January 20, 2016 The Walking Dead – Start To Finish (Season 6/ Episode 8 Review)
The midseason finale of seasons six of AMC’s The Walking Dead, Start To Finish, had all of its signature elements – a herd of Walkers too big to take on, forcing the group to split up and hide until they figure out their next move. Of course there were loose ends, subjects surely to be addressed in the next half of the season, as well as internal conflicts which could cost someone, or many, their lives.
Right in the beginning of the episode, Alexandria is overrun with Walkers, due to the weakened tower to fall on one of the wall panels. Narrowly escaping, everyone scatters into different areas, where they are out of reach for the time being. Gabriel, Rick, Carl, Michonne, and Deanna end up at Jessie’s house, along with Ron and Sam. They soon discover that Deanna has been bit, and the group regurgitate an old idea to move through the herd covered in the blood and guts of one of the Walkers. Across the way, Morgan ends up helping Carol after she trips and hits her head. Clearly disapproving his decision to hold a member of the “W” clan in captivity, Carol sneaks away to kill him, but is quickly stopped by Morgan. Seizing the opportunity, the hostage knocks Morgan unconscious, and takes Denise away at knifepoint.
Right outside the gates, Glenn and Enid assess the situation. Despite Enid’s pessimism, Glenn urges her to stay and help, for it is the right thing to do. Climbing a tree to get a better view, he can see Maggie alone on the lookout tower. Although not the best of situations, his spirits are lifted, knowing that she is at least alive, a small luxury she has as well after seeing the green balloons. On their way back home, Abraham, Sasha, and Daryl hit a roadblock of strangers, one of who commands them to get out of the truck. He starts insisting that all of their belongings are now the property of Negan, a big name drop for those who read the Comic Book.
For the way this season started, the mid season finale was a little disappointing. Most of the scenes were just frustrating, as they did not hold up much value. Ron and Carl’s situation seemed like an excuse to cause more conflict, as their fight led to nothing more than walkers being able to march further into the house. Sure, the two are unlikely to be friendly, which is acceptable, but Ron’s intentions were simply timed poorly, as there are much bigger situations that need immediate attention. It was hard to be sympathetic for Deanna’s death, as she was already emotionally dead this half of the season and contributed very little. Besides her influence on Michonne, her character did not get to accomplish much after Reg’s demise, making her death sad, but easily forgettable.
A big frustration among fans focuses on Sam, who may very well be the one to get himself and the group killed, given the last scene. It is hard to say how anyone would deal with a severely traumatized child in a life or death situation, but this character still struck a nerve of dislike nonetheless. Being one of the many cliffhangers throughout the episode, it is possible the follow up scene could spark some excitement in the mid season premiere. Another question of interest is the intentions of the “W” man, now that he escaped due to Morgan not allowing Carol to kill him. Although this was another “buildup” moment, it could help to frame Denise’s character, now that she is a hostage. She has not received a lot of airtime, but fans should keep in mind that she is important, being the closest thing to a doctor Alexandria has.
Finally, at long last, the mention of the name every Comic reader has been waiting for – Negan. The hype this character has is astronomical, as he becomes the ultimate foe for Rick and his family. The wait for his arrival has been quite painful, as the first hint was in 509, What Happened and What’s Going On. Having to wait even more leaves a feeling of being somewhat cheated. Hopefully, it will not be much further into the next half of the season for him to grace us with his evil presence.
Overall, the episode seemed mostly predictable. Building up conflict to further the story is important, but there was no “wow” factor. Given the excitement produced in episodes JSS and Thank You, this was a letdown. The direction of character and script simply fell into place, having no element of surprise, leaving most fans disappointed. Granted, this was not a terrible episode, but it just did not hold the value of being a mid season finale. Hopefully, the writers can redeem themselves with the second half, premiering on Valentine’s Day, Sunday February 14th with No Way Out. An episode directed by Greg Nicotero and written by Seth Hoffman, hopes are high the return of season six will be a good one. Until then, fans will just have to wait and see if Negan will live up to his reputation, and if Sam will eventually look at the flowers. CrypticRock gives Start To Finish a 2.5 out of 5 stars.