The Walking Dead: Attack of the Wolves
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No flashforwards this week. Just some damn good storytelling. In color, too! This episode takes place at the same time as last week’s March of the Zombies, only we get to see what happens back at home with Carol, Carl, and the townies.
Well, not quite yet. I said no flashforwards, but we do get one flashback to kick things off tonight. It’s Enid, the young lady who Carl totally failed to kiss last season, watching her yokel parents try to hotwire a car with no success. How they survived this long into the apocalypse is not explained, but the zombies are about to rectify their oversight. Enid screams a warning at Mom and Dad that the undead are coming up behind them, and oh shit, in front of them too. Zombies are coming on all sides, in fact, and there’s no time to escape. Enid watches from inside the car as Mom and Dad get mobbed and devoured. Slowly.
Later, Enid walks alone in the rain. Has it been days or weeks? I don’t think time means anything to Enid anymore. The letters “JSS” means something, though. She writes them in the mud.
Later, Enid is going through the pockets of a dead body trapped under a car. The body turns its head to look at her, so she destroys its brain. Then she gets in the car for shelter and writes “JSS” on the foggy window.
Later, Enid spots a turtle crawling slowly across an empty road. Next thing we know, she’s eating it raw. She pulls meat and bone from the shell with her fingers. She writes “JSS” with the bones on the ground.
Later, Enid gazes suspiciously at a long wall. Hey, we know that wall. It’s Alexandria. She hears the sounds of everyday suburban life coming from inside. She turns to walk the other way. But she only makes it a few steps before turning around again. She heads for the front gate. There’s no joy on her face. This isn’t salvation. It’s defeat.
Now go hug a puppy or something because it’s not going to get much happier from here.
Carol is in the community food pantry, swapping recipes with the gals. One of the townies whines about a lack of decent pasta, and Carol totally mean-girls her into submission with a smile on her face.
On her way home, Carol comes across her little buddy, Jessie’s younger son, the one who tipped her off to Jessie’s husband’s wife-beating ways. Gosh, he looks awful sad. Carol knows just what the pipsqueak needs to hear: “Your dad used to hit you and then got himself killed… Learn to live with it.”
Jessie is in her kitchen with a pair of scissors that will become very important later. “This is bullshit,” says her older son Ron. What, the trope of establishing where a sharp object is lying around? Nah, he’s calling shenanigans on this whole haircut ploy. It’s a trick so that his mom can have a conversation with him, like OMG, can you believe?
Jessie wants to know if Ron blames her for daddy getting himself killed on Rick’s bullet. Ron wants to know what’s the deal with Jessie and Rick anyway.
Just outside the city wall, Maggie is showing Mayor Deanna where the new vegetable garden will go once the wall is extended. But it’s not a lack of beta keratin that Maggie is really worried about. The true purpose of new garden is to show the town that Deanna hasn’t completely checked out after the death of her husband; she’s still thinking about the future and how to grow the town.
Veggies are one thing, but you know what’s a total waste of space? A new church. So says Eugene as he saunters into the medical clinic with Rosita. Some random townie is hanging out there, having what someone who’s never experienced a panic attack might think a panic attack looks like. Meet Denise, the new town doctor. Only she’s a psychiatrist, not a surgeon or general practitioner, and she’s scared shitless by her new position.
Outside, Carl is taking the baby for a walk. Father Gabriel approaches him to make a confession and ask forgiveness. His problem was never with Rick or his people; it’s with himself. He knows that now. Carl seems ready to believe it, but he’s not the one to grant absolution. He suggests Father Gabriel make that same confession to the full group.
Carol is cooking up something yummy in Rick’s kitchen. She pauses to look out the window at the whiny pasta bitch from earlier. Look at her standing there, smoking. Ugh, I hate her. Someone ought to carve her up with a machete.
And that’s exactly what happens, right in front of Carol’s eyes.
Maggie’s attempts to gently walk Deanna back to sanity take an unfortunate turn when someone launches a Molotov cocktail at the guard patrolling along the top of the wall. He goes up in flames.
Back at the Grimes abode, Carol orders Carl to STAY IN THE HOUSE. Sadly she doesn’t use those exact words, because the show is more self-aware than that. Carl does as he’s told, machine gun in hand.
Over at Casa Love Interest, Jessie orders her younger son to hide in their special daddy-proof closet while she goes out to find Ron. But the sound of someone trying to break into the house changes her mind. She hides in a closet that bolts on the inside with the kiddo and a handgun.
Enid almost gets herself machine gunned in half when she comes waltzing into Carl’s house through the front door. She’s ready to run away together, but Carl is damned if he’s not going to stay and protect the baby. She tries to tell him goodbye, but Carl ain’t having it. He orders her to grab a gun and sit back-to-back with him so they can guard every direction. “They’re going to die. All of them. Don’t tell me goodbye,” says Carl.
“Okay. I won’t,” says Enid.
Say, did anyone notice that Enid seemed casually familiar with what the Wolves are and what they know about the town? Hmmm…
Outside, Carol is watching the carnage as invaders hack up townies with knives and axes, then use the blood to draw a “W” on their own foreheads. I knew this was Bush’s fault.
Carol tries to save one of the townies who’s being attacked behind her house, out of the view of the rest of the Wolves. Carol manages to kill the attacker, but it’s too late for the townie. There’s nothing left to do but mercy kill her.
Up in the guard tower, Deanna’s eldest son is doing his best to pick off Wolves with his sniper’s rifle. But the Wolves have a weapon of their own: a 18-wheeler that comes crashing into the tower. The crash pins something — maybe the driver? — against the truck’s horn. It blares throughout the town… IT’S THE SIREN WE HEARD LAST WEEK.
