AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 6, Episode 2: “JSS”
Directed by Jennifer Chambers Lynch
Written by Seth Hoffman
* For a review of the previous episode, “First Time Again” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Thank You” – click here
After the terrifying ending of “First Time Again”, The Walking Dead‘s 6th season moves into its second episode with a devastating bang. A young girl named Enid (Katelyn Nacon) in a van with her parents ends up alone out in the forest and wandering the roads after her parents are obviously taken by the walkers. She continually writes JSS in the dirt on the ground and in dusty car windows. Pretty gnarly scene when she finds a tortoise crossing the road, then smash cut to her ripping it open, feeding on its bloody corpse like a walker would a human. Then, once more, she puts the leftover bones on the ground in front of her – spelling out JSS. Finally coming upon the suburb of Alexandria, she hesitates before approaching the gates and writes JSS once more on the dirt all over the back of her hand.
Honestly, this is one of my favourite openings to an episode in a long while.
Back to present day, Carol (Melissa McBride) is doing more of her cooking. She talks about her old life: Ed, her “spring cleaning casserole“. I love her character, what a woman in every sense of the word – tough, caring, motherly, and so much more. She offers a sense of stability, especially to some of the women in the neighbourhood. She tells them they’re going to learn how to make pasta by hand. Everything she does, even her tough love side is out of a caring place in her heart.
Jessie Anderson (Alexandra Breckenridge) is trying best she can to keep her home in one piece after the death of her husband. Things with her son Ron (Austin Abrams) aren’t going so well. She’s finding it tough and for good reason.
Furthermore, Deanna (Tovah Feldshuh) is also having a rough go of things. Her partner is gone now, things have slightly shifted in beloved Alexandria, so no wonder. But Maggie (Lauren Cohan) lends a comforting shoulder, telling her the people in their town were there because of her. I also love Maggie because she’s another badass female character in the show who is well-rounded – strong, vulnerable at times, caring, and ultimately tough as hell after dealing with so much, the death of Hershel then only just awhile ago Beth; she’s got a hard edge with a sweet heart. Cohan is an excellent actress who really exemplifies all the important aspects of her character.
Panic strikes as an attack comes down on Alexandria!
First, Carol watches as the woman she told not to smoke gets machete’d while smoking on her front lawn. Then, Deanna and Maggie see molotov cocktails start to fly, a watcher on their wall gets burned to death. Absolute and utter chaos has struck. Are these the Wolves? You bet your ass.
Everyone is on high alert. Carol goes to start defending the neighbourhood, as Carl (Chandler Riggs) and Enid lockdown the house with little Judith alongside.
All the while, people are being hacked to bits, stabbed to death. The Wolves mark Ws on their foreheads in blood – same as the zombies were carved up a ways back, starting episodes and episodes ago, remember? Well, either way things are devolving into complete madness.
The horn from “First Time Again”, which leads all the walkers back from the quarry and away from where Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Co. were funnelling them – starts to sound after a transport truck flies in towards Alexandria’s gate and smashes up against the wall.
Morgan (Lennie James) shows up back in town. Confronting a big Wolf (Lance Tafelski), about to showdown, Carol flies in disguised like a sheep in wolves’ clothing – literally – and stabs the man. Great little scene! Continually I am amazed by Carol, but she is a survivor, has been from the start. Dressed as one of the Wolves, she goes on to do some major killing. What a god damn ass kicker.
Jessie gets her chance to really protect her family when a female Wolf breaks inside their home, attacks her. An incredibly savage stabbing, which her son Ron walks in on, is a favourite out of this episode. Even amongst so much bloodshed, it’s a tense and wild scene.
Morgan has a confrontation with several Wolves. Strangely enough, though, it’s almost like they know Morgan. Have they met before? Was he with the at some point before coming back in contact with Rick? The few Wolves leave and Morgan shuts the gate to Alexandria, a distant look in his eyes. This is intriguing to me. Scary, too. He has another encounter briefly with a Wolf inside his neighbourhood house – the Wolf and Morgan talk for a moment suggesting some kind of former relationship. Did he go back to Rick for devious reasons unknown? We’ll have to wait and see.
Additionally, Aaron (Ross Marquand) finds a satchel while stabbing the dead in the street through the head, to prevent more walkers. Inside the bag there are photos – they shot all the inside workings of Alexandria, the solar panels, the wall, et cetera. Creepy stuff.
This is easily one of the most, if not the top bloodiest sequence in The Walking Dead‘s entire history as a series. Even more than that it was intense. On top of everything, the people in Alexandria aren’t used to this sort of action. They’re not experienced in the real world outside their (relatively) safe walls, not in the way Maggie, Rick, Carol and Morgan have become hardened through their trials and tribulations. Hell, Carl’s turning into a true bad ass, which I thought would never happen (I used to hate him now he’s growing on me). So it’s interesting to see how the different pockets within the major group are reacting to everything that’s happening, it makes for good writing and a nice contrast as opposed to the good vs. evil we had happening most of the time between Rick/his group and The Governor/his group. I’m enjoying where this sixth season is starting to head, even only two episodes in so far. Starting to cook with gas now.
Stay tuned. I’ll be back to review next week’s episode again – titled “Thank You”, directed by Michael Slovis and written by Angela Kang.