Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Walking Dead Season 6, Episode 2: JSS

Well that was certainly different, and not at all what I expected. I figured this episode would pick up right where last week left of and deal with half the zombie parade descending on Alexandria. Instead we focused on what happened back in town during the walker roundup. There were barely any zombies in this episode at all, but it was still incredibly intense. As this show loves to point out, humans are far more dangerous than zombies ever will be.

Now that we're into the sixth season, it's starting to become apparent that this show only has one message up its sleeve: "How Far Can A Person Go Before They Lose Their Humanity?" It's a question that's been asked of Rick pretty much every season. Things get bad, Rick commits terrible deeds to protect his group and teeters on the edge of insanity before being pulled back.

This week the producers decide to give Rick's humanity a break, and shake things up a bit by pushing Carol and Morgan as far as they can go.

Don't get me wrong, I still love the show, but the constant reliance on this same message is started to become repetitive. Some day they're going to have to come up with a new idea or two.

SPOILERS!

The Plot:
This week we start with another flashback, as we see Enid (You remember Enid? Carl's weird, spooky love interest?) struggling to survive in the wild after the death of her parents. She absentmindedly writes the letters "JSS" on everything she see. She eventually makes it to Alexandria, but oddly enough seems reluctant to go in.

In the present, all is not happy in Alexandria. Jessie tries to get her son Ron to talk about Pete's death, but he storms off, blaming Rick. Eugene and Tara meet Denise, the town's new doctor. She studied psychiatry, and is unsure she has what it takes to be a physician. Carl gets jealous when he sees Enid and Ron embrace.

Carol continues her suburban housewife act as she bakes a casserole. She glances out the window and sees her neighbor smoking. Suddenly a hulking figure tackles the woman and chops her up with a machete.

It's the Wolves, who are now much closer than "not far." They run through the streets of Alexandria, killing anyone they see. Spencer (Deanna's son) is on lookout duty and spots a semi truck heading for the front gate. It crashes into the wall, where he sees it was being "driven" by a walker. The crash causes the walker to accidentally activate the truck's air horn, which is what got the attention of the herd last week.

Carol goes into stealth mode, disguising herself as a Wolf. She's joined by Morgan, who somehow made it back to Alexandria ahead of Rick and Co. Their methods differ though, as Carol has no trouble shooting any Wolfs she sees, while Morgan simply knocks them out with his bo staff. Carl and Enid hide and protect Baby Judith from the Wolves. Carl sees Ron being chased by one of the Wolves. He saves Ron, who refuses his offer of safety.

Carol notices the Wolves have no guns and are armed only with knives and machetes. She secures the armory before the Wolves find it and arm themselves. Jessie kills a Wolf who enters her home. Morgan confronts a group of five Wolves, one of whom he met at the end of last season. He beats them all silly with his bo staff and chases them off rather than kill them, which I'm sure won't ever come back to bite him in the ass.

Aaron (the recruiter we met last season) finds his backpack on one of the Wolves. It contains dozens of photos of Alexandria, and he realizes they found the town because of him. Enid disappears and Carl finds a note from her that simply reads, "Just Survive Somehow." JSS.

Thoughts:
• This show needs a program book, like they have at stage plays. With all the new Alexandrian characters being added each week, I'm having a hard time figuring out who's who.

• I was grossed out by Enid eating the raw turtle, which I'm sure was the whole point of the scene. Aren't turtles supposed to be crawling with salmonella? Is it really a good idea to eat a one raw, even in a zombie apocalypse?

• Carol was definitely the MVP of this episode. Not only did she slip into One Woman Army mode and save the town almost single-handedly, but she had a number of memorable lines:

Carol: You know, Shell, I could teach you how to make pasta with your own two hands. But you'd have to promise not to smoke in the house. It's just a disgusting habit. And it kills you. If you ask me, there are too many things trying to do that already, right?"  

Morgan: You don't have to kill people.
Carol: Of course we do!

Carol: "Your dad used to hit you and then he got himself killed. It happened. Now it's done. You live with it or it eats you up." Jesus, Carol! You're telling that to a ten year old kid!

• I guess this means Carol's meek housewife cover is blown.

• How about that first shocking Wolf attack? Carol's calmly gazing out the window and sees her neighbor Shelly having a smoke. Then suddenly Shelly's attacked by a filthy, massive brute and hacked into little pieces. Yikes! Definitely a WTF moment!

When I first saw the Wolf attack Shelly, for a few seconds I thought it was happening in Carol's mind. Like she was daydreaming about her neighbor getting killed for smoking (Carol commented on the habit earlier). Then I realized it was really happening, and thought it was a walker attacking. And then I realized the guy was carrying a machete, so I finally realized it was the much foreshadowed Wolves.

• Not only does Morgan have sweet bo staff skills, but he can apparently teleport as well. Last week he was helping Rick and Co. herd zombies, then suddenly in this episode he makes it back to Alexandria a good 45 minutes before they do.

• Say Carol... it was nice of you to save everyone and all, but it might have been a good idea to leave at least one Wolf alive so you could interrogate them. On the other hand, killing first and asking questions later was probably a better idea than the one Morgan had. Letting five insane, bloodthirsty psychopaths go with a stern warning can't possibly cause problems later on this season, can it?

• By the way, when Morgan confronts the five Wolves, he says, "You keep choosing this life, you will die." The Wolf responds, "We didn't choose" before scampering off.

So what did that mean? Obviously there's a Wolf Leader somewhere who's pulling the strings. Could it be Nagan, the Worse-Than-The-Governor character from the comics that fans are clamoring to see? Could be, but if so it means we're going to be skipping over a couple of comic story lines.

• So it looks like Enid's secretly a Wolf. In her flashback, she hesitates outside the Alexandria gate before going in. I'm assuming she was forced to infiltrate the town by the Wolves, and was having second thoughts.

Also, when Carl's trying to get her to help protect the town she says, "This place is too big to protect, with too many blind spots. That's how we were able to..." Carl cuts her off before she can finish, but it's pretty clear the "we" she's talking about are the Wolves. She's been living in Alexandria for months, spying and feeding intel to them (remember all her unauthorized excursions into the woods last season?).

• After the attack, Aaron sees one of the dead Wolves was wearing a backpack full of photos of Alexandria. That's actually his backpack. He used the photos when he went out recruiting new Alexandrians, and lost it last season when he and Daryl were trapped inside a car surrounded by walkers.

• Again after the attack, Carol slumps down on the porch of Rick's (I think) house. She notices a red "A" stamped on the steps. Hmm...

In last season's episode Forget, Sam stamped Rick and Jessie's hands with a red letter "A." Back then I thought that was a not-so-subtle nod to The Scarlet Letter, since Rick & Jessie were both having impure thoughts about one another. But what if it's something more?

Could Ron be working with the Wolves along with Enid? He could have stolen the "A" stamp from his little brother Sam and stamped homes of people he wanted the Wolves to be sure and attack. People like Rick, who he blames for killing his father.

• Right before the Wolf attack, Carol set her kitchen timer for 45 minutes. The timer went off right before the end of the episode, meaning it happened more or less in real time.

• After the Wolves are repelled, the Alexandrians regroup and lick their wounds. But they're not out of the woods yet. Remember, there's half of a giant walker heard heading for them, which will probably arrive next week!

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