Will The Walking Dead survivors ever catch a break? Not if there are murderous savages like the Wolves lurking outside the walls of Alexandria. After a handful of brief appearances in previous episodes, the vengeful group were finally given a real introduction during episode two of the zombie series' season six and what they received was far from a warm welcome.
Set a few hours before the dramatic events involving Rick Grimes and the rest of the group in episode one, episode two follows the residents of Alexandria who stayed behind to keep an eye on their community. With Rick implementing the plan to lead hundreds of walkers away from their safe zone, mother hen Carol takes charge watching the fold at Alexandria but the true extent of her progressively twisted mind is exposed during her power trip.
Having escaped an abusive husband, finding herself alone after getting booted out of the group and eventually transforming into a fearless warrior, Carol has experienced enough to know how to play the dominance game and gets to work manipulating a group of women within the community. Her ability to switch between caring and controlling is both admirable yet terrifying – grieving young son to "get over" his father's death, she then sweetly offers to teach one resident how to make pasta before coldly demanding the woman give up her "disgusting" smoking habit.
Carol did have a point – smoking did kill the woman but not in the expected way. When Carol spies the Alexandrian giving into her addiction and sneaking a quick puff outside, the woman's smoking break is cut short when a machete-wielding man suddenly comes charging out of nowhere and butchers her to death. The Wolves have arrived in the community and they are about to wreak havoc and terror on its unbelievably naive inhabitants.
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What ensues is not only a battle between good and evil but also the Alexandrians fighting demons within themselves. On the one hand, Morgan does not think twice about beating down a few Wolves using only his stick as a weapon but given the chance to shoot a human, non-walker to death when handed a gun weighs too heavily on his conscience.
Although perhaps Morgan's mentality towards the outside threat is not such a bad idea – when he is later confronted by another group of Wolves, the former lone ranger incredibly manages to talk them down from killing him and they flee the residence. Simply put, Morgan would rather use the power of his words than a gun but he would have a tough job trying to persuade his friends to adopt the same method.
Although she is initially confident about putting her manipulation tactics into play, Carol gradually begins to crumble and reveals her emotions when forced to put an innocent Alexandrian woman out of her misery after she is stabbed by one of the Wolves. The mother hen can easily become a killing machine in order to protect her people but, fortunately, she has not completely lost the plot.
The attack of the Wolves forces everyone to face up to reality. Sticking to her promise, Jessie attempts to teach her eldest son Ron how to protect himself with weapons but he refuses, stating: "Rick is dangerous." The teen learns where the real threat lies soon enough when a Wolf infiltrates their home and Jessie stabs them to death. Previously unable to defend herself against her abusive husband Pete, this will be a character-defining moment for the mother.
Having lived within the safety of the Alexandrian walls for most of the zombie apocalypse, the original inhabitants have not endured the same hardships as the other survivors, proved when one naively asks Rosita: "How do you just live knowing that's the world?"
He might just find out himself if the other survivors are unable to lure the horde of walkers away from camp after a car horn, accidentally set off during the Wolves' attack, threw the plan off track. An underlying subplot also came into play during the episode with Enid, Carl's love interest, appearing to be a mole for the Wolves.
Episode two was impressively strong even without appearances from core characters such as Rick, Daryl, Glenn, Michonne and Abraham, all of whom should return in episode three, which is set to air on 26 October on Fox TV UK.