by Sherry Lipp
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD
The Walking Dead brings the horror back in the second episode of the sixth season, “JSS.” Remember the horn at the end of the season premiere? In this episode we find out what that was, and it’s worse than we thought. I thought it might have been a case of sabotage from a disgruntled Alexandrian, but as it turns out the town was under attack from “The Wolves.” I can’t help but feel that this episode outdid the premiere by far and did it in less time. This was a great episode that was action packed and character building.
We’ve seen bits and pieces of the wolves all last season with hints of their presence and couple of minor confrontations, but we knew something much bigger was coming. That didn’t make it any less surprising when Carol (Melissa McBride) witnesses her neighbor hacked to death on the lawn. The attack comes out of nowhere and begins a siege on the town that basically plays out in real time for the next 45 minutes.
I had anticipated a slow build up to The Wolves coming back into the picture. Their sudden appearance ramped up the intensity level because it was just as momentarily confusing to the viewer as it was to the unsuspecting townsfolk. Let’s hope they can keep the momentum going.
What was cool and what was not so cool:
Each character showed their true selves: Carol traded one disguise for another when she disguised herself as one of the wolves – and I can’t help but think she fit in pretty well. Good thing she’s still on the side of the town. Morgan (Lennie James) showed himself to be a fighter, but not a killer (unless he has to), Carl (Chandler Riggs) finally got to fight again – but he didn’t like it. He’s come a long way from the days of shooting someone in cold blood because they might be bad. Maggie (Lauren Cohen) would be making her dad proud the way she kept her cool and told everyone what they needed to do. The list could go on, but those are the ones that struck me.
Morgan: At first I was thinking he was crazy to not want to kill these maniac butchers – I mean hacking people up after they are already dead? Those people didn’t deserve to live, but I think Morgan believes they are a hair away from becoming just like all the bad people they’ve met along the way and he doesn’t want to risk it. At any rate, it’s fun to watch him take everyone down with a broomstick.
Eugene: I guess his triumph on the fire engine still doesn’t make him want to fight, but that’s what makes him so fun to watch. How can you blame him for wanting it all just to go away?
Enid: This episode opened with the back story of Enid (Katelyn Nacon) and how she made her way to Alexandria. The “JSS” of the episode title refers to what she wrote on the ground everywhere she went. It was a strange, but fitting, way to open the show. Enid doesn’t fit with the town. She has no desire for society to reform and decides to leave rather than try to fit in. She’s moved on from the world she once knew. She can’t be the only one who wants something else than to just put things back t he way they were.
The not so cool:
How many times can we do this?: A minor negative for now because this episode was done so well, but how many times are the survivors going to feel safe only to have it all ruined by “bad guys?” I guess as many times as it takes, but we have seen it a lot. I guess since the walkers are not all that scary (save for that herd of hundreds heading for the town), we need something to add conflict. However, I think the story needs to start to move past the post-apocalyptic and into some kind of reforming of structure. That would provide plenty of conflict.
Blood-spattered camera lens: I didn’t like it. This episode was gritty and intense. Blood splashing the camera actually took me out of the action for a moment instead of providing the intending “you are there” feel.
I know Aaron (Ross Marquand) left his bag with the photos and map of the town on one of his scouting trips, but that bag didn’t tell people the exact time and day the town would be empty of its strongest fighters. It can’t be a coincidence can it? Did someone tip them off and who was it?