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TV Review: The Walking Dead 6.5 “Now”
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Alexandra Breckenridge as Jessie Anderson - The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead
Episode 6.5 “Now”
Directed by Avi Youabian
Written by Corey Reed
Starring Andrew Lincoln, Danai Gurira, Melissa McBride, Lauren Cohen, Norman Reedus, Chandler Riggs, Michael Cudlitz, Lennie James
AMC
Air date: Sunday, November 8, 2015, 9pm

Warning – SPOILERS for The Walking Dead Season 6…

The big focus so far of Season 6 of The Walking Dead has been the threat to the Alexandria Safe Zone not only from the surrounding undead Walkers, but also from the invading human Wolves, all of which is happening in the face of dwindling supplies and rations, as well as hostilities amongst the residents.

Back in Episode 6.3, Glenn was seemingly killed, shocking audiences, and making us all despondent as we awaited confirmation on this major character’s fate. The follow-up episode not only did not give that confirmation, it swayed completely away from the people of Alexandria, and instead focused entirely on Morgan (Lennie James) and his journey. It was undoubtedly an amazing episode in the series that had it been shown at a different order in the season, everyone would likely have eaten it up. Instead, we all sat on pins and needles wondering what happened to Glenn. Could he have survived that Walker attack?

The latest installment, Episode 6.5 “Now,” turns back to the Alexandria Safe Zone in the aftermath of the attack by the Wolves, which they amazingly survived, thanks mostly to Carol. Since last week was all about Morgan, this week overcompensates by taking turns with all the Zonies, even showing us what happened to Betsy — who’s husband was bit while out on the mission and was trying to get back to her to say good-bye — and that Wolf who Carol killed who crawled under one of the houses. So, a lot of loose ends were tied up – though, of course, not the one with Glenn!

Anyhow, everyone is still waiting on the away team’s return — Rick and a small group of people had been out leading the Walkers away from the Safe Zone, and so far, only Michonne’s group has returned. It’s now that Maggie, Glenn’s wife, learns that he had broken off from the main group in order to set a fire to lead the Walkers away, but he never made it back to the rendezvous point. He also didn’t send a sign that he was in trouble, which was also the plan, so no one knows what happened to him. At hearing the news, Maggie doesn’t break down, because there’s still hope, and also this isn’t the first time she’s been separated from her love. But, we know Maggie. It won’t be long before she heads out to try to save Glenn if possible. And…

… of course that’s what happens!

At one point, we see people writing on the wall the names of the people killed in the Wolf raid, as well as the missing, which includes Glenn’s name. After this is when Maggie decides to try to go over the Wall to find Glenn, but Aaron — who’s feeling guilty about the Wolf invasion because it was his poor decisions that led to it — reveals a way to go under the wall through the sewer tunnels. Aaron also insists on going with Maggie, who says that if Glenn is alive, she might need to rescue him, but if he’s dead, she needs to know so that she’s not waiting on him. She explains this to Aaron very calmly, but you can tell she’s boiling inside. While making their way through the tunnel, the duo come across two very decrepit sludge-covered Walkers, and Maggie doesn’t spring into action as usual — Aaron has to come to her rescue. It’s soon after this that Maggie confesses something major to Aaron — she’s pregnant!

This revelation is something I think we all saw coming. First off, a Maggie and Glenn baby storyline has come up before, a few seasons ago when they had a pregnancy scare. Next, when Glenn volunteered to be part of Rick’s group leading the Walkers away from Alexandria, he wanted Maggie to stay behind, and she didn’t insist on coming along, which is unlike her. Maggie is just as trained to fight as everyone else in Rick’s group, and she’s one of the major fighters, so it would make sense for her to go on the mission. Yet, she’s surprisingly fine with staying behind to console Deanna, who had just lost her husband. Lastly, there’s the fact that Glenn is almost positively dead, and this is a way for him to live on.

Ross Marquand as Aaron - The Walking Dead

With the pregnancy reveal, which came just as Walkers came up against the sewer grate exit, Maggie and Aaron return to the Safe Zone, and go straight to the wall of names, where they then erase Glenn’s listing. It’s here where Aaron says to Maggie that when Glenn gets back, “it’s worth mentioning that Aaron or Erin works” as a name for the baby.

While Maggie is strong and brave enough to cope with her difficult situation, Alexandria’s leader, Deanna, is still in shock over the violent death of her husband a few episodes, along with the revelation that her home is not the impregnable fortress she believed it was. She’s no longer that strong woman we saw in the beginning who kept her people safe, and had dreams of a real community and a bright future for everyone. Admittedly, Deanna had no clue what really lurked outside the walls of the Safe Zone, so you can’t really blame her. But, with the arrive of Rick and his group came the harsh reality of the world, followed up by attacks from both Walkers and Wolves. Since then, she’s been more of a zombie than the flesh-hungry undead. But then she’s assaulted by a Wolf-turned-Walker, and she finally wakes up! Grabbing a broken bottle, she repeatedly stabs at her undead assailant. For some reason, though, she stabs at its chest, requiring Rick to come to her rescue. After he does, she asks him, “What I wanted for this place, was that really just pie in the sky?” Deanna asks Rick after he rescues her after she’s assault by a Wolf-turned-Walker. “No,” he tells her.

