Warning – this review contains spoilers!!!
After last episode’s colossal cliff-hanger, the next installment of The Walking Dead could not come soon enough as fans worldwide have been waiting for seven days to find out what happened to Rick and co when the brave plan went wrong.
Let’s be honest, the first 15 minutes of this episode, titled ‘JSS’, were a bore. We don’t find out how Rick and the gang coped with the giant horde of Walkers. Carol swaps recipes with the other middle aged women. Jessie and Ron have an argument about his father’s death and her relationship with his killer, Rick. Carl mopes about after seeing Enid talk to Ron. Blah blah blah blah blah.
These scenes of day-to-day drama were exactly the stuff which we didn’t particularly want to see following such a monumental opening episode of the season. All while these scenes take place your thinking, “Come on! Show me what happened!”
And then, out of the blue, sh*t suddenly goes down. In a major way. The writers cleverly toy with the audience and tease us into thinking this episode is going to be one of those occasional slow-burning ones focused more on character study and drama rather than action. And then they turn the dial way up to 11 as a seemingly dull episode is flipped on its head and transformed into an insane one.
Jaws across the world will drop when that crazed machete-wielding guy sprints from out of nowhere and viciously hacks down one of the Alexandria residents. What follows is a murderous invasion by the Wolves, the people with the letter ‘W’ branded on their foreheads, who launch firebombs and savagely slash away at the people of Alexandria.
To call this episode a bloodbath would be a massive understatement as it has to go down as one of the goriest in the show’s history. The intensity of the grisly action has you’re eyes glued to the screen, even if the brutality makes you want to close them. You completely forget about wanting to see the resolution of last week’s ending (although the source of that horn is revealed) as the pulse-pounding pandemonium will have you wrapped up in this week’s action.
The people of Alexandria have barely seen the threat of Walkers, let alone other humans so when the surprise attack hits them they’re beyond stunned. It’s up the battle-experienced Carol, Maggie and Rosita to spring into action and fight off the Wolves.
Then, Morgan seems to come just in the nick of time to help out. Why he’s alone, without Rick and the others who went on the mission, is unknown but will probably be revealed next week and there’ll likely be a dramatic reason.
One of the show’s recent standout characters, Carol, shines once again in this episode as she switches from her pretend smiley calm and collected persona to a ruthless bad-ass killing machine. Seeing her channel her inner-Rambo and go on a one-woman killing spree is incredibly fun .When we all started watching TWD, surely none of us ever thought that such a shy, quiet and seemingly uninteresting woman would become one of our favourite characters. Carol has definitely joined the ranks among Rick and Daryl of characters we really don’t want to see die. Hopefully I haven’t just cursed her by tempting fate.
Morgan kicks some ass too as he displays his effective ninja skills with a stick once again. His reluctance to kill another human being nearly comes back to haunt him as somebody who he should offed is only prevented from murdering by Carol. Morgan’s kindness will surely be exploited for weakness later on in the season and what he goes through in this episode further suggests that his arc will be very intriguing.
It’s interesting why the Wolves didn’t have any guns and hopefully this reason will be explored later down the line. When Rick and co come back, they’ll be sure to seek revenge against the Wolves for what they did. That is of course, after they deal with the swarm of Walkers following them.
As well as the chaos, there was the teasing of the root of the attack: Enid. The opening flashback, her conversations with Carl and her obsession with ‘JSS’ (Just Survive Somehow) all suggest she’s working with the Wolves. The episode does a good job of only giving hints which provides a mystery we look forward to being solved.
Amongst all the insanity, some characters like Maggie and Rosita barely got a look in and seeing more of them in the mix would have been nice.
But in the end, what ‘JSS’ serves up is very much more than satisfying. A thrilling Rick-free episode which is certainly up there with some of the show’s very best, matching the adrenaline-racing action of previous episodes such as the prison battle or the escape from Terminus. Just like last week’s premiere, this second episode leaves us desperately looking forward to the next. ‘JSS’ scores a: