Spoiler Warning for this week’s episode of “The Walking Dead.”

Father Gabriel and the group try to escape the herd. (Photo courtesy of AMC.)
Father Gabriel and the group try to escape the herd. Photo courtesy of AMC

This is the episode that the entire season has been building up to. The herd of walkers have infiltrated Alexandria and major conflicts come to a head. Being that this episode is the mid-season finale, tragedy and horror strike our band of characters and mass chaos ensues.

Last week’s episode ended with the massive cliffhanger of the lookout tower collapsing and bringing part of the wall with it. This episode begins with an incredibly eerie scene involving Jessie’s young son, Sam, who is completely terrified of the outside world. The song “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” plays as Sam colors a picture of himself tied to a tree (an allusion to Carol’s threat to him last season). In his room, a line of ants are shown crawling on to a leftover cookie (yet another allusion to Carol). This line of ants is meant to symbolize the walkers and foreshadow the coming events.

A new camera angle of the tower collapse is shown, followed by the invasion of the herd. This moment is the catalyst for all events in the rest of the episode. As the walkers swarm in, Rick furiously screams at everyone to run to their homes. Deanna and Rick begin shooting at the walkers, however, Rick orders her to flee for safety to which she ignores. Walkers begin swarming Deanna causing her to fall on a metal saw blade. Rick quickly helps her up and the two limp down a street in search of refuge. Michonne, Carl, Ron and Gabriel join them and fight walkers as they rush down the street. Jessie notices their struggle and begins shooting walkers before ushering everyone into her house.

Maggie is left on her own as she battles walkers and stumbles to the lookout post near the gate. An incredibly tense sequence follows as Maggie struggles to climb a ladder up to the post. She finally makes it up to the post where she is left exhausted, lying on her back and looking at Glenn’s green balloons in the sky. Meanwhile, a frightened Eugene, equipped only with a machete, picks up Rick’s walkie-talkie and says “help,” revealing the mystery cliffhanger from “Always Accountable.” Tara and Rosita rescue Eugene and the trio flee into a nearby garage, leaving the walkers pounding on the door. Rosita fears that this invasion will be the end of Alexandria and believes that Abraham is dead, however, Tara immediately shuts this down and tries to lighten the mood. Eugene is able to pick at a lock, allowing the three to escape the garage. From outside the walls, Glenn and Enid watch in terror as the herd flow into Alexandria. Enid believes this to be the end for everyone left inside, but Glenn believes that they must help and formulates a plan of climbing over the wall.

On the main floor of an Alexandria townhouse, Carol and Morgan have escaped the herd; however, Carol appears to have suffered from a concussion. One floor below, Denise and the Wolf sit and talk. The Wolf shows Denise his infected wound prompting her to begin treating it, albeit cautiously. Carol, completely aware that Morgan is hiding something, tricks him and sneaks downstairs where she orders Denise away from the Wolf. Morgan rushes down and stands in front of the Wolf, protecting him from Carol. Throughout the episode, Carol and Morgan argue about allowing the Wolf to live. Armed with a knife, Carol threatens to kill Morgan in order to kill the Wolf, therefore, preventing anyone else from dying. Morgan uses his staff to strike Carol’s knife out of her hands and the two begin physically fighting. Morgan throws Carol to the ground, knocking her unconscious. The Wolf manages to grab Morgan’s staff and uses it to knock him unconscious; he then uses the knife to hold Denise hostage as Tara, Rosita and Eugene rush in. The Wolf demands their guns and slowly walks out of the house into the walker-infested streets with Denise still hostage. Melissa McBride and Lennie James gave incredible performances as Carol and Morgan with both characters essentially being complete opposites. What will the Wolf do with Denise? How will Carol react when she wakes up?

Carol and Morgan fight about the Wolf as Denise watches. (Photo courtesy of AMC.)
Carol and Morgan fight over the Wolf as Denise watches. (Photo courtesy of AMC.)

