Well, another half season of The Walking Dead came to an end and it was totally... not that great? For an episode that started off with a metaphor so very heavy-handed (we're all meat eaten by ants!), the rest of "Start to Finish" could barely lift its arms to throw a knockout punch that typically comes with a "finale," half-season or otherwise. The Walking Dead has whiffed on finales before, particularly when they didn't feel like finales at all but just another episode (Season 4's "A" stands out as the biggest offender), and that's pretty much what happened here. If the final scene of Rick and "his people" walking into a mob of walkers covered in zombie chum was enough to tide you over until February, then you must have some very interesting stuff going on in your life in December and January.
And it wasn't even the fact that no one technically died (though if you're here looking for that answer, you can probably cross out Deanna as she got bit), it was that "Start to Finish" teased a big episode but never had the beginning-middle-end structure, something that should definitely be used before a show goes off the air for a few months. It just sort of ended, like if I started writing this sentence and then
"Start to Finish" attempted to build up some big thematic loss of Alexandria as the zombies took over the streets, with characters murmuring stuff about what kind of place Alexandria could be (and WILL be, said the optimists). That's a noble pursuit as the loss of paradise is classic storytelling, but this ramshackle town full of idiots was never appropriately built into anything great, was it? Ever since Rick and his survivors showed up, it's been pretty crappy, actually. People murdered each other, zombies showed up by the thousands, and invaders scalped half of the town's redshirts. So while "Start to Finish" may have been all, "Oh, I'm going to miss this place," the real answer was, "Good riddance, Moronsville."
And boy were the citizens of Moronsville living up to their name! A special shoutout to my man Ron for giving Spencer a go as Alexandria's dumbest. Following the mass immigration of zombie refugees into Alexandria, the survivors holed up in houses for safety. Apparently Ron thought that was the prefect time to take a shot at Carl for hitting on Enid and for having a dad who killed Ron's dad. He pointed a gun at Carl, they scuffled, and in the process let a bunch of zombies into the house. I get it, teenagers do stupid things. But an act of idiocy of this magnitude was less believable than the dead rising from the grave. Ron tried to shoot Carl during a zombie standoff because he was THAT jealous right then and there? What was he going to tell the others, a zombie shot Carl? Ron has been a problem all season long, present only to cause mayhem without any time spent on bolstering his motivation for mayhem. Give me a scene of him crying over his dad's death, or peeping in on Rick licking Jessie's face, or—to build up his psycho-ness—snapping the neck of a kitten. Otherwise, he just looks DUMB, and that's exactly how he came off.
And did you hear the sound of about 15 million viewers slapping themselves in the forehead last night? That happened as Rick and the others covered themselves in zombie guts and snuck among the walkers to escape their prison in the anti-climactic final scene of 2015. But it wasn't the recycled idea of masking the human scent with putrid zombie innards that had people facepalming, it was Sam, Jessie's youngest and cowardest. The little frightened turd has been holed up in his room, listening to vinyl, playing with Legos, and enjoying room service this entire season, and three steps out of the house he ruined everything by calling out for mommy while pretending to be a zombie. Cut to black! Zombies don't call out for the moms, kid. I'm terrible with guessing the ages of kids, but I pegged him as around 12 or 13, which meant he shouldn't be this much of a wuss.
If Season 6 was all about winnowing down who was worth saving and who wasn't because they're already dead, then "Start to Finish" once again proved Rick's point that most of these Alexandrians weren't worth saving. Except his hot piece of ass, of course. But Rick couldn't tell Jessie to leave her awful kids behind, and he got burned for it. Actually, a pep talk from Deanna supposedly convinced us that Rick had accepted that the Alexandrians were "his people" now and that he was a changed man, which is kind of a crock of shit because Rick wouldn't change his philosophy just because a dying woman told him how great he was. Do you remember how adamant Rick was about not saving people who were beyond saving? We've seen everyone learn a lesson about Rick's extreme rules of letting morons die, so maybe it was time for Rick to learn it again, too. The next lesson he needs to learn: even though Jessie gives it up, her kid baggage isn't with it. Ditch them all, Rick!
But it wasn't just the Alexandrians operating on half a brain. In a very disappointing move, Carol, one of the show's more reasonable characters, decided that a zombie attack would be the perfect time to kill the member of the Wolves that Morgan had hidden in his basement. I've talked about how Morgan's no-kill ideals and how they clashed with the rest of the group's objectives has worked, mostly because of Lennie James and the Morgan-centric episode "Here's Not Here," but putting it front and center as Carol bum rushed the Wolf guy and Morgan had to stand between them while Carol threatened to kill Morgan just to get to the Wolf guy DURING A ZOMBIE ATTACK was drama for the sake of drama and a total rookie mistake. Carol, what were you doing? I've gone to the mat do declare how great you are, and here it seemed like you've been in Alexandria too long and contracted Stupiditis.
"Start to Finish" had the setup to be a fantastic episode of The Walking Dead and a worthy midpoint to what's been a bumpy season. Had the episode explored Rick's conundrum about who to save, we'd be having a much more pleasant discussion. Instead, characters inexplicably acted like dunderheads because the writers thought that the endless flood of zombies into the safe zone wasn't enough to provide drama. That completely backfired, and what we were left with was a very disappointing mid-season finale that resolved nothing.
– "Start to Finish" gave us very little from the rest of the group, and that's a byproduct of splitting everyone up. Maggie climbed into the watch tower and that was it for her. Glenn and Enid got into a squabble and climbed a tree. Spencer and Heath were completely absent, which was the only way that Spencer survived. Aaron was a no show, too. And for what? What did we see that was so important that we couldn't get updates on these characters? Deanna telling Michonne to find what she wants? Puh-lease.
– Meanwhile, Abraham, Daryl, and Sasha got the odd two-minute prologue that appeared during the first commercial break of Into the Badlands. Here it is, if you didn't catch it before.
– So Sam cried out like a little baby, but Judith didn't make a peep while tucked under a bed-sheet poncho covered in zombie guts? Sam, even a baby is showing you up!
– I like how Rick ran upstairs to keep Judith from crying during the zombie attack and then found enough time to have a chat with Deanna while the zombies were still trying to break in downstairs.
– Would you have slid your guns over to the Wolves guy like Tara and Rosita did, or would you have just shot him in the head like everyone has been doing to zombies since the show started?
– Again, that Carol Morgan fight... UGH. Their bickering allowed the Wolves guy to escape and take Denise hostage. Why was everyone so dumb in this episode?
AIRED ON 3/19/2017
Season 7 : Episode 14
TONIGHT AT 9PM
Season 7 : Episode 15