Last mid-series finale saw Beth taking a bullet to the brain and then series four saw Herschel losing his head over the Governor’s attack on the prison, so in that respect ‘Start to Finish’ was a pretty weak note to leave us on for the mid-series break. However, it wasn’t exactly a bad episode either. Had this been just a regular episode, I would probably have given it five stars, but with The Walking Dead’s track record for quality mid-season finales it can only been seen as middle-grounding in comparison.
That being said, there were some fantastic moments in this week’s episode that kept us guessing right up until the last second. One such scene was when Deanna was leaning over Judith’s crib and Rick nearly takes a hatchet to her head. It honestly seemed like everybody’s favourite post-apocalyptic baby was about to meet her untimely demise and in all honesty, not many of us expected to see her last this long. But thankfully this wasn’t the case! The whole scene was shot perfectly: a distant cry alerting Rick to her potential danger whilst he and the others were already dealing with the tense walker situation downstairs, going to a shot of the weak and already pale Deanna leaning over the cot whilst Judith wasn’t making a sound, to her timely response just before Rick almost took her out of her misery. A lot can be said about how ‘Start to Finish’ compares to the show’s past mid-series finales, but you cannot criticise it for its lack of intense moments like this one.
Whilst we’re on the subject of Deanna’s death, although it did allow for some quite nice sentimental final conversations, the overuse of these meant that at times the episode lost its momentum. The first conversation was with Rick and despite it being wedged in what was arguably one of the more intense scenes of the episode, it was a redirection that actually worked and gave her character some poignant final few lines. However, when a similar interaction between her and Michonne takes place shortly afterwards, its retraction from the action was one that was irreversibly damaging to episode’s momentum. Had they combined the two conversations together they would have been able to avoid this issue whilst also enabling Deanna to make her parting impact on these two primary characters, which I assume will become necessary to later parts of the plot. It feels a little disingenuous to imply that Deanna’s death was impactful in the wrong way, but it did have a somewhat detrimental impact on the narrative.
Another of the elements of ‘Start to Finish’ that leaves the viewer feeling conflicted is the way in which the whole Carol/Morgan/Wolf situation was handled. Carol’s ruse of acting like she had concussion in order to get into Morgan’s home was a great example of one of the characteristics many fans love about her. However, the odd fact that she turned out the light to alert him of her deception leaves a bad taste in your mouth. This taste doesn’t exactly go away either, since as a result of this Morgan stops Carol from killing the Wolf, and this allows him to escape and to even take Denise as his prisoner. Why this psychopath would want to leave the safety of the building whilst the town is full of walkers I’ll never know, but he does it anyway. Morgan was a fool to keep him prisoner in the first place, but hopefully the events of ‘Start to Finish’ will have knocked some sense into him (literally). It’s getting a little tiresome to hear Carol and Morgan quarrel about if they should kill other people or not, so I hope that this episode doesn’t signal the return of the Wolves and hence reviving this worn-out discussion should Morgan not change his mind.
Anyway, Morgan won’t have time to be a pacifist after what, or more specifically who, was revealed in the prelude for the next half of the series. Negan is confirmed and his Saviours have already come into contact with Daryl, Abraham and Sasha. If the group thought the Governor, the Termites or even the Wolves were bad, they’re in for a big surprise with what is coming! The next half of the series should be fantastic depending on when Negan is revealed, although I would hazard a guess that he will not appear until the series finale. Let’s hope that Lucille isn’t too thirsty for blood by that stage…