‘The Walking Dead’: An honest to goodness hero

The Walking Dead
“JSS”
October 18, 2015

We begin this episode with the sad tale of Enid, Carl’s broken little crush. Enid and her parents were in a car with some fuse issues when some walkers came upon them. Somehow Enid survived but her parents did not. Don’t worry about the logistics, the writers certainly didn’t. Enid then managed to survive for a while on a diet of raw tortoises before making her way to the (relative) safety of Alexandria’s walls.

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Oh, and during her journey, she kept writing the letters JSS everywhere she could. How mysterious.

Now in the present: as Rick and his group are busily releasing the gigantic herd of walkers from the quarry “to save Alexandria,” Carol and the other ladies left behind are busy in the pantry talking about casseroles and cream of celery soup. Mrs. Niedermeyer laments that if she had a pasta maker, she’d be able to make them pasta that would take them on a tour of Tuscany, but Carol is NOT HAVING IT, MRS. NIEDERMEYER. YOU CAN MAKE PASTA WITH YOUR HANDS, MRS. NIEDERMEYER. EVERYONE IS SICK OF HEARING ABOUT THE DAMNED PASTA MAKER, MRS. NIEDERMEYER. WHILE WE’RE ON THE SUBJECT OF YOU, MRS. NIEDERMEYER, YOU SHOULD QUIT SMOKING. IT’S GROSS. AND NO, NO ONE WANTS TO EAT YOUR TOBACCO-FLAVORED PASTA, ANYWAY, MRS. NIEDERMEYER.

After Carol leaves she comes across her little cookie buddy, Sam, to whom she basically says, “You’re dad was a jerk and he deserved to die. Get over it.”

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Meanwhile, inside Sam’s house, Sam’s mom Rick’s Love Interest is busy fighting with Sam’s older brother, Ron, over the fact that Love Interest is definitely interested in Rick, despite the whole Rick Killed His Dad thing. Ron’s still not over it, even though it’s been like 36 whole hours.

And outside the walls, Maggie and Deanna discuss building a garden, and Maggie basically tells Deanna that she needs to pull herself together. After all, Deanna’s husband and son have both been dead for like 54 whole hours now. Get over it, lady.

As for the other folks left behind, Tara and Dr. Mullet discuss whether they should use a particular space for a church or for a lab to do … experiments of some sort? New character the wonderful Merritt Weaver Dr. Denise overhears their conversation, and introduces herself, explaining that now that Dr. Punchy is dead, she’s the town physician even though she’s just a psychiatrist. Seems she had panic attacks in medical school and decided that being a surgeon just wasn’t in her future. So I’m sure she’ll enjoy an easy tenure of just handing out aspirin and having people talk about their feelings here in Alexandria.

Can we talk about Carl’s hair for a minute? Because Carl’s hair is just terrible. Like, Dr. Mullet gets all the guff for his hair, but Carl’s hair is just as bad, and he needs to stop walking Baby around in the stroller in circles and instead go over to Love Interest’s house and get himself a haircut already.

carl hair the walking dead
I CAN NOT. I WILL NOT.

Anyway, Carl and his terrible hair are, like I said, walking Baby around in the stroller when Father Are You Still Here? approaches him, asking to take him up on his earlier offer to teach him how to shoot a gun. Carl agrees, but insists that they start with a machete. And then Carl notices Enid hugging Ron and has a jealous. Maybe she’s hugging him because his hair isn’t stupid, Carl, ever think of that?

So, Carol’s busy cooking a cream of celery casserole when she peeks outside just in time to see Mrs. Niedermeyer enjoying a cigarette and OH MY GOD GET A MACHETE IN HER SKULL FROM SOME GIANT DUDE IN FILTHY CLOTHES WHAT IS EVEN HAPPENING.

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I mean, yes, we were all tired of hearing Mrs. Niedermeyer whining about that pasta maker, but this seems a little extreme.

PANIC PANIC PANIC as Alexandria is swarmed by not walkers but knife and axe and machete-wielding wild people, hacking away at anyone they encounter. Outside the walls, Maggie and Deanna realize something is awry when some dude catches on fire on the wall above them (?).

Love Interest shoves Sam into a closet that she had repurposed into a “Hide from Drunk Daddy” shelter, with a lock on the inside, and then realizes that Ron is out there, somewhere. SIGH.

Inside his house, Carl nearly shoots Enid in the face when she surprises him, having stopped by his place to say goodbye. Carl’s like “NOPE, you’re not going out there,” and makes her stay with him to wait this mess out. She laments that Alexandria is too big to defend with too many blind spots. She then adds, “That’s how we were able to …” before stopping herself. (HMM.)

In contrast, Carol heads out into the fight, and manages to kill one of the attackers moments after he had stabbed one of her pantry pals. She stabs the woman in the back of the head, before heading off to single-handedly save Alexandria.

