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Review: ‘The Walking Dead’ Season 6, Episode 2, ‘JSS’: And Out Come The Wolves

Review: 'The Walking Dead' Season 6, Episode 2, 'JSS': And Out Come The Wolves

Previously

Most of the main cast tried to herd a massive group of zombies away from Alexandria, only to have their plan thwarted when a loud, sustained air horn emanated from town. But if you want to know what happens with all that business, you’ll have to wait until next week, because this week’s episode is all about what went down in Alexandria as the Ricketeers tried to pull off their crazy zombie migration.

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This Week In Cold Opens

We begin with an effective sequence showing how Enid (the sullen girl Carl is sweet on) wound up in Alexandria. It’s just as cheery as you imagine, as she watches her parents get eaten in front of her and eventually has to eat a turtle raw to survive. Everywhere she goes, she spells out ‘JSS’: in the dirt, on a car window, with turtle bones. When she arrives at Alexandria, she almost doesn’t make contact, but then thinks better of it. So yes, she knows what it’s like “out there,” but she’s still largely an enigma.

Little Town, It’s A Quiet Village

As said, before things go completely bonkers, we check in with what’s going on in Alexandria while Rick and his team are off handling the quarry of zombies. Carol is still playing Suzie Homemaker with the other ladies, but does manage to chide one irritating woman who keeps complaining about the quality of the food. It’s good to see at least someone in Alexandria is complacent in a privileged, tiresome way, rather in the “They don’t murder everyone on sight and are therefore weak” way they’ve mostly been pitched as.

Meanwhile, Jessie’s eldest son Ron is being surly, since his abusive dad got shot in the face in front of the whole town, which is really a top drawer excuse for Teen Surliness. Enid comforts him a bit, which makes Carl jealous. Father Gabriel apologizes to Carl for all that mean stuff he said about the Ricketeers last season, and Carl is willing to give him machete lessons. Probably smart of Gabriel to appeal to the lowest rung on the Ricketeers totem pole.

And in unexpected guest star news, Merritt Wever shows up as Denise, the town’s new doctor. She’s studied medicine a bit, but she’s not the surgeon Pete was (although Pete was drunk all the time, so how good a surgeon could he have been, really?). Anyway, Denise shares some fun zingers with Eugene and Tara.

Man Is The True Monster

Hey, remember all those walkers and people with ‘W’ carved on their foreheads from last season? Good, ’cause here they come! I’m calling them The Wolves, since that’s how they referred to themselves when Morgan faced off with a couple of them in last season’s finale. So yeah, out of nowhere, a bunch of Wolves sprint into Alexandria and start murdering everyone they see with knives and axes. They also manage to drive a big semi-truck into one of the walls, which results in the aforementioned air horn. The sequence starts tense, but a lot of air goes out of the sails once you realize that the only victims are going to be either people we don’t know or people we just met. Still, it’s suitably brutal.

The key conflict in the episode is the different approaches taken by Carol and Morgan in confronting The Wolves. Carol, naturally, turns out to be a great guerrilla fighter, disguising herself as one of the Wolves so she can catch them off guard and kill them with impunity. Morgan, however, continues his stance against killing, only beating the wolves with his bad-ass kung fu staff and convincing a group of them to leave, rather than die.

Morgan’s role as the Ricketeers’ conscience is an effective one, finally giving some balance to the group’s brutality. Up to this point, people advocating against murder were mostly portrayed as weaklings and cowards like Father Gabriel. Of course, it’s going to be even more difficult for Morgan to convince others to follow his path after this initial attack. After all, it’s much easier to point a gun than learn advanced stick fighting. Morgan’s final scene this episode sees him squaring off with the Wolf he left alive in the Season 5 finale, with Morgan winning the fight and the Wolf’s fate uncertain. Hopefully, this storyline isn’t leading to Morgan definitively being proven wrong, but there are enough indications that it isn’t going to go that way.

Meanwhile, Jessie commits her first murder by stabbing an invading Wolf to death with a pair of scissors, and poor Aaron finds the backpack he lost last season on one of the dead Wolves, complete with extensive pictures of Alexandria, meaning he basically led them there. Everyone’s innocence is being lost willy-nilly this episode.

Symbolism Running Wild

After her killing spree, Carol tries to wipe off her bloody ‘W,’ but it doesn’t come off. Then she quietly starts to cry. She hasn’t completely lost her soul yet! Melissa McBride was fantastic this episode, as usual.

A Shred of Humanity

New doctor Denise is doubtful of her skills, but Eugene and Tara manage to convince her to try operating on a wounded Alexandrian. The patient doesn’t survive and Denise is pretty broken up about it, but at least she tried?

Enid stops by Carl’s to say goodbye, because one look at The Wolves and she was ready to peace out forever, but Carl insists she stay to help protect Judith. Before episode’s end, however, she manages to sneak away, leaving Carl a note that simply reads “just survive somehow.”

Achievement In Grossness

The Wolves don’t just stab people and run off. They tend to stick around and stab and stab and stab and stab while the sound department cranks up the dials to “maximum squishiness.” The Wolves have got some issues.

Grade: B+

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