Just so we’re all on the same boat, the action in the first half of this episode takes place during the same timeframe as the previous episode. Don’t get your hopes up for your weekly dose of Ricktatorship. There’s not one second of his scowl on screen. So how well does the show perform without the majority of it’s lead cast? There’s some highlights, some awkward moments, and a script in need of Ritalin because it goes from zero to one-hundred in a blink. Normally a plot twist would be cool, but this gave me whiplash and a serious case of, “What’s going on?”
Whoa! You sure you want to proceed? There’s spoilers in this review.
The manipulation games seen early in this episode started long before we all sat on our couches to watch. Back at San Diego Comic-Con, they swore up, down, sideways, bothways, whateverways, that the Wolves would not be a large part in the early episodes. Second episode—BOOM. Wolves at the gates. Yay. You finally got one over on us, guys.
Within the episode, the games serve a far different purpose. Carol continues to wheedle her way into Alexandria’s bosom with her perfect housewife routine. A routine which slips a little when Shelly talks smack about a dish Carol hasn’t even cooked yet, then proceeds to whine about dried pasta and how she could feed them all like kings if she had a pasta maker. In typical Carol fashion, she digs the emotional knife in under Shelly’s ribs, offering to teach her how to make pasta without a machine, but the cigarettes? They have to stay outside. Such a disgusting habit. Plus, they have enough things trying to kill them. Carol’s mood follows her home, where Jessie’s youngest, Sam, waits for her. She tells him point-blank, your dad beat your mom, he died, get over it. Seeing as it’s a great parenting technique, Jessie employs a similar technique with her eldest, Ron. She calls him down on the premise of cutting his hair. He sees through her ploy. But then the conversation stops making sense; until Ron says Rick is just as dangerous as Pete. There are ways to write scenes where characters are hiding secrets. This is not one of those ways. It’s clunky and far more awkward than it should be, almost like the actors had no clue what they were saying when it came to the context of the fight and Ron’s secrets.
Maggie does a little emotional manipulation of her own while Glenn is off dealing with the horde. Much like her father, Maggie believes every successful safe haven must be self-sustaining; that includes producing their own food. Raising cattle is a long way off, but Maggie scored crates of seeds recently and knows what to do. She takes Deanna outside the fence to a spot she’s picked for the garden. The catch? Deanna has to approve and put into motion the town’s expansion project, plus it will take a lot of backbreaking work to prepare the ground for planting. It seems like hard physical work may be what shakes Deanna from her mental fog.
The Wolves attack without any warning whatsoever. One moment Carol smugly watches Shelly puff away on a cigarette, the next Shelly has a machete in her head. Within moments, Alexandria is in chaos. How? Why? Rick left people on watch. Why was the gate unguarded? There are at least ten able-bodied fighters in town when the attack happens. Not one of them is armed nor at a guard position. The one guy with a rifle, Spencer, nearly wets himself when he misses his first shot. He’s taken out of the game completely when the Wolves drive a truck into the church, knocking him from the belfry. This is the truck Rick and company hear out on the road.
Carl holds his own pretty well, protecting his sister and their house by himself until Enid stops by on her way out of Alexandria. He convinces her to stay, but it won’t last; she’s a nomad. We see Enid’s introduction to Alexandria before the opening sequence. Why? Probably just to show a teenage girl eating a raw tortoise and create some oddness with the initials “JSS.” The scene has no real purpose other than to establish a mental mindset for a character handled as a throw-away since her introduction. This happens too often. Writers realize they have no substance for a character they need to do something vital, so they cram in a half-assed backstory to fill the gaps. Do your character building before they’re on the final script copy, guys.
It’s almost hilarious how inept these characters are. Carol is literally the only one to realize the Wolves don’t have guns, but if they get to the town’s armory, it’s game over for every single person in the fence. She alone prevents the first pack from breaking into the armory, then leaves poor, frightened Olivia to guard their only saving grace. There’s no help coming. Everyone else is armpit deep in walkers out on the road. But so long as they have the guns, they have the upper hand. Morgan’s world view is too narrow. Yes, he knows Carol doesn’t really enjoy the killing, but he has to see the necessity in the moment, appreciate the sacrifice she’s making for everyone. He’s so busy nagging her about the deaths, he still doesn’t understand what she’s telling him about the armory or the mentality of these people.
I think I know why . . . . Morgan has dealt with these people before. Nearly every one of the Wolves he encounters who manages to speak recognizes him, either directly or through stories they’ve heard. When they fight, he’s quick to knock them out cold. No brawling. Very few swings. One, two—pup on the ground. He even talks a small pack into retreating with little physical convincing. I’m not going to jump on the “Morgan is awful” bandwagon. He’s always been neutral. It’s possible he has a deeper connection to the Wolves, but I’d say it’s an old acquaintance telling undead war stories to his cronies with the occasional physical encounter to reestablish territories since they’ve all been in the same general area for a while, apparently.
In the end, the attack lasted about thirty minutes, maybe less. There’s no clear picture of how many or who died. Bodies remain on the street. Fires smolder along the fences. Carol and Morgan are on the prowl, clearing straggling Wolves or stray walkers.
Is Alexandria safe? Aaron finds scouting photos on one man’s corpse. The attack was planned. By who? Did they die in the fight or flee with the others? Or were they present at all for the Wolves’ shindig? I can’t imagine planning something with that much care and not watching. Unfortunately, the mastermind may remain a mystery for a while, giving them enough time to attack again.