TV Show Review

TV Review: THE WALKING DEAD: Season 6, Episode 8: Start to Finish [AMC]

The Walking Dead Start to Finish

AMC’s The Walking Dead Start to Finish TV Show ReviewThe Walking Dead, Season 6, Episode 8: ‘Start to Finish,’ started with a break sequence that might have been a throwback to the opening for ‘The Grove;’ what followed was a typically mad scramble for survival – and by typical, I mean even the ones less likely to get pinned to the chopping block were still thrilling to watch, as they fought their way off of it; but it finished at a point that some might not have considered a finish at all.

I suppose since no one bothered to check the tower after the truck hit, because they were wary of Wolves; and no one could after Rick (Andrew Lincoln) got back, on account of his bringing part of the mega herd with him. Still, it bugged me a bit that it never seemed to occur to anyone that it could be a problem.

No doubt, a lot of viewers were expecting wholesale carnage, as the Walkers streamed through the resulting breach, like so many ants descending on a cookie taken for granted. What we got however, were cast members broken into loosely separated units, and forced to sit, stew, and scheme. Kind of a bait & switch; but there were pay-offs.

Unlike the Wolf attack, the herd surge focused entirely on known characters; and since no one in their ranks was lost, during the scrambling lock-down, the impression left was that of a mostly bloodless affair. Maybe the Wolves did them a favor, by cutting the chaff & setting them on an emergency footing? Nah – spoke too soon.

Alpha Wolf (Benedict Samuel) turned his love of storytime into an opportunity to do no one any favors. Well, no one in the cast, anyway. Morgan (Lennie James) had to learn the hard way that when the most dangerous person in Walker World doesn’t trust you, that person can’t be trusted – and no, I wasn’t referring to the Wolf, I was referring to Carol (Melissa McBride). Anyway, fans finally got to see two of the three most accomplished fighters square off. The prospect of blue-on-blue violence proved that Carol still had some heart, behind her kill-set; while Morgan being Morgan became a liability, in itself. Who won? You’d be silly for asking, since there was still some chaff about.

On the subject of chaff, there was evidence that some chops still weren’t up to full snuff. Eugene (Josh McDermitt) needing rescuing, but demonstrated a useful skillset. On the other hand, despite showing some decent marksmanship, last ep, Tara (Alanna Masterson) gave up on a hostage pretty quick. I certainly expected more from Rosita (Christian Serratos), both in terms of resolve & ballistic confidence; but the fact that they all caved, on Denise’s (Merritt Wever) behalf, left a weak link as a break in the chain. I honestly don’t know what the fallout is going to be, when the Hawk & Dove come back around; but somebody’s bound to get Darwined out, on the other side of this.

The I-told-you-so special Darwin award went to Ron (Austin Abrams), of course. Like a full-on Walker breach would make him reconsider something like Grime-icide – or consider anything beyond himself, for that matter. I don’t know how much of it had to do with being the sons of Porch Dick Pete, but I may have to rename Jessie (Alexandra Breckenridge) Lilith, Mother of Monsters. Nothing disgusts me more about a character than when he/ she resorts to being a pet-peeve cliché. In this case, it was the one about the character that goes off reservation, wrecking a perfectly decent plan, and guaranteeing someone dies needlessly. Someone hand Ron his award, then turn him over to the audience.

As much as Jessie’s kids have become creatures of near mythic self-involvement – fatal to all around them – I was left really disappointed by Carl (Chandler Riggs). I don’t think he got the memo from Glenn, about how covering for Killing Weight can be more trouble than it’s worth. Carl seems out to make a personal statement on the show – maybe even set a tone, as the future leader of Generation Z – but he has to do better than making Ron his poster case, man. Maybe it’s the hat. The hat’s been speaking to him, like Rick’s beard – those two weren’t the same, after Rick passed the hat along and went full facial hair. Maybe Carl needs to set the hat down, shave the hair on his head, and get some growing out of his face.

-Or maybe lose another part of his face – but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

With Ron’s ‘hobby’ resulting in the downstairs being forced upstairs, references to Sam (Major Dodson) as Alexandria’s Lizzie came to mind. Lilith spawn or not, Sam is no Lizzie. Despite the creepy aside opening, and all indicators that the kid has stayed out of the picture (since his Wolf induced agoraphobia set in), there is no sign of skill, aggression, or even situational awareness. Lizzie was demented, but at least useful enough in a fight for Carol not to notice how she could be a liability. Even weak link Mika was Walker World wary – no, Sam has gone into a bubble, and was allowed to reinforce it. Since he never learned to get over himself, it’s not up to him when that bubble could pop; but when it does….