Meanwhile, Deanna’s not-dead son, Spencer, is in the patrol tower, busy being worthless. YOU HAD ONE JOB. A 18-wheeler comes barrelling towards him, and he manages to shoot the driver, yay! But then the driver collapses onto the horn, creating the sound we hear at the end of the previous episode, drawing half the herd towards Alexandria, boo.

Fortunately, Morgan arrives and manages to turn the horn off, but when he asks Deanna’s not-dead son if he’s going to come with him, Worthless is like, “NOPE.” So Morgan urges him to hide instead of bopping him upside the head with his jedi stick.

Morgan heads inside where he is immediately confronted with a Wolf who is busily chopping up a body with his axe. Morgan politely asks him to leave, but surprisingly, the axe-swinging maniac declines his offer and charges at Morgan. However, before he can chop Morgan’s arms off, a disguised Carol sneaks up behind him and stabs the Wolf in the gut, to Morgan’s immense displeasure. Morgan insists that they don’t have to kill people, but Carol is like, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?” before smearing a blood W on her forehead and pointing out that the Wolves don’t have guns and they need to protect the armory.

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As for Worthless Son, Deanna and Maggie reach him, and they decide that for the time being Deanna should stay outside, since she doesn’t have a gun and doesn’t know how to fight. “SOUNDS GREAT!” says Worthless.

Over in the medical unit, Dr. Denise has her first patient, a woman who is bleeding from her femoral artery. When Dr. Denise is like, “EW, GROSS, BLOOD,” Tara and Dr. Mullet urge her to deal with it and save the woman already. But Dr. Denise is in over her head and unable to save the woman and the woman dies and everyone is sad.

As for Ron, he is busy being chased by a Wolf when Carl steps outside, shoots the Wolf in the leg and saves Ron. The Wolf pleads with Carl not to kill him, but then lunges for Carl’s gun, so Carl shoots him in the head. Carl then orders Ron to go inside, promising to keep him safe, but Ron’s is all petulant and stupid and spits, “NO,” at Carl before running over to his own home.

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The problem is, a Wolf has come into Love Interest’s home so Ron is unwittingly wandering into another bad situation. Love Interest, realizing that her son is in danger, sneaks out of the closet, goes downstairs to the kitchen where she has to stab some filthy crazy lady to death with her barber scissors to protect her dumb son. THANKS, RON. WAY TO GO, RON.

Meanwhile, Carol has used one of the Wolves’ chains to wrap around Morgan’s wrists as part of the old Wookiee prisoner gag as a means to make their way to the armory unmolested. On their walk, Morgan sees a Wolf attacking Father Traitor and wants to help, but Carol is all, “leave him.”

CAROL FOR PRESIDENT 2016.

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But Morgan ignores Carol, and runs off to go save Father Not Worth The Effort, while Carol heads to the armory, killing a few Wolves along the way. Shooting the Wolves in the armory, shooting the Wolves in the armory, shooting the Wolves in the armory. After securing the armory, Carol discovers another one of her pantry pals cowering in fear, so before she leaves with a bag full of weapons, she gives the woman a gun and some brief instructions on how to use it. Good luck, Pantry Lady!

As for Morgan, he wallops Father Useless’ attacker over the head a few times. Color Father Coward impressed! He wonders how Morgan learned this, and Morgan explains in his usual obtuse way that he was taught by a “cheese maker.” As Morgan ties up the Wolf, the Wolf sputters that the Wolves are “freeing” the Alexandrians, explaining that they, “are trapped. People don’t belong here anymore.” But then Carol comes along and shoots the Wolf in the head, ending that whole conversation.

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Carol passes out guns to everyone, but Morgan and Father Yellowbelly are like, “EW, GUNS.”

Morgan then finds himself surrounded by a group of Wolves, some of whom he smacks in the head with his Gandalf staff, before warning the others that his people have guns, and there are scopes probably trained on them at this very minute. If they continue to choose this life, they will die. But the HWIC is like, “We didn’t choose this life,” because the Wolves have a strong philosophical streak, apparently. The remaining Wolves scurry off, but not before picking up a Chekov’s gun on the way out of Alexandria, and Morgan is just cool with this?

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Morgan closes the gate behind them, so I’m sure all of Alexandria’s problems are over.

The crisis over (for the moment), Carol sits down to smoke one of Mrs. Niedermeyer’s disgusting cigarettes — and who can blame her — when she notices a small letter A stamped on the banister next to her, and she has a sad.

Also sad: Aaron, who discovers his scouting bag filled with pictures of Alexandria on the body of one of the Wolves. Nice work, Aaron. Good job, buddy.

Rosita and Maggie walk Deanna and Worthless Son back into the compound, and Worthless is all, “IS THIS WHAT THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE IS LIKE?” Worthless is worthless.

And over in Casa Grimes, Carl notices that his little girlfriend is nowhere to be found. But she left a note: “Just Survive Somehow.” And now we know what JSS stands for. That sure was worth the build up! A kitchen timer goes off, and Carl removes Carol’s cream of celery casserole from the oven. Mmm… celery.

