'The Walking Dead' recap: season 6, episode 2: JSS

I'm off on vacation October 17 through November 1. I will miss episode 3 but will catch up with y'all for episode 4 on November 1. Enjoy!

By RODNEY HO/ rho@ajc.com, originally filed Sunday, October 18, 2015

Call this the episode of Carol carnage!

After last week's action-packed episode, "The Walking Dead" producers lulled us this week with a low-key opening, featuring a wordless Enid arriving in Alexandria, followed by interesting but very "normal" scenes with Carol, Jessie, Gabriel, Carl, Tara and Eugene, to name a few. Heck, Carol is even seen baking in a spotless kitchen.

Then the Wolves arrive, ambush style, while Rick & the volunteers are trying to clear out the quarry walkers. Smart move.  The episode quickly becomes scenes of adrenaline-popping combat and rivers of blood and flesh. .

The Wolves have no guns or ammo. They just hack away with knives, swords and axes, Mad Max style. They are quite effective, killing off at least a dozen of the hapless Alexandrians. (None of the regulars, though.)

Fortunately, Carol jumps into action. She had stayed behind while most of Rick's crew were away.

She first kills a Wolf that injured one of her cooking buddies. Realizing the woman is mortally wounded, Carol knifes her in the brain, a standard Carol mercy killing. Then she notices what the Wolves are doing - taking the blood of their victims and painting w's on their foreheads. She takes on the identity of one of the Wolves she had just killed and even sticks a W on her forehead. She then offs several other Wolves who don't realize who she is. Brilliant!

One of the women who had no clue Carol was a warrior is found hiding in a closet. (Her Mommy Homemaker cover is blown!) At Carol's request, the frumpy scared woman ultimately defends the guns-and-ammo closet.

During all the chaos, we learn that Morgan is a pacifist when it comes to killing people who aren't already walkers. But Carol is having none of it. While he ties up one of the guys who almost killed Gabriel, Carol just shoots him dead and moves on.

Morgan later inexplicably lets five of the Wolves go. But then he gets attacked by one who punches him severely before he turns the tables and finally just kills him off.  Not that he's happy about it.

At the same time, Carol is not a heartless mercenary. She looks just as spent as Morgan when all the Wolves are dispensed with.

So much else happened during this packed hour. Here's a quick summary of other moments and/or storylines:

  • Major crisis forthcoming: We now know why a car horn went off, sending the quarry walkers off toward Alexandria. A wolf with a truck tried to crash into Alexandria. Spencer, Deanna's son on lookout, shoots him but when the truck crashes, the dead man's body slumps over the steering wheel, setting off the horn. Soon, the man turns into a zombie and Morgan ends up killing him.
  • Sloppy Carl: Carl protects baby Judith during the attack but gets a bit sloppy when he saves Ron by shooting a Wolf in the leg. When the Wolf "begs" for his life, Carl approaches him and the Wolf grabs the gun. Fortunately, Carl finally shoots him dead. Still, Carl can be downright stupid sometimes!
  • Unrequited love Carl: Carl clearly has the hots for Enid but it's not clear Enid cares enough in return to stick around. She decides to leave Alexandria but will she get very far with the horde of walkers approachign? And now we know why she is so pouty. Sure, she's a teen but she also watched her family get eaten by walkers, as shown in the opening minutes.
  • Has Gabriel turned a page? He seems to have changed since Sasha let him live. He realizes what he had told Deanna last season about Rick's crew being evil was more about him than them. He was deflecting his own guilt and pain. He tries to get a now very deep-voiced Carl to understand. "I want to help now," Gabriel says sincerely. Carl softens up: "You have to tell everybody." He also promises to teach him how to use a machete later that afternoon.
  • Grieving Deanna: Maggie tries to shake Deanna out of her sad stupor before the Wolf attack, noting that as they expand Alexandria, they need space to farm. And good news: they have seeds! It's about time. How long could the canned goods possibly last?
  • New doc in the house: Denise, a psychiatrist who originally was going to be a surgeon until she succumbed to panic attacks, takes over for drunken Pete as resident doctor. Unfortunately, one of the Wolf victims - Holly - died under her watch.
  • A discovery: Aaron figures out why the Wolves found them. He had left his backpack behind last season after Morgan saved him and Daryl. In the backpack: photos of Alexandria. He is burdened now with guilt, something that will surely be addressed down the road.
  • Jessie can kill! Jessie is attacked by a Wolf, who oddly chooses not to kill her, just knock her out. She isn't really knocked out and grabs a knife and just purees the woman while her son Ron watches. She wacks away with crazy intensity, perhaps a cathartic way to deal with the loss of her abusive husband, drunken Pete. She is clearly trainable.
  • Smoking kills - literally. After Carol gently upbraids one of the ladies for smoking, she watches the woman get killed by a Wolf while (of course) taking a smoke break. Later, Carol grabs the pack from the dead woman's body and holds a cigarette, deeply saddened by the situation.
  • Carol lecture #32. Pete's younger song Sam looks depressed on a stoop. Carol tells him to buck up, that he can't let his dad's death eat him up inside. As we know, she has had to do the same when it came to Sophia (and in a way, her abusive husband.)
  • Not a churchgoer: Logical Spock-like Eugene complains that the expansion includes a church instead of, say, a machine shop. Tara appeases him by saying the space could be shared.
  • JSS? What does JSS stand for? It's what Enid kept writing out. We learn at the end it's: "Just Survive Somehow." How very teen angst of her! There are some rumors she has ties with the Wolves but I'm not so sure.

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About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.