After last week’s fairly weak episode of The Walking Dead, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this week’s midseason finale – but I have to admit that I was actually pretty pleased with “Start to Finish”.
I still think they’re trying a bit too hard at times – the opening sequence with Sam and the music and the ants seemed like a bit of a time-waster, especially when Walking Dead fans had to sit through the first seven-ish minutes of Into the Badlands in order to catch a two-minute “prologue” to the midseason premiere.
That said, they still crammed a lot into this episode, and most of it was actually pretty darn good, especially considering some of the mistakes they’ve made throughout the past seven episodes. The one issue I have with “Start to Finish” is that, as a midseason finale, I was expecting a bit more in terms of cliffhangers, though I will admit that part of that is that, as a comic book reader, I think it’s easy to have at least a vague idea (and probably a bit more than that) of where they’re going next.
Tension certainly ran high throughout this episode, as we watched several groups of characters try to figure out how to escape a seemingly inescapable situation. Despite Deanna getting on my nerves lately, I absolutely loved her in “Start to Finish”. Maybe it’s because we knew fairly early on that she was bitten and therefore doomed to die; honestly I can be a bit morbid like that. But even though some of her moments with Rick seemed stilted and awkward, there were a few truly memorable ones, and on top of that she had some amazing interactions with Michonne. I also really liked that she insisted on wanting to take her own life when she was ready, and although I kind of wish that, for her own good, she’d actually just done the deed, it also made sense for her to go a bit crazy at the end there.
Probably the most frustrating situation was the one that Morgan created. I get it, writers, he’s really into the idea that all life is precious…but now because of him Carol is hurt (and unconscious, to boot), he’s not in the greatest shape himself, and the Wolf guy is out in the open with poor Denise as his prisoner. I’m torn between wanting her to get away somehow and not wanting to get my hopes up too much, because he’s insane, she was only just starting to come into her own, and um, last we saw them they were wandering out into zombie-infested Alexandria.
In my opinion the scenes with Tara, Rosita, and Eugene were the weakest part of “Start to Finish”. I really only cared about what was happening with them when they collided with the Wolf guy and Denise, and then mostly because of the expression on Tara’s face as she watched Denise being led to her [likely] death. Otherwise it was just a bit too much doom and gloom from Rosita compounded by Tara being over-the-top hopeful. (Especially when the seemingly unnecessary scene between Glenn and Enid featured the same two polarities in attitude.) Seriously, sometimes this show really forces characters into keyholes and honestly that’s when it’s at its most boring and forgettable.
Although hey, at least we now know that it was Eugene who Daryl heard over the radio at the end of “Always Accountable”, right?
As previously mentioned, while I was a bit disappointed in this episode’s ‘cliffhangers’, there was a lot of great tension, including Maggie’s narrow escape. But of course most of that tension was focused around what was going on in Jessie’s house, mainly Ron and Carl’s fight and of course the eventual exodus of everyone who’d been hiding in that house. Even covered in zombie guts I was surprised they made it as far as they did, though Sam calling out for his mom at the very end does not bode well for how the second half of the season will start when The Walking Dead returns in February.
And as for that prologue? I was hoping that it would bring us back to Alexandria, but I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised that instead it gave us a glimpse at Daryl, Sasha, and Abraham, who ran into some trouble of their own in the form of Negan’s gang. Personally I think this particular scene would have had more oomph had it been placed elsewhere in the episode, especially right before Rick and the others left Jessie’s house, but then AMC wouldn’t have been able to make us watch the first part of Into the Badlands. (Seriously, that was a cheap trick and yes I’m going to be annoyed about it for a while.)
In the end my general consensus is that while I can’t help but feel a bit let down by “Start to Finish” as midseason finales go, as I’ve already stated the episode was better than I expected, to the point of actually being good. I’d love to hear other viewers’ thoughts – was this a satisfying conclusion to the first half of the season? Is anyone else frustrated with these characters who seem to be entrenched on either side of the doom and gloom versus overly hopeful spectrum? Let us know in the comments!
Author: Tara Lynne
Tara Lynne is an author, fandom and geek culture expert, and public speaker. She founded Ice & Fire Con, the first ever Game of Thrones convention in the US, and now runs its parent company Saga Event Planning.
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