The Walking Dead: Start to Finish Review

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By Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

The Walking Dead is adapted from previous source material. This review is not meant to compare similarities and differences between the show and comic. It’s meant to be read purely as a take on the episode as it stands.

That being said, SPOILERS AHEAD.

“Someday this pain will be useful to you.”

The opening of “Start to Finish” sort of made sense. There was a slew of ants creeping in through a window and swarming a cookie while a song emphasizing “tiptoe through the window” played with an old-timey sound in Sam’s room. It felt a little heavy-handed within the context of the events playing out in the town. Zombies are literally walking through the opening in the fence—not “tip-toeing” or even hinting at a swarm. And the assault obviously caught the citizens off-guard, with all of them scrambling to and fro (much like ants when an ant-hill is destroyed).

Sam’s whole scenario is really just kind of annoying at this point. He’s secluded himself in his room as a reaction to dealing with the trauma he’s been forced to contend with.  It’s perfectly plausible that not every child in the apocalypse would react the same way. It feels as if the show is trying to bludgeon viewers in regard to the blissful ignorance that the members of the community have been living with. That point has been pervasive throughout the entirety of the season so far, so much so that it’s lost much of its dramatic impact.

The invasion attempted to restore some of that dramatic impact. All the survivors outside were forced to adjust and run for cover with most of them doing alright. Deanna wasn’t so lucky though, as she suffered quite a few injuries that were punctuated by a Walker bite. That incident—when coupled with Glenn’s miraculous (seriously) survival—just reinforces the notion that the core survivors are more or less invincible. This season has been very successful at picking off the Alexandria survivors one by one while not really raising the stakes for Rick’s group.

It’s understandable that anyone from Rick’s group dying would be major, as evidenced by the Glenn incident earlier in the season. But not making them any vulnerable cheapens the deaths of other characters and makes the show more predictable. When the stakes are established so firmly, the characters don’t really feel as if they’re fighting for anything genuine. Sure, the group needs to fight their way out of a horde of zombies, yet the assumption is that certain people have a better chance of surviving…and not just because of their better survival skills.

For instance, the scuffle between Carl and Ron in the garage is a microcosm of the season as a whole. Ron (the naïve Alexandria citizen) thinks he knows better and pulls a gun on Carl. Carl is more seasoned and fights him. Ron doesn’t really know any better and ends up shattering a glass door and drawing a crowd of Walkers toward them. Rick comes to the rescue and gets them out of it, Carl lies to protect Ron (before disarming him at gunpoint), and the group fortifies the house they’re in. All of this is punctuated by Deanna passing the torch to Rick and requesting he take over leadership of all the citizens.

One of the more interesting groupings was Carol and Morgan. Morgan essentially saved Carol after she slipped and fell. Carol had difficulty being with Morgan in light of the inquisition she was part of when confronting him about his actions during the attack. Her insistence to find out his secret despite the madness happening outside was a little frustrating, though. She basically tricked Morgan to race down and find out about her prisoner, prompting the two of them to square off while the settlement is literally falling down around them.

This course of action seemed a little myopic on Carol’s part. She fiercely protects the members of her group at all costs, but it seems a little counterintuitive that she would do so when the greater good is being threatened. Carol has clearly proven she’s ruthless when necessary, but there has to be the expectation that Morgan would disarm her in a heartbeat. And why would Carol’s fierce loyalty blind her to the threat in the prisoner still in the room with him? She had to have had the foresight to know that if Morgan and Carol fought that maybe the prisoner could escape in the chaos.

Even furthering the somewhat ridiculous nature of the scenario, the prisoner has been spending all his time in captivity threatening Morgan. He’s made repeated threats against him and those in the community. Yet when the prisoner has the upper hand and could take out five key members of the group (Carol included), he just escapes. For him to not kill them all despite having two guns is contradictory to his nature.

The biggest event in the episode was Rick going into the playbook to dress up in Walker guts to move among them. It worked before and there was a good chance it would work again, with all of them making their way to the armory. Previously when it was done, the group was significantly smaller. The fact that this run was with a much larger group does add quite a bit more intrigue to their plan, but at what point do people start questioning Rick’s leadership?

It’s clear that someone has to make the decisions and Rick has shown he’s not hesitant to do so. And most (if not all) of his decisions have generally worked out with a few casualties here and there. The thing is that they’re now dressed in Walker innards to wade through a horde of zombies that are essentially there because of another one of Rick’s plan. His initial plan to draw the horde away was pretty clever and might have worked had the settlement not been beset upon, but you have to wonder when the survivors will no longer tolerate his decisions.

The ending of “Start to Finish” left plenty of questions to be answered. The group’s idyllic settlement has been destroyed and the constant they were fighting to build has been destroyed. Daryl, Abraham, and Sasha are still out in the wild. Glenn and Enid are trying to get back in. Rick and a bulk of the survivors are trying to get to the armory. The episode as a whole felt a little clumsy, as if it was trying to pull too many threads at once. Hopefully, when the show picks back up again things will get a little more focused.

Rating: 3 out of 5


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