Tonight, THE WALKING DEAD followed up last week's 90-minute filler ep with a 60-minute filler ep. Its official title was "Now" but a better one would have been "Now Hear This!" With the exclamation point. The characters on TWD never just talk to one another. They don't have ordinary human conversations. As I've long noted--since my very first article on this series, in fact--even banal interactions between them too often tend to be expressed via a form of brutally anti-naturalistic soap-opera speechifying and "Now" was one of the worst dialogue eps in this respect in a while, nearly every significant interaction being some preposterous speech that tries to grandiloquently express some ever-so-profound-and-important sentiment but just ends up leaving any viewer with any sensitivity to dialogue with an ear infection. Now hear this!
It begins with Rick and Michonne's group hauling ass through a horde of zombies that are shambling toward the safe zone. The writers have arbitrarily afflicted Rick with a rather severe case of slug-footedness lately and some of the slow, shuffling creatures are actually outpacing him as he, at a full head of steam, heads for the gate. Two weeks ago, in "Thank You,"
it took him 20 minutes to run only a mile but by the time you're being
outrun by critters that have been corpses for nearly two years, perhaps
it's time to pray to the writers for speed that more obviously reflects
your script immunity.
Next, it's the script's turn to
get slug-footed--pretty much nothing of any substance happens beyond
those opening moments. With the town surrounded by zombies, Rick
immediately delivers the first speech of the evening, a rundown of the
situation intended to boost morale which he packs with gravitas,
gesticulation and dramatic pauses though he's only addressing about 10
people who are milling about in his immediate vicinity. Rick tells the
assembled the best move is to try to make the dead forget they're
there--to be very quiet at all times, pull the drapes at night or,
better yet, don't turn on the lights at all. "We try to make this place
as quiet as a graveyard to see if they move on." Not a bad idea but,
consistent with TWD's descent into self-parody, one delivered as part of
this unnecessarily loud speech. The community entirely ignores this
advice throughout the ep--we see lights on at night, people talking,
even people loudly arguing. Most hilariously, Rick himself is seen
shortly after his speech standing on the wall in full view of the dead
outside! Worse, he sets up a regular watch there, so there will always
be live people in sight of the hungry dead (who, of course, won't be
going anywhere as long as this is the case).
of the Alexandrians decide the end is nigh and get it in their heads to
raid the community pantry, gruffly rejecting the notion that, with the
town surrounded by zombies, they need to carefully ration the food. This
leads to another big speech, this time by Deanna's son Spencer, who
manages to shame the would-be pirates out of their raid with a dimestore
angels-of-our-better-natures schtick. Rationing is a necessary measure
but food shouldn't really be an immediate concern. One of the filler
scenes in "JSS",
set earlier that same day, established there was so much that some of
it had been sitting there collecting dust for ages and as a consequence
of the raid by the Wolves, there are now a lot fewer mouths to
feed, both facts that seem to have slipped down a Memory Hole. The
Alexandrian leading the pantry raid who was charged with complaining
that he didn't want to watch his family starve was a rather fat fellow.
unintentional self-parody creeps in at every turn. Throughout this
season (and the end of last), TWD has constantly hammered the theme that
our heroes have been out in the apocalypse and know what they're
doing, even as their every action loudly screams otherwise. Tonight
during Rick's opening speech, Aaron sounds off at one point with a
mini-speech of his own in which he praises their experience and talks
about how Daryl has proven wiser than he. "Now," with Daryl, Sasha,
Abraham and Glenn--a big portion of their experienced hands--out in the
field and away from town, this ep saw both Maggie and Carl independently
plot to even further reduce the veteran manpower on hand during the
crisis by secreting themselves out of the safe zone to search for,
respectively, Glenn and Enid. Put your lives in the hands of these pros, Alexandrians.
Jessie comes across a zombie in a house. She opens the door and kills it but then she, too, must
turn to the other ten townspeople who have randomly gathered to watch
this and deliver another motivational speech about this being how life looks
these days and how they all have to fight. Maggie and Aaron try to slip
out through a sewer that leads outside the walls--a rather huge
potential security risk to suddenly pull out of a hat like a rabbit at
this late date[2a]--but they find the pipe doesn't come out beyond the
assembled dead. Aaron notes there are only a few zombies and that they could fight through them but Maggie, in an utterly random and inexplicable twist, suddenly decides not to go and puts a stop to the adventure. Then
to "explain" this, she gives yet another speech, this one about how both he and she will just have to live with whatever happens in life. A rambling, teary-eyed diatribe that doesn't explain a thing.
In the end, Maggie and Aaron decide not to go look for Glenn, Carl doesn't go to look for Enid, the Alexandrians don't raid their own community pantry, the fate of Glenn isn't
resolved or even touched upon, the Wolf whom Morgan is holding isn't
mentioned and the disastrous effects of Morgan's recent behavior remain
unaddressed. In short, this was an ep in which there were lots of
unintentionally funny moments, lots of dialogue that doesn't remotely
approximate any form of actual human interaction but one in which,
beyond the opening minutes, absolutely nothing of any consequence
happened. Another ep full of foam to tick off the season order and
The awful dialogue made me think of last season's "Consumed," and I
wasn't really surprised when, just prior to beginning this article, I
looked it up and saw that Corey Reed, the writer-of-record on tonight's
opus, was a co-writer-of-record on that previous mess.
 Alexandrians didn't seem to have much to do tonight but mope around listening to speeches. Fat Guy, who led the raid on the pantry, was, like several others, present for Rick's speech, Aaron's mini-speech in the middle of it, Spencer's speech and Jessie's speech. Imagine how motivated he must have felt that day!
[2a] 9 Nov., 2015 - It also could have been the means of the safe zone's salvation. One of my constant gripes about TWD is how the characters spend so much time on ridiculous soap nonsense at the expense of time devoted to how they can survive their situation--the thing that would, in such a scenario, be their primary focus. Here, someone or a team of someones could slip out through that drain, find some wheels, make a little noise and lure the herd away from town. Instead, it materializes just like that magician's rabbit solely for Maggie's attempted search-and-rescue mission-- or, more specifically, to work in all the melodrama surrounding that--then is forgotten as soon as she changes her mind.
 Lauren Cohan has always had trouble keeping Maggie's faux-Southern accent consistent but throughout this ep, it's hilariously awful, particularly when she's doing this big, impassioned speech.
 The ep runs a little over 40 minutes sans ads and the total speech-count was five or six, depending on whether one counts Aaron's early remarks as a new speech or as part of Rick's speech.
The ripple-effect of disaster from Morgan's behavior continues; the
group of Wolves whom Morgan allowed to escape at the end of "JSS"
immediately encountered and tried to kill Rick in the RV at the end of
"Thank You." Probably because of damage inflicted by the gun one of
those Wolves took before fleeing, the RV wouldn't start and Rick
couldn't lead the herd away as he'd planned. As a consequence, the safe
zone is now surrounded by the dead. The closest tonight's ep came to
addressing any of this was a line in Rick's speech about there being
more than needs to be discussed, offered while he was looking right at