As expected, the mid-season finale of The Walking Dead gives us no time for an emotional reunion between Glenn and Maggie. It’s immediately chaos now that the walls of the safe zone are fractured. Walkers have taken over Alexandria and all anyone can do is run for their lives.
“Start to Finish” gives us something a bit different than the show’s typical violent zombie invasion storyline does. We see part of the episode through the eyes of Jessie’s son, Sam. Whether or not you like him as a character, seeing his panic at the onslaught of walkers is emotional. He is only a fragile little boy. Alexandria has sheltered him. He doesn’t have any experience with this violence. He doesn’t have a hardened spirit like Carl does. The few scenes with him do what Fear the Walking Dead never did – they make us feel the fear of realizing that your normal life is over and zombies are coming to eat your face.
It’s very easy to hear about horrible things happening. You think that you know what that experience like, but until it’s pounding at your door, you really have no idea. When those situations happens, you can either freeze, or, as Jessie tells Sam:
“Just pretend that you’re somebody who’s not scared.”
In truth though, everyone in Rick’s house is scared. During the first wave of the zombie invasion, a walker bites Deanna. The reality of her death has everyone rattled, even Rick.
Outside of the wall, Glenn is doing exactly that. He isn’t panicking, he’s problem solving. All he wants is to get back to his friends and to Maggie, who is pregnant – which is something we all guessed a few episodes back.
Carol and Morgan finally have their moment in this episode, as they go back and forth over the fate of the Wolf. She says she will kill Morgan to kill the Wolf because she doesn’t want anyone else to die. He doesn’t move aside and they fight. Morgan slams her on the ground and knocks her out. Five seconds later, the Wolf smacks him in the back of the head. He grabs a knife and is about to kill Denise, who was there to tend to his wound, when Tara, Rosita and Eugene walk in. To save Denise’s life, they put down their weapons. He takes Denise as his hostage anyway.
Michonne sits with Deanna as she dies. Deanna essentially tells Michonne that she needs to figure out what she’s fighting for. Fighting for the sake of survival isn’t enough. You need a goal. For Deanna, it was building a better future for her family. Michonne doesn’t say it, but her past conversations with Rick about wanting to make Alexandria work imply that she wants the same thing.
Later on, Deanna has words of wisdom for Rick. She tells him that he is an Alexandrian. These are his people and he is one of them. At first he disagrees, but as she goes on, he accepts it. This is similar to her words to Michonne. If humanity is going to survive, everyone needs to accept that they are all part of the same community. ‘Us and them’ can’t exist anymore, not in a community like Alexandria, at least.
Believing that they have no hope of survival anyway, Ron tries to kill Carl. In the ensuing struggle, Ron breaks open a window. The zombies quickly enter the house. Everyone manages to lock the zombies in one room. Carl doesn’t tell anyone about his fight with Ron.
The zombies eventually breach Rick’s house. He, Jessie, her kids, Michonne, Carl and Father Gabriel are all trapped inside. To escape, Rick tells everyone to cover themselves in bedsheets and zombie guts. This will mask their human scent.
They don’t want to leave Deanna to fend for herself, but she tells Michonne that when the time comes, she will end her own life. Her life is hers, from start to finish. As Michonne leaves, she tells Deanna:
“Thank you for believing.”
Deanna’s belief is something everyone should carry with them. She was a too much of an idealist, but that doesn’t mean that her belief in the future doesn’t have a place with Rick’s group. She’s right, they need to believe and build a future.
The episode closes with everyone who was in Rick’s house slowly walking into the horde. The scene leaves you wondering how many of them will survive to build that future. The last line of the episode is of a frightened Sam saying “mom.” It seems like a simple thing, a little boy looking to his mother for reassurance, but that one word could alert the zombies to their existence.
We won’t know if that happens until next year. Until then, speculate on the future of our survivors in the comments.