Spoilers are ahead. Lots and lots of spoilers are ahead. You have been warned.
Two of the reasons I watch “The Walking Dead” are the exceptional character development and the way the actors so beautifully portray the complex emotions of the characters they play. JSS was an episode that showed us the humanity that is left in some of our “second-tier” characters presented within one of the bloodiest episodes the show has given us in all six seasons. The problem was that, if you blinked, you missed the character-building portions hidden in the gore.
The sequence at the beginning where they show Enid’s back story is phenomenal. She has almost no conversation, no other people in scene. In the few minutes they show her path from having parents to surviving alone to finding Alexandria were exceptional, raw and poignant. And it lulls you into thinking it’s going to be a slower episode. It wasn’t.
The Wolves attack Alexandria, which we all knew was going to happen. And that’s what causes the noise that distracted the walkers in the last episode. It wasn’t deliberate, just an after-effect of the “war” waged between the two groups. And it’s one that’s going to have quite an effect in the shape of hordes of zombies attacking … soon.
It’s not a surprise that the Alexandrians are in no way prepared to defend themselves. They are ineffectual and nearly paralyzed with fear. With the attack going on inside the walls, Reggie (Deanna’s son, who was supposed to be on defense outside) simply opts not to go in and fight. And Deanna does the same, though for different reasons. Hers are that she’d be a burden.
Carl, Carol, Morgan and Jessie all have interesting scenes in this episode.
Carl seems to be isolated from the others his age because of what his Dad has done. He seems to accept this philosophically, though with some sadness. When the attack happens he steps up and prepares to defend Judith, as we all know he would. And he even leaves the house to save Ron from being killed. But, he hesitates after shooting the guy as he begs for his life. He hesitates, and it becomes obvious that it was a mistake when the guy attacks again forcing him to finish the kill. A few seasons ago that hesitation would never have happened. Is Carl going soft?
Carol has some of the best fight scenes in this episode. We see just how practical and efficient a killer she’s become. And the fact that she’s going to so much trouble to be the perfect housewife archetype just serves to show how ruthless she is every day. She’s wearing a mask (figuratively then literally) until she needs to take it off. And at least one Alexandrian saw her “real” self, which has me wondering if “Stepford” Carol is gone for good.
Carol offends Morgan’s sensibilities on more than one occasion because she just kills the enemy, she doesn’t wound or disarm. He was right that there’s more to her than the housewife persona she shows, but I don’t think he was prepared to see that she’s his polar opposite. But there’s a scene where she breaks down and cries quietly to mourn those who have died, and maybe the things she has had to do. That’s more real emotion we’ve seen from Carol in several seasons.
Jessie is only one of two Alexandrians who stepped up and actually fought successfully to defend family and life. After being the abused wife, the victim, she’s shown standing up to her sulking teen son, then preparing to shoot intruders to defend her other son. Ultimately, she’s forced to stab an intruder (several times, to death) with a final stab to the head, long after she was dead. And her teen son watched in horror. I think this is a turning point for this character. (And I’ll remind everyone that Carol started out as an abused wife, too. We may see more radical changes in her behavior as well.)
Morgan is just getting on my nerves. His illogical desire to preserve all life is what left alive the two guys who found the map to Alexandria and prompted the attack. His leaving enemies alive to run away allowed at least one of them to steal a gun (which they didn’t have) on his way out. And, of course, at the end he had to kill someone anyway. I’m hoping that he changes his ways before his desire for world peace gets everyone else killed.
And next week we get to see thousands of walkers attack Alexandria next. Fun. (No, really, I can’t wait.)
So far, this season is turning out to be packed with action and moving along at a brisk pace. Now let’s find out who the Wolves are … and see our heroes deal with them.
“The Walking Dead” is on AMC on Sundays at 8 pm CST.