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The Walking Dead Recap: JSS

Just survive somehow ...

The Walking Dead Morgan

This week’s episode of The Walking Dead was intense, and sent us on an hour-long adrenaline rush. Before we jump in, be warned that there will be spoilers ahead, and be sure to check out the recap of last week’s episode if you haven’t already.

Essentially, this week’s episode can pretty be much be summed up with this single gif:

anchorman

via Apatow Productions

Starting a tad bit before the honking that diverted the walker herd being led by Daryl on his bike, this week’s episode started out pretty slow—some might even say it was a bit boring. Jessie and Ron were fighting over Ron’s behavior and whether or not Rick is a good man. Eugene and Tara were meeting the new Alexandria doctor, Denise—who, though she went to med school, was actually a practicing psychiatrist prior to the walker uprising. Maggie and Deanna were talking about planting crops. Carol was meeting with some of the other Alexandria women talking about pasta makers and quitting smoking. Carl was offering to teach Father Gabriel to fight and getting a little sad because Enid was cozying up to Ron. Carol pops a casserole in the oven, she starts the timer, looks out the window to see her friend smoking …

… and then watches her get hacked to death by a strange man with a machete.

From that moment on, the episode didn’t stop. The entire thing centered around Alexandria dealing with an attack from the infamous Wolves (who, as we suspected last week, were responsible for the honking). Carol finally bid adieu to cookies and sweater sets and settled back into her role as “Rambo Carol” by dressing up as one of the Wolves, raiding the Alexandria armory, and killing any Wolf she saw. Carl proved he has left childish things behind him, actually staying in the house, protecting his sister and Enid. Plot-wise, the episode was thin, really centering around, “The Wolves attack Alexandria, and they fight for survival.” However, the action kept you at the edge of your seat the entire time, and because the “main characters” like Rick, Daryl, Glenn, and Michonne were not featured in the entire episode, we got to learn about some of the “tertiary” characters like Jessie, Enid, Ron, and Deanna, to name a few:

We learned that Ron has officially taken up the “annoying teen” mantle that Carl has happily left behind. He essentially spent the entire episode brooding, and when Carl offered to take Ron in and protect him, Ron defiantly refused. Not a super smart move, since literally no one in Alexandria knows how to fight, but I guess it’s good that Ron has his pride, right?

Jessie, on the other hand, kind of snapped this episode. She was in the house with Sam when the attack started and had to ride out most of it hiding in a closet with her son. That is, until one of the Wolves came into her home. Though she got knocked around a bit, Jessie ultimately grabbed a pair of scissors and went nuts on the Wolf—just as Ron walked in. Jessie’s been through a ton, so it’s understandable that this huge invasion broke her a bit, but I’m interested to see where she goes from here, especially in relation to Ron.

Someone who did not rise to the occasion was Deanna, who spent most of the episode wearing expressions of varying levels of horror. After the fight finished, Deanna’s son, Spencer, asked Rita how she managed to live in “a world like that”, and Rita made a comment about having something to live for. I think the main reason for Deanna’s complete disengagement from the attack was to make a clear point that Alexandria has been incredibly sheltered, and that from that point on, things will be very different for them all. I can’t help but wonder if Deanna will even go as far as to pass off her leadership role to someone more capable, like Maggie.

We finally got a glimpse into Enid’s backstory, as well as the mantra that has kept her alive: JSS or “just survive somehow.” Enid watched her parents die in a walker attack—though it’s unclear how she survived and they didn’t—and then proceed to wander aimlessly through the wilderness, snacking on the occasional tortoise, until she found Alexandria. Her demeanor on the show made it evident that she had been through the wringer prior to her arrival in Alexandria, but I had always found it interesting that she was handling everything so much worse than Carl. After watching this child essentially ride out a good chunk of the apocalypse alone, I understand.

The most interesting character development came with Morgan and Carol. We knew from last week that Morgan was on to Carol, and I couldn’t wait to see how Carol “Look at the Flowers” Peletier would work with the new, killing-averse Morgan. Short answer? There was tension. Carol saw the Wolves as a threat that needed to be eliminated. Her weapons of choice were evident in how she dealt with threats: a knife and a gun. Meanwhile, Morgan knew the Wolves needed to be stopped, but he was happy to incapacitate them and take them prisoner using his weapon of choice: a giant stick.

Morgan mentioned to Carol that she doesn’t have to kill, and that he can see that she doesn’t like it. Those words clearly had an impact on Carol. While I never thought Carol relished killing people, I thought she had managed to compartmentalize it in her head: If I want to survive, I have to eradicate this person threatening to kill me. Clearly, that kind of thinking has taken its toll on her, and she broke down a bit at the end of the episode. It almost made me wonder if she was starting to enjoy being sweater set Carol. Regardless, that “under the radar Carol” is gone, as she spent the entire episode killing every Wolf she saw, and losing just about all of her Alexandria friends.

Morgan, for his part, let a few Wolves run off—hopefully that giant walker herd heading to Alexandria takes care of those guys—and tried to save one that Carol ultimately killed. When he was faced with the Wolf that he met last season, Morgan tried to save him, but they implied Morgan ultimately killed the Wolf. While it wasn’t made 100% clear what actually happened, the grave way in which he passed Carol at the end of the episode made it seem like they both had blood on their hands.

This episode essentially taught the surviving Alexandrians exactly how harsh the world outside their walls can be. It taught them that they cannot live life like before, and that they have to be stronger. Like his methods or not, Rick was right all along. Denise got a taste of that first-hand in dealing with mortally wounded Alexandrians. Deanna confessed that she would be more dead weight than help during the attack and hid outside the city walls. Jessie killed a non-infected human—I think it’s safe to assume it was her first. While it’s tragic to think that one minute, Alexandrians were planning crops to plant, and the next they were burying their dead thanks to an attack by non-infected humans—humans who found them thanks to Aaron’s (Yay! Aaron’s still alive!) “recruitment” packet full of pictures of Alexandria—it serves as a solemn reminder to how harsh this reality is.

I loved this episode; even though the actual plot was technically thin, we got to see exactly what kind of mettle the Alexandrians were made of. We got to see who stepped up, who cowered, and who ended up being swallowed up by the darkness of this new world. We’ll have to wait until next week to see what happens once Rick and his group return to Alexandria, but if Rick’s retaliation against Gareth and his group of hunters are any indication, any remaining Wolves had better run and hide …

What did you think of this week’s episode? How do you think Alexandria will respond to the Wolves’ attack? Let me know in the comments!

(featured image via AMC)

Kendall is an editor and a writer. She has a geek and pop culture blog, she is a seasoned Netflix binger, a hoarder of candles, still an unabashed Hanson fan, and she takes ballet twice a week to stave off some of her clumsiness. You can find her on TwitterTumblrFacebookPinterestInstagram, and Google+ (yes, she is actually on Google+).

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