The Walking Dead: We Finally Learned What The Ws Mean

It should go without saying that there are some mighty big spoilers ahead for “Conquer.”

For its blood-soaked Season 5 finale, The Walking Dead gave us Rick using a walker’s head as a silencer, the much-needed death of Pete, the arguably unneeded death of Reg, and Father Gabriel once again projecting his own faults onto Rick’s group. And it also finally confirmed that the Ws we’ve been seeing on the walkers’ heads does, in fact, stand for “Wolves,” a new group threat whose two-man team we got to meet tonight.

We’ve been expecting the Wolves ever since their spray-painted “Wolves Not Far” message popped up when Season 5 came back from hiatus, even if we weren’t quite sure who or what they were about. And by the end of “Conquer,” I’m still not entirely sure what their deal is, beyond having the urge to mark their territory.

We first meet Benedict Samuel’s cold and calculating unnamed character when he interrupts Morgan’s meal – woo, Morgan! – with an unloaded weapon and a historically motivated explanation for the Ws.

You know, the first settlers here, they put bounties on wolves’ heads. Brought the natives into it. Made them hunt them. Didn’t take them too long to kill them all.(points to W scrawled on his own forehead)They’re back now.

I gotta say, although it was an interesting way to introduce this guy and his similarly unnamed partner, it didn’t exactly portray them as a notably dangerous pair, seeing as how Morgan took them out fairly easily with his sweet ass skills with a wooden staff. He could easily have killed them both for trying to kill him, though he just leaves them in a car as zombie bait. If one guy can take them both out at once, why would viewers think they alone could pose a real threat to a much larger group? Although if they happen to be two of the three people that Aaron talked about banishing from Alexandria, the personal side of their motivations makes them a tad more dangerous than just a group of strangers.

The pair use their own kind of bait – a guy in a red poncho – to lure Daryl and Aaron to their canned good factory hideout, where they had a fairly elaborate set of walker traps. (Seriously, this would have been the perfect episode for a Scooby-Doo crossover.) They then kill the red poncho man near the end of the episode, and we see him shambling around the factory lot in the post-credits sequence, where he passes a vehicle with “Wolves Not Far” painted on it. I’m not quite certain why he wasn’t also lured into the back of one of the trucks with the rest of the zombies, but then I’m not quite certain about anything Wolves-related at this point.

What I do know is that things are going to get rougher for the folks in Alexandria when The Walking Dead returns for Season 6 later this year. It’s unclear if the Wolves are a substitution for the comic’s Scavengers, but we can probably expect them to continue using the walkers as a weapon against the Alexandria citizens. And now that they have pictures of Rick and Carl (and assumedly more of the group), they have someone to target. Can’t Rick and others just get along for once?

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Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.