Back at Jessie’s house, Michonne and Rick rush to treat Deanna’s wounds. Sam watches in complete horror as he slowly begins to realize what is happening. Michonne is able to treat a gash on Deanna’s leg, but suddenly discovers a bite on her side. Deanna realizes what this means and spends the rest of the episode imparting wisdom on the characters. Michonne shares with Deanna that she believes the plans for Alexandria’s expansion are possible. In Jessie’s garage, Ron and Carl argue about Rick; Ron believes that Rick is going to get everyone killed, to which Carl responds by reminding Ron that his father, Pete, was a killer. Ron locks the door and pulls out his gun, leading to an explosive and intense fight, which draws the attention of some walkers outside. Rick uses an ax to open the door and pull Carl and Ron in as walkers flood the garage; Gabriel, Rick and Jessie shove a couch against the door. Ron and Carl search for other pieces of furniture to barricade the door with. Carl turns the tables on Ron as he orders him, at gunpoint, to turn over his gun. Carl shares with Ron that he has sympathy for him about the death of his father, but essentially tells him to get over it. The Carl versus Ron scenes were especially intense and surely will affect both characters in future episodes.

Rick checks on Judith and discovers an incredibly weakened Deanna. Rick lays Deanna on a bed and the two say their goodbyes. Deanna hands Rick farewell notes for her son, Spencer and Maggie to which he promises to deliver them; she also asks him to look after Spencer and declares, “They’re all your people, Rick,” referring to the Alexandrians merging with Rick’s group. The walkers begin breaking into the house, triggering the group to rush upstairs. They kill two walkers and drag them up the stairs to be used in an escape plan. Rick gathers bed sheets and explains that the “guts” of walkers can be used as camouflage (this is a major callback to the second episode of the series when Rick and Glenn used this technique to escape downtown Atlanta). The bed sheets are used as ponchos to prevent the guts from getting on anyone’s skin. Michonne offers to mercifully kill Deanna, but she responds by saying that she is not ready to die and declares that she will end her life when ready. This scene is incredibly touching and ends with Deanna telling Michonne to “Give ’em Hell.”

Rick and Michonne cut the dead walkers up and begin smothering the guts over everyone. Sam steps out of his room and sees his mother covered in walkers guts; this causes Sam to panic, but Jessie instructs him to be brave. Rick retrieves Judith and slides her under Carl’s poncho. The group, led by Rick make their way downstairs into the walker-plagued living room and out on to the front porch. Upstairs, Deanna hears that the walkers have made their way in and begins shooting at them before screaming. Rather than simply shooting herself, Deanna dies in a blaze of glory using the bullets to contribute in her own way to the clearing of Alexandria. This is completely consistent with Deanna’s character and her insistence that civilization and normalcy can be possible. Her death signifies a major shift in Alexandria and its leadership. Back on the porch, a series of slow-motion shots show our characters preparing to step out into the streets overflowed with walkers; each character has a terrified look on their face. They link hands and begin making their way out, however, a terrified Sam begins calling out for his mom. The episode ends, leaving the fates of the characters a mystery. Will they be able to escape the herd?

A brief after-credits scene picks up with Daryl, Sasha and Abraham as they are stopped by a group of motorcyclists. This group, called the Saviors, state that everything is now the property of a man named “Negan.” Fans of the comic-series will immediately know what this means for the future of the show; the new big-bad villain is on the horizon.

“Start to Finish” uses the horror of the herd and the tension of conflicts to drive the story forward. In typical fashion of “The Walking Dead,” countless cliffhangers leave viewers wondering what is next. This episode was phenomenal and sets the stage for a dramatic and perilous Mid-Season Premiere. With the loss of Deanna, what does the future hold for Spencer and the other Alexandrians? Who will be the next victim of the herd? Tune in to the Mid-Season Premiere of “The Walking Dead” on Feb. 14, 2016 on AMC.

 

 

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Jeffrey Kopp is the Community Editor of the Niner Times. He is a senior double majoring in Communication and Political Science. His interests include writing and keeping up with an excessive amount of television shows. He is also the go-to expert on all things “The Walking Dead."

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