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The Walking Dead Mid-Season Finale Recap: “Start to Finish”

Someday, this pain will be useful to you...


Well, kids, part one of season 6 has officially wrapped up. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out my recaps of the other episodes this season. As always, there will be spoilers ahead, so read on at your own risk.

This week was action-packed. Though the first half of this season hasn’t spanned a large amount of time (only a couple days, really), there have been some major changes for our group and Alexandria as a whole. Let’s talk about it, and a bit of what’s to come.

We started this episode where last week left off with the walls of Alexandria collapsing letting a giant horde of walkers in. It’s been quite some time since we’ve seen the group face off with a group of walkers this large, and it’s a safe bet that most Alexandrians have never seen this many walkers in one place. Maggie proves that she has the largest upper body strength in all the land, pulling herself up onto a platform away from a surging crowd of walkers. She essentially spend the entire episode there. Glenn and the oh-so-whiny Enid do end up back at Alexandria, and Glenn spots Maggie far off on the platform, still fighting off walkers like a champ, and he throws a meaningful look her way. Sadly, it AMC did not get us a Maggie and Glenn reunion for Christmas.

Meanwhile in Alexandria, smaller groups break out as the walker herd descends on Alexandria. Rick, Michonne, Deanna, Carl, Ron, Jessie, and Sam break off together, Morgan and Carol are together (with Denise in the basement and that damn Wolf), and Rosita, Eugene, and Tara break off.

Rosita and Tara do a lot of Eugene-saving, Rosita mentions how she fears Abraham is dead (oh, it’s awkward), and the three—well, two because we know Eugene doesn’t do much—engage in a failed Denise rescue attempt. Apart from that, we don’t see much of those three apart from knowing they’ve survived the collapse.

Morgan and Carol, meanwhile, spend most of their time fighting. Carol wants the Wolf Morgan is keeping dead, and Morgan won’t let her kill his prisoner. He tries to convince her to let the Wolf live, saying that they are no better than the Wolves if they kill. Carol responds by saying the Wolves—and, presumably, people she’s encountered like the Wolves—make her kill. Her point being that  these bad guys are so awful they leave good people no other option but to kill them. So, Carol basically sums up the entire fandom’s issue with Morgan’s “all life has value” mantra. Morgan and Carol fight, and Morgan ends up knocking Carol out. It’s clear on his face that he INSTANTLY regrets his choice (not to mention the fact that he just KO’d one of Alexandria’s best walker fighters), and his regret is doubled when the Wolf knocks Morgan out, takes Denise as hostage, and escapes.

I can officially say that I am frustrated beyond belief with Morgan. His character progression has been fascinating to watch, but I’m so tired of his new lifestyle putting literally EVERYONE at risk. I appreciate Morgan doing everything he can to keep a firm grasp on his humanity, but I fear that all he’s ultimately doing is making naive choices that will crush him and the entire group. I’m curious, especially with the introduction of Negan and the Saviors (we’ll talk about them in a second), how Morgan will fare in the second half of the season.

Over at Rick’s group, the group makes a startling discovery once they are safe in Jessie’s house: Deanna has been bitten. As they decide what move to make next, and as they allow Deanna some time to process that her life will soon be over, Ron and Carl are in the basement having the worst-timed fight in the history of ever. Last week’s episode ended with Ron very clearly intending to shoot Carl. Ron holds a lot of anger towards Carl and Rick, with Rick killing Ron’s dad, and Carl having a strange relationship with Ron’s girlfriend, Enid. I had hoped that the ginormous walker herd would sway Ron’s teenage bursts of anger, but it only served to amplify it. Ron attacks Carl and tries to shoot him, breaking windows and letting walkers in the house in the process. When Rick asks Carl if everything was okay in the basement between the two boys, Carl assures Rick that everything is fine. Carl then goes into the other room with Ron, lays the verbal smack down on Ron. While Carl managed to diffuse the situation for the moment, I feel very certain that we haven’t seen the last of murderous Ron.

