TL;DR version: Holy crap. Holy crap.
PREVIOUSLY ON THE WALKING DEAD: Everybody’s gonna die. That’s it. I’ve been a writing teacher, right, and one of the things I’ve done AS A JOKE a few times is suggest that kids end a story with an asteroid strike and just kill everyone. I mean, it’s final, right? The third episode of this season is gonna be an asteroid strike, only the asteroid is going to be made of biting, and they’re just gonna kill everyone and go home. Holy crap.
The episode begins with Enid in a cold open, as we see some of her life before joining the Alexandria crew. We see her parents get eaten. We see her find a turtle. We see her eat raw turtle, which… god, that’s gotta be a salmonella risk or something. We see her walking through a driving rainstorm but her hair isn’t wet, which is kinda weird. Maybe she’s Jesus. We see her bloody and messy and gross and oh she keeps putting JSS everywhere:
I know that’s a lot of pictures all in a row, but it’s really a quite striking couple of minutes– one of the best cold opens the show has ever done– and it’s also nicely mysterious and gross. And Enid’s already way more interesting than she was last season.
So, yeah. Back to Alexandria, where Carol is teasing somebody in a sort of passive-aggressive I really hate you sort of way about her smoking, and that lady’s still looking for her pasta maker, and then Carol gets back home and Sam is sitting on her porch. Showing that maternal side we all love her for so much, she says “Your dad used to hit you, and he got himself killed. It happened. You live with it, or it eats you up” to the kid. Yeesh, Carol. Maybe at least avoid the phrase eats you up?
She makes a casserole, sets the timer for 45 minutes and looks out the window. Smoker Lady is out in her front lawn having a cigarette. And then she is suddenly HACKED TO DEATH OH CRAP THE WOLVES ARE HERE and this is the rest of the episode: MURDER DEATH STAB BULLET BLOOD EXPLODE BURN DIE FIGHT MURDER BLOOD BLOOD STAB HATCHET MACHETE BLOOD BLOOD BLOOD AAAAAAAAHHHHH
I could credibly end the recap here: the Wolves attack Alexandria, they kill a whole lot of people, mostly horribly, except they don’t kill everybody because Carol. I mean, that’s it. The rest of the episode takes place basically in real-time; at the end, Carl takes the goddamn casserole out of the oven when the timer goes off.
Let’s bullet-point everything else I need to say.
- This scene with Jessie and Ron actually happens before all hell breaks loose, but it’s better to recap it here: Ron’s all I’m angry at you, don’t hang out with Rick, he cray cray and Jessie quite sensibly and appropriately and no-this-isn’t-bringing-a-nuke-to-a-gunfight challenges her brat son to lift his left arm above his head. He can’t, because Pete did something horrible to him at some point in the past. More on Ron later.
- Eugene’s line of the episode is “It hams my biscuits.” That’s supposed to be a bad thing, I think, but I think ham and biscuits belong together. Be better at Southern, Eugene.
- So the killing starts right away, and it’s mostly Wolves hacking unprepared Alexandrians to death, sometimes taking the time to take their arms off, too. Carol kills one right off. This is what she looks like the next time we see her:
- So, in quick succession, she’s killed a couple of Wolves, stolen their clothes, painted a W on her forehead in blood, and figured out to head for the armory. She uses the disguise to good effect repeatedly.
- The big horn from last episode? They strapped a Walker into the driver’s seat of a big rig and pointed it at the wall. It didn’t quite work the way they wanted it to; eventually Morgan pulls the zombie off of the horn and it stops. Morgan’s back in town already, by the way.
- I don’t think a big rig horn is really as loud as the horn we were hearing at the end of the first episode– that sounded much more like a civil defense alarm, something massive— but whatever.
- Carl actually tells Enid to stay in the house. For serious. Carl himself actually stays in the house, for the most part, guarding his little sister, only leaving once to deal with this:
- He shoots the guy, but doesn’t quite kill him, and there’s a brief moment where dude is begging for his life and you almost think he’s going to let the guy live, and the guy goes for his gun and Carl ends up having to kill him. He tells Ron to come inside (yes, that’s a second person Carl has told to get into the house) and Ron runs off.
- Ahem. Remember this, assholes? From Season 3, I think?
- This was basically the exact same situation, except the guy in the .gif had a gun, and the Wolf almost got the drop on him. I was arguing with anyone who would listen that Carl did the right thing here (shut up, Herschel) and this episode absolutely proves that I was right.
- Incidentally, this is the second time in two episodes that someone named Grimes has saved Ron’s life, so maybe you shut your stupid mouth about how Rick is daaaaaaangeroussssss, you little ingrate.
- HAVE I MENTIONED BLOOD AND DEATH AND MAYHEM EVERYWHERE YES EVERYWHERE HOLY CRAP?
- So, yeah, Morgan’s back in town already, and he really doesn’t want to kill anyone, and Carol thinks he’s a moron and basically keeps killing people Morgan wants to keep alive, at one point shooting a guy in the head that Morgan’s actually got tied up on the ground. Morgan thinks he can stop people, and they don’t have to kill. Carol’s having none of it. She knows she needs to get the armory secured before they find it, and she enlists Morgan’s help to do it. At one point they walk past Gabriel, who is on the ground being attacked, and she totally doesn’t care, because securing the armory is more important. Even Rick would have broken off to save Gabriel. Morgan manages it, though, so Gabriel survives the episode.
- Morgan helps with the disguise:
- Tara and Eugene get some good scenes with the town’s new post-Pete doctor, who isn’t a doctor so much as about half a psychiatrist. She’s not super effective, but the acting is good.
- Gabriel asks Morgan how he learned to fight. He answers “From a cheesemaker.” ‘Kay.
- At some point Jessie has to leave Sam in a closet because she can hear a Wolf breaking into their house. She feigns unconsciousness for a moment and then kills the shit out of the Wolf with her haircutting scissors. It’s as gruesome a scene as the show has ever had. I mean, seriously, check this out:
- At one point I swear Carol puts two bullets directly into a Wolf’s lungs through his back and he’s still able to run off. I’m not sure how. Toward the end of the episode, after the Wolves have been driven off, she actually breaks down and cries for a minute.
- Aaron finds his old backpack, the one with the pictures of Alexandria in it. He realizes he’s probably the reason the Wolves found the compound. He doesn’t appear especially happy with this information.
- Morgan is confronted– separately– by both of the two Wolves he let live at the end of last season. One of them is part of a group of five. He convinces them to leave, but not before one of them grabs a gun, which, hell, I’m sure that won’t backfire on the Alexandrians at all. It’s actually a pretty badass scene:
- He finds the other Wolf ransacking a house. This one, he actually kills, or at least I’m pretty sure we’re supposed to think he did.
- The final scene of the episode is Carol and Morgan walking past each other, Carol still dressed as a Wolf, and not saying a word.
- JSS stands for Just Survive Somehow, by the way. Enid leaves it on a note for Carl; she’s presumably fled. There are people online yapping about how she’s a Wolf in disguise; I doubt it. Hopefully we see her again.
- There’s still thousands of zombies coming, by the way.
Is it next Sunday yet?