The Walking Dead: JSS Review

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by Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

Like Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead is adapted from previous source material. This review is not meant to compare similarities and differences between the show and comic. It’s meant to be read purely as a take on the episode as it stands.

That being said, SPOILERS AHEAD.

“You live with it or it eats you up.”

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

“JSS” took viewers back to Alexandria while most of the town was executing the ambitious plan to save the town from an impending zombie horde. Things in the settlement are nothing if not quiet. Sure, there are things for those left behind to contend with, but it’s minor things. Carol and Maggie are more than just counsel to Diane—they effectively run the show in the community. There’s a new doctor in town and everything seems to be going along just swimmingly. Their existence there is fairly idyllic, with many of the town’s residents quarreling over minor things in life. Things like how to make pasta without equipment, a psychiatrist adjusting to being the town doctor and where to plant a new garden. Many of the scenes were reminiscent of the prison settlement in its heyday, where everyone knew their role and the community worked together well.

That all changed with one single smoke break. Carol watched as a marauder ran through and slashed a resident, prompting an all-out assault on the community that completely caught them off guard. The marauders are clearly the Wolves referenced in the last season, as a few of them were keen to draw Ws on their foreheads in their victims’ blood. And the episode didn’t take long explaining what the loud horn was at the end of the first episode that was drawing the horde away from the intended path.

The safety of the community wasn’t the only thing that changed, as Carol went completely guerilla on the assailants.  Her plan to get to the armory makes a lot of sense and definitely fits within the life of survival she’s been forced to experience. Enacting that plan required her to exhibit a sort of ruthlessness that she’s kept hidden for the most part from everyone but her group. Coldly killing first without asking questions is how she’s made it as far as she has, but it does beg the question as to whether it’s the right approach. Clearly, Carol seems to think so, but Morgan isn’t so sure.

Morgan is still much more passive about the entire state of the world, preferring instead to speak with a big stick instead of guns. Ever since he was forced to deal with the death of his wife (and son), he’s been a changed man. He relied on Rick to be something of a compass and get him through some of the darker times in his life, yet now he feels he’s morally superior to Rick in many regards. That sense of morality extends to the assailants he confronted, which bore a very interesting result in that a little more information was shared regarding them.

Morgan advised them that their current decision-making would put them on a path to death. The response to that was extremely telling: a man indicated that it wasn’t their choice. That seems to suggest that there’s another individual pulling the strings and directing them. There are obvious connections to some of the previous enounters with individuals with a “W” carved into their foreheads and those connections are starting to come into focus. Morgan was forced to reconcile his passive approach with a confrontation against one final assailant, which was a pretty powerful way for him to essentially realize it’s not that easy.

It was revealed that “JSS” stands for “Just Survive Somehow,” as indicated to Carl in a note left to him by Enid. It’s a mantra that’s carried the characters this far andw ill carry them further. It’s especially valid now that the community is divided, with arguably the stronger group on the outside. There were pretty powerful auditory clues throughout the episode, from the air horn on the truck to the flatline beep to the kitchen timer going off, each of which signified the effects of typical everyday sounds in a new lifestyle. The second episode maintained the momentum of the first episode, keeping the survivors on their toes and giving viewers plenty of intrigue to keep them guessing as to what’s coming up next.

4 out of 5 stars


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