Oh my f--king god. There's not many words that can express the insanity, the intensity... The balls to the wall s--t that comes raining down on our post-apocalypse survivors on the latest episode of "The Walking Dead." We've seen a lot of bad things happen, but has there ever been anything like the forty-five minutes that change Alexandria forever on "JSS"?
So... Let's recap, shall we?
The Lonely Road She Walks Alone
Who would have thought Enid (Katelyn Nacon) would be a key character in any episode, let alone one as crucial as "JSS?" Certainly, picking up with how her naive family was killed by walkers in front of her wasn't how we were expecting to pick up, after last week's premiere cliffhanger.
But we did, and we do: in a series of smash cut scenes, we watch as Enid wanders the world, smash cuts showing her hiding; eating a tortoise that may or may not be a visual metaphor for the first few seasons of the show; killing walkers; and wherever she goes, creating the letters "JSS" first in dirt, then dust, then bones, which is also definitely not a metaphor or anything.
Finally, she finds the walls of Alexandria, hears people laughing and enjoying their company, and can't believe her ears. She starts to walk away, then pauses. She writes "JSS" in the dirt on her hand. And then the gates open, and in she enters.
On first viewing, it seemed pretty clear that Enid was saved by Alexandria, but that wasn't it at all, right? A lot more happened between those smash cuts than we got to see, a lot we may never see. But it's pretty clear on second viewing that Enid wasn't turning away because she didn't deserve Alexandria, or was scared: it was because she knew what she had to do, and wasn't sure if she could go through with it.
But "JSS," right? We'll get to what that means, and why this is important - but first, domestic bliss.
Fear "The Walking Dead"
After the mostly silent opener, we get to see life in Alexandria w/o the group off herding walkers in episode one, and its the closest we've seen to "Fear The Walking Dead" on its father show. Carol (Melissa McBride) and the Coffee Klatch are chatting happily about supplies -- at least until Carol malicious tells her she'll teach one of the girls to make pasta if she'll just stop smoking in the most malicious way possible.
After leaving, she happens on the deceased Pete's (Corey Brill) younger son Sam (Major Dodson), who is holding a red "A" stamp -- we'll come back to that later, too -- and tells him bluntly, "Your dad used to hit you, and then it got him killed. You live with it, or it eats you up. Go home."
Seriously, Carol is awful to that kid. Poor kid. Good thing he'll never do anything bad.
Meanwhile, Jessie (Alexandra Breckenridge) is telling her son Ron (Austin Abrams) he needs a haircut; Maggie (Lauren Cohan) wants to plant tomatoes; and Eugene (Josh McDermitt) and Tara (Alanna Masterson) meet the new doctor, Denise (Merritt Wever), who is really more a psychiatrist tbh.
Oh, and Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) sort of apologizes for, you know, being the worst to Carl (Chandler Riggs), saying, "It was about me. Not you. Or your group. I know that now. I want to help."
So Carl sweetly offers to teach him how to use a machete, and then notices Ron hugging Enid. You better believe we're gonna come back to that later.
Speaking Of Machetes...
Fifteen minutes into this episode might be the abruptest, most jarring turn I've ever seen in an episode of network television, ever -- and it led to me gripping the edge of my seat so hard I nearly broke it for the next 20-30 minutes.
Carol calmly is making a leftover casserole, sets a timer for 45 minutes (which will be semi-cheekily returned to towards the end of the episode), looks out the window, and sees the woman she tried to get to stop smoking outside smoking. Carol disapproves, when out of nowhere a dirty, insane looking man comes back and chops her in the head with a machete.
From there on out, it's anarchy, and almost too much to recap because of all the craziness that goes out. But suffice to say, the Wolves have made their way to Alexandria, and proceed to chop everyone they can up into tiny little pieces. It's -- even for a show as graphic as "The Walking Dead" -- horrifying. Is it all the more horrifying because The Wolves are human, and should know better? Probably.
It's also the glee in their eyes, the happiness as we see them cutting the poor Alexandrians to shreds... And as Rick (Andrew Lincoln) predicted last episode, their inability to save themselves.
For example, the second fatality of the attack, Richard, who innocently asks what's going on from his spot guarding the wall -- and then gets hit with a molotov cocktail and EXPLODES.
