The Walking Dead, S6 Ep2 – JSS

“How do you keep living, knowing that’s what the world is like?”

The Walking Dead, S6 Ep2 - JSSThe Wolves attacked Alexandria in the thrilling second episode of The Walking Dead‘s sixth season. The sheltered community was thrown into an uproar when a band of vicious, bloodthirsty killers broke in and slaughtered everyone in sight. For a change, the threat wasn’t walkers but live human beings, proving once more that sometimes, even in the zombie apocalypse, it’s other people who are the most dangerous foes.

The Walking Dead, S6 Ep2 - JSSRick and several of the main cast like Michonne, Daryl, and Glen were notably absent in this episode, which gave an opportunity for other characters to shine. And while Maggie, Eugene, and Carl had their moments, this was really Carol’s show. Once again, Carol demonstrated her excellent set of skills for surviving a bloody situation. She has grown so much over the seasons and after seeing her single-handedly rescue the group at Terminus, we were already assured of her greatness. But she takes it to the next level in this episode, when she manages to take down many of the attacking Wolves in a chillingly efficient manner.

Carol has learned to make many difficult choices through the years, and she has mastered the art of thinking on her feet and acting accordingly whenever the situation calls for it. She’s also become an expert at blending in to keep her enemies ignorant of her presence until it is too late. This was showcased when she disguised herself as a walker to get into Terminus, put on the seemingly-harmless-homemaker persona to keep the Alexandrians off their guard, and then when she put on a mask and smeared a “W” on her forehead like one of the Wolves so that she could take them out coldly and mercilessly. Carol also did not hesitate to put people out of their misery when she knew that they would never be able to get adequate medical attention. She armed herself and encouraged those left standing to do the same. And the citizens of Alexandria finally witnessed the badass that is Carol.

The Walking Dead, S6 Ep2 - JSSKilling came easily to her and she did not waste any time for sentiment or pity. This came into sharp contrast with Morgan’s approach. He showed up later in the episode, though it wasn’t explained why he was able to return so soon while Rick and the others remained outside the walls, probably dealing with the horde of walkers. While Morgan has proven to be a skilled fighter and an expert with that sharpened staff of his, he also has a deep aversion to killing.

The Walking Dead, S6 Ep2 - JSSUnlike many of the hardened characters on the show, he somehow still sees the value of human life. Though I don’t see how much value a bunch of murderous Wolves may have left. Morgan is clearly appalled by the ease with which Carol (and Rick) are able to dispatch living human beings (with Carol even shooting a Wolf that Morgan had already tied up.) He still doesn’t see how killing could ever be necessary, while Carol knows it is. It’s a harsh worldview but that’s what’s needed to survive in this world.

Being humane in The Walking Dead only tends to bring more problems and more often than not, the choices that would be considered morally reprehensible in normal circumstances are the kind that will keep you alive and un-eaten by zombies. A cruel reality but one that must be faced and one that Carol understands all too well, even though she knows that it has its costs (as evidenced by that moment of vulnerability where she chokes up and smudges the bloody “W” off her forehead.) Morgan was able to recognize Carol’s strength from the beginning, and now he has seen how far she is willing to go to keep her loved ones safe.

The Walking Dead, S6 Ep2 - JSS“Just Survive Somehow”: the initials Erin continuously traced to help her move on. The few scenes of her backstory prior to her arrival in Alexandria did a lot to flesh out her character, and to further illustrate the theme of making difficult choices in order to endure the world’s horrors.

Carol will do whatever it takes to protect herself and the group of people she has come to consider family. While Morgan is for protecting people, he still disagrees on her methods. They both have extreme perspectives, and I think that the best way to deal with the hardships they are facing would be to find some compromise between Carol’s ruthlessness and Morgan’s willingness to give people a chance. But it’s looking like Morgan will be clashing with more than just Rick when it comes to worldview. And at the end of this excellent episode as we see them both moving down opposite paths, literally and figuratively, we know that there are greater trials waiting ahead.