Thoughtful & Abstract: The Walking Dead: “JSS”

In which Shawn and Kim reveal they each need more than five points to list their reactions


1. The B&W Experiment is dead. Long live full, living color. This episode played on their strengths and didn’t try to be all arty and shit. The more I thought about the previous episode the more disappointed I was that they couldn’t tell a good story and give the viewer credit for keeping up with it. I hope we see that entire first episode in color at some point. This week we had some subtle points that went under the radar but they didn’t feel the need to stop the episode and circle them for us. To be honest – I saw the “just survive somehow” but had to ask Kim what the “JSS” meant later on. I’m still focused on that being something else and “just survive somehow” being a red herring. If we later meet a guy named John Simon Sousa, I’m going to be wary.

2. Most shocking moment of the season so far – Carol watching that woman smoke outside and BOOM! – machete. Well played, Wolves. That whole attack was well orchestrated as a plot device because it really did just come out of nowhere. So the panic the characters felt was shared by the viewer who was still saying “what the hell is going on?”

3. Carl and Gabriel in a scene together? I sat on the edge of my seat thinking – the writers have brought these two together to finally do the fans a favor with one fell swoop. Alas, we just had to suffer through a megadose of uncomfortable weirdness that went nowhere.

4. Speaking of Carl – can he line up for one of those haircuts?

5. Thinking that Enid is the JSS spy seems way too obvious and easy. I really hope she isn’t the one who took the pictures and gave them the intel because they’ve just dropped too many hints about her. Maybe she has been sneaking out to spy on them or she knows who is giving away the information. The more I think on it, the more it appears she is the only choice but that’s disappointingly easy. Maybe it serves a point to break little Carl’s heart a bit, but I don’t know that they have set her up in such a way that I would feel super betrayed by it.

6. Carol is a badass. We’ve known this for a long time but she proves it more each season. I think back to “No Sanctuary” last season and in many ways this week was even better. She can barely contain herself with the ladies and their inane talk about baking (although while kicking ass, our group does keep the baking going). But when the attack hits – literally as the neighbor is being chopped down with a machete, she goes into action. The baking illustration is a perfect symbol for what life has become for our group – you kill off a bunch of wolves, lose a minor character or two that we never really cared about, and then you take cookies out of the oven. It’s all part of the new daily existence.

7. I miss that turtle more than I would miss Carl or Gabriel at this point. Poor innocent turtle. That showed us how ruthless Enid is.

Overall a really great episode. No Rick, no Daryl, no Glenn. No zombie walkathon. Just evil, shitty humans mostly. The dichotomy of Episode 1 with Morgan and Rick at odds and Episode 2 with Morgan and Carol is interesting. I think we see Carol’s illustration of the argument being better understood. I’m anxious to see the fallout as both groups come back together.

Kim: This episode, for me, was exactly what I waited six months for. It’s why I trudged through Fear the Walking Dead in all of its monotony. This one, right here, is one that delivered everything I could ever want from a show – something that keeps me staring wide-eyed at the TV, forbidding conversation or the rustling of a potato-chip bag, while silently mouthing “Oh. My. God.” Now, I will highlight for you which moments made me O during this episode. Stop it. That’s short for the whole mouthing silently thing. Sickos.

1) When we first saw the turtle, the show had to be paused, instantly, because I knew Kim’s House Rule Number 1 (Silence while The Walking Dead is on) was about to be broken. I watch with my son, and the moment that turtle crawled its way into the scene, we both yelled out, “Anthony!” You see, we have seen all of the Bad Lip Reading videos of The Walking Dead, so Anthony was the one exception to the silence rule. My heart wept when he died and I can only imagine what Daryl would have felt at that moment.

2) When making a casserole, cream of celery soup should only be used if there are no other options. Adding a bit of salt and pepper will help mellow out the overwhelming taste of the celery, but what you really need to add to it to kill the flavor is some chicken stock – say a couple bullion cubes. Garlic also works. Not paprika, Carol. Come on now. Paprika is used for deviled eggs. Stop with your casserole tips.

3) Carl’s hair. Stop it. Stop it right now. That mop has a life of its own and probably needs a spin-off like, Fear the Hair. I don’t know of many parents who wouldn’t ride their kid’s ass about getting a haircut if it looked like that. Yet, we get zero dialogue about Carl having to fight for his right to party. (See what I did there?) I need some realism here. Where is the conversation with his father about needing a haircut? Jessie rides her kid’s ass about it, and he’s always wearing a hat, so how would you know?

4) Deanna looks to have aged about 20 years since the end of last season. Did she suddenly run out of foundation and powder? She always seemed quite polished to me, and sure grief is setting in, but seriously. You still have to moisturize. Her sunken eyes and not-so-hidden skull formations make me think that she is trying out for the role of Skeletor for an upcoming play.

5) I give you these moments, not because I didn’t appreciate this episode, but because I’m still in awe. It was, quite easily, my favorite episode of the last couple of seasons. My thoughts are similar to yours, except on Enid. I don’t give her much thought at all. I’ve never really trusted her from the beginning. If we’re seeing her back story, there’s only one reason – she’s going to die a horrible death. I don’t think she’s the spy for the Wolves – it would be unrealistic if they write her that way. The Wolves are, quite frankly, not all there. They’re not with it enough to take in a little girl and develop this plan. Wouldn’t they have killed her when they first came upon her? Not be all, “Hey, let’s get her to give us info and let her be clean and civilized.”

6) I have always loved Carol. I think she’s incredibly beautiful, even if she’s dressing like a 70-year-old grandma from the ’60s these days in her polyester pants and floral prints. I wonder if the house she cooks in smells like my grandma’s did. She’ll threaten your kids, make passive-aggressive comments about you smoking, and can cook a mean cola ham, but when she put on that hood and covered her face with the scarf, her piercing eyes looking out, I was completely moved by the beauty of her in that moment. She’s terrifying and closed off to new children and keeps the other chicks at a distance, but she’s also going to have their backs. Since the days of burning the sick people, Carol has certainly showed us that she knows what’s up and she’s not going to take any shit. She is completely badass and I want to be her when I grow up.

7) I really dislike Gabriel. I don’t see that he has a purpose other than to irritate the hell out of me. He doesn’t even like himself, so there’s that.

8) I’ll see your dichotomy and raise you this:

Enid: Just Survive Somehow.
Gabriel:Jesus’ Secret Spy.
Carl: Junior Seriously Shaggy.
Morgan: Just Simply Stoic.
Carol: Juggernaut Super Soldier.

JSS? Just Say Superlative, because that’s what this episode was.

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Shawn Bourdo

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