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Spoilers await those who haven’t watched tonight’s The Walking Dead yet.
I admit to exhibiting an unforgiving attitude when it comes to dubious narrative choices on TV shows, and where many audience members can brush such things off with an apathetic hand, I’m unable to ignore the nagging discomfort that accompanies wasted story potential and underdeveloped characters. So there’s really no one to blame but myself for death-gripping the conviction that The Walking Dead creative team had put a lot of thought into the Wolves storyline, and that it would somehow get further developed and later meaningfully resolved with earned closure. None of that shit happened, though, and it looks like we’ve seen the last of these half-cooked whack jobs. Good “W”-iddance.
Don’t get me wrong. I understand that the Wolves’ attack on Alexandria was an important battle for the survivors, especially with several from Rick’s group absent at the time. But without any real progression of their ideology or history through backstory, the Wolves could have easily just gone by the name Other Dirtier People. Nothing about this plot avenue really necessitated the invention of a forehead-scarring sect that’s exclusive of any of the other threatening groups in this universe. A group that utilizes giant surprise ambushes is not one that is effectively introduced through weeks of mysterious teases and visual clues, and no one should have seen them coming, except for maybe Morgan.
Even with all that, I still thought that maybe Alpha Wolf snatching Denise in the midseason finale would lead to some redeeming incident, but it just wasn’t meant to happen. Oh, there definitely was an attempt at redemption, but it outrageously involved painting the group’s greasy leader in a more empathetic light that came across as more pathetic than anything else.
It was bad enough that Denise’s Stockholm Syndrome began even before he kidnapped her, but instead of straight up killing her as soon as they were free from everyone else (as it would be expected from this moral-free murderer), Alpha Wolf intentionally SAVED her life and got himself bitten instead. Every time a walker groaned in this episode, that’s what they were groaning about. I don’t know how I’m supposed to like or respect Denise now after she naively remained so dedicated to making sure this dude was in the best health possible.
Thankfully, before things could get too emotionally nauseating, Carol saved the day by finally putting a bullet in Alpha Wolf. Because Carol is smart. I hesitantly cop to appreciating how the Wolves incited the division between Carol and Morgan, as their conflict over what it takes to survive is an organic one. That’s assuming their tension-filled coexistence eventually pays off and is worth the trouble, since there’s a decent chance it could become as much of a whimpering arc as that of the Wolves. My optimism remains strong, because I’m as naïve as Denise, I guess.
In the end, the Wolves were indeed more comparable to the Scavengers than anything else in the comics, but at least Kirkman knew how to utilize brevity where the Scavengers were concerned. Yes, it might be my fault for wanting more from these flash-in-the-pan shitbirds, but that doesn’t mean I’d take responsibility for them. Now bring on the Saviors, and let us relish their more complex monstrousness.
The Walking Dead airs Sunday nights on on AMC.