Episode 2 of season 6 opened with yet another flashback: we got to see how Enid ended up in Alexandria, although how exactly her parents got eaten by the Walkers and she managed to escape was left unclear. It was an interesting choice, to focus on the back story of one of the side characters. I could have done without the awful tortoise-eating scene, but then again our group shot and cooked dogs last season, so it wasn’t even in the top 10 most disgusting things we’ve seen on the show. We saw Enid go into survival mode, quickly adapting to her new, horrible circumstances, and always with one thing in mind: JSS.

Roll the titles.

It also took about half the episode to explain who or what blew the horn that screwed up the zombie parade of the season premiere. As most of our group is outside the walls diverting the zombies away from their community, life continues its normal course in Alexandria.

The town now has a new doctor, Denise, a former psychiatrist whose panic attacks had encouraged her to drop surgery and pursue psychology instead. Still, she went to medical school, which is a hell of a lot more than we can say about Eugene and his smartass remarks.

Carol pays a visit to the pantry to pick out casserole ingredients; she chooses the stuff nobody seems to want as one of the lunch ladies scrunches her nose at her choices. It’s Mrs Niedermeyer, she of pasta machine nagging! Carol promises to teach her how to make fresh pasta without one as long as she doesn’t smoke in the house. Wow, she has no problem telling a kid whose dad just died to move on, but smoking is a deal breaker? Sheesh.

Two things here: one, all this time in Alexandria whining about the damn machine, and Mrs Niedermeyer couldn’t figure out how to use a rolling pin for pasta? Two, where would they get fresh eggs to make it? I don’t remember seeing too many chickens in town, and I doubt they have access to exotic ingredients like poweders egg whites and yolks. Also, didn’t Carol substitue apple sauce for eggs in her chocolate chip cookie recipes? I know, I know, leave it to me to obsess over the culinary details of the episode.

Speaking of fresh produce, Maggie is channeling her father and trying to interest Deanna in some gardening. The plot is ready to be planted, the seeds are available, all they need is the crew to build the rest of the walls. Deanna doesn’t speak a single word throughout the scene. So far it’s pretty evident that our group have completely taken over Alexandria. With Rick et al leading the zombie parade, Abraham in charge of the construction crew and now Maggie envisioning the future of Alexandria, Deanna seems to need a lot more than just a nudge to get her butt into gear. These people haven’t really dealt with loss before, like our group has. They need more time to process.

This is what Pete’s family is trying to do, each in their own way. Sam is still lurking around Carol’s place, but all his persistence earns him is a rebuke. As much as I’d like to perceive this as tough love, Carol has been way too harsh on the kid from day one. I’m actually amazed Sam hasn’t tattled and everyone in Alexandria is still fooled by Carol’s soccer mom facade.

Ron, on the other hand, is a flaming ball of anger. Jessie’s misguided attempt at a discussion under the guise of a haircut only leads to an argument. Ron knew his dad (also known as Porch Dick) was dangerous, but naturally thinks Rick is dangerous too (which he is). His mom’s friendship with him isn’t going to score her any points with her teenage son. By the way, since she’s so keen on giving people haircuts, why not give Carl one? The playmobil-hairdo isn’t exactly becoming.

Speaking of Carl, he’s being a good big brother to Judith, taking her out for a walk. I forgot to mention it in last week’s recap, but am I the only one bothered by Judith’s recasting? Last season’s Judith was such a beautiful baby, I was sad to see her replaced in last week’s premiere. During his walk, Carl sees Enid hug Ron – is she comforting him or saying goodbye? He is then approached by father Gabriel, who apologizes for what he had said about the group, and asks Carl for his help, falling in line with pretty much everyone’s decision to change, as per Rick’s suggestion orders. He wasn’t ready back at his church, but is ready now. Carl is still dubious about Gabe’s motives, but does promise to help him later that day.

Sadly, it’s not meant to be. Alexandria is suddenly under attack on all fronts, and luckily for the Wolves – or probably carefully orchestrated that way – none of the town’s best fighters are there to help defend it. The wolves actually look rabid as they launch their attack: they firebomb the wall, climb over it, hunt down the Alexandrians with every weapon available to them; clubs, machetes, stakes, knives. Even though the new town policy allows its citizens to carry guns, none of them is actually prepared for this.

Carol watches Mrs Niedermeyer smoke in the yard as she is brutally cut down by one of the Wolves. She manages to get one of them but it’s too late for another one of her neighbors, whom she mercy kills (was it merciful or just a way to shut the poor woman up?). Jessie and Sam lock themselves in the closet. Carl and Enid lock themselves in the Grimes residence and stay put to protect Judith. Spencer is up on the tower but isn’t as good a shot as sharpshooter Sasha. Still, he manages to gun down one of the Wolves, when he sees one of the trucks from the canning plant speed towards the wall. As he shoots the driver, the truck crushes into the wall, but the driver leans on the horn.

And there it is. Instead of just the Wolves, now the zombies are headed straight back towards Alexandria. Could this get any worse? Will our people never catch a break?

