For any expecting more menial trials of suburban drama and how-to recipes, those days are rightfully at an end. Tonight’s blood-soaked mayhem tells the other side of the diesel truck’s elongated horn-call as the good folk of Alexandria are overrun by the wolves, a band of melee heavy crazies bent on wiping the town clean of previous houseguests. The casualty list is obnoxiously large making this one of the more imbrued and violent episodes in recent memory.
This came dangerously close to turning into one of those background episodes where you get other things done around the house while TWD passively converses with its household subplots. Luckily that only lasted a mere tenth of the episode leaving the rest with my hyper widened eyes feverishly glued to the screen. The sudden shift from pasta making to machete’s and fire balls flying was so abrupt, I’m glad I wasn’t drinking something at that exact moment or it likely would spewed everywhere. That was an intense piece of television savagery, one that kept the promise that this season would be something else. So many questions, yet for now let’s simmer on the effect and worry about the cause in a bit.
We’re treated to a flashback involving Enid’s origin where she wanders the roads and forests after her family is killed by roamers. She leaves the initials JSS wherever she goes, a motto that keeps her going all the way to Alexandria where she decides to stay for the time being. In the present, The townsfolk who remained behind while Rick and crew handled the zombie horde are keeping to their daily routine, mostly still riling over the effects of recent events from last season. When Carol spots a resident get butchered by an unknown male, all hell breaks loose as several men and women surgically strike the inhabitants with axes, knives, and machetes. Carol, Maggie, Carl, and others deal with the threat while several colleagues and new friends are massacred near them. Spencer shoots a diesel truck trying to ram through the gates and a zombie in the seat it stuck hitting the horn. Morgan arrives and dislodges the zombie and then helps fight back trying not to kill anyone. The group is identified as the wolves with a W etched or drawn on their foreheads. Eventually they are either killed or driven away with one seemingly captured by Morgan in a house. Enid, who stayed at Carl’s side leaves him a note that reads “Just Survive Somehow,” her motto. She leaves town with Carl confused.
The carnage was at its peak tonight. It was such a snap-change that when it truly became medieval and kill-all, there wasn’t a lot of time to process all of Carol’s quick reactions, letting us never forget how cold and brutal she’s become over the years. And that was essentially the point. The residents were slowly learning that they weren’t as safe as they thought they were and then it truly hit them. Most learned the hard way by getting killed but those who remain will fully understand Rick’s warning as nothing is safe and secure in this kind of damaged world.
This episode was also a summary in how to tell a story without nearly any main characters involved. The dialogue started a bit trite, and yet you could hear Carol’s performance really come through because she doesn’t rely on any of it and can change at the drop of a dime. And change she did. Spencer, Jessie, Denise, Ron, and to a lesser degree Deanna all are put through a heavy ordeal which helps us understand who our next core group will become. They survived albeit under extreme circumstances with some, Jessie mainly having to murder a person in order to save herself and her kids. The raw feelings that came out were visceral and complete, an avid pre-cursor to Rick’s “I told you so” look that will likely follow when he returns home.
Morgan’s convictions and unending supply of melee combat skills are a treasure in this season. He works so much better as a man who struggles to keep to a belief that killing isn’t necessary and he himself won’t be a direct cause of it. It can only hold out so long, but at least he can defend himself more than adequately with that mop-staff. Wisely capturing the wolf left behind will hopefully lead to some understanding as to why the neighborhood was struck to fiercely and sudden.
It goes without saying but the lead up to the massacre was intentionally boring. It’s hard to look on it with negativity because it was meant to be strategically dull with another play at concurrent storytelling. But in the end, scenes have to be judged by the content they show and Carol’s scene in the kitchen with the ladies, Carol’s conversation with Father Gabriel, and even Maggie showing Deanna the idea of creating crops were what almost sold this as a yawner.
I’m having a hard time deciding if Eugene’s awkward personality construct is really necessary moving forward. His mentality suggests that as simple as he is, there’s a lot for him to learn, adapt to, and contribute toward. But given the most extreme conditions, he’s still in a logical military mindset and some of it is slightly cringe-worthy considering his lines are more for viewer comedy than anything. Sometimes I have to ask if a character like his should last as long as he has based on his inability to change to the conditions he’s been forced to endure.
If there was any worry that Carl, Ron, and Enid were going to have a frustrating teenage love-triangle subplot, it appears we don’t have to worry about that any longer. I think that’s for the best. Enid was just starting to become an interesting character given what little backstory we were given, but if she truly has left that means Carl will have to move on, unless he goes out searching for her, which I can see happening.
The sudden shift in ultra-violence. That shot of the smoking lady (I already forgot her name) getting killed almost seemed like Carol was having a thought about what she’d like to see happen because she was still smoking. It was surreal when it turned out to be real because it came out of nowhere. Perfectly shot and helped throw us into the carnage that came next.
It’s not even a stretch to say Carol gets the MVP glory tonight. Never forget what kind of a merciless killer she’s become, making snap decisions that even Rick would have trouble with from time to time. Given her reaction time and quick thinking, she likely saved a lot of lives in that neighborhood. She was given free reign to act and react the way she need to and it show truly how she’s remained a pivotal character on TWD. Morgan gets a close second but Carol was the most effective heroine tonight.
When Lydia was pointing the gun Carol gave her at the sliding door, I thought for sure she was going to accidentally shoot/kill someone. Who knows, maybe that will still happen next week considering how close-knitted these episodes run.
Wow for Enid eating that turtle raw. As gross as a scene that was, it really showed how quick she understood the laws for survival. It’s shame how everything came crashing down for her so fast considering how she and her family seemed very closed-in and unchanged by the world even at their end.
Did Denise take care of Holly’s brain like Tara said? We’ll find out next week! Also, Props for Denise for trying to handle her situation with the presence of panic attacks. Those are no joke when people suffer through them and she’s supposed to be the new doctor which means untold horrors await her.
Carol killing a wounded neighbor was the same as last week when Rick killed a wounded Carter. One difference was that Carol was more consoling about it while Rick was trying his best not to do it out of malice. In the end, both were put out of their miseries by characters who know better than anyone what deep cuts and bites will do to people. It’s an interesting reflection on the two given they probably did their act at precisely the same time.
9 out of 10. Given the sheer chaos and unstable elements involved, this was a colossal fun episode to watch and wonder through. Given the set up, I can see the reason they made everything so monotonous, even by TWD standards, but the payoff was surreal and highly energized. All the main characters were off so most of the casualties were agreeably limited to the neighbohood folk which was fine because that kind of slaughter done to the main cast would likely have been unforgivable. Very few bad scenes stuck out and Enid’s origin of youth surviving with so little to go on showed just how tragic life has become for some people and how they can’t always stay where it seems safe because it never is. Stay tuned and thanks for reading!
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