The Walking Dead – JSS (S06E02)

The Walking Dead.“Ok, what the hell does that mean?” I asked The Husband, who does not always appreciate my (very) witty commentary.

But after seeing Enid, played by Katelyn Nacon with a quiet intensity, write those three letters (JSS) for the fourth time, I just wanted to know. And we finally got it later in this episode:
Just Survive Somehow

Clearly, that’s a motto everyone in this show should “live” by.

In this episode of AMC’s The Walking Dead, we pull away from the band of walker herders from the previous episode who just heard the horn going off, and turn our attention to those in Alexandria at a moment that appears to be before the horn starts.

Note: There are potential spoilers throughout this review, so you may want to stop here and return after watching the show.

We start off the “JSS” episode with Enid. We saw Enid witness her family’s demise at the hands of walkers. We saw her hide from what I assume to be walkers, and we saw her eat a turtle… RAW. That was pretty badass (if not nasty as hell). And she did all this while holding those three little letters dear – JSS.

I get it, and while watching this, I admired Enid’s fortitude, but you have to admit… Homegirl is creepy as all get out.

Now, let’s get to the rest.

I’m not a huge fan of Carol’s June Cleaver act. Who says you can’t be competent in the kitchen AND on the battlefield? Why Carol feels the need to fly SOOO under the radar I’ll never know, and sadly her act is is almost bordering on psychotic. Now, I love the character and Melissa McBride is awesome, but the writing for Carol lately is just… weird. Everytime she opens her mouth she sounds creepy and half checked out. Come on!

Ok, anyway, when she told Shelly (I had to look up her name, since the character was so uninteresting to me.) that smoking would kill her, I almost had to laugh. UNTIL IT DID! And not in the way I was expecting! HOLY MOLY! That Wolf, or whoever these people are, came out of nowhere and just hacked at poor Shelly. I didn’t think TWD could do much to scare me, but the suddenness of that attack caught me off guard.

“HOLY SHIT!” I yelled, while The Husband chuckled. “Did you see that?”

He assured me he did, and we knew right off the bat this episode was going to be insane!

Now, full disclosure, one of The Husband’s friends said (before we had seen the episode) that Carol is such a badass in this one. And she did have some moments, but nothing like her rescue of Rick and Crew from Terminus. So, we’d have to consider this badass-lite. With that said, I’ll still take it.

Carol is a take charge kind of lady, and I much prefer seeing her like this than playing Suzy Homemaker. She made sure Carl (who we find less and less annoying as the years pass) understood he was to protect Judith, and Carl stepped up. It was a joy to see Carol moving quickly and quietly through the walled community – taking out a bad guy here, putting down a fellow resident (girl was gonna bleed out anyway) when needed. THIS is the Carol we know and love.

Though it did annoy me to see her butt into Morgan’s battle – dude is a badass. (I still hope for a Morgan and Michonne pairing – little Ninja babies! WHAT? I’m still a girl! I like romance!) I love watching him swing that stick around as if he’s putting naughty children in their place, but OH NO, here’s comes Carol – shoot (or stab) first, ask… No, just shoot/stab first.

Speaking of Morgan, seeing him wrestle internally with what he knows SHOULD be done is interesting. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Lennie James is awesome, and the intense conflict he brings to such an interesting character makes Morgan, who often has very little to say, one of the best characters on the show. But seeing him conflict with other, more hardened characters, is a joy (I’m using that phrase a lot here!) to watch. The Husband pointed out that Tyreese was the conscience of the group – their humanity – and now we get to see Morgan step into that role. And I’m good with that (though I still miss Chad L. Coleman), because I appreciate the struggle. Humans can sometimes be bad, and the good need to be protected, but killing another human being shouldn’t be easy. For Rick and Carol sometimes it seems TOO easy, and though it must be done. I like the struggle Morgan (and often Michonne) bring to the table when faced with a “bad” human.

So, yeah, since we mentioned Morgan, if it wasn’t clear, he made it back from the zombie herding. At first, I thought that was awfully fast. But Rick had asked him to head back and update the residents on the herding status prior to the horn going off in the previous episode. So I guess he didn’t have to fly to make it back so quickly.