Enid Peaces Out
Let's get this plot-line out of the way first, because it's the most important one to understanding what really happened in Alexandria. Carl grabs his machine gun, heads into the house to protect Baby Judith -- who sleeps through the whole thing, because that kid is gonna be fifty shades of f--ked up if she lives long enough to be an adult -- when Enid enters.
She tells Carl she's leaving. He says no. She says they're going to lose, because, "They're just people. This place is too big too protect. You have too many blindspots. That's how we were able to--"
...And naturally Carl cuts her off, but couple this with Aaron's (Ross Marquand) discovery at the end of the episode, that someone was a mole, slipping the Wolves pics of their town, and it all becomes clear what happened.
See, Enid wasn't in Alexandria because she was saved; she was in Alexandria to destroy it -- to "free" it, to use the Wolves terms. "JSS," as we find out later as well, means "Just Survive Somehow." The way Enid survived was to become a monster. She's a Wolf, too, right?
It's worse than that, though. All signs point to she was working with Ron -- and probably Sam, too. Ron was clearly colluding with Enid at the beginning of the episode. He's angry not just at Rick's group, but all of Alexandria for standing by and watching his father get murdered. And that's just what a teen would do, right? Say, who cares, they all have to die?
But how to keep certain people safe -- or make sure certain people get targeted? That's where Sam and his "A" stamp come in. We've already established the Wolves love notes and slogans. They leave their "W"s wherever they go. So Sam is going around, stamping houses with an "A." My guess is, they're targets, particularly as Carol's house gets stamped. And that's why Sam is sitting on her stoop, looking upset at the beginning of the episode. Not because he wants to talk to Carol, but because he's trying to decide if he should mark her for death.
With Enid gone -- she leaves a note to Carl at episode's end -- a lot of this is gonna fall on Ron and Sam... And it's gonna get real bad.
Does This Make You Horny?
In case you were wondering what the car horn was last episode, its a mack truck piloted by a walker that smashes into the Alexandria walls. Interestingly, the walls hold, but the damage is done: the herd is being drawn, even if we won't see the repercussions until next episode.
Anyway, thankfully it doesn't blare for an entire act like I thought it might... Instead, Morgan (Lennie James) manages to beat the rest of the Grimes Gang from the herd to Alexandria by about 20 minutes, and turns it off. And then proceeds to kick so much ass it isn't even funny.
A lot of the episode is taken up with Carol putting on -- and taking off -- various disguises. From her housewife guise, which falls with a sigh of relief as she puts the smoking housewife out of her misery; to her donning of the disguise of a Wolf and Han Solo-ing it with Morgan as a her Chewbacca.
The Wolves don't prove much of a challenge to her, as she rips her way to the armory to get guns. What is a challenge? Morgan, who is finding himself drifting further from the group after seeing Rick kill Carter (Ethan Embry) last episode.
"You don't have to kill people," Morgan explains to Carol, to which she answers, "Of course we do."
He pauses, and with all the strength he can muster, says, "Carol. You don't like it."
But she does, right? Morgan is realizing he doesn't know these people that well, and there's not much that separates them from the Wolves other than their guns (and by episode's end, not even that). And as for Carol, because this episode hasn't met a visual metaphor it didn't like, when she finally stops the Wolf attack, she tries to wash the bloody "W" off her forehead -- and can't quite get it to go away.
WHAT DOES THAT MEAN???????????????????????????
Morgan, meanwhile, is trying to push his philosophy on others -- while finding it might not be the right way to go. He tries to not kill the Wolves, as they just attack him back. He gives them a chance to leave, telling them there's a sniper ready to take them out at any moment, and they just grab guns as they go. And then a Wolf attacks him in what is clearly downtown historical Alexandria... And Morgan is forced to kill him.
"You keep choosing this life, you will die," Morgan tells the Wolf he had previously encountered in the woods last season. "We didn't choose," the Wolf answers back -- and it seems like Morgan is learning he might not have a choice, as well.
And as the episode ends, Morgan is walking towards town center. Carol is heading towards him. They cross paths, never see eye-to-eye, and then Morgan walks away, down his own path.
Anyway, next episode, the walker horde is coming towards Alexandria, mostly everyone is dead, and things are looking worse than ever. And this season is seriously going to kill me.