Forget JSS! What Was the A in The Walking Dead Episode 602?
Wow. If I wasn’t already dead, Episode 602 of The Walking Dead might have given me a heart attack. While there were a lot of things to digest in that episode, by the end, I found my brain swirling in, well, blood red alphabet ABC spaghetti Os . With bloody turtle bones rattling around among the noodles, maybe.
You see, much like a rather effed up episode of Sesame Street, the 2nd installment of Season 6 of TWD was brought to you by the letters JSS and W. We know what those letters mean easy enough.
One set stands for “Just Survive Somehow,” the mantra that kept Enid going after her parents died (and perhaps led her to ally herself with the Wolves–but that’s another post for another time).
The other letter is of course the DIY tattoos that the Wolves bear and that they traced over with the blood of their victims. Carol sported her own to blend in with the crowd.
But there was another letter, a subtler one that played a role in Carol’s emotional final moments on the porch. This one shown at the top of the post:
In case you missed it, the A was shown at the end of the episode after Carol and the others had killed most of the Wolves. As she sat with the very pack of cigarettes that had led to the butchering of Mrs. Niedermeyer, she looked to her left and saw the A neatly printed on the banister in a shade of red as bright as the blood on her hands.
And though she didn’t break down completely, for a moment, she looked stricken by the sight.
So what was the A in Episode 602 of TWD?
Who put it there? One of the Wolves? Enid the maybe spy?
I think it was this guy:
At the beginning of the episode before Carol popped her casserole in the oven, she found Sam sitting on her front steps. She told him very plainly that he needed to get over his dad’s death so that it didn’t tear him up inside. I believe Sam had put the mark on the banister either before or after Carol gave him her cold, tough-to-hear advice.
After all, it was Sam who was walking around at the party at Deanna’s house in Episode 13 “Forget,” leaving this on people’s hands:
The letter A symbol meant Rick was part of the family, Jessie had explained. And later on, she flashed it to him as she strolled past with Porchdick.
If you look close at the image from the porch, you can see the edge of the rubber stamper, verifying that it’s Sam’s mark.
In EP513 of TWD, the letter “A” also handily doubled as a symbol of infidelity like “The Scarlet Letter” A that Hester Prynne was forced to wear in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s book, reminding us of the kiss that Rick gave to Jessie at the party.
But in this episode, the A had a different meaning.
Let’s take a look at what the A means to different people.
1. The A Means Family to Sam.
It’s obvious that Sam is drawn to Carol despite the fact that she threatened to tie him to a tree and let the walkers eat him if he didn’t keep the secret about what he saw in the armory. Clearly, the kid has issues. BUT…leaving it on the porch was his way of sending a message to Carol that she’s unwilling to listen to, likely due to the pain she still feels about what happened to Mika and Lizzie.
2. The A Reminded Carol of Loss.
When she saw the letter there, Carol had a rare weak moment because she thought of the innocent boy who would surely lose that sense of security he once had in Alexandria. Maybe she also thought of the loss of life all around her, of Lizzie and Mika, and, of course, of Sophia. She thought of all of the innocents that she has seen die and even had to kill.
That moment was proof that Carol hasn’t completely taken her own advice.
As much as she would love to think that she has moved past all the loss and dealt with it, it is still there beneath the surface, waiting to be discovered like a small letter “A” on a banister.
She can focus on surviving. She can pretend those feelings aren’t there. But they are. And they likely always will be.
3. The A Is a Reminder for Us of What Else Carol Has Done.
Where else did we see that letter A?
How about here?
The final episode of Season 4 was entitled “A,” and it was not only the letter on the train car where the survivors were reunited, but it was also the letter that Gareth scrawled on the side of the church in “Four Walls and a Roof.”
The A is a reminder of Terminus, of the last time we saw Carol go into hero mode, blend in with her surroundings and cunningly take down a seemingly insurmountable foe.
When you consider the many meanings of a single letter shown for just a few seconds emblazoned on a banister, you get a full appreciation for why JSS deserves to get an A grade as one of the best of the series so far.
What do you guys think? Drop me a line in the Comments section. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
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