Deanna’s son is alive and eventually digs his way out of the wreckage of the tower. The guy behind the wheel of the truck is a zombie now, which is pretty damn fast for him to pop back up from the dead, but whatever, there he is — and sonny boy can’t quite bring himself to destroy the thing with his knife all close and icky. Fortunately, that’s when Ninja Morgan shows up to splatter its skull with his ninja staff. Morgan wastes half a second trying to get sonny boy to follow him into battle, but it’s immediately clear that the young man is paralyzed with fear. “Hide,” Morgan advises, then runs off.
Eugene, Rosita, and Aaron — hey, it’s Aaron! — haul in some random townie who’s been hacked up pretty good but is still breathing for Dr. Denise to deal with. Aaaaaaaand she’s paralyzed with fear, too. Aaron and Rosita head back out to join the battle while Eugene and Tara stick around to give Dr. Denise a good pep talk.
Ninja Morgan is facing off with some Wolf with an axe, and this is going to be awesome! But then Carol spoils our fun by stabbing the axeman in the back before the fight even begins. How’d she get here? By dressing in the clothes of the Wolf dude she killed earlier and drawing a blood “W” on her forehead. Speaking of spoiling the fun, Ninja Morgan thinks this is the right time (and the right show) to lecture Carol about how killing people is w-r-o-n-g. Yeah, thanks for the tip. Can you go back to bashing people with your staff now please?
Deanna’s son catches up with his mom, who is — say it with me now —paralyzed by fear. Maggie leaves the two of them to protect each other while she heads off into the battle or maybe into a black hole, who knows, she’s never seen again.
Eugene is pep-talking Dr. Denise by telling her she doesn’t want to be as worthless as him. It’s super effective.
Anybody curious what’s up with Jessie’s older son Ron? Too bad, because I’m going to tell you anyway. He’s running as fast as he can from a Wolf, but it’s not fast enough. The Wolf is just about to put him out of our misery when Carl blows him away. The Wolf, that is — not Ron. Now it’s Carl’s turn to tell someone to get in the house and for that someone not to listen. SEE HOW IT FEELS, CARL? Ron ain’t going to hole up with the son of the guy that shot his pa, even if the alternative is running through the Wolf-infested streets.
Back at Jessie’s place, she hears someone in the house so she goes out to explore, which really ruins the entire point of having a secret closet that locks from the inside. Gosh, whaddayaknow, there’s a Wolf. A fight ensues in the kitchen, and fortunately we’ve already established there’s a sharp object nearby — the haircut scissors — because how else would the audience ever believe that Jessie could find anything sharp IN THE KITCHEN to stab someone with? Which is what she does. Repeatedly. With great vigor and relish. Not realizing that her boy Rob just came in and is watching.
Carol and Ninja Morgan are looking for townies to save when they spot Father Gabriel about to bite it. Carol is pretty much cool with that and wanders on to look for more worthy lives to save, but Ninja Morgan just isn’t on the same page at all this episode. And so Father Gabriel lives to see another episode.
Carol makes it home, where she’s got a giant stockpile of machine guns. She finds a townie hiding in her closet and orders her to guard the weapons cache.
Ninja Morgan has tied up a Wolf because of his no killing policy, and the Wolf babbles some vague motivation for the attack about “freeing you” because this suburban paradise is a “trap.”
Then the captive’s head explodes, literally, because Carol is back with the heavy weaponry.
Say, did anyone else think the captive Wolf’s brief diatribe wasn’t that far off from Enid’s warning to Carl last season that people aren’t supposed to live like the Alexandrians do anymore? Hmmm…
Aaron and Rosita shoot themselves some Wolves.
Carol shoots herself some more Wolves.
Ninja Morgan hosts a lecture series on not killing people. It’s well attended, actually. In fact, there’s a huge crowd of Wolves gathered around him, getting their asses beaten while he continues to lecture them. “You keep choosing this life, you’ll die,” he warns. Eventually, his words sink into their skulls, or more likely it’s the ninja staff that’s sinking into their skulls, but either way the Wolves finally turn tail and run.
And so ends the Battle of Alexandria.
In the aftermath, Carol picks up a pack of Morley cigarettes that her bitchy neighbor dropped while getting hacked to death. There’s no excuse for littering, people. Ah, Morley cigarettes, a TV tradition since at least 1961. Carol sits down on her front steps to enjoy a smoke, and there’s a red “A” painted on the bannister. Aw, shit, she’s not a fucking Crimson Tide fan, is she?
Aaron is wandering the streets, stabbing corpses in the skull so they don’t rise. He finds a dead Wolf with his old backpack, the one he left behind when fleeing the Wolves’ booby trap last season. His photos of town are still inside. Dude, you’ve got electricity; just get an iPhone.
Dr. Denise’s patient dies.
Maggie escapes from her black hole to give Deanna and son the all clear. Sonny boy tries to wax poetic about living in such a world, but Maggie cuts him off with a callback to her earlier conversation with Deanna, saying, “You’re still here,” as in, you’re still alive, so go be alive.
Back at Carl’s place, he’s just realized that Enid has given him the slip somehow. True to her word, she didn’t tell him goodbye. But she did leave him this note:
And if you put together that “just survive somehow” is the JSS she kept writing to herself at the start of the episode, you’re smarter than me.
Say, did anyone else notice Enid was skipping town just as the attack began and never showed the slightest concern for the townies getting slaughtered? Hmmm…
Back at Ninja Morgan’s place, there’s one last Wolf who didn’t hear the call to retreat. There’s a fist fight, and Ninja Morgan barely gets the upper hand. “I’m sorry,” says Morgan, then brings his ninja staff down on the guy’s skull…killing him? Probably?
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