‘The Walking Dead’ Review: “JSS”

Jessica Morris ‘19 / Emertainment Monthly TV Staff Writer
Moral of The Walking Dead: if you belong to an ensemble of nameless characters that have joined Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and friends, you will probably die. Actually, if you belong to Rick and friends and you’re not Rick, there’s still a decent chance you’ll die. That’s irrelevant to the most recent episode of the show though because the unfortunate people this time around all happened to be residents of the Alexandria Safe-Zone that were not a part of the main group. And unfortunately again for them, this episode happened to be a total bloodbath. Looks like most of Alexandria’s residents won’t be inducted into the show’s primary squad after all. Again, to survive in The Walking Dead, you cannot be a red shirt.

Alexandra Breckenridge Photo Credits: IMDB
Alexandra Breckenridge
Photo Credits: IMDB
Last week’s premiere covered an obvious and constant threat in the world of The Walking Dead: zombie hordes and what happens in the show’s universe when there are no means of protection from them. This most recent episode covered another seemingly obvious threat: other humans. In a world like this, strong morals are hard to come by. In fact, they’re almost nonexistent. It’s difficult to be squeamish about death and killing any longer when living in a world where the dead dominate. Still, while the show and the world it takes place in are certainly disturbing and viewers have seen other murderous villains before — most notably, The Governor (David Morrissey) — there was something particularly brutal about the Wolves this past episode. Although the Governor often had others behind him, he was recognized as the worst of the bunch. He was a singular villain who had a tragic backstory but got what was coming to him in the end. And although Terminus was horrifying, the people of Terminus were presented as survivors who had been led astray to do terrible things due to desperation and severe trauma. That didn’t excuse their behavior, but it at least somewhat humanized them.
The Wolves are instead a large group and from what this episode showed, they are all equally as murderous and deranged. They have hopped from surviving community to surviving community and enacted complete mayhem and murder. They are raiders that carry machetes rather than guns which makes the carnage they create all the clearer to the viewer. And they are unlike any other villain The Walking Dead has ever seen. They are not a stand-alone character like The Governor, who is convinced that he’s doing good and getting just revenge, but a band of senseless killers. So far they have not even been shown to have a clear leader, but if they do, viewers must be anxious to meet him or her. The Wolves reveal that attempting to restore civilization in a world that is so far gone is futile since what remains of humanity has lost touch with itself. Communities like Alexandria cannot survive, and strong fighters like Rick, Daryl Dixon(Norman Reedus), Michonne (Danai Gurira), Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride), and company should just keep moving.
Melissa McBride Photo Credits: IMDB
Melissa McBride
Photo Credits: IMDB
Overall, “JSS” was an amazing episode. In fact, it was one of the best episodes of the show in a long while. The opening, which revealed Enid’s (Katelyn Nacon) backstory, made for an exciting kick-off to the episode. “JSS” started off slow but soon kicked things into high-gear. It was brutal yet poignant, and the focus on the contrast in moral codes between Morgan Jones (Lennie James) and Carol was great. Of the tougher characters, Morgan was the only one remaining who refused to kill, and in the first episode of the season, the audience saw him attempting to keep Rick’s humanity and goodness intact. Carol is Morgan’s opposite in this regard since she operates on the idea that killing in their world means surviving and that’s okay. She isn’t exactly numb to death, but she’s learned to brush tragedy off and keep moving forward. This episode marked the return of Queen Carol, not that she ever stopped being a queen, but she did get to fight and demonstrate her savviness once again. For Morgan, he realized by the end of the episode that his stance against killing isn’t going to work anymore. Sorry Morgan, but you can’t be Batman! That doesn’t work in the zombie apocalypse.
Katelyn Nacon Photo Credits: IMDB
Katelyn Nacon
Photo Credits: IMDB
Perhaps this episode proves what may have been known all along about the world of The Walking Dead: surviving humans are more dangerous than the walkers have ever been. Although the premiere of the show made viewers think walkers would be the greatest threat this season, “JSS” says otherwise. The motto and namesake of the episode, “Just Survive Somehow,” abbreviated to “JSS” in the episode title, provides a clue that the main characters will have to do more than ever before to survive season six’s events. This episode would have worked well as the premiere in place of “First Time Again” due to its gripping content, but it can also be appreciated that the show is slowly building up to this season’s main plot. There is clearly much more of the Wolves to come which is both a terrifying and exciting prospect.
‘The Walking Dead’ airs Sunday at 9/8c on AMC.
Episode Grade: A

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