Back at the grown-ups table, Deanna and Michonne have several heartfelt conversations. True to Walking Dead style, Deanna gets very wise in her final moments. She lets us know what the Latin phrase written on the Alexandria plans means—someday this pain will be useful to you—and she encourages Michonne to not only carry on, but to find what she really wants in life, both for the greater good and for herself. This is an especially meaningful charge for Michonne, since she only recently began to open herself up to living, not just surviving. After the group lost the prison, Michonne immediately clicked back into survival mode, but I think that Deanna’s words will keep Michonne striving to truly live and do good in the world, even after Alexandria is long gone. Frankly, I couldn’t think of a better leader than Michonne.

Deanna also has some very wise words for the Ricktatorship himself. She asks him to take care of her son and the rest of Alexandria as if they were his people. When he starts to protest, she stops him, saying that they already are his people. She essentially hands the reins of the city over to Rick, letting him know that he’ll be a great leader, but he has to look out for everyone—even the painfully inept Alexandrians. Honestly, I think Rick will have a hard time with this, but I think that Michonne will prove to be a helpful ally as they work to keep one another save.

Deanna “goes out with her boots on”, as they say. Just as she’s about to shoot herself in the head, she uses her last few bullets to take out walkers descending upon her room, and then screams in the face of the horde as they attack her. I’ll be honest, I never loved Deanna, but her journey reminded me a lot like that of Beth Greene’s—only shorter. Like Beth, Deanna started out as a character that I really couldn’t stand. She was a liability, she was naive, and she made things more difficult. However, she did some serious, rapid evolving this season. After suffering some crazy personal tragedies, Deanna managed to pull herself up, find some internal strength, and managed to fight until her final breath. I didn’t have time to fall in love with her character, but I was starting to like her and I most certainly wish I could have gotten to know her better. I think that, like Beth, Deanna would have become a favorite of mine, and a pretty formidable walker fighter. It makes sense, story-wise, that she had to die, but I’m sad we didn’t get more of her.

Of course, the episode doesn’t end there. Rick and the group decide to escape the house using the famous “wearing walker guts” trick. As they’re leaving the house, Jessie’s son, Sam (who has creepily been listening to that shiver-inducing song, “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” on repeat) begins to freak out. Its understandable. Sam’s a kid who has lost his dad and watched his mom kill people in their kitchen. The kiddo is dealing with some serious PTSD, but unfortunately those who can’t easily adapt and “be strong” in this world are a deadly liability. Though Jessie helps Sam “pretend to be brave” and gets him in a walker guts suit, the episode ends with him beginning to freak out in the middle of the herd, calling out for his mom. I just can’t see that ending well, can you?

While things look bleak for Jessie, the two minute prologue to season 6 part II was particularly ominous. Sasha, Abraham, and Daryl are stopped by a group of men on motorcycles (men from The Saviorsspoilers in link—as confirmed by Robert Kirkman on Talking Dead), and instructed to hand over all of their possessions. When they ask why, they are informed that all of their belongings belong to the one and only Negan. (Spoilers in link.)

Without getting into Negan-related spoilers here, I’ll just say that introducing Negan and The Saviors means things are going to get INTENSE on The Walking Dead. It’s unclear how quickly we’ll meet Negan, and how much of the Saviors we’ll actually see this season (Remember last season when we didn’t see anything substantive of Morgan until the season finale? Who knows how long they’ll make us wait to see The Saviors again). I am excited about the actor that will be bringing Negan to life, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who is the perfect actor for the role of Negan. Though I am terrified about what craziness Negan will bring into our world, I know that he will do a fantastic job. Still, I’m super nervous about what the second half of the season will bring …

So what did you think of the mid-season finale? What do you think will happen to Denise? How do you think Rick and Michonne will proceed now that Deanna is dead and Alexandria is largely destroyed? What will happen to the Wolves now that the Saviors are around? What are your thoughts about Negan and the Saviors? Is Ron gonna shoot Carl? Are they all gonna die because Sam is Mr. Chatty Kathy in the walker herd? Will Glenn and Maggie ever reunite? Let me know this and any other thoughts you have about the episode in the comments! 

(image via AMC)

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Kendall is a geek, gamer, bookworm, Netflix binger, and an awkward ballerina who still has a secret dream of becoming an ass-kicking superhero in the movies. If it has a zombie in it, she's probably interested.