After last week’s non-linear season premiere, we head over to Alexandria to see what’s going on in town as the herd of walkers shuffles towards it (and hopefully find out who is honking that dang horn).
Is it good?
My bad, Enid.
The episode opens with a flashback (in color this time) of Enid, a character who I’ve given a lot of grief for her anti-social behavior. I guess that seems pretty cold considering that the whole world’s gone to hell, but most people have adapted by now to a point that they can communicate with others.
But it turns out that Enid had a pretty good excuse for her augmented sullenness. The poor girl had to watch her parents get eaten while she remained trapped in a car. Then she had to survive on her own out in the wilderness for who knows how long before finding Alexandria.
So my apologies to Enid for making fun of her on Twitter so much.
She also keeps scrawling JSS on everything, including herself. We aren’t given any hint as to what this means, either. You may be surprised, however, to learn that I used to write down the exact same initials on a piece of paper while watching Fear the Walking Dead. I’m pretty sure Enid’s letters don’t stand for ‘JUST STOP SUCKING,’ though.
It’s quiet…a little too quiet
Back in Alexandria, things are surprisingly normal. So normal that Carol and a few of the others are debating how to cook things. About the only conflict we see is Ron refusing a haircut from his mom because she’s friends with his abusive father’s killer.
As Carol watches one of the Alexandrians smoke outside instead of in the house (like she’d asked her to do), the serenity is shattered by a maniac wielding a machete. More crazy, melee-weapon-wielding people begin to pour in, slaughtering everyone in their path. A quick glance at their foreheads reveals them to be The Wolves.
Time for Carol to get her Sarah Conner on.
Not so sharp shooter
But first, we head over to Deanna’s son, Spencer, who is trying to snipe the invaders from the bell tower. For comic book readers, this is one of those moments where you really wish Andrea hadn’t turned out to be such a lame character on the show. Comic book Andrea would have been raining death down on those attackers like you wouldn’t believe.
But Spencer’s not doing too badly. In fact, he manages to nail one of the attackers driving a semi truck toward the gate…which causes him to collapse onto the dash and sets off the horn that we heard at the end of last week’s episode.
Spencer races down to stop it, but Morgan beats him there. Then he and his mom decide to be giant pansies and stay outside the gates while Morgan goes back inside to lay down the law.
About that apology…
Enid shows up at Carl’s house to say goodbye (?). Carl points how out ridiculous that is since they’re, you know, under attack. He busts out the machine gun and prepares to protect Judith. He ends up protecting Ron instead, who acts like an ungrateful little snot and flees. Later, Enid says something to Carl about how hopeless the situation was. She also speaking very strangely about the attackers, at one point even referring to them as ‘we.’.
Meanwhile, Jessie’s home is invaded. She hides with her youngest son for a while before leaving the closet and stalking through the house. After spotting the intruder, she attacks her. After initially getting overpowered, Jessie rallies and stabs the absolute hell out of her with a pair of scissors… right when Ron shows up.
Carol/Morgan = Raphael/Donatello
Our two resident badasses begin clearing up the town, but in completely different ways. Morgan politely asks them to leave (seriously), whips them a bit with his bo staff, then aggressively insists they do so while trying to impart some life lessons.
Carol, on the other hand, goes into full-on beast mode. First she disguises herself as one of the Wolves. Then she begins picking them off before reaching the armory and gearing up. Then she really starts lighting things up.
Morgan continues to insist that they don’t need to kill anyone (including the same people who attacked him last season), but Carol isn’t buying it. She even mercilessly shoots one of the Wolves who Morgan had subdued—right before he was about to give us a giant exposition dump, too! We did hear, however, some strange ramblings about not having a choice for what they were doing.
Life goes on
When it’s all over, Carol sits down next to the cigarettes she said would end up killing the woman she watched die and finally breaks down. Morgan ends up having to kill someone after all (I think). And Aaron finds that one of the Wolves had a backpack with his recruitment photos in it. I’m not sure if it was his backpack or not—hopefully someone in the comments can help me out there.
But the most poignant ending of all belongs (surprisingly) to Carl. Enid sneaks out, leaving him a note saying ‘Just Survive Somehow.’ With death all around him, Judith crying upstairs, his girlfriend gone (and possibly a traitor), and his father quite possibly dead, his focus is immediately absorbed by the buzzing of an egg timer. He turns it off, reaches into the oven, and pulls out the meal he’d been making. No matter how small or seemingly insignificant the task, he still had a job to do.
Is it Good?
This is one of those episodes that reminds you why the show is so good. It would have been easy (and even somehow acceptable) to have an all action episode full of guns and zombies and swords and all that good stuff.
Instead, we got all of that AND a bunch of great narrative themes, too.
- Morgan and Carol’s steadfast resolve for diametrically opposed means of survival.
- Carol being reminded again that ‘normal’ is never going to happen again.
- Morgan facing his past fears.
- Aaron realizing that he trusted people too much.
- Carl maturing and being able to compartmentalize—better than his father, if we’re being honest. The poor id loses his girl, his town, and (as far as he knows) maybe his father, but still realizes he has to keep things going. We definitely wouldn’t have seen that from Carl in the previous five seasons.
- Jessie defending her family even more savagery than what her son believes Rick showed to tear it apart.
There were also a few things I glossed over, but that’s mostly because I didn’t like them.
- Gabriel trying to make himself useful. HA! Maybe if they decide to install a speed bump near the loading gate.
- The new doctor’s trial by fire. Aside from Eugene’s ‘you don’t want to be a coward’ line, everything felt a little too contrived—although I did like her reaction at the end when she couldn’t save her patient.
But overall, this was a great episode that was also a lot of fun. I’ll be curious to see what the Wolves rambling about ‘not choosing this’ meant and if Enid was one of them. If she is, I might have to go back to making fun of her on Twitter.