‘The Walking Dead’ recap: We fight or we die

Spoiler alert! The following contains spoilers for season 6 episode 5 of The Walking Dead. You can read the recap for episode 4 here.

The Walking Dead is such a violent, action-heavy show that episodes that take a step back, that check in with the characters or set up future plots, can feel jarring. When people’s guts are being literally ripped from their bodies on almost a weekly basis, a series of small conversations seems kind of dull by comparison.

Unfortunately, whereas some “table setting” episodes like this can also be well-crafted in and of themselves, “Now” was a slow, sloppy entry into this season that slammed on the breaks and hardly advanced either character or plot. Glenn’s fate remains uncertain, Carol and Morgan were strangely absent and the zombies were almost lazily unthreatening (despite now coming in a covered-in-excrement variety). You know it’s an off episode where the best moments come from two of the most minor characters (Tara and Merritt Weaver Denise FOREVER). We only have a few episodes left until the mid-season finale, so here’s to hoping that the show uses that time more wisely than it did this week.

Homeward bound

After being left in a broken-down RV surrounded by a horde of incoming walkers two weeks ago, Rick defies-the-laws-of-physics Grimes has escaped his fate by doing … something. The episode opens with Rick running in his own twisted version of Chariots of Fire towards the Alexandria gate, horde at his heels. A few things about this: 1) We are supposed to believe Rick got out of the RV because he’s Rick, 2) Did he or did he not just lead that horde straight to Alexandria? and 3) Don’t open the gate your crazy people you could let the horde in with him.

But since Rick is our fearless leader and can do no wrong, he makes it into the gate in the nick of time and the walkers proceed to pound on the doors. A slightly vindicated Rick gives a motivational speech to the frightened Alexandrians. They WILL move the horde! Sasha and Abraham and Daryl and Glenn and Nicholas WILL return! The wall WILL hold! IT’S GOING TO BE FINE GUYS OK?

Motivational speechifying was the name of the game this week as we were subjected to so, so many over the course of the episode. First Rick goes in with his tired speech, then Aaron decides to take the blame for everything because he maybe led the Wolves there or something (Aaron, you’re the least awful person here, calm down), then Deanna’s annoying son stops people from eating all of their remaining food in the next day (these people are THE WORST).

Meanwhile, Maggie I-can-always-find-Glenn Greene is planning a little getaway over the wall to try to answer the question the world has been asking since Nicholas put a gun to his head: Is Glenn alive or what? Aaron, continuing to be the only decent person in this place besides Glenn or Maggie, stops her from jumping off the wall into the waiting horde and suggests they take a handy secret passageway sewer tunnel to get out instead, a plan that absolutely cannot fail.

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