So here we are, at the half way point of this, THE WALKING DEAD season six. The mid season finale has always been a beacon to TWD fans, a beacon leading us out of the often dark and drab episodes that come prior. Because of this, there is an expectance that innately comes with such an episode. Did ‘Start to Finish’ live up to such billing? To such hopes? No. No it did not. But there were moments of interest here — well, MOMENT of interest at least. It wasn’t all doom and gloom.

The long and short of this episode was what you expected after last week’s cliff-hanger. The entire episode dealt with how the citizens of Alexandria reacted to the walls of their town falling and the walkers flooding in. The episodes story was essentially split between two sets of people.

The first contained Rick, Jess (her kids), Michonne, Diana, Carl and probably some others that I am forgetting. We watched them fleeing into Jess’s house with a wounded and bitten (oh no…) Deanna amongst them. A number of things happened between groaning zombies, sweaty glances and attending to a doomed Deanna. Nothing particularly pertinent however, not until Ron attacked Carl, his teen angst getting the best of him, or just — like the rest of us — wanting Carl to shut the hell up.

Unfortunately, the zombies interrupted their fight — after a window was broken during the ruckus — before Carl could be disposed of, causing Rick and co to step in. No intervention however could prevent the monsters from breaking into Jess’ house, resulting in the gang retreating upstairs. They quickly decided they had to leave the house — a smart decision obviously — there for leaving Deanna to end her own life. This wasn’t particularly sad, neither was Deanna, her death would have been far more interesting if she showed a remote sign of fear, but alas, she seemed happy or at least content to go. This “oh well, it’s time to die” death routine is getting a little old and frankly a little dull. Killing off characters no one cares about and having them not care either is not exactly a winning formula. KILL SOMEONE THAT MATTERS. PLEASE. The show needs stakes, not empty threats. Otherwise it’s all just things that happen.

Anyway, in order to escape the house, Rick and pals use the old tried and tested trick of covering themselves in walker guts to blend in. It worked for them before and it worked again here, the last we saw of them and indeed the last we saw of the entire episode was this core group disappearing into the hordes outside the house, their fate in the balance. I am sure they will be fine but I guess it will be kind of interesting to see where they go from there. All we can hope for is that they leave the town and then stay away from towns forever. They don’t work out, they’ve never worked out and the show is generally more engaging when they are on the road. Here’s hoping for more of that.

Now we get to the second main thread of this episode, the portion of ‘Start to Finish’ that focused on Morgan and Carol, who were at odds, hiding from the walkers while Morgan’s deception about his prisoner permeated events. They go back and forth a little, each making their case for what is right and wrong, on taking a life as opposed to preserving it. The meat of the exchange took place after Carol ran off to find the prisoner, unable for some reason — as Morgan also mentioned — to leave it for later. For some reason Carol is obsessed with ending the life of this psychopath, unable to hold herself back. This conflict presents an interesting moral dilemma and a pertinent one to our lives today. What should we do with the maniacs of the world? Should we resort to their barbaric level, eradicate them; end their lives so they can’t hurt anyone else? (“They made us kill”) Or should we — like Morgan would like — lock them up and defeat them with compassion. I have my stance on such subjects and I am sure you do to — that’s a conversation for a more important time and place than this. But it’s an interesting subject TWD is presenting to us and was by far the most engaging, thought provoking part of this episode.

Things eventually wrapped up with the prisoner escaping, using the fight that broke out between Carol and Morgan as a chance to free himself. This obviously sets up some rather intriguing and potentially very unfortunate circumstances. Morgan’s compassion and desire to rehabilitate might well lead to a lot of blood on his hands. Time will tell but it looks like Carol will come out of this looking a lot better (and smarter) than Morgan. We all know the rules of this new world and you have to think Morgan will be punished for breaking them.

My main qualm with this episode, and really the show in general, was all of the ‘Walking Dead conversations’, the chats and speeches about essentially nothing at all. Anyone who watches this show knows what I am talking about. The conversations between characters regarding things we already know, the character moments for the sake of having character moments. Just words to fill up the minutes. I love dialogue in film and TV, there is nothing wrong with a talky scene, but if you want to say something, then SAY SOMETHING, have it be for a reason. These moments between characters have to add something to proceedings, either salient information about the situation, the people or the themes of the show. Too often TWD has these moments. It’s a bore. It’s annoying. It’s not good TV. This show can do better. I hope it proves as much when part two of this season rolls around.

When TWD is firing, there isn’t much that’s better, but change is needed — this episode was another prime example of that — and a certain arch villain being introduced very soon might just add that special ingredient we need. God knows things need shaking up. I still have patience, thinning patience, but patience none the less. I want to like this show. I want to love it.  But God does it make it hard sometimes.


Film and TV Journalist

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