This episode sees Deanna’s awakening, and finally, we see that there might be hope for her and her community. We see her start sketching out plans for planting crops, a training camp, and other areas, and at the bottom, she writes a quote in Latin from Ovid that translates to “Someday this pain will be useful to you.” It’s her pain – the pain of losing her spouse, the pain of knowing that the world as she knows it is gone – that motivates her now, finally, to start building a new future — one in which Rick is the new leader.

Speaking of Rick — he lives!!! At the end of the episode where Glenn (likely) killed, we see Rick in an RV surrounded by Walkers. It looked as though he was about to meet his doom as well, but nope! At the start of Episode 6.5, Rick is on foot, running up to Safe Zone through a crowd of Walkers, screaming for the residents to open the gate for him. So, we never see how he made it back alive, but upon his return, his gives the Zonies one of his motivation speeches, and assures everyone that the others — Daryl, Sasha, Abraham, Glenn, and Nicholas — know what they’re doing, and they’ll be back. In the meantime, they need to keep the Safe Zone quiet and dark in hopes that the Walkers at the gates will eventually move on.

The problem with the Zonies is that they don’t understand struggle, survival, and loss the way Rick’s group does. They’ve been pampered in a sense, and now it’s all coming to an end. After Rick’s speech, instead of following his advice and toughening up, they decide to go raid the pantry and not adhere to the rations. Of all people, it’s Spencer, Deanna’s son, who convinces everyone not to take more than their quota, and to not give in and let their community turn to chaos. Deanna hears her son’s moving talk, and you can see it gives her hope. Too bad she later finds out that Spencer — who, by the way, had left the gate open during the Wolf attack — stole from the pantry, and is drunk. All that talk to the others was just some “do as I say, not as I do” shit, and he’s more screwed up than his mother realized. Later, when Spencer goes to relieve Rosita on watch duty (she’s seen crying, presumably over Abraham still being missing), he appears so heroic because he had offered to take Carol’s shift. But, as he stands watch, we see him eating a pack of crackers. What an asshole.

Merritt Weaver as Denise - The Walking Dead

Other updates in the Safe Zone:

– Betsy killed herself her husband (who I could only remember as “Bit Guy”) died before returning to say good-bye to her.

– After Betsy turns, Jessie finishes her. For some reason, the naive Zonies find this shocking, so Jessie gives them the whole “You either fight or die” Rick speech.

– Jessie’s younger son Sam won’t come downstairs anymore after the Wolf attack. Jessie had killed one of the Wolves in her kitchen, and Sam doesn’t want to go down there anymore. He says that he wants to stay upstairs since nothing “changed” up there. His mother can’t even entice him down with cookies (which, really? yeah, no. And where did you get those cookies?)

– Jessie’s older son, emo Ron, has another altercation with Carl, his biggest competition. Carl is concerned that Enid went over the Wall after the Wolf attack and has not returned, so he wants to go look for her. Ron — who makes it clear that Enid is his girlfriend, or that at least she was before Carl came along — tells Carl not to go out, and even threatens to tattle on him to his dad, Rick. The two get into a shoving match, when ends with Ron not surprisingly on his butt.

– Tattle tale Ron goes up to the Watch to take to Rick, where he rats out Carl about his plan to look for Enid. He also asks Rick – who we all know killed Ron’s abusive father, Pete – to teach him to shoot, which is something Rick wanted to do from the start. What’s Ron’s game? Can’t be good.

– By the way, I don’t if I said this in a previous review, but isn’t it obvious that Enid is a Wolf? And if she’s not, then what did she mean when she said during the Wolf raid “That’s how we were able to….” when referring to blindspots in the community. Who’s “we”? Also, during the invasion, she actually went to say good-bye to Carl. We also learned that her motto was “Just Survive Somehow (JSS)” — wouldn’t she join the Wolves and then infiltrate the Safe Zone for survival? Seems likely!

– Tara visits Denise at the infirmary to see how she’s doing. Denise, a psychologist, reluctantly became the doctor after Pete’s death, and she’s anxious and scared in her new role. She doesn’t think she knows what she’s doing, and her patient may not make it. She’d rather be home reading War and Peace. It’s here fear inside the infirmary that’s keeping the fear of what’s happening outside at bay, but she knows now that it’s the end of the world. Tara admits that she has fears, too. This seems to make Denise feel better, and later we see her reading something that helps with her patient (use a syringe to extract the pus out!). At the end, Denise visits Tara, giving her a romantic kiss on the lips. “It’s the end of the world,” Denise replies when Tara, who is a lesbian, asks her what the kiss was about. When Tara says it isn’t the end, Denise responds that it sucks to be afraid, which makes Tara smile. Like Deanna, Denise has had an awakening.

– Speaking of kisses — Jessie and Rick finally lock lips! It’s about time. Rick talked about wanting the Away team to be back by now, and Jessie was lamenting the state of things. “Tell me there’s more,” Jessie says to Rick, which is when he leaned in to kiss her. Seeing Rick in love is great after all the grief he experienced with his wife Lori, who died giving birth to their daughter Judith post-apocalypse.

– The episode ends with Deanna going up to the wall at night and banging on it, with the Walkers growling on the other end. She smirks as she walks away, but we see what looks like possibly an opening in the wall, along with blood running down it. Has the wall been breached? What’s going on???!!?!!

Episode 6.5 “Now” was jam-packed and thankfully did not traumatize the audience again. There’s only three more episodes before the mid-season finale, and from the previews, it looks like next week turns back to Daryl, who was last seen leading the Walkers away from the Safe Zone. But what else awaits the people of Alexandria? The Wolves are possibly out of commission, which means it’s time for some new villains.

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