Were you wondering what was going on with the folks in Alexandria whilst our fearless leader, Rick Grimes, and friends were getting their days ruined by an epic horde of walkers and a beyond irritating, incessantly blaring horn? You were? Well, gird your loins folks, because you’re about to find out.
The second episode of the sixth season, “JSS”, starts off with the backstory of Enid, the surly teenage love interest of Carl Grimes. Enid has had a bit of a rough go: her parents were ripped to shreds by walkers in front of her while they were attempting to fix their car or find directions. Afterward, she was forced to lope through the apocalypse by herself, dodging walkers and eating raw, bloody tortoise. All the same, she seemed to keep her spirits up by writing the initials “JSS” whenever she could with the most convenient medium (dust, tortoise bones, etc) until she came upon Alexandria. I’m glad that we got to see some of her backstory, but I’m convinced that there’s still way more to this enigmatic emo girl than meets the eye. I am curious to see where she fits ultimately fits in with the story.
While Morgan, Carl, and a couple of other guys do make their appearances, the ladies of the show end up stealing the episode, specifically Carol & Jessie.
Oh, Carol. What a glorious trajectory this fantastic lady has followed throughout the progression of the series: as someone who had the potential to be a disposable background character, Carol has risen like a badass phoenix from the apocalyptic ashes throughout her interesting and complex story arc.
She starts the episode in the canned foods reserve of Alexandria making small talk with the other women of the town about recipes, going as far as offering to share her pasta making technique with one of the women as long as she agrees to stop smoking inside of her house. You know, because even though it’s the apocalypse, cigarettes can still kill you.
All of this domestic Stepford wife bliss is extraordinarily short lived. Just as Carol pops a casserole in the oven, she looks out the window to see her aforementioned friend taking a smoke break outside…only to be gutted by a feral stranger only moments later. Yikes!
Enter the Wolves, the nefarious pack of filthy hipsters with W’s carved into their foreheads who have been lurking in their little subplot since last season. They’re coming to give Alexandria the business, but little do they know that Alexandria is about to give it right back to them, thanks to hardened apocalypse gangsters such as Carol, Morgan, and Carl. The Wolves rolled in hard, cutting down everyone in their path ultra violently (we’re talking chopped off limbs and bashed in faces here; major overkill). These folks are scary, savage, and cunning, as they have clearly gone to great efforts to make sure that the “strong” Alexandrians are separated from the rest of the townies when they show up.
However, the Wolves sure didn’t count on Carol being present to roll in and save the day (rather, as much of the day as possible). Carol’s plan is to make for the armory before the Wolves, since it seems as though these adversaries have brought knives (and axes) to a gun fight.
Thinking on her feet, Carol camouflages herself in a deceased Wolf’s hoodie and bandanna. She even smears a bloody W on her forehead to blend in as she makes her way through the slaughter to the armory. She demonstrates her ability to put aside the horrors of the situation to remain clear headed and make tough decisions no matter what she has to do: holding a dying Alexandrian in her arms, finding Olivia (the Alexandrian who is in charge of guarding the armory) hiding in the closet, and taking down countless opponents in her way. She doesn’t even flinch at the number of Wolves in her path; her goal is to protect the community from these invaders by taking them out at all costs.
There is a notable moment where a Wolf has Father Gabriel stuck in a dire situation, and Carol has to decide in a split second whether to save him or to leave him and carry on with her operation. She chooses the latter, and Morgan goes to Gabriel’s aid with his Jedi stick of doom.
Morgan grapples with the duality of his reality and his principles throughout the episode.He doesn’t believe that any humans should be killed, not even the Wolves, who have broken into Alexandria with the express intent of destroying the community and killing everyone within its walls. He used his staff to disarm and knock out some Wolves, and goes as far as to use his sweet moves and stern threats to convince a bunch of them to leave “and never come back.” Yeah, right! They aren’t just going to run away crying and never return…in fact, they are most likely going to come back with reinforcements, and then Alexandria will be well and truly done for. At the end of the episode, however, Morgan is violently attacked by a Wolf and has no choice left but to kill him in self defense.
It’s so easy to sit back and think, “Just kill him!” when you’re watching a show like “The Walking Dead” that has so many life and death stakes in literally every single episode, despite the fact that I know I would probably curl into a ball and weep bitterly if faced with a decision that my favorite characters have to make over and over again. While it is interesting to see the characters attempting to reconcile the reality of the post-apocalyptic world with their own morals and humanity, I am curious as to why Morgan is still so opposed to killing adversaries like the Wolves when they so clearly do not share his strong, merciful inclinations. I am DYING to know how he arrived in this school of thought!
Speaking of grappling with reality, Jessie (the illustrious Alexandra Breckenridge) also has her fair share of Wolves drama this episode. Not only is she still reeling from her husband’s death, but also she has to deal with Wolves busting into her house. In fact, she ends up stabbing a crazy Wolf lady to death with a pair of scissors in front of her son in order to protect her family. Like Carol, Jessie was abused at the hands of her husband; in a way, Jessie is freeing both herself and her family from the evils that threaten to break them down, whether they are from the intruding Wolves or from her life with Pete.
Within the community of Alexandria, the meek have inherited the earth. Inevitably, within these walls, they have attempted to rebuild and sustain society in an anarchic, brutal, post-apocalyptic world, a hefty undertaking that comes with several caveats. For example: what does one need to do in order to sustain this society? Without the presence of Carol and Our Scrappy Group, the Alexandrians would have surely been done for by the attack of the Wolves–I mean, the woman in charge of the armory didn’t even know how to fire a gun. That’s…not so good in the apocalypse.
Carol has become this very focused, cold-hearted person in times of need in that she is able to shut off every emotion and make tough calls that often involve taking lives. Morgan is trying to figure out where his zen master principles fit in in the apocalyptic world. Jessie is having a huge moment in which she is figuring out how to be both a single mom and her own person, free from the emotional and physical constraints and toils of an abusive relationship. During the apocalypse.
I am definitely curious to see how Alexandria will fare after this Wolf attack. Do you guys think it will fall and that everyone will have to relocate, or will they rebuild the walls and stay for a while? With this show, who knows? We better not get our hopes up!
A few other things to note…
–Carl held down the fort while Carol headed out to handle the attackers. He had to shoot a Wolf to protect Enid and Judith. Enid left anyway, leaving Carl with a note: “Just survive somehow.” I’m guessing that eating a raw turtle wasn’t one of the most unsavory things that Enid faced in her quest to just survive somehow…what do you guys think of her backstory? Also, where do you think she’s going? Someone with *nothing* would not be so eager to leave a community like Alexandria, which makes me wonder if Enid is in with some other community out there…maybe, oh, I don’t know, the Wolves?.
–In light of Pete’s permanent absence, a nervous lady psychiatrist has taken over the position of head doctor of Alexandria. Tara and Eugene encouraged her to operate on an injured Alexandrian, despite her initial rejection of the idea. While she certainly wasn’t given adequate time to prepare for her new role as head surgeon, this woman’s fear in the face of a life and death situation made me balk (although I may just used to characters being hard up, seasoned apocalypse survivors in this show). Thank goodness Carol was there to save everybody’s bacon!
–Was this the last of the Wolves? I don’t think so…something tells me that the Wolves that Morgan let loose will be making another appearance very soon…