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TV Review: The Walking Dead 6.8 “Start to Finish” (Mid-Season Finale)
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Danai Gurira as Michonne - The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead
Episode 6.8 “Start to Finish”
Directed by Michael E. Satrazemis
Written by Matthew Negrete
Starring Andrew Lincoln, Danai Gurira, Melissa McBride, Lauren Cohen, Steven Yeun, Norman Reedus, Chandler Riggs, Michael Cudlitz, Lennie James
AMC
Air date: Sunday, November 29, 2015, 9pm

Warning – SPOILERS for The Walking Dead Season 6…

Seriously……… SPOILERS……

Episode 6.8, “Start To Finish,” is the mid-season finale of The Walking Dead, which means we’ll have to wait till February to find out what happened to the residents of the Alexandria Safe Zone after the latest Walker attack. Because AMC loves to torture us.

The Alexandria Safe Zone was supposed to be a piece of paradise inside the hell on earth that exists in the post-apocalyptic Walking Dead universe. But, as Tara and Rosita say in this episode, a place like this comes with a price. Many have died already, and now, it seems that their existence at the Safe Zone might, in fact, be “over.”

Rick and his group have gone from place to place trying to find a real home to settle in: First, it was their crude encampment with the RV. Then there was Hershel’s idyllic farm, but it wasn’t a stronghold. The Governor infiltrated the confines of the Prison, and the too-good-to-be-true Terminus turned out to be a cannibal holocaust. The Alexandria Safe Zone was supposed to be their final destination, a true safe haven that was protected against the walkers, as well as a throwback to life before the dead began rising. But, that throwback proved to be a little too much comfort. Without a common enemy to fight (i.e., the Walkers), the Alexandrians got caught up in too much drama. It seems as though the residents let their human squabbles blind them to the point where they forgot that the end of the world had come, and the time for such trivialities was long passed.

Though Rick warned everyone that a breach of the Safe Zone was imminent, whether by Walkers and/or another group of survivors, the original Alexandrians were too complacent to listen to him. It took both an attack by the human Wolves as well as a breach by the Walkers for them to finally realize that they’ve been living in a fantasy world and that Rick was right. A little too late though because on the last episode, the Walkers congregated along the East Wall, causing the watchtower to fall and break through the wall. When last we saw the people of the Alexandria Safe Zone, Walkers were pouring in.

The mid-season finale picks up with the Walkers still pouring in, as Rick and company try to run to safety. But where is safety now? Even Rick and his original group who are experienced fighters can’t take down Walkers in such large numbers on the fly. They need a real plan.

Rick and a few others make it to Jessie’s house, where her son Sam is still hiding upstairs listening to records and drawing with crayons. Well, playtime is over Sam, time to man up. You too, Ron. Ron has been jealous of Rick’s son Carl since his arrival, and Rick killing his dad (no matter how justified it was) didn’t help matters. In “Start To Finish,” Ron continues to act like a punk-ass by attacking Carl and pulling a gun on him even as the Walkers were trying to push into the house. Really, Ron? How about priorities? How about some damned common sense? Thankfully, Rick breaks through the door and saves both Carl and Ron from the invading Walkers. Rick and Jessie suspect that the teenage boys had been fighting, but Carl covers, saying that they were trying to ward off the attackers. See, Carl doesn’t blow up Ron’s spot. He realizes that Ron is just going through shit because of what happened with his dad, and also has no experience coping with a life-and-death situation like this. Before Ron pulled the gun, he told Carl that they were all dead, and said “Your dad is just gonna get more people killed, your dad’s a killer,” to which Carl responded “So’s yours.” After their melee, Carl could have told the truth – that Ron actually tried to kill him – but instead he protected Ron. After this, Ron had better be Carl’s best friend.

Ok, so back to that plan. Rick says they need to get to the armory, so he can take out some of the Walkers, and then also set off flares outside the Safe Zone to try to lure the Walkers away. Ok, great. How will they get to the armory? They wrap themselves in bedsheets, which they then cover in Walker guts, so that they can mask their human scent and walk right through the crowd. Hey, it worked for Rick and Glenn in Season 1, so no reason to think it won’t work now. The difference here is that it’s not just Rick — it’s also a bunch of skittish people, some kids, and baby Judith. This is gonna be tough.

Nearby, Carol and Morgan are at the house where Morgan has the Wolf confined. We know that Carol’s mentality is “no enemy left alive,” while Morgan’s is that “all life is precious.” This leaves these two strong-willed people at a stalemate. Morgan wants them to put shelve the issue during the Walker invasion crisis, but Carol can’t and won’t. They don’t want to fight one another, but that’s what happens. “I don’t want to kill you,” she says to Morgan, and he replies, “You can’t, I won’t let you,” which is what his old pacifist mentor Eastman had said to him in the beginning. We hear this and we know this won’t end well.

I was terrified at the thought of losing either Carol or Morgan, hoping that someone would show up to intervene, and that’s what happened! Tara, Rosita, and Eugene arrive; unfortunately, it’s too late. After Morgan knocks Carol out, the Wolf takes the opportunity to jump up, and knock out Morgan, and then grabs Denise (the community’s new, albeit reluctant, doctor) to use her as a hostage to make his escape. I was really hoping that Rosita would shoot him in the head while he had a knife to Denise, but that didn’t happen. Instead, he gets away, taking Denise with him. What awaits him outside can’t be good on any level. Earlier, Denise tried to tell the W that he wasn’t born this way, and that he could change (from being a killer), but it seemed like she didn’t get through to him at all. He believes that none of them should be here, and that they’re all dead anyhow. Surprisingly, the W doesn’t kill anyone on his way out, which he could have easily done, so perhaps he’ll find salvation two seconds before he’s eaten by a Walker or beat to death by Rick in the mid-season 6 premiere (let’s hope).

