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TV Review: The Walking Dead 6.2 “JSS”
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The Walking Dead Episode 6.2 Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride)

The Walking Dead
Episode 6.2 “JSS”
Directed by Jennifer Lynch
Written by Seth Hoffman
Starring Andrew Lincoln, Danai Gurira, Steven Yeun, Lauren Cohen, Norman Reedus, Melissa McBride, Chandler Riggs, Michael Cudlitz, Lennie James
AMC
Air date: Sunday, October 18, 2015, 9pm

Warning – SPOILERS for The Walking Dead Episode 6.2 “JSS.”

Last week’s Season 6 premiere of The Walking Dead, Episode 6.1 “Last Time Again” filled in the gaps of what happened right after the events of the Season 5 finale, and what’s happening now with Rick Grimes and the residents Alexandria Safe Zone. While outside the community walls, Rick and Morgan discovered how it is that the Safe Zone has yet to invaded by Walkers — the undead in the surrounding area have become trapped at the bottom of nearby granite quarry.

While anyone else would be thrilled to know that the Walkers are contained, Rick isn’t, because he’s practical. He knows that it’s only a matter of time before the quarry barricade is breached, and the Walkers come knocking at the walls of the Safe Zone. It took some convincing, but eventually everyone came on board with Rick’s new plan to be proactive and corral the Walkers to an area 20 miles away. The plan was, Miraculously, working… until it wasn’t anymore when a blaring horn began sounding, leading the Walkers away and back towards the Safe Zone.

In this week’s installment, Episode 6.2 “JSS,” things take a surprising turn. It begins very slow, showing us Enid, the young girl from the Safe Zone who is with Ron, but also had gone off with Carl a few times. Enid doesn’t talk much, and no one really knew her story. Here, we see moments of her struggling to survive, until she finally makes it to the Alexandria Safe Zone. In all the scenes with her, we writing the letter’s “JSS” everywhere. What that means, we don’t know, until near the end of the episode, when she gives this message to Carl.

The thing is, when we last left off, that horn was blaring, and everyone was in danger. So, starting out the episode NOT picking up with the horn, was daring… and frustrating!!! But, halfway through the episode, we finally find out what the deal is with that horn.

But, before that, we see the people of the Safe Zone who stayed behind when Rick and his team went to lure the Walkers away. The horn has yet to be sounded, so the residents are just going about their regular business: Maggie is telling Deanna they need to plant crops and grow the community; Father Gabriel apologizes to Carl for his past behavior, and Carl agrees to train him to fight; Jessie tries to communicate with her older son, Ron, after the death of his father at the hands of Rick; and Carol is being her usual homemaker self, offering to teach one of her neighbors, Mrs. Neudermeyer, how to make pasta without a machine. The scene with Carol is very telling in many ways. First, one of the “Housewives” tells Carol that she’s a real “honest to goodness hero” because of her fabulous recipe for cola ham. This lady doesn’t even know the half of it, or how true her assessment of Carol actually is. As long-time survivor Carol smiles to the women, she offers to teach Mrs. Neudermeyer how to make pasta without a machine if the woman will stop smoking in the house, stressing that it’s a disgusting habit and that there’s already enough out there that will kill them. Carol’s suggestion leads to one of the most shocking sequences in Walking Dead history, because we didn’t see it coming. Also, when you take away the zombie aspect of the show, you’re left with a serious drama, and what happens next introduces true horror — the evil that men do.

And what evil is that? The Wolves. We’ve seen the Wolves before, and it’s obvious that they are pure evil and insane. It’s not so much about survival with them — although that’s a part of it — as it is with them furthering their own agenda. AND, getting enjoyment out of killing — that becomes plainly obvious within the first few seconds. In this episode, the wolves breach the walls of the Safe Zone while the “heroes” (Rick and his A team) are away, and they proceed to just slaughter everyone in their path. The original Zonies have never been up against anything remotely like this — they have no chance against the feral Wolves. As homemaker Carol makes one of her famous casseroles, she sees through her window that good old Mrs. Neudermeyer has taken her advice and is smoking outside of her house (although, Carol wanted her to really quit). Just then, one of the Wolves appears and hacks her down! This one scene is classic horror right there!

Looks like it’s another chance for Badass Carol to spring into action, and from here on out, she dominates this episode.

But first, we see the horn is coming from a truck that one of the Wolves crashed into the community walls. Soon after, Morgan is the first of Rick’s A team to return to the community. For some reason, seeing the Wolves slicing the residents down isn’t enough for Morgan to realize that he needs to kill these people. While Morgan is still fighting them off with his staff, and warning them to just “leave,” Carol is disguising herself as one of the Wolves to sneak attack them, picking them off one by one.

Another character to step up in this episode is Jessie, who we see at the beginning is trying to communicate with her oldest son, Ron, who’s still reeling over the loss of his abusive father at the hands of Rick. Once the Wolves invade, Jessie doesn’t hesitate to defend herself and her children, repeatedly stabbing her attacker. So, Carol and Jessie understand what needs to be done, yet someone like Morgan is still struggling to retain his humanity and morality, even though it’s impractical.

Episode 6.2 “JSS” really gives the secondary characters a chance to step up and show what they’re made of. On the non-violent side, there’s Denise, a psychiatrist who suffers from panic attacks. Denise is the new doctor of the community now that Dr. Pete is dead. But, Denise is frightened of her new position, and of all people, it’s the yellow-bellied Eugene who counsels the new doctor on not being a coward.

Then there’s the fighters: Aside from Morgan, who might have hindered at times during this Battle of Alexandria, Rick and his group did not make it back in time to defend the residents. Maggie, Rosita, and Aaron were seen doing some damage, but it was really Carol who saved the day. Her tactics were more effective than anyone else’s, and I think even if Rick and his group had returned, they wouldn’t have been as effective as Carol. She infiltrated the Wolves very quickly, and did every sneak-attack maneuver she’s physical capable of doing. Though Morgan looks at Carol as if she’s immoral, she’s not. Morgan has let people live — people with malicious intent — and then those people have returned to kill others, while Carol has done everything she can to protect herself and those around her. In the end, Morgan finally realizes that sometimes, you have to use deadly force.

By episode’s end, there are casualties, but all of the featured residents have survived, even though Rick and company never returned to save them. Some were ambushed, so they didn’t have a chance, and others, realizing their severe limitations hid rather than risk becoming a hindrance, but some residents had the courage to fight. And then Carol turned into a superhero, and pretty much saved the day, all in the same amount of time it took for her casserole to cook (45 minutes!).

As for “JSS,” we learn that it means “Just Survive Somehow,” in a message that Enid leaves for Carl at the end of the episode when he’s taking Carol’s casserole out of the oven. Enid and Carol understand what this new world is about, and what needs to be done. They’ve managed to “just survive somehow.”

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