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THE WALKING DEAD Review: “Start to Finish”

Beware of Spoilers! Proceed with caution, survivors. This review contains spoilers for the mid-season finale of The Walking Dead.

If you’re in the market for real estate, you should know that the property values just went way down in Alexandria… Seriously, the moment that tower collapsed at the end of “Heads Up,” we knew our heroes would be in for it. And in that regard, this week’s episode of The Walking Dead doesn’t disappoint. There are moments in “Start to Finish” where we’re all but convinced Carol, Maggie, and Denise are done for. Yet, part of me, can’t help but think we would have been completely convinced if it weren’t for Glenn’s fake-out death. Looking back on this half season, it seems that was the one story element that hurt the pact the show long ago made with viewers: it lessened our ability to trust The Walking Dead when it comes to the mortality of its characters. But there’s still enough tension in “Start to Finish” to fuel a dozen lesser shows, starting with the eerie playing of “Tiptoe through the Tulips” — the meaning of which only becomes clear when Rick and co. cover themselves in walker blood to cut through the horde that’s enveloped their town. Not at all unlike the ants carpeting Sam’s half-eaten cookie.

Amidst the mayhem, the show finds a way to bring Morgan and Carol’s philosophical differences to a head. Almost. I would have preferred that Morgan’s charity case hadn’t knocked him out after he clobbered Carol, since it wound up shifting the focus to a more mundane hostage situation with Denise. And Tara was way too quick to drop her gun, given that the show’s established 1.) She has a thing for Denise, and 2.) She’s an impeccable marksman.

Elsewhere, Ron changes his mind about killing Carl and decides instead to kill everybody… by alerting the walkers to their presence. Carl really steps up to the plate in this episode, taking a page from his dad’s book (when his dad’s not half crazy), and tries to talk Ron down rather than kill him. In the end, he succeeds in getting Ron to give him his gun by not ratting him out to Rick and Jessie. Though methinks Ron — or Sam (who can’t seem shut up when tiptoeing through a hundred zombies) — isn’t long for this world. Because somebody’s got to pay the price for the reuse of the walker-blood escape plan. After all, if it works every time it’s used, then it, like the Glenn fake-out, only robs the show of its believability and impact. Otherwise what’s to stop everyone from just walking around in walker blood all the time?

But I’ll reserve judgment until The Walking Dead returns in January for its midseason premiere and the resolution of this story. Will Rick’s group make it? Will Glenn reunite with Maggie? Will Denise survive? How long can Judith keep quiet underneath a sweaty heavy poncho caked with walker blood? Like Deanna, the show just needs to finish what it started.

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Undead Afterthoughts

— I suspect Morgan haters were not converted by the events of this episode, especially when he took down everyone’s sweetheart, Carol.

— “This is how it happens. And it always happens Glenn.” Enid can be annoying, but she speaks the truth.

The Walking Dead‘s sound effects team doesn’t get enough love, and their work is exemplary this week. These walkers sound like dying pigs.

— “Just pretend you’re somebody who’s not scared.” I.E. pretend you’re not my son… Both times Jessie said this to Sam I laughed out loud.

— Great to see more of Michonne again this week. She’s far and away the most underused character of the season thus far. Fingers crossed Deanna’s advice inspires her to take a greater leadership role moving forward.

— “You need to know something. Your dad was an asshole.” Thank you for telling it like it is, Carl.

— Deanna appreciates Rick’s beard! Apparently Tara is the only woman on the show immune to his charms.

— While I’ll miss Congresswoman Monroe, Tovah Feldshuh will live on in a recurring role as Rachel Bloom’s mom in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.

— Was anyone else reminded of the finale to Toy Story 3 when everyone held hands at the end of this episode?

What did you think of this week’s episode? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@JMaCabre).

Image Credit: AMC

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