In the past couple years, “The Walking Dead” has dramatically improved, committing to actual characterization in addition to violent thrills. After four straight weeks of excellent episodes, though, the sixth season aired its first utterly forgettable episode last Sunday with “Now.” In this episode, the show reverts back to its worst tendencies.
The previous episode, focused on Morgan (Lennie James, “Low Winter Sun”) as he slowly committed to a no-killing lifestyle, proved that the writers are capable of writing a slow-paced, meditative episode based around character development. But there are two key pitfalls that the show encounters with “Now.” The first is that it’s redundant; we’ve already seen Rick (Andrew Lincoln, “Love Actually”) and Carol (Melissa McBride, “The Reconstruction of William Zero”) berate the ignorant Alexandrians countless times for being afraid to fight. We don’t need to see the Alexandrians’ ignorance be proven once again. Besides, any conversation about how “the world is changed” is rote by now.
The other problem is that few characters on the show actually have personalities. Characters are often given theoretically compelling arcs, like Sasha’s (Sonequa Martin-Green, “Once Upon a Time”) PTSD last season, but almost no one’s general way of speaking is different from anyone else’s. Few of the characters’ pre-apocalyptic pasts are known. The show would do well to fabricate some drama unrelated to zombies and violent power struggles so that the audience can gain insight into these characters outside their inherently tragic circumstances.