‘Hey, Sam, whazzup lil’ pup? Feeling a little… not altogether there, there? What say you not have us all die, by choosing your moments better? That could mean taking one for the team. I kinda feel the need to ask, seeing as how no one else seemed to notice the break in noise discipline, ‘n all (c’mon, guys – even Ron should’ve mustered a quick, brotherly rap to the back of the head).’

So when an act of Ron made their redoubt untenable, Rick resorted to an old classic. I gotta say, though, I remember Rick & Carol wearing Walker camo ponchos better than this group outing. At least a little Walker in the hair, hanging off Carl’s sorting hat, maybe – something to cover the fact that I could practically smell their sweaty pasty faces. Walkers have been considerably dumbed down, since the tactic was first employed; but not noticing those bare faces, nose-to-nose & ear-to-ear with them? Not noticing an act of Sam in the making…?

For reasons like those, the better pay-off came from the interpersonal moments of the episode. Tara continued to play the role of morale officer; but Rosita’s funk might’ve been indicative of her moving on – providing an opening for one absent associate to do the same. There was also more of Glenn (Steven Yeun) talking Enid (Katelyn Nacon) down off her brat branch; but those weren’t the kind of moments I meant. No, I was thinking of Deanna (Tovah Feldshuh) coming to grips with her own story, and bringing both Rick & Michonne (Danai Gurira) along. The passing of the torch to Rick was a long, brightly lit affair, that we all knew was coming (just not necessarily under these circumstances); but it was nice to see some closure brought to the subtext she had been sharing with Michonne, as well.

Michonne was the one that hung up her sword in favor of a constable’s uniform; Michonne was the clearest voice of dissent, when the Roadies considered taking the town by force; Michonne was the one to put Rick down, when he had his Nietzschean mini-breakdown; ultimately, Michonne was the Roadie who really wanted to see Deanna’s community work. Deanna not only brought a piece of home to Maggie (Lauren Cohan), she brought it to Michonne, as well; so while Rick stood to inherit her title, I think Michonne was left as a key holder to Deanna’s very legacy.

There was a nice fake-out, involving Judith; but Rick’s kids are really being left on the bubble, going into season 6.2 – and yes, a lot of it had to do with Jessie’s kids (blending families does get complicated, after all). That fake out did convince Deanna to take matters into her own hands, however, which left me wondering about all those Walker victims who never learned to save the last shot for themselves. IIRC, besides Nick, Deanna was the first character to self-checkout. No, wait… spoke too soon, again.

Deanna has come further along than just accepting Roadie rules, this half-season. It wasn’t entirely out of character, then, for her to take her recently discovered Walker wrath to the source of all her newly embraced rage, one last time – encapsulating all that contempt, for disappointment, failure, and fear, in a show of defiance worthy of 300’s Leonidas. A better end than anyone else is likely to get, when the season resumes; but at least Michonne was left with one extra note, to go with that legacy.

Tovah Feldshuh The Walking Dead Start to Finish

“Give ‘em Hell.”

If anyone felt that ‘Start to Finish’ was a letdown, as far as mid-season finales go, I’d the say the problem is with the whole Winter Break concept. It may not be fair to demand something as grand, or as conclusive, as we’ve come to expect from anything labeled ‘finale.’ As far as being a ‘break,’ that’s exactly what it was. Maybe not at as satisfying a point as we may have gotten used to; but them’s the breaks. A mid-action break means I will have to wait for the rest of that action; but also that the entire first half can be redeemed by how the second ushers in. I’d say that’s a good reason to reserve judgement; but if that’s not enough for some….

An epilogue, of sorts, followed up on Daryl, Abe & Sasha (Norman Reedus, Michael Cudlitz, Sonequa Martin-Green) running into some cordially menacing road warriors. Fancy threats were issued, a long & winding note of ultimate possessiveness was hit… and the ‘N’ name was finally dropped. Meet back here, for season 6.2.

“We’re here.”

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About the author

Sam Joseph

Sam is an Avid consumer/observer of Geek culture, and collector of Fanboy media from earliest memory. Armchair sociologist and futurist. Honest critic with satirical if not absurdist­­ wit with some experience in comics/ animation production.

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