregnancy opens up a lot of opportunities for her growth - if the writers give her any. In the past, Glenn and Maggie shared that not living in fear is what's kept them alive. They've faced pregnancy scares. We've seen the lengths they'll go to to be together. But, the imprint of Judith's birth and Lori's death has always been an interesting, unexplored layer to Maggie as a wife and potential mother. Now with a bun in the oven, I hope there are some interesting ideas from that experience in the works.

Maggie, Aaron, and the rest of the group are just waiting. We're in the same agony as they are, with not bracing for the worst and trying to accept what's going on now. It's torture.

Quick Thoughts
  • Now, as a whole, was off-kilter. This was an okay approach, but I think it was just a tad disorganized. Perhaps the episode wasn't boring but that the timing of Morgan's episode threw us off way more than what was expected.
    • I appreciated how much the writers gave attention to Rick wanting to wait for the rest of his family to come home, especially Glenn. He didn't go all cock-eyed, head-tilting impatient and crazy on everyone.
      • Part of that I think is because, if he was to send out a group to try and find the others, who the hell would he send except core characters who are needed in Alexandria to fend off walkers or more Wolves?
      • If they aren't going to bury the Wolves' bodies, couldn't they catapult or toss the Wolves' bodies from one of the rooftops or remaining watchtowers? Maybe some of the walkers might be distracted long enough that our guys can kill some of them.
    •  If Daryl didn't help Rick lead the walkers away from Alexandria, or apparently didn't reunite with Sasha/Abraham, where the **** did Daryl go? what New Orleans swamp portal did he magically travel to?
    Quite possibly the most popular tweet I'll ever come up with....

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