JSS, episode two, begins with Enid’s (Katelyn Nacon) survival story. We meet her on the side of the road, standing guard, while her parents try to fix a broken fuse. The camera slowly zooms in, as walkers appear, and head straight for Enid’s family. Cut to Enid, bloody, rapidly breathing, in the driver’s seat, as a walker brutally eats her parents. The abrupt cut from the start the action, straight to the aftermath, foreshadows the wolves’ invasion of Alexandria. Throughout the opening sequence we watch Enid survive all by herself. She finds shelter in abandon cars, eats raw turtle meat, and follows wherever the road takes her. Along her journey she writes JSS, a reminder to herself and other survivors, who find themselves all alone. Remember, back in season five Enid identifies with Carl’s desire to not forget about the world beyond Alexandira’s walls. She’s a pretender, just like some of the other members of Rick’s group.
After the opening credits, we return to just another day in Alexandria. Carol (Melissa McBride), along with the other housewives, picks up her rations to prepare for dinner. She smiles, laughs, and then uses her cooking skills to put one of the ladies in their place. Ever since arriving in Alexandria, she’s been playing the version of herself before the virus spread. Sitting on her doorstep is Sam Anderson (Major Dodson), playing with his red “A” stamp. The stamp references both the season four finale, A, and the season five premiere episode, No Sanctuary. Remember, they were herded, like cattle, into the abandon train car, A. Then in No Sanctuary, Carol cleverly disguises herself as a walker and invades Terminus, all by herself. Sound familiar? Carol makes her casserole, sets the timer, and then watches a man with a machete violently slaughter her neighbor. Tick…tick…tick…she must get to the armory before the “wolves” get ahold of some guns. After killing one of the invaders, Carol disguises herself as the enemy, to protect her group…her home. Terminus may not have been a sanctuary, but Carol is dead set on preserving Alexandria. She may play the Alexandria housewife part, but has not forgotten about the reality beyond the walls.
“You don’t have to kill people Carol…you don’t like it.”-Morgan Jones
Now in comparison to Carol, a wolf in sheep’s clothing, Morgan (Lennie James) is the reverse. He’s a very skilled fighter, but his weapon of choice is a boa staff (non-lethal). Morgan is being attacked by one intruder, and then Carol (masked as wolf) saves the day and shoots the “wolf” in the head. In this scene we poignantly see the juxtaposition between Carol and Morgan, as he tries to get her to stop killing these strangers. The two go their separate ways, as Carol makes her way to the armory and Morgan saves Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam). Remember, in those previously referenced episodes Carol found herself working with Tyreese (Chad L. Coleman), another pacifist. Morgan slowly enters a home, where a wolves leader (Benedict Samuel) awaits. These two first encountered each other during the season five finale episode. They engage in a fight, when the wolves leader realizes, “You can’t, can you…you should of,” then Morgan throws him into the wall and stabs him right in the head, “I’m so sorry.” Could Morgan have prevented this attack if he had killed this man during their first encounter? Morgan, may be a pacifist, but he’s primarily a survivalist. Somehow you find the will to kill people in order to survive.
The timer goes off, Carl takes the casserole out of the over, and this day’s battle is over. Everyone that is still alive in Alexandria can return back to normal. Later, Carl finds Enid’s goodbye note that says Just Survive Somehow. Cut to a street shot as Morgan and Carol pass each other, walking in opposite directions. They both remembered what they needed to do in order to survive this day. Now Carol can go back to pretending to belong amongst the Alexandria housewives, while Morgan continues to be seen as a quiet threat. This episode subtly contrasts the quietness of perceived normalcy, with the world’s loud brutality. Your town was invaded, neighbors violently killed in the street…“It happened, now it’s done.”
By Sarah Belmont