The Walking Dead, Season 6, Episode 8, “Start to Finish”
Written by Matthew Negrete
Directed by Michael E. Satrazemis
Airs Sundays at 9pm (ET) on AMC
“Start to Finish” is essentially when the survivors of Alexandria have to finally stop and ask: Is this place really worth it? Deanna is correct that in life you have to literally earn everything you want, and “Start to Finish” shows whether Rick and company want Alexandria and if they feel they can save it at all. After all when one wall comes down, how in the world will it be propped back up and repaired without attracting more of the herd with it to bring it all down again?
I was about half right with my predictions for “Start to Finish.” Just as I figured, Deanna played the martyr for Alexandria, effectively handing the keys over to Rick Grimes and giving everyone a stern talking to about what they want out of life. Surely and soon enough, Rick and company will try to win back Alexandria and have to work things out, deciding how they will run it and who gets to run it. Deanna knew, clear and simple, that Rick was somehow destined to take Alexandria, and she accepts it while also going down in a blaze of glory the way she planned to. It’s not many characters on The Walking Dead that get to decide how and when they want to go down, and Deanna goes down like a champ, doing what she could.
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As the watchtower falls, everyone scatters to their own safe havens, allowing the walkers to consume Alexandria and wreak havoc. Of course with everyone locked indoors and trying to figure out how to escape without being seen, tensions surface, and there are plenty of interesting conflicts that arise. Maggie’s close call kept me with gritted teeth and Rosita and Tara barely make it out in an effort to save the wounded, and Eugene. I love how the writers have connected all the events of the first half of season six into one almost fluid stream of an arc, where everything clicks together nicely. Most of “Start to Finish” follows the remaining groups that are within Alexandria’s walls and how they plot to make it out alive, or at least go down fighting.
Particularly compelling is Carol finally managing to get to the Wolf that Morgan had hidden in the basement, showing Morgan once and for all what his little secret would cost the town. I can’t believe Morgan is still standing by his decision, and even goes toe to toe with Carol for this man. Leave it to Carol to teach Morgan a thing or two about hand to hand combat. Their fight ends up being as vicious as predicted, with Carol really giving Morgan some hard knocks to the face. What we see in the finale between Carol and Morgan is the warring of their ideologies and how the fate of the Wolves will ultimately decide the fate of the village. Do you execute your enemies in cold blood to prove a point, or do you spare them and try to rehabilitate them to prove a point? It’s yet another echo of Dale Horvath, who had the same ideas in season two about the group’s hostage in Herschel’s farm. The problem is, is anyone really willing to risk lives for the sake of one person? Much as they try, Carol and Morgan can’t defy their own ways of survival, but they can’t really argue against the effectiveness of the other’s either, which is likely why Carol has such a hard time standing against Morgan with knife in hand. It’s just too bad Denise had to become live bait to allow the Wolf to leave.
Meanwhile Ron and Carl go head to head as Ron fails to trap Carl and murder him in the midst of the walkers creeping from all corners. If you fail to bring down Carl, then you seriously need to re-evaluate your existence and decide if you’re fit for this world. But Carl lays down the hard cold facts to Ron while taking his gun from him. I admittedly cackled when Carl pretty much compared Ron’s dad to his own implying perhaps his dad deserved to be put down. It’s telling of how much Carl has grown that he refuses to tell on Ron, mainly because it’s just not important at that moment.
No matter how much we try, we can’t put aside petty squabbles to get the bigger jobs done, and Carl shows Ron that none of what happened matters in the situation they’re in. And I don’t think Ron really wants to kill Carl, he just feels like there’s some kind of balance that needs to be struck, mainly for Jessie’s sake. One disappointing element of “Start to Finish”, if I had to pick one, is that the stakes aren’t raised yet again. Deanna death is not unexpected, leaving Rick with the town for himself, but no one else dies during the episode.
Everyone scatters and hides out in their houses quite well and Maggie is still pretty much stranded atop the perch near one of the standing walls, waiting for some kind of rescue team. It’s up to Glenn and Enid, now, to figure out how they’re going to get her down and out without drawing a major ruckus. Rick as always is an excellent leader when pushed against a wall, and devises the getaway in the finale that I was basically screaming for them to devise the moment the walkers cornered them in Jessie’s house, giving them a chance to slip out undetected, for the time being. With young Sam squawking into his mother’s ear while they’re trying to slip past the dead, who knows how far the group are actually going to get?
If you think no one could be as annoying as Carl, Sam has achieved the feat. He’s season two Carl levels of irritating. “Start to Finish” is about as tense and gut wrenching as hoped, acting as an end to a chapter that the show started in the final half of season five. As always, the mid-season finale of The Walking Dead leaves much in the air and sets the stage for the second half of season six, which will likely raise the stakes for other characters, especially as Rick Grimes figures out whether he wants to keep Alexandria and rule it, or leave it for the walkers once and for all. They already left behind one home. I think this one has to at least be fought for. The dust never clears for Rick Grimes and his group.
“Your property now belongs to Negan.”
See you next year, fans.