UK VOD TV review: The Walking Dead Season 6, Episode 2 (JSS)
Neil Brazier | On 19, Oct 2015
Already seen Episode 2? Read on for spoilers.
Following on from the powerful season opening, JSS looks at what was happening inside the walls whilst Rick (Andrew Lincoln) was away. Yes, this episode doesn’t feature the grizzled leader or his facial plasters, but don’t let that sway you: Episode 2 brings one of the most intense viewing experiences of the entire series.
That’s a bold statement to make, especially considering the episode begins slowly and quietly. In fact, one scene inside the kitchen with Jessie (Alexandra Breckenridge) and her son Ron (Austin Abrams) is awkward, forced and feels more like a rehearsal than a finished scene. Although obvious exposition for later, it’s almost like we’re just passing time, softly lulled with feelings of safety until whack! The episode explodes into life as Alexandria comes under attack.
The assault is brutal, remorseless and shocking to watch. From the very first swing until the last smack the action, JSS has you gripping at your collar and wincing. The Alexandrians may as well be wearing red shirts borrowed from Star Trek, but it doesn’t matter that the victims are unknown to us; it’s the savagery of the onslaught that pulls you to the seat’s edge. Even simple shots of blood dripping from the porch steps will send chills down your spine.
What makes the attack all the more serious is that with the group’s big players out at the quarry, it is left to Carol (Melissa McBride) and Carl (Chandler Riggs) to defend Alexandria. These residents are still untested in combat and struggle against the living, let alone the deaD. It’s lucky, then, that after hearing the air horn, Morgan (Lennie James) once again turns up to help – but with him comes the episode’s main conflict.
Carol finally has to break her facade: speaking softly and carrying a big casserole was never going to last and here she falls back into the one woman wrecking machine painted in shades of Terminus. She knows this is what she has to do in order to survive and to help save the community but as she is forced to deal with the results of the assault, she appears to struggle. Morgan does too: showing compassion even when threatened, he refuses the firearms given to him by her, instead using his big stick to defend himself.
While the attack appears unprovoked, both Morgan and Aaron (Ross Marquand) find clues that possibly led the group to Alexandria and Morgan, with his ‘life is precious’ philosophy, lets some of the group to leave with their lives and a gun. How this will govern what happens next, we will have to wait and see but it will surely setup some internal conflict when Alexandria regroups.
Most of the hour is taken up with the attack, bookended with quieter moments. These are quite cliche, the dialogue and imagery almost contentious, and what will happen is so obvious that you can spot it coming – or you would, if your brain hadn’t just imploded with all that came before. But this attack is only phase one: as we know from the opening episode, the dead are coming and with them they bring a whole different type of threat…
The Walking Dead Season 6 is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video, as part of a £5.99 monthly subscription. You can also buy and download it on pay-per-view VOD.
Spoilers and further consideration
– The attack from the Wolves was made even more brutal by having them without firearms. We’re a number of years into the zombie apocalypse now, surely ammunition is running low. Hopefully this means we’ll see more close combat in the future.
– Carl may have regressed a little bit behind the safety of the walls. Showing a little too much compassion for the Wolf he attacks until it almost costs him. He’ll need to bring back some of his ruthless aggression, if he’s going to protect himself and Judith in the future.
– While it was nice to delve a little deeper into the psychology behind Enid, the JSS thing was a little pointless. Finally writing the mantra out in a note to Carl really doesn’t leave him any clues as to where she’s gone.
– It was expected that Morgan would run into those members of the Wolves again that he let go back in the Season 5 finale. Will this change his philosophy on murder or send him out on the hunt alone?
– Everything has gone to hell at Alexandria: Carol has blown her cover and Ron has witnessed his mum stab a man to death with the scissors she uses to cut his hair. Deanna cowered in a truck during the attack but she had a look on her face like she was disappointed and desperate to do more. She will come out of this attack one of two ways: either she’ll be suicidal at having seen so much death, or she’ll become the ruthless and hungry for revenge with shades of Rick having shaped her.
– Don’t forget about the zombies currently on their way! Although any smart person would now drive the truck, while blasting the air horn, away from Alexandria in a hope to have most of the horde follow that.
Photo: Gene Page / AMC