The Walking Dead was hugely successful in heightening our expectations and creating anticipation in the first four episodes of season six. Unfortunately, in the last four episodes, all it’s done is delay our gratification. Last night’s midseason finale, “Start to Finish,” would’ve been a great episode if it had actually finished. There are a lot of pieces that have been set in motion, and we were so close to witnessing something huge happening, but the episode ended before quenching our bloodlust.
The series has a strong history when it comes to midseason finales, but this episode — written and directed, respectively, by The Walking Dead regulars, Matthew Negrete and Michael E. Satrazemis — ended with a thud. It’s as though The Walking Dead spent the first four episodes sprinting toward the finish line, and the last four episodes tiptoeing the last few feet. In the midseason finale, the show stood in front of the Finish Line Ribbon and twiddled its thumbs until the end credits rolled. To add insult to injury, TWD pushed the post-credits sequence into the first commercial break of the next show, which may be a smart promotional move for Into the Badlands, but it was a lousy way to treat viewers of The Walking Dead.
Many of the questions we have after the midseason finale can also double as concerns for the series going forward, because the last four episodes have felt like a step back for the series. When The Walking Dead kept the Governor alive in an obvious kill scenario and circled back around to spend another eight episodes finishing him off, it seemed the series had learned its lesson about trying our patience. Apparently not.
Here are our most pressing questions after last night’s frustrating midseason finale.
1. What was the deal with that cold open?
It wasn’t clear to everyone that it was a cookie on the plate (and not meat) that the ants were devouring as they crawled into a window. It was a not-so-subtle metaphor for what the zombie horde was doing to Alexandria, but it was also a callback to Carol’s “you’ll get lots of cookies” conversation with Sam after he caught her pilfering guns from the armory. In fact, Sam’s drawing was also a callback to that conversation.
It’s no wonder Sam is a disaster of a child. Carol traumatized the kid.
2. What the hell is wrong with Sam, anyway?
Sam is the perfect illustration of the difference between the people in Rick’s group and those in Alexandria, who have been sheltered from the outside. The kid is a whiny, cowardly mess who can’t even properly pretend to be brave. It says something that Judith — who is a baby — was being quieter stuck under Carl’s zombie-gut drenched poncho than Sam as they were walking out into the zombie herd. Shut up, kid. How can you go this long in a zombie apocalypse knowing so little about “the monsters?”
Also, Sam: How many times do you have to be told to turn off the damn music?
My favorite scene in the episode, in fact, was when Jessie — who was busy making zombie-gut shirts — turned around and seemed to suddenly realize, “Oh sh*t. I’ve got another kid, don’t I?” Sam was a few minutes away from playing the lead in the apocalyptic version of Home Alone.
3. Is Sam going to get everyone killed?
He’s going to get himself killed. Zombies are dumb, but they’re not dumb enough to mistake a boy crying for his Mommy for another zombie. It’s a shame the episode had to end where it did, because we were about 30 seconds away from seeing Sam devoured, and that — all by itself — would have atoned for an otherwise disappointing midseason finale. In the very slim chance that Sam escapes the zombie horde, the look on his mother’s face suggests that he’s going to be so grounded if he does make it out alive.
4. Is Ron even worse than Sam?
The entire Anderson family, save for Jessie, is terrible, and there’s no doubt that Ron is his father’s son, and by that, I mean he’s also an “asshole.” What is this whole stupid fight with Carl about, anyway? He wants to kill Carl over Enid? Ron is going to get his entire family killed over a girl? Is that the hill you want to plant your flag on, Ron? Also, maybe when there are zombies circling the house, don’t go making a racket by smashing a window with a shovel.