After only two episodes for the new season, The Walking Dead has once again proven that, while there were missteps with Fear the Walking Dead, the original flavor still packs quite a punch. An incredibly tense episode was delivered, allowing us to see some of what was happening in Alexandria while the “muscle” was out luring the walkers away from town. The mystery of the horn was answered, although a few bigger questions have been left for us to parse our way through.
For the second episode of the season, the stakes were certainly raised. In fact, you could say that about the sixth season overall so far. The premiere showed Rick and his merry band of misfits trying to steer the giant herd of walkers, while this week’s episode showed us in no uncertain terms that the bigger enemy is the one that can think, and is willing to kill others without a second thought if it will help ensure their own survival. The moral of man being the bigger monster is something that Fear the Walking Dead tried to tackle, and it was handled with all of the deftness of someone using a sledgehammer to try to tack down a carpet. However, with one very tightly crafted episode, the original series brought that point home. It was a visceral, bloody, and brutal point, but it was actually handled well. Of course, part of that is helped by the fact that we actually know these people, and have a reason to care about them, but there is a cleverness to the direction of The Walking Dead that was noticeable absent during the first season of Fear the Walking Dead.
Something that really helped tie the episode together, as well, was the usage of the kitchen timer for Carol’s casserole. We see her set it at the beginning of the episode, before the attacks by the Wolves begin. We see it go off at the end, with Carl taking care of the kitchen business. This simple device allowed us to realize just how quickly the Wolves were able to cause their havoc, and how quickly a few very smart and tactical people were able to restore some level of normal for the residents of Alexandria. It can’t be missed that the capable individuals were all members of Rick’s group, who had traveled across the country to get to Alexandria. The town’s prior residents were largely wheat to be chopped down by the scythe that was the Wolves. The episode also allowed us to remember that Carol, despite her homemaker disguise, is more than capable of meting out swift justice. She is one who, perhaps unknowingly, has certainly embraced Enid’s philosophy. After all, there are lines that have to be crossed if you want to Just Survive Somehow.
The quick attack on town leaves questions. How did they get in so easily and unnoticed? Was Enid working with them? Is it all somehow Aaron’s fault? And, importantly, is Morgan starting to realize that maybe his decision to value all life going to bite him, either figuratively or literally? These are all good questions, and ones that the show will hopefully answer before we’re forced to fall down the rabbit hole of internet predictions ever further. But there’s only one question I’m focused on after this past episode: Who made it onto the list of derision and mocking for their own stupidity?
Man, Eugene just isn’t having a good couple of episodes. Really, ever since his admission that he’s been lying to Abraham and the rest, things have not gone terribly smoothly. This season alone, he almost got taken out by Carter for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and being clumsy enough to give away his position. He also certainly can’t have helped new town doctor Denise Cloyd’s panic attacks, when she joked that she couldn’t kill Tara over a simple headache, and he pointed out that it could actually be far worse. Listen, Eugene, sometimes it’s fine to just shut your mouth and let the mullet do all of the talking for you. Either that, or spend some time with Tara learning how to not be quite so literal.
When we heard the horn blaring at the end of “First Time Again”, we all clearly wondered who was setting it off. Who was willing to sabotage Alexandria badly enough that they would try to lure the herd, and how would they have known that Rick was enacting his plan at that time? As it turns out, the horn was caused by an accident. The truck that the Wolves were attempting to use to break down the gates of Alexandria was steered aside, resulting in minimal damage initially, but a loud noise that we know is bringing the dead at their leisurely pace. How did the truck crash? Spencer, doing what he thought was the best idea, opened fire and caused it to veer. Points for the quick thinking and keeping the truck from taking down the gates. Negative points for having already proven to be a poor enough shot that the end result was pretty much the inevitable one. That said, Spencer did prevent the gates from coming down, so maybe it all will work out for him in the long run.
Carl has actually been growing quite a bit as a character, and it’s almost (gasp) getting to the point where his progression is looked forward to. The way he set up defending the house and his sister actually showed some pretty good intelligence for the situation, and he was smart enough to know that he couldn’t effectively watch both doors alone. We don’t actually know whether trusting Enid is a good or bad idea as of yet, although signs aren’t positive, but Carl knew that, with her eyes as well, he could take up a stationary position. So where did Carl slip up? By delaying too much with one of the Wolves, and almost having the gun stripped from him. Seems like Carl has had a few incidents where he just needed to pull the trigger against something he knew was a killer, and his pause almost got him in trouble. I guess you live, and you adamantly refuse to learn.
Speaking of living and refusing to learn, Morgan is once again set up as the counterpoint to the rest of Rick’s gang in this episode. He gets back to town in time to be able to assist with defending against the Wolves, but he maintains his adamant “no-kill” philosophy. While it’s all well and good to maybe one to keep a hostage for interrogating, that doesn’t seem to be the driving force behind why Morgan lets them live. In fact, after clearly and cleanly schooling a group of Wolves, Morgan tells them to run, and lets them leave the walls of Alexandria. Given that he’s already had run-ins with the Wolves, and should know what they’re capable of, letting any of them leave to potentially regroup and launch another coordinated assault is just a bad idea. We’ll have to see if his “I’m sorry” at the end of the episode meant that at least one human reached their end via Morgan’s staff.
1. Enid’s Parents
The episode opened with a glimpse into Enid’s past. We knew that she’d been through something, because she didn’t quite fit with the rest of the cozy perspectives held by many of the Alexandrians. She took unnecessary risks by going over the wall. And she had just enough survival skills to awkwardly hide with Carl in the hollowed out tree. Well, as it turns out, Enid is a lot better of a survivalist than we originally knew, and she clearly didn’t learn her skills from her family. The opening scene of the episode features Enid working as a lookout while they try to get their vehicle up and running again. She is expressly pointing out how they need to leave, because of walkers approaching. Instead of abandoning the vehicle and trying to make it on foot, they respond that they just need to find the right fuse. Cut to the next scene, which features Enid crying while looking out a blood-covered window, and the very first appearance of the letters “JSS”, chronologically. While we can’t be certain, I just somehow imagine Enid’s parents asking one of the walkers if they knew of a nearby mechanic who might still have parts.
That does it for this week. Things are definitely ramping up, but it remains to be seen if the Wolves are going to be one-hit wonders, or if they’re going to be a lingering thorn in Alexandria’s side, until we move on to the next real big bad. Thanks for reading!