Walking back through the neighborhood, Morgan notices a door open and goes inside to explore. There, he’s confronted by one of the Wolves he met in the woods last season. Fighting fighting fighting, and during a pause, the Wolf notes that Morgan “can’t” — meaning he can’t kill, before adding that Morgan “should have.” So Morgan whacks him across the head before apologizing. So I guess Morgan killed him? He killed him, right? But did he? He did, right?

And then Carol and Morgan take another pass around the streets of Alexandria, doing their own thangs.

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Dear The Walking Dead,

I take back anything ugly I might have said about you last week.

So sorry,

T

THIS EPISODE, YOU GUYS. So, the biggest question people are asking is  SERIOUSLY, CARL, WHAT IS GOING ON WITH YOUR HAIR whether or not Carl’s crush, Enid, is a spy for the Wolves. Let’s go over the evidence both for and against this possibility, shall we?

1. The first time we really see Enid, she is sneaking out of Alexandria. Ostensibly, she’s doing this because being inside Alexandria makes her nervous and feel unsafe. But it’s possible she was actually going out to the woods to report back to the Wolves.

2. In this episode, Enid talks about how there are too many blind spots in Alexandria, adding, “that’s how we…” before catching herself. A lot of people are reading this “we” as referring to Carl and herself when they would sneak outside the walls of the community. But it’s possible the “we” here is actually the Wolves, as in “that’s how we got inside.” Curiously, she also refers to the Wolves as being “just people.” Now, she could mean that because the Wolves are just people they are somehow less dangerous than the walkers. Or, possibly, she could mean that she knows them as people.

3. Enid’s backstory was simultaneously too much information and not informative at all. They aren’t going to give us Enid’s backstory unless she and it are important to the story as a whole. For instance, we haven’t seen Aaron or Deanna’s histories, but we devoting an entire flashback to this random girl who has been on the screen for a grand total of 10 minutes? Hmm. As for the backstory itself, we don’t have any context for how much time had passed between her parents’ death and her arrival at Alexandria. There could be a lot of story was intentionally left out here, including her meeting up with or being captured by the Wolves.

4. Where did Enid go at the end of the episode? Why does Enid seem to leave at the same time the Wolves leave? Isn’t that awfully … coincidental? And isn’t it also pretty coincidental that the Wolves would arrive at Alexandria just as the most dangerous citizens of the community have left for their mission? Almost as though they knew it would be the perfect time to attack?

5. The Wolves’ philosophy, that they are “freeing” the Alexandrians, and that people don’t live like this anymore, aligns pretty neatly with Enid’s own feelings that Alexandria is not able to protect her.

6. Wait, why does Enid have all the keys to Alexandria? No, seriously, how and why does she have all those keys?

7. This is Carl reading Enid’s comic book last season:

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Cough.

8. And this is a small thing, but Enid tracing “JSS” into the dirt on her hand right before she enters Alexandria kinda, sorta reminds me of the Ws that the Wolves carve into their heads. It identifies her, it serves as a reminder for why she is doing what she is doing. If Enid is working with the Wolves, “JSS” might be the reason why: she sees it as her best chance of surviving. Somehow.

On the other hand:

1. If she were working with the Wolves, wouldn’t she have snuck some of Alexandria’s guns out to them at some point?

2. The show seems to go out of its way to suggest that Alexandria became the Wolves’ target because they came across Aaron’s bag and pictures, and not because of some sort of long con involving placing Enid inside the community.

3. The whole “JSS” (Just Survive Somehow) might be exactly and simply what it seems, and it explains all of Enid’s questionable choices, like leaving Alexandria and sneaking out on her own. Now that Alexandria has been attacked, she no longer feels like it can keep her safe, and she believes she has a better chance surviving on her own. JSS could also explain why she has all those keys: almost as a security blanket, they represent a way out if she needs it.

Finally, there is the matter of that “A” on the bannister that Carol finds. It probably is just the stamp that Sam made to represent Alexandria, but it’s worth pointing out that it could tie back to Terminus. When they were captured in Terminus, Rick and his group were held in a train car marked with an “A.”  It was revealed that after being nice and inviting people to Terminus to try to help them, Gareth and the other Terminites were attacked by some “bad people” who trapped them in the train car. This turned Gareth and the others into the delightful cannibals we came to know and love. And, in fact, when Gareth and his friends track Rick and the others to Father Gabriel’s church, they paint a giant A on the side of the church.

Now, some have speculated that the Wolves could have also been held at Terminus, or maybe they were the bad people who attacked Terminus in the first place, but it’s worth noting that Terminus was right outside of Atlanta whereas Alexandria, Virginia is some 600 miles away. So, it’s unlikely that these Wolf lunatics have any connection to Terminus. And so, it seems more probable that the A in this instance is just representative of Rick and his group and their association with the Alexandrians, as opposed to the Wolves with their “W”s … or Enid and her “JSS”s.

I’m keeping my eye on you, Enid.

But as for you, Carol:

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The Walking Dead airs Sundays on AMC at 8 p.m.

This post originally appeared on the Hearst site Chron.com.

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