Season two of AMC's hit zombie apocalypse drama, The Walking Dead, frustrated fans with a string of meandering, low-action episodes that didn't seem to advance the plot. Sunday night's season finale, however, saw the series return to classic form. (Warning: Spoilers lie ahead.) The episode kicked off with a bloody O.K. Corral-style showdown between the band of survivors and a growing horde of zombies, leading to the untimely demise of two humans — Jimmy and Patricia. Even better, the show's closing moments revealed a few game-changing twists, setting up a "perfect cliffhanger" for next season, says Andrew Conrad at The Baltimore Sun. Did Sunday's action-packed finale make up for an uneven season of The Walking Dead?

Absolutely: As popular as this season of The Walking Dead has been, the long slog of "almost zombie-free weeks" when the survivors searched for Sophia created a resounding fan backlash, says Nate Rawlings at TIME. The finale more than made up for that with a dazzling, nearly 30-minute long zombie battle sequence featuring what seemed like thousands of the undead. The scene couldn't have been more satisfying. "Having Glenn hang out of a car blasting zombies with a shotgun was exactly the kind of action for which I was clamoring."
"The Walking Dead watch: Beside the dying fire"

Great finale, but the series still has flaws: Sunday's finale was the best episode of The Walking Dead since the pilot, says Maureen Ryan at The Huffington Post, a pleasant way to end what became an "overstuffed, sludgy" season. But even though the finale "did a good job of reeling me back in… we're not out of the woods yet." We get no sense of why the characters behave the way they do, and their relationships are superficially sketched out, at best. The writers need to do a better job of making the characters "surprising and believably complicated" if the audience is expected to really be scared on their behalf.
"The Walking Dead finale recap: The best episode since the pilot?"

Either way, get excited for next season: Sunday's finale "was thrilling on its own," says Andrew Conrad at The Baltimore Sun, but a "trifecta of revelations" is amping up excitement over what's to come (as fans of the comic book know). First, Rick finally revealed to the survivors that everyone is infected, and when anyone dies, regardless of the cause, they'll turn into a zombie. We were also briefly introduced to a mysterious hooded heroine, named Michonne, who will play an integral part in new episodes. Finally, the episode closed with a shot of an ominous large prison, which will be the dramatic setting of the bloodshed that will unfold next season.
"The Walking Dead recap: Season finale, 'Beside the dying fire'"