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'War of the Worlds' Episode 2 Review: An impressive attempt to show grim horror in the aftermath of an invasion

Horrifying and hair-raising, the second episode is a deliberate slow burner but it does get the horror levels a notch higher while explaining the survivors' psyche
UPDATED FEB 24, 2020

Spoiler alert for 'War of the Worlds' Season 1 Episode 2

Grim, grisly, horrifying and hair-raising, the second episode of 'War of the Worlds' is a deliberate slow burner. However, what it does is get the horror levels a notch higher while also explaining the psyche of the survivors.

It isn't easy walking out in the middle of an invasion and see bodies strewn all around. It isn't easy to come to terms with the loss and the unexplainable grief that comes with it. It is at times like these when self-preservation takes over and it comes at a cost as the only thing that matters is survival.

Yet, the episode manages to explain these feelings. It's relatable and believable. There are no monsters, at least not yet. We get to see them in the final minutes, but more as metallic robots with incredibly sharp and accurate shooting skills. As far as defining and picturing invasions go, the chapter attempts to give a brutally honest picture.

Spanning close to 50 minutes, it opens with the aftermath of the first round of the invasion. The EMP-type wave that hits the earth conks out the power supply. People die as it messes with their brainwaves, and the survivors are running around still trying to process the chain of events.

The focus shifts on the main characters. Léa Drucker's Catherine Durand is grief-stricken in an army base in France after she receives a final transmission from her sister who is believed to be dead.

She breaches protocol and slips away into the city while the observatory in the base try and analyze the situation. In an attempt to find her sister, Sophia (Emilie de Preissac), she ends up finding a little girl but is quickly rescued by the French army, led by Colonel Mustafa Mokrani (Adel Bencherif) who come in search of Catherine.

Léa Drucker (IMDb)

The encounter with the machines comes in when the soldiers find a route smeared with blood leading them to a supermarket. They run into the extraterrestrials who pin them down and one of the casualties is the little girl while the rest manage to get out.

In England, after surviving the initial onslaught estranged couple Bill Ward (Gabriel Byrne) and Helen Brown (Elizabeth McGovern) wade their way through the desolate streets with the immediate plan being rescuing their son. 

Sarah Gresham (Natasha Little), Emily Gresham (Daisy Edgar-Jones) and Ton (Ty Tennant) look for a place to crash. They seek refuge in a fancy hotel, but not before stocking up on rations. Sarah gets the first look at the machines.

There is a storyline that also sees one of the survivors, Bayo Gbadamosi, who succumbs to his injuries in the end in an attempt to break open a store and drink water. The panic-stricken Greshams find him, but leave him out to die. 

There is still a lot to be explained and it is perhaps a matter of time before the characters cross paths at some stage. For now, there is still that build-up about who the mystery invaders are.

Humanity's last stand is still a far thought considering the dire straits they are in. It's easy to label this episode as 'gripping'. The slow yet detailed story gives the sort of impression that you are one of the survivors and every step taken can be your last.

This version of 'War of the Worlds' may just spawn more than one season, but for now, the intrigue factor is high enough to stay hooked.

'War of the Worlds' airs at 9 pm ET on Epix.