As the Alexandrians scramble to hide from the Wolves, we get to see exactly how unprepared they are, if Spencer is any indication: he manages to escape from the tower and tries to stop that stupid air horn, but the truck driver has already turned… and Spencer freezes. Morgan shows up just in time to save the day and dispatch the walker, but Spencer stays outside the wall. He knows he’s useless in battle, even with the gun advantage. When Deanna and Maggie come running, Deanna is of the same mind as her son: inside the walls, she’s just one more person to protect. Deanna climbs into the truck and the look of distaste on her face as she sees the freshly dead walker makes it painfully obvious that she’s probably never been this close to one before.

Meanwhile, Carol goes into Ninja assassin mode: with a hood and a scarf covering most of her face, she cleverly draws a W in blood on her forehead. Able to blend in with the Wolves, she runs around town killing one after the other. Welcome back, Scarol!

Ron gets chased by a wolf and is saved at the last second by Carl, who is an excellent shot. As the Wolf begs for mercy, Carl shows us just how far he’s come these last couple of seasons. If Morgan is inclined to show them mercy and Carol has none to spare, Carl is tempted to stop himself from killing the pleading Wolf… until he launches a new attack. Ron declines his offer to go inside the house with him, and at this point I’m fairly certain his porch dick dad has definitely passed the gene along to his firstborn.

Thankfully, that’s not the case with Jessie. She not only fights the Wolf lady who attacks her in her own home, she actually slaughters her with her shears. Ron walks into the house just in time to watch his mom give the Wolf girl the coup de grace. Welcome to the real world, son.

Even Gabe seems to be growing a pair this episode. He actually fights back when a Wolf attacks him. Okay, so he’s not on the rest of the group’s level just yet, but it was a solid effort. Morgan steps in just in time, but instead of killing the guy, he and Gabe tie him up. Carol’s not having it. After a visit to the armory and a few quick instructions to scared-out-of-her-mind Olivia on how to point and shoot (gotta love how the lady in charge of all the weapons doesn’t know how to fire one), she goes around handing guns to her people. Morgan doesn’t want one, and gives his to Gabe. Gabe doesn’t know how to use one gun, let alone two. Let’s hope no one else jumps him.

Aaron and Rosita are holding their own as well, and they make a pretty good team.

Morgan continues his patrol around town and comes across a group of Wolves. It’s not going to be a fair fight, but they look plenty scared already. Our people have guns. The wolves don’t. Morgan and his walking-stick prowess actually scare the Wolves away. Ah, Morgan, Morgan, Morgan. I know you mean well, but are you going to be a liability? This is like the Terminus situation all over again: Tyreese showed them mercy, and it came back to bite our group in the ass.

With the last of the Wolves chased out of Alexandria, everyone is left to deal with what just happened.

As Aaron stabs any corpse he comes by in the head so they won’t turn, he realizes one of the Wolves had his backpack, the one he had dropped as he and Daryl were trying to make their escape from the trap at the canning plant. Must suck to know he practically handed Alexandria to the Wolves on a silver platter… Poor Aaron. Morgan doesn’t seem to be feeling any remorse though; he let those two Wolves go in the beginning of last season’s finale, but his only regrets so far have been the people he’s actually killed, no matter how awful they had been.

Back at the infirmiry, Denise tries but fails to keep Holly alive. It was a lost cause from the start, but at least she tried. Like Eugene told her, you don’t want to be a coward. What a nice first day at the town’s new doctor.

Outside the wall, Spencer is still reeling. How do you live, knowing this is the world now? he asks Rosita. Ah, Spencer. You have so much to learn. By now everyone should thank their lucky stars our group got to Alexandria when it did – well, everyone except Ron, son of Porch Dick.

Carol looks at her fallen neighbor  who’ll sadly never get to cook fresh pasta, and sits on her porch steps. As she takes a look at the A stamp Sam left there, she starts to cry. It’s nice to see that Carol is still a person with feelings, and not just a killing machine. If only she’d direct her tough love to Ron, instead of Sam, he might not be beyond saving just yet!

Finally, Morgan returns home, to find a familiar Wolf lurking in wait: it’s his old buddy from the woods, whose life he spared. As they fight, Morgan seems to realize – at last – that some people just need to be killed. He does stop to apologize first though.

By the end of the episode, our group has managed to avert the human threat, but we still don’t know what’s going on with the zombie parade. Not only is the horde heading towards Alexandria – or at least it was while the horn was blaring – but there’s probably also quite a number of them packed in the back of the truck. Let’s hope Spencer or some other Alexandria idiot doesn’t decide to satisfy his curiosity and open the latch.

So JSS stands for ‘Just Survive Somehow’. Enid disappeared from the house when Carl was busy saving Ron’s life. She had come to Carl to say goodbye – does this mean she’s gone now? And why now? Did she just think they were all about to die and wanted some sort of closure, which she didn’t have with her parents? Or is she scared of her feelings for Carl and decides to leave before she gets too attached?

And what about the Wolves who escaped  whom Morgan let go? Are they coming back with a vengeance? Did they want to claim Alexandria as their own, or are they just insane and out to kill anyone with a pulse?

A lot of questions left unanswered…. I hope episode 3 takes us back to the zombie parade; Rick, Daryl, Michone and co. were sorely missed this week!

 

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