It’s the mid-season finale of ‘The Walking Dead’, and although this episode gives us a lot of Walker action and even offs a member of the Alexandria community, I can’t think of a more ineffective cliffhanger.
For reasons only the show-runners will be able to explain, this episode both begins and ends with Jessie’s young son Sam. He’s still hiding in his bedroom upstairs in Jesse’s house, and exits only to put nearly empty plates of food outside his door at the top of the stairs. He’s listening to Tiny Tim’s “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” on a record player, which may go a long way toward explaining why this kid has issues. There’s also a shot of a line of ants coming into the room to infest a half-eaten cookie on a plate. This is symbolism. It’s also a pretty silly opening.
The steeple of Alexandria’s church comes tumbling down, crashing into the outside wall and allowing hundreds of Walkers to enter. Immediately, our heroes scramble for safety as Rick yells to everyone to get inside their homes. Morgan and Carol run inside (though Carol gets a concussion in the process) to the top floor of the building where Morgan has the Wolf under guard (being watched by Nurse Denise). Maggie gets stuck on top of one of the wall lookout posts. Rosita and Tara save Eugene from getting bitten and find a garage to hunker down in. Rick has the biggest group gathered in Jessie’s home – including Carl, Ron, Michonne, Deanna, Gabriel, Sam (still upstairs of course), and Jessie herself.
Not long after all the characters find temporary shelter, Michonne discovers that Deanna has been bitten by a Walker in their fight to get inside Jessie’s house. As a result, much of the episode is spent watching Deanna slowly die and try to impart some last moments of wisdom to both Michonne and Rick. For those wondering what’s going on with Glenn, he and Enid are only seen a couple of times but never enter the community. Glenn does see Maggie when he climbs to the top of a tree overlooking Alexandria, but she doesn’t see him.
Ron and Carl get into a fight in Jesse’s garage. Ron swings a shovel at Carl but only manages to break a window and give Walkers access to the house. Rick comes running to save the day and they have to use a couch to block the door inside the house. Rick and Jesse ask the boys if they’ve been fighting, but Carl defends Ron. However, he then goes to Ron privately and pulls his gun on him, demanding that Ron turn over his own weapon. Not long afterward, the Walkers get access to the bottom floor of the house, forcing everyone to take refuge upstairs.
Rick decides that the only way any of them are going to get out of there alive is if they use Walker guts to cover themselves and mask their human smell – something that this series hasn’t done since way back in Season 1, even though there must have been dozens of opportunities to do so in the meantime. [Ed.: Carol also covered herself in Walker guts when she saved the group from Terminus in the Season 5 premiere. -JZ]
Meanwhile, Carol waits for Morgan to be distracted and makes a run for it – hoping to get to the Wolf and kill him to protect the others. However, Morgan gets there first and blocks Carol. Carol insists she’ll kill Morgan if she needs to. The two go at each other and Morgan knocks Carol out. This is just the distraction the Wolf needs. (Has this guy ever been given a name?) He proceeds to knock Morgan out and threaten Denise at knifepoint. Rosita, Tara and Eugene show up, but they surrender their weapons when the Wolf puts his knife at Denise’s throat. The Wolf then exits the building with Denise as his hostage.
The episode wraps up with Rick and his group exiting Jessie’s house covered in guts and moving slowly past all the Walkers. Left behind to die, Deanna uses the gun she intended to shoot herself with to take out a few Walkers of her own. (Does this mean she didn’t save a bullet for herself and she’ll turn?) The final scene has Sam – at the worst possible moment – trying to get his mother’s attention by yelling “Mom… Mom!” as they’re walking through the Walkers.
Daryl, Abraham and Sasha don’t appear in this episode, but fans were treated to an advance “prologue” to the second half of this season if they sat through the opening scene of AMC’s ‘Into the Badlands’ or just hung around and watched ‘The Talking Dead’. The scene has the trio driving along in their fuel truck when they come across a group of bikers in the middle of the road. The lead biker guy tells everyone to get out of the truck, and then informs them that they no longer own anything they have with them. When Sasha asks who owns their stuff, the biker dude says, “Your property now belongs to Negan.”
I may be in the minority here, but I wasn’t a big fan of this mid-season finale. I don’t think anything of note plot-wise really happened, unless of course you were a big fan/follower of the Deanna character. The show-runners might have been better off saving the big reveal about Glenn until this episode, since he didn’t have much to do here anyway. The bonus scene was interesting, as comic book readers already know what kind of person Negan is and which character he might kill in a future episode, but making loyal followers of the series stick around to see it was just a blatant ploy to boost ratings for ‘Into the Badlands’, and is a pretty desperate move by AMC to get people to tune into that show.
Also, I thought the whole cover-yourself-in-Walker-guts idea had been excised from this series because it would provide characters with too easy a method to escape dire situations. However, here we see it being used again – almost as if the writers found themselves in a corner they couldn’t figure a logical way to get out of. Now each and every time a similar situation comes up on the show and the characters don’t use this method, it’s going to seem stupid.
Am I wrong? Was there more here to enjoy than I thought? Or do you agree with me that this was a fairly lackluster way to wrap up the first half of Season 6?