‘The Walking Dead’ Fall Finale Falls Flat From Start To Finish (TV REVIEW)

[rating=4.00] “Start To Finish”

Keeping with the tradition of exceedingly disappointing Fall finales (I refuse to use the term mid-season finale and place the blame for this term’s very existence directly on AMC), the sixth season’s midway point begins with a dialogue-free scene where Sam, Jessie’s youngest kid, sits adorned with plastic embodiments of a typical childhood, coloring away while brushing aside an ant. As the camera pans toward the window, we see there are dozens, if not hundreds, swarming inside his room. It’s this kind of subtlety-via-sledgehammer approach that such an insultingly obtuse metaphor that would make even the most pretentious art film devote’ roll their bespectacled eyes.

As promised, with the endless setup recycling the point that Alexandrians aren’t capable of survival in the new post-end-of-the-world world, we get nothing in terms of payoff, other than an ample amount of cliffhangers and further unresolved plotlines. Most of the top-billed cast and featured guest stars convene together inside Jessie’s house. Morgan and Carol get separated along with Denise and the captive Wolf. Rosita, Tera, and Eugene make it into a garage, where Eugene FINALLY contributes something meaningful to the group – he picks a lock (smashing the door in would’ve hurt potential resale value, I assume).

Glenn and Enid, meanwhile, are still outside, watching the chaos unfold. Glenn formulates a plan as Enid spews out more of her sulky teenage bullshit. Not to forget about Maggie (although it sure seems like the show sure as hell has), who makes a dramatic climb up a ladder to a crow’s nest, leading to another one of The Walking Dead’s famous overhead shots to symbolize hopelessness. Some TV critics may look at this particular moment as a callback to Glenn’s being abandoned back in the prison. I am not one of them.

So, once everyone’s done falling down and hurting themselves as they barely make it to shelter, we get more slow-motion shots of Sam, clearly not able to handle the chaos unfolding around him, complete with a creepy, slowed-down “Tiptoe Through The Tulips” in an attempt to add a layer of genuine horror to a bunch of sporadic yelling that echoes the tedium of Lori and Andrea arguing about who’s doing laundry back in the second season. Also, Tiny Tim’s rendition played at regular speed would’ve sufficed.

As the fringe group of Rosita, Tera, and Eugene being as not interesting as they’ve been since they were introduced (the lock picking notwithstanding) stumble open Morgan getting yet another chance to prove how idiotic his newfound philosophy is, which ends with the captive Wolf escaping with Denise as a hostage, and everyone else suddenly afraid of taking a headshot.

So, with Deanna bitten and succumbing to fever, she bonds with Michonne over her plans for the future of Alexandria, there’s a mini-brawl between Carl and Ron that does nothing but drive a bunch of angry zombies who suddenly seem uncharacteristically adept at getting into places. All of this all leads us back to the tried-and-true method of wearing zombie guts to move undetected through the herds towards the armory, but not before Sam will undoubtedly ruin it for everyone, which wouldn’t be a surprise, given his parental guidance has all been based on the idea of pretending to be brave.

Of course, the post-credits scene is what everyone is buzzing about, where Daryl, Abraham and Sasha are stopped by a gang of bikers, demanding all of their stuff. Seems like it would’ve been an excellent time for Abraham to use that rocket launcher he’d just acquired, but The Walking Dead has gotten away with being inconsistent this long, pointing it out now is simply an exercise in futility. Oh, yeah, and Negan’s coming – but we already knew that.

Until February, everyone!

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