After last week’s stellar season 6 premiere of The Walking Dead, can the show maintain its momentum with episode 602: JSS? Or more importantly, will our Walking Dead season 6 predictions turn out to be accurate?[divider]The Walking Dead Episode 602 Recap: JSS[/divider]
The Walking Dead episode 602: JSS opens with the kind of cold open that they have used before to great success, a slow follow of the character Enid, who you may remember as Carl’s sort of love interest from last year. In the clip, we see her at various points in her life before she came to Alexandria: a moment when she and her parents are surrounded, a moment where she eats a turtle raw, a moment where she is covered in blood moving into Alexandria.
And along the way, we see the initials that become the title of the episode: JSS.
Coming back, the show spends the next quarter of the episode establishing what is happening in Alexandria;
- Maggie gives Deanna a pep talk as she talks about planting a garden. (Maggie is becoming The Walking Dead’s Coach Eric Taylor in terms of pep talks, matching him in frequency and in colloquialisms. She just needs a “Clear eyes…” catchphrase.)
- We meet Denise, the reluctant psychologist who is now tasked with being the town doctor after The Pete Incident.
- Ron and his mom Jesse have a classic teenage fight about getting a haircut that really isn’t about getting a haircut.
- Carol gives Sam a short to the point pep talk that is basically “You’re dad was a monster, Rick killed him and you need to get it together to survive.”
And then all hell breaks loose.
The next ¼ of the show is about the Wolves attacking the townspeople of Alexandria and brutally killing them with lots of weapons that aren’t guns. The lack of guns serves to make these attacks even more savage to us as viewers and serves to show how unprepared the Alexandrians are to survive in this world. We see things like a man get killed and thrown off the wall with a gas bomb, a housewife gutted and bleed out on her porch, random people hacked to death.
But the people who know best and longest on the show don’t go down without a fight:
- Carl guards his sister, saves Ron from a Wolf, and gets Enid to help guard Judith.
- Carol goes in straight ninja mode. She kills a Wolf then uses the Wolf’s outfit to move through the group taking them out as she has a chance.
- Morgan shows up and kills the zombie driver of the semitruck whose horn we heard from the last episode, saves Gabriel, lets several Wolves escape before having to come to terms with his “I can’t kill” policy having major repercussions as he kills a wolf that he had let go in season 5.
- Maggie keeps Deanna alive.
- Aaron and Rosita do some regulating, taking down some Wolves and Aaron finding the stash of pictures he had been taking in the packs of things they were looting.
Towards the end, Rosita explains to the Alexandrians that the world only works one way now: you better have something worth dying for. And Carl has found a note Enid has left and we get the answer to what JSS is: Just Survive Somehow.[divider]The Walking Dead Episode 602 Review: JSS[/divider]
Some notes on this episode:
- The choice for the Wolves to not have guns makes this episode and its larger point really strike home The lovely HGTV like neighborhood of Alexandria is met with the savage deaths, both initially by the Wolves on the townspeople and on the Wolves when the team fights back. It is like the show is saying loudly and profoundly all at once: safety will never happen again.
- There are two scenes that were really well done. One is a beautifully framed shot where Carol holds Mrs. Neudermeyer as she dies. Carol was just a little bit too late to save her but she takes a moment and holds her as she goes from this life to the next before going into war chief mode. There was something very poignant and beautiful about it.
- The second scene was watching Jesse and her youngest son Sam huddle in the closet. There was an eery sense that this clearly wasn’t the first time they had done it, and you were reminded that the monster they used to hide from was her husband and his dad. It just really struck me and made me think that there are some Alexandrians who have seen some evil and maybe they will be survivors.
- From a writer’s room perspective this episode certainly lets you thin the herd from a non-criticial character’s perspective, while also establishing some key elements for this season.
So what is upcoming?
- We have to get some Morgan backstory about the non-lethal things happening.
- The redemption of Gabriel. There is a quick scene where he confesses to Carl and asks Carl to train him. I am pretty pumped about the idea of a warrior priest.
- What manner of hell will Rick want to enact upon the Wolves when he sees what happens? I shudder to think what the obvious mid-season finale could look like. And what the loss of humanity it could do to Rick. (The Wolves are awful people for sure but without guns, this will be a slaughter.)
- Curious to see what happens with failed Doctor Denise. She has to get better and she is an obvious love interest for Eugene.
Next week’s preview looks to be shifting back to what do happens when the horde is drawn to the horn and how Team Rick and company deal with that.
10 out of 10 again this week. Seriously, I don’t know if there is a smarter or better told story on television right now.