Now it’s time to turn our attention to a very upsetting reality: During the Walker attack, Safe Zone leader and consummate optimist Deanna doesn’t run for safety. Instead, she stays near Rick, shooting the invaders. But, of course, she gets bit. When she realizes this, she says, “Oh… shit,” but I was more like “FUCK!!!!” Deanna is so awesome. In a world so hopeless and desolate, Deanna was a beacon of light. AND, she wasn’t delusional. She wasn’t living in a fantasy world like the others. Plus, she was smart, capable, and most importantly, logical. What a refreshing character!!!

But, Deanna served her purpose on the show, which was to make the main characters search inside themselves to find the person they want to be and the person they still can be. For Rick, it’s to be a fair, just, and trustworthy leader to not only his original group, but to ALL the people of the Safe Zone. On her death bed, Deanna also gets through to Michonne, who has been guarded since the minute she appeared on screen. In a world like this one, a person has to have a reason to live. Deanna, although her death is untimely and unfortunate, lived her life the way she wanted right up until the end. She was happy and fulfilled, attributes that people like Rick and Michonne do not possess, but they still can. Now, she wants Michonne to find that within herself. I’m sure later this season, we will finally learn what Michonne wants out of life.

While that’s happening, the infected Deanna doesn’t take Michonne’s offer to give her a quick and painless death. Instead, Deanna opts to stay behind, showing Michonne her gun, saying she’ll end her life when it’s time. Not surprisingly, she doesn’t use the bullets to off herself; she uses them to shoot as many Walkers as she can, having a final, guttural scream. Deanna lived life as she wanted, and now she dies the way she wants as well. She leaves off with Michonne telling the sword-wielder to “give ’em hell,” but it’s Deanna who’s gonna give ’em hell right till the end.

Outside the walls of the Safe Zone, Glenn and Enid watch as the Walkers breach the compound. Enid, much like Ron, thinks everything is hopeless, that they’re all dead. Glenn, on the other hand, knows what it is to survive, and he does have something to live for — his pregnant wife Maggie and the family they’re going to have. He won’t give up. And surely Maggie won’t either. The beginning of the episode saw Maggie running for safety and nearly falling into a pit of walkers — much like what happened with Glenn earlier this season (when we presumed that he died). She eventually makes her way to the top of one of the watch areas, but is trapped there, laying exhausted at the top looking up at the sky, seeing the green balloons float by, signaling Glenn’s survival. This mirrors what happened with Glenn after the prison battle, where Maggie eventually finds him. Glenn sees his wife at the watch area, and comes up with the idea to go around to the West wall, but this is yet another plan we’ll have to wait to see come February with the season returns.

Meanwhile, there’s another plan in action: Rick and company in their zombie guts attire. Before the group left the house in their new threads, Father Gabriel – who had been a huge disappointment and who has a lot of redeeming of himself to do – promises Rick that he won’t be the weak link in their chain. He won’t turn back no matter what happens, he promised Rick, who believes him. “I know,” Rick soundly replies, which gives the rest of us the confidence in the wayward priest, too. While standing on the porch, you can see the glimmers of hope on everyone’s face — the plan is going to work!

BUT, of course there’s a weak link in the chain!!! As the guts-covered group makes their way eerily passed their undead attackers inside the house, they all join hands outside. It’s time for them to really walk among them now. As they start, it looks like it’s working, until… stupid Sam, who’s holding his mother Jessie’s hand, starts calling to her, “Mom?” Shit!!!!!! He calls out to her three times. Even baby Judith is keeping quiet, yet there goes fragile little Sam and his big mouth. How old is this kid? 10, 12? “Just pretend you’re brave,” his mother had said to him several times. I’d like to think that a kid this old after all this time would be wiser than this, and that his mother would have prepared him for some harsh realities. But, apparently, she’s kept him very sheltered (she used to have him hide in the closet when her husband used to beat her). We saw in the beginning of the episode that young Sam was still a bit unhinged, hiding out upstairs in his room too afraid to come down — and this was before the Walker breach! Now, he’s not rising up to this latest challenge. Instead, momma’s boy is about to be the death of everyone, as he calls for his mommy.

That’s the last we see of the Safe Zone in this mid-season finale.

But, during the next show (Into The Badlands), AMC did air a 2-minute prologue to the mid-season premiere. The prologue centers on Daryl, Sasha, and Abraham, who are driving back to the Safe Zone in “Patty,” the truck Daryl recently acquired in Episode 6.6 “Always Accountable.” They are stopped by a group of men on motorcycles, who tell them to join them out on the road, warning them not to resist or try anything. “We will end your asses,” the group leader says, “We’ll split you in two, straight through to the sinuses.” Knowing they’re outnumbered, the trio step out of the truck. The leader then asks for their guns. When Daryl asks “Why?,” the leader responds that all of what they have is not theirs anymore. Guns, food, the trunk – everything – is not theirs anymore. But who does it belong to? “Your property now belongs to Negan,” the leader replies, foreshadowing what’s to come for the second half of Season 6 when Jeffrey Dean Morgan arrives as the new villain, one who will make The Governor seem not so bad in comparison.

Oh, and I forgot a revelation that was a “blink and you’ll miss it” moment: Who was the person who whimpered “Help” on the walkie talkie? Turns out, it was the ever-cowardly Eugene inside the Safe Zone during the breach of the East Wall by the Walkers.

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