This week, “The Walking Dead” made up for its mess of a season premiere with a strong second episode, which has pretty much become the predominant trend for the show in its past few seasons. Tonight, we (finally) tackle the arrival of the Wolves, and we address the differences between Rick’s gang and Morgan concerning how to deal with human threats.

First, let’s address Carl’s girlfriend, who is apparently named Edin. We begin the episode with her out on her own, hiding from zombies and eating a raw turtle. It’s unclear, but assumed, that these are events occurring after the Wolves’ attack given that Edin goes AWOL shortly after said attack. Also, the “J.S.S.” she wrote no less than four times in the cold open (this show has never been much for subtlety) is referenced in non-abbreviated form, “Just survive somehow”, on the note she leaves Carl prior to ditching the camp.

Now let’s get to the meat of the episode. Carol chats with the fellow housewives about cooking. They lament the lack of anything to work with, but Carol is undeterred and making the best of what she has (again, no subtlety). We see Carol offer to help one of the other women with cooking, but only if she can drop her “disgusting habit” of smoking before entering Carol’s home. Later, Carol watches as the woman stands out on the front lawn smoking…. and then a man slaughters her with a machete. Carol was right, smoking kills.

We come back from that disturbing act break to a full-on siege from the Wolves, who after damn near a season of being teased, have now actually shown up. The thing is, that’s just about all they do; while some easily-forgotten residents meet their end, no “major” characters are harmed, and altogether the threat is taken care of surprisingly quickly. While pretty much all of the Wolves are taken care of, Morgan does allow a handful to leave after scaring the shit out of them. However, unless that group of five is able to recruit more or gets super ballsy, it really doesn’t seem like the Wolves can be a viable threat after this episode. So yeah, guess that was it. Bummer.

More interesting than the Wolves, however, is how the episode focuses in on Carol and Morgan specifically. During the attack, Carol and Morgan are the ones to spring into action and are by far the most effective Alexandrians in regards to taking on the Wolves. The show hammers home the fact that they have very different ways of handling the threat: Carol runs around like some sort of angel of death, whereas Morgan is insistent upon not killing anyone who is still living. What’s notable here is that the show is willing to lend at least some credence to Morgan’s way of handling things, as he is able to chase off a group of Wolves without excessive violence. But will they come back? This is the (sometimes rightfully) paranoid line of questioning that Rick’s gang has taken on now, but that Morgan has somehow staved off up to this point.

As the episode ends, however, we see Morgan being forced to kill one of the Wolves; specifically, one of the ones he ran into last season in the woods. As Morgan walks through the town, he crosses paths with Carol. Again, no subtlety at all in this imagery and what it implies, but it was a poignant moment of showing how Morgan is realizing that Rick’s gang may not be so crazy after all.

Other Thoughts

  • The fight scenes were nicely directed tonight; there was a notable sense of claustrophobia and panic in the framing and camera movements
  • If “Denise” the off-her-rocker psychologist is now the group’s only doctor, I desperately hope very few of them need any form of medical attention
  • There are so many characters right now, and several of them seem fairly expendable, so it was surprising to see the Wolves (who were supposed to be a big threat) come and go with the only losses to the group being characters we had heard of once before at the most

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