So what about that horn though? Well, I believe these “bad guys” were trying to crash a semi-truck through the Alexandria fence or gate. Well, Spencer (Deanna’s son) shoots at the truck, and it smashes into the fence. The crash seems to set the horn off. Spencer gets to the truck to try to shut it off, but finds a walker inside. He’s intimidated and scared, but fortunately Morgan shows up, kills the walker, and shuts off the horn.

Back inside the walls, it was pretty genius of Carol to cover her face and dress like one of the bad guys. It was also genius to “capture” Morgan and drag him along in chains. They were left alone allowing them to move around the battlefield unencumbered for the most part. ( I do want to point out here that I’ve heard a few people compare Carol dragging Morgan around to Star Wars. Umm… no. Hello! Michonne and her two zombie boyfriends from the earlier seasons should come to mind too.)

Back at Casa Ricktator, Carl and Enid are doing their best to protect the house, and Carl does end up saving Jesse’s (more on her in a bit) son’s life. To do so, he has to kill one of the “bad guys.” Good job, Carl!

As for Jesse… WHAT? Anytime we get a tense scene in which a mother prepares herself to do battle to protect her children, I get choked up. I’m a mom, what can I say. Jesse hides her younger son and herself in a locked closet, and sits there with a gun, holding it in her shaking hands. INTENSE. But the way she goes all Edward Scissorhands on the intruder – overkill! With that said, she got the job done and has proven she’ll step up if need be.

And then we have that fight with Morgan being surrounded by five “bad guys.” (Ok, who are they? Are they The Wolves? What do I call them? And what sort of pills are they popping?) Eh. No worries. Morgan easily took them down.

“My people have guns. You don’t,” Morgan tells them.

And I think this is why Morgan couldn’t bring himself to kill them. He let them go. I understood why he did it, and it is in keeping in character, but I didn’t like it.

But my favorite scene was at the end – Morgan and Carol passing each other in the streets. Both exhausted, but with blood on their hands. No dialogue, nothing, just a defeated look between two of the best characters on the show. I also appreciated seeing Carol take a moment to collect herself. Seeing her break that tough facade just a bit was nice. Seeing her humanity was nice.

I also want to give a shout out to the new doctor in town – Denise. Merritt Wever won an Emmy for her role on Nurse Jackie, so I had no doubt that she would fit into this show. She has some serious acting chops, and she brought them! As the new doctor thrown into this world of death and destruction, we saw her fear, and were reminded that she was a psychiatrist, NOT a surgeon. But when they brought in a young wounded woman (again, I missed who it was), she took a deep breath and tried to heal the woman – and failed. It felt real, and we saw the hurt on her face. She is a welcome addition to the cast, and I hope to see more of her in the upcoming episodes.

I didn’t find myself missing the Ricktator. Though I’ll always take more Darryl and Abraham, Rick’s chaotic brand of leadership can get on your nerves, or at least it gets on my nerves! I like Rick, but I’ll take a Rick-free episode once in awhile.

I enjoyed this episode. Many are touting Carol’s transformation from Suzy Homemaker to badass, but I can’t agree. She’s BEEN a badass for many seasons now. She didn’t go from baking cookies to cracking skulls in this one episode. She just stepped back into her own skin. One thing I didn’t mention in my take on episode one is that Morgan saw right through her facade, despite not really knowing her.

Carol offers Morgan a drink when they were working on the walker corral.
Morgan: You been with Rick long?
Carol: Since Atlanta.
Morgan: And were you a cop, too?
Carol: Why would you think that?
Morgan: You’re always watching. You always, uh… seem ready.
Carol: For what?
Morgan: You know, to handle things.
Carol: Aren’t you sweet.

It takes one to know one, I guess!

Season 6 is on the right track. I can’t say I’m one for cliffhangers, as I’m an impatient person, but I appreciate the return of tension and intensity as opposed to just trying to gross us out with intestines flopping all over the place.

About Xina

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Hello, fellow horror fans! I grew up watching horror, and my love for the genre is still going strong! Slasher films are sort of my secret-well, probably not so secret-obsession, but I'm up for anything-zombies, creature features, B movies, D movies-you name it, I'll give it a shot. Sometimes to the annoyance of my husband. I'm on twitter @Xina143, send me a tweet and tell me what I should watch next!"

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