Warning: Major spoilers ahead for those who have not seen episode 6.02 ‘JSS’
There’s been a lot of chatter in The Walking Dead fandom since last week’s explosive season 6 premiere, with perhaps the biggest question being who in the hell sounded that damn horn at the most inopportune time. Theories have gone from Father Gabriel to Deanna to Ron Anderson, hell just about every character’s name has been on the list at some point in time. However, in my opinion, the answer has been blatantly obvious — especially once you realize the horn is that of a semi-tractor truck. Who do we know has a somewhat unnatural love for semi’s? Yep, the Wolves. With that horn and the collection of semi’s we saw in the season 5 finale, it becomes pretty clear that the Wolves are at Alexandria’s gates and about to blow it down — and all while Rick, Michonne, Glenn and just about every other strong fighter is out chasing a runaway walker horde that they just released. Oops.
WE GET ENID’S BACKSTORY — FINALLY!
And, NO, she’s not one of the Wolves, nor were her parents, her siblings, long-lost cousins, nobody, none, nada (at least we get nil indication of that in this episode). This is a fan theory that’s been making the rounds since the end of last season, and one that has almost become like a broken record similar to the ramblings about when Negan will be showing up. However given tonight’s revelations, it’s obviously been one, big red herring since day 1 — and one that fans fell for hook, line and sinker.
Honestly, though, Enid (Katelyn Nacon) having any connection to the Wolves would have been too obvious, and really folks, the writers of this series are much better than that. The episode actually begins with some fantastic Enid flashbacks providing us with the details of how her parents were killed and her resulting journey that landed her at the gates of Alexandria. While this series has often made the use of music to provide the foundation for the atmosphere of a scene, this sequence is almost completely silent. Just like the use of black and white in last week’s flashbacks, this turns out to be a brilliant move as it is the quick, jarring movement of the frames of the scenes that forces the viewers to feel the sheer horror of what is happening and what Enid is going through.
Ironically, the flashbacks also serve as a sort of foreboding. The episode starts with Enid’s beginning at Alexandria, and the final scenes depict her departure from the safe zone. Of course, that heartbreaking flashback makes her leaving even sadder which I’m sure was one of the points. However, just because she has left doesn’t mean we won’t see her again. In fact, it is somewhat of a hanging chad, and so, my gut says we’ll cross paths with the character much sooner rather than later.
MISS SUZY HOMEMAKER, CAROL, SHOCKS THE ASZ AND GOES TOTAL BAD-ASS
So with the episode starting out with the Enid backstory, we actually have a slow burn unlike last week’s “First Time Again” that went from 0 to 60 in less than a 1/2 second. But as most of us know with this show, when things are really quiet, you should probably start bracing yourselves for a giant boom — which is exactly what happens. After about 10-15 minutes in, we have our 0 to 60 once again with the beginning of the Wolves attack, and almost immediately someone is dead. Hold onto to the rails, folks, here we go!
As was mentioned earlier, the challenge of this attack on the safe zone is the fact that the real warriors of the group are still gone, leaving primarily Maggie (Lauren Cohan), Carol (Melissa McBride), Carl (Chandler Riggs), Father Gabriel (YES, I said Father Gabriel! The guy actually learns to fight, thanks to some pointers from Carl!), Rosita (Christian Serratos), and Morgan, who is the only member of the group from the quarry that makes it back to the ASZ in time to help. This latter point proves 2 things. First, that a successful counterattack can be done without the regular heavy-lifters of the group, like Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Daryl (Norman Reedus). Secondly, it makes very clear that the original Alexandria residents are completely incapable of defending themselves.
By the time we get to this point in the episode, there’s blood. More blood. And yet more blood. It seems the Wolves are nothing more than common brutes (which actually disappointed me somewhat) with their weapons of choice the simple machete and ax. As it all plays out, the 2 characters that really step up and shine are Carol and Morgan — and not just because of the bad-ass nature of both of the characters, but because of a lesson that each learns that causes them to question their own world views. Since way back in season 4, Carol has been all about killing and doing whatever is necessary to protect the group. However, by the end of the episode as she sees all of the blood and all of the carnage, she begins to question the validity of that viewpoint.
