Spoiler Warning for this week’s episode of “The Walking Dead”

Carol & Morgan fight one of the Wolves (Photo courtesy of AMC.)
Carol & Morgan fight one of the Wolves. (Photo courtesy of AMC)

The peaceful and quaint streets of Alexandria have become a literal war-zone. Our group of survivors are forced to defend themselves against the vicious group that call themselves “The Wolves.” Nothing will ever be the same after this episode. “JSS” took viewers on a roller coaster ride of intense action sequences and highly emotional scenes. This is by far one of the best episodes of the series, highlighting particular characters such as Carol.

A flashback opens the episode, featuring the mysterious Enid (Katelyn Nacon). She is shown to have lost both of her parents to walkers, leaving her alone in the world. With no home or real destination, Enid wanders and scavenges for food while leaving the letters “JSS” at various locations. “JSS” is later revealed to stand for the phrase, “Just survive somehow.” Eventually, Enid discovers the gates of Alexandria and hears the voices of safety inside; thus explaining the mystery of Enid’s origin. Her flashback is very symbolic as it shows the absolute grimness of the world outside, while Alexandria is essentially an oasis. However, as the episode progresses, it becomes clear that Alexandria is simply a mirage of safety.

In the present time, the survivors in Alexandria go about their daily business; unbeknownst to them that Rick’s plan of relocating the herd of walkers is currently underway. Carl (Chandler Riggs) and Judith go for a stroll, while Carol discusses recipes with some of her new friends. Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Deanna find a place that they decide will be a garden for the community. This moving scene shows solidarity between Maggie and Deanna who have both experienced heartbreaking losses. Maggie declares that the community will grow and flourish even though there will surely be more setbacks; Maggie, in particular her dialogue, during this scene was incredibly reminiscent of her late father, Hershel, (Scott Wilson) who always kept a positive outlook.

Everything seems calm and ordinary until Carol witnesses a machete-wielding outsider kill one of her fellow cooking friends. From that moment, Carol’s entire personality changes and she drops her housewife identity and becomes the full-blown warrior that she really is. Outside the walls, Maggie and Deanna view the assault firsthand. The Wolves use fire to take out a guard and begin climbing into Alexandria. They use their wide range of weapons, not including guns, to kill anyone they come in contact with. Most of the people that are killed are nameless extras, but the widespread devastation is still completely felt. In the lookout tower, Deanna’s son, Spencer (Austin Nichols), attempts to shoot some of the Wolves on the inside, however his shooting skills are severely lacking. This clearly exhibits just how unprepared the Alexandrians are to deal with the various threats that they face. Spencer spots a semi-truck barreling straight for the gate and manages to shoot the driver, which causes the truck to crash right into the wall. The truck’s booming horn begins blaring, answering the question of where the horn from the first episode was coming from.

Deanna Monroe (Photo courtesy of AMC.)
Deanna Monroe. (Photo courtesy of AMC)

Maggie alerts Deanna and Spencer that they all must go back inside the walls and fight, but Deanna decides to stay outside with Spencer, claiming that she would only slow everyone down. Jessie and her young son, Sam (Major Dodson) lock themselves in a closet after hearing someone break into their home. Jessie makes her way out of the closet to search for her other son, Ron. She is quickly attacked by one of the Wolves, who knocks her against the wall and floor. Jessie manages to get back on her feet and uses a pair of scissors to stab the intruder numerous times as blood spews everywhere; a mother doing whatever it takes to protect her children. This scene represents a major turning point for the character of Jessie, as this is likely the first time she has ever killed another human. At the same time, Ron, is being chased by a knife-wielding Wolf before being saved by Carl. Ron’s attitude and actions during this episode were extremely irritating, from yelling at his mother to calling Rick “dangerous.” His character is sure to become more unhinged as the season moves forward. He walks right into the house as Jessie stabs the Wolf; this will likely lead to further separation between the mother and son.

The infirmary also becomes a hotbed of action as a new character, Dr. Denise Cloyd (Merritt Wever), along with Tara, Eugene and Eric (Jordan Woods-Robinson) attempts to save the life of Holly (Laura Beamer), a critically injured Alexandrian. Denise is quickly appointed lead doctor in Alexandria, although she is technically a psychologist. Tara pleads for the overwhelmed Denise to save the patient’s life and Eugene calmly tells her that she doesn’t want to be seen as a “coward.” The dynamic between Eugene, Denise and Tara was fascinating to watch and shows that the characters learn from one another, as Tara gave Eugene similar advice last season. In the end, Denise is unable to save Holly, leaving her devastated.

Morgan returns from the “walker parade” early and begins to encounter several of the Wolves. Rather than flat out killing them, he gives them the opportunity to “leave and never come back.” His way of handling the threat is vastly different from Carol’s method of killing any member of the Wolves that she finds. Most viewers will agree that Carol is completely right in this situation and that the threat must be eliminated. In order to kill as many as she can, Carol disguises herself as one of the Wolves, complete with a bloody “W” on her forehead. She makes her way to the armory to gather guns for the survivors, but finds a shocked Olivia (Ann Mahoney). Carol’s other disguise as a helpless housewife is officially shattered as she equips Olivia with a gun and quickly instructs her on how to shoot. Carol is definitely the standout character of this episode. Her desire to rid Alexandria of the various threats and save her friends shows her true heroic nature.

Morgan discovers Father Gabriel fighting one of the invaders and manages to overpower him and save Gabriel. Once again, rather than simply killing the Wolf, Morgan ties him up. However, Carol comes by and shoots him in the head before taking off to distribute the guns. The final surviving group of Wolves surround Morgan near the gate, but he is able to talk them down and allows them to leave. This decision is sure to come back to bite Morgan, as the Wolves don’t appear to be a group that will back down. Also, something peculiar needs to be noted in regards to Enid. After the Wolves leave, Carl finds a note from her with the phrase “Just survive somehow” with Enid nowhere to be found. This brings up the question, is Enid a member of this heinous group? Where did she go? Her calm nature during the attack is an immediate red flag.

After all the dust settles, a grim sight is left behind. Blood stains and bodies litter the streets of the formerly peaceful neighborhood. What will Rick and the rest of the group’s reaction be to the massacre? The looming threat of the walker mega herd still looms and will surely lead to more chaos in Alexandria. Rick’s group is fully battle-ready, while the Alexandrians are simply not. The Wolves are still a threat as well, so it will be terrifying to see when and how they strike next. Morgan’s ideals are also highly likely to clash with some of the other survivors; if he doesn’t change, he may be the next to die. “JSS” is one of the best episodes in the entire series. Will next week’s episode be able to top this week? Be sure to tune in to “The Walking Dead” next Sunday at 9 p.m. on AMC.

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Jeffrey Kopp is the Editor-in-Chief of the Niner Times. He is a senior double majoring in Communication and Political Science. His interests include writing and keeping up with an excessive amount of television shows. He is also the go-to expert on all things “The Walking Dead." Reach him at editor@ninertimes.com or @JeffreyKopp97 on Twitter.

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