From start to finish, nothing much happened in ‘Start to Finish’. Sure, there was a death and humans shuffled around the deadly zombie shufflers invading Alexandria, but for a mid-season finale, there was a whole lot of nothing happening, along with the predictable playout of certain scenarios. It would be one thing if more was to come next week to wrap up what was going on here, but now we have to wait until February and it feels like a shame compared to how things started.
Still looking at the results of the million walker march that Darth Rick started back in the premiere episode, we now take time to follow a bunch of people having the same old conversations they always have, when pinned down by walkers. “Is so-and-so still alive?” “What are we really fighting for?” “Please take care of this after I’m gone,” and so forth. For a show that has done a lot to really improve and find new ways to tackle situations, it is a shame that this episode feels like The Walking Dead is stalling.
Breaking things up into pieces, Rick managed to get to safety with Carl, Michonne, Father Gabriel, Deanna and the rest of dead drunk dad’s family. Deanna got injured and bitten, so we all had time to prepare for a one-on-one scene, where she talks slowly to another person, while low-key dramatic music plays. Meanwhile, Ron has gone from annoyed by Carl to super depressed about life and their situation, which leads to a hilariously ill-timed boy fight. Walkers are signaled and it eventually forces Rick and the gang to defend themselves on the second floor of a house.
The tension involving the zombie attack scenes is well done as usual, but there is way too much time spent on getting to this moment and following it up with the supposedly important scene that ends the episode. For a show I constantly call out for its lack of subtlety, getting slow motion shots of Rick and the crew walking around with walker guts all over them only does so much, especially when realizing how much story this episode lacked in the 45 minutes leading up to this point.
If you don’t believe me, let’s look elsewhere. How about Maggie? Well too bad. She somehow is first seen stumbling around in the grass and then makes it to safety. We never worried she would die and it simply allows Glenn to get a look at her from a distance. Maybe moving on to Tara, Eugene and Rosita makes more sense. Well, after holding the fort in a garage and dealing with that old conversation about what it takes to make it in this world, they head out and are later immediately disarmed, thanks to Morgan’s poor life choices.
There would probably be more praise for this episode if it did not fail so hard on the Morgan/Carol showdown that many had probably looked forward to. They begin this episode fleeing for safety, only to have Carol get injured by randomly falling down (randomly falling down could be its own hilarious YouTube reel for this show; get on that internet!). Once getting inside, we get a lot of decent conversation between the show’s most compelling characters, before Carol pulls one over on Morgan and finds the Wolf being treated by Dr. Denise.
In a better episode/show, something interesting could have happened in how this plays out. Sure, seeing Morgan and Carol fight is the kind of geeky moment that could get anyone excited, but the results are so uninteresting. Morgan knocks Carol out and the Wolf takes advantage and knocks Morgan out. Nothing is learned by anyone and Dr. Denise may die, because the Wolf takes her as a hostage. Morgan and Carol will likely have more words to say later, but Morgan is definitely losing his cool points.
There is something to be said for the way Rick’s choices have all led to this point in the show. Alexandria may or may not recover from this walker infestation, but one could find the dramatic irony in Rick’s attempt to stop it from happening, only to see it happen exactly in the way he didn’t want. Unfortunately, rather than provide a clearer focus on that aspect, we just get a rundown of how a few sets of characters are dealing with this event and unfortunately story is sacrificed in the process. This is an episode that is deceptive in the way we think things are happening because a lot of walkers are involved, but nothing actually moved along all that much.
Instead, the results are a fairly minimal number of non-walker deaths and a bunch of annoying characters that we may or may not have to deal with for much longer when the show resumes in 2016. That is a shame. The season started off with a bang and kept that momentum going through the first half. Then it stumbled with the unnecessary need to stretch out the Glenn thing and following that up with dumb Alexandrian characters and a mid-season finale that stumbles harder than a walker trying to climb up some stairs.
At least the prologue for the second half of the season provided some excitement. Then again, having more story progression in the break during Into the Badlands than in the actual episode can’t be the best of signs. Let’s hope the dead walk more efficiently this coming spring.