In contrast, Morgan has gone through some sort of Zen-awakening and now is all about keeping peace and preserving life. Remember that “all life is precious” moment in the season 5 finale? However, at the end of the episode in a stand-off with one of the Wolves (actually the same idiot Wolf who pulled a gun on him in the opening scene of the season 5 finale), Morgan has to make the decision to kill when it becomes clear there is no other option. The big question that comes out of this is will Morgan now be able to see Rick’s point of a view a little better? We all saw the shock on Morgan’s face both when Rick executed Pete Anderson and last week when Rick had to kill Carter in order to shut him up. I’m not really convinced that Morgan’s come over completely to the Rick Grimes side of the world yet, but with an event like this, hopefully they will be closer to being on the same page by the end of the season.
Finally, what about Enid and the meaning of “JSS”? This is the big question that has been racking fans’ brains for over a week now. JSS is what Enid writes on a car window in the opening flashback, and at the end of the episode, we finally learn what it means. Enid had promised Carl earlier in the episode that she wouldn’t say good-bye, and so, instead she leaves him a note — “Just Survive Somehow.” As I had said before, this may seem like a good-bye, but I’m betting we’ll see this girl again in the very near future.
WELCOME DR. DENISE CLOYD — WE’VE BEEN EXPECTING YOU!
Truth be told, Dr. Denise Cloyd (Merritt Wever, “Nurse Jackie”) , is one of the characters from the comics that I’ve been looking forward to the most being introduced in the television series. For those that know me well, this is unusual as I’m not normally a fan of the female characters in a series, but Dr. Cloyd is a rare exception. She is a strong, intelligent woman with a witty personality that goes on to steal the heart of Heath (Corey Hawkins), who also, by the way, is another one of my favorite characters. What’s more, given that Pete Anderson is now dead and my having read the comics and knowing what may be coming, I’ve been very antsy about Alexandria not having a doctor. So, needless to say, I am beyond overjoyed to see that the Safe-Zone has another M.D. because trust me, in the next handful of episodes (including tonight’s eppy!), they are certainly going to need one.
In the television series, it appears Dr. Cloyd is a little quackier than in the comics as she’s not a medical doctor, and certainly not a surgeon, like Pete Anderson. Instead, she’s a psychiatrist, and the poor woman has been thrown in feet-first into being Alexandria’s only doctor.
With those symptoms, I really don’t see how I can kill you — Dr. Cloyd to Tara
Well, unless it’s a hematoma or something — Eugene
Haha, too funny! I have a feeling I’m really going to love this gal.
Even though Eugene may have poked fun of Dr. Cloyd at their first meeting, once the attacks on Alexandria begin and Dr. Cloyd starts to freak out and doubt her abilities, Eugene is the one to step up to give her the encouragement she needs.
Trust me, you don’t want to be a coward — Eugene to Dr. Cloyd
This is exactly what she needed to hear, because after that, the strong, unrelenting Dr. Cloyd most of us know from the comics steps forward and becomes the doctor the ASZ so desperately needs.
THE BATTLE IS WON BUT THE WAR IS FAR FROM OVER
By the end of the episode, all the Wolves that attacked Alexandria are left lying dead in the streets, and so, I guess we can all assume the threat is over and everyone can go back to their normal lives and white picket fences, right? I seriously doubt it. We saw how much the Wolves moved around throughout season 5, and chances are, there are many, many more of them out there just waiting to send reinforcements and launch another attack. What’s more, how many believe that it’s the Wolves who trapped all those walkers in the quarry? After all, the barricade was made of semi-tractor trucks, and we all know how much the Wolves love those things. Something tells me there’s much more to this villainous group, and tonight is only round 1.
All in all, another fantastic installment of the series that has truly hit the ground running this season. The season opened last week with the mother of all hordes and has been non-stop, heart-stopping action ever since. Keep in mind that the conflict with the Wolves was likely not resolved in tonight’s episode, and that gigantic zombie army is still out there heading towards Alexandria in what will inevitably be a massive herd attack. So, make no mistake, folks, this is only the beginning, and I think we can fully expect for things to ramp up even more as the season progresses.
The Walking Dead airs on Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.
Critic Grade — A
Geeky computer and math nerd by day and TV fanatic by night. My beats are The Walking Dead, The Strain, Person of Interest, Z Nation, and anything that most people would call freaky. Editor-In-Chief and Lead Writer of TVGeekTalk.com