This entire half season of "The Walking Dead" has taken place in -- approximately -- 24 hours. Let that sink in for a second... In about a day, thousands of walkers broke out of a quarry, the Wolves attacked Alexandria nearly killing everyone, Daryl's (Norman Reedus) crossbow and motorcycle got stolen, and Glenn (Steven Yeun) died, then undied.
Oh, and now the Alexandria walls have fallen leading to a herd of undead invading, leading to death, destruction and a test of Rick's (Andrew Lincoln) will. Has he won over enough of the little hamlet to weather them through the mother of all storms? Or will we pick up in February with the title of the show just describing a bunch of zombies wandering around on screen?
Let's get into it then, and find out what happened on "Start to Finish."
The Ants Go MarchingGene Page/AMC
The award for creepiest opening in "Walking Dead" history? How about this one, with little old Sam (Major Dodson) playing in front of his "Invincible" mini-figs, coloring in books as the camera slowly pans over to his window... Which is covered in a line of ants. Those ants lead, of course, to a half eaten cookie. Because we can never forget Carol's cookies. And also? A pretty good tease that Sam ain't gonna make it out of this alive.
Run For Your LivesGene Page/AMC
After that, it's back to where we left off, with the church steeple collapsing, zombies invading, and Rick running for his life. Oh, and Ron (Austin Abrams) stymied in his hope to shoot Carl (Chandler Rigg) in the butt. At least, we're pretty sure it was the butt.
Anyway, everyone is running for their lives, not just Rick. Morgan (Lennie James) and Carol (Melissa McBride) are teaming up despite being at odds about Morgan's captive Wolf when last we saw him. Maggie (Lauren Cohan) is scrambling up a ladder to safety, barely making it before the ladder collapses -- which has to be bad for her baby, though I'm no doctor.
And Eugene (Josh McDermitt) is hiding. He grabs a walkie-talkie, and surprise, surprise... It's Eugene who said "help" a few episodes back, not Glenn. Rosita and Tara grab him, and they make it to the relative safety of a garage; while Jessie ushers a few folks into her house.
Then we zoom out, and see how invaded Alexandria has become... As good as Rick seemed to think that quarry clearing plan was, maybe it wasn't the best move, after all?
Glenn: Still AliveGene Page/AMC
Meanwhile, outside the walls it's the Glenn and Enid (Katelyn Nacon) show! Glenn is hopeful, Enid isn't, and that's pretty much it. Glenn tells her that being afraid is how you lose people -- which is correct -- and then he leaves, which seems contradictory. Anyway, that really is it for the duo in the finale -- we get to see them climbing a tree later but not much else... Which given the build up for Glenn this season, is a bit of a bummer that he doesn't play a bigger role in the finale.
Jumping ahead a bit though, given things are left pretty unfinished? He may still have time to save the day. Or maybe not:
The Wolf In The HenhouseGene Page/AMC
While Morgan and Carol discuss maybe patching things up, what with all the horror outside about to kill them... Denise (Merritt Wever) is being psychologically manipulated by the Alpha Wolf (Benedict Samuel). He talks to her about his wound, which is GROSS. She decides to use her newfound doctor knowledge to try and help him; as well as her psychotherapist knowledge to help him, too.
"You weren't born this way," Denise tells him. "You can change."
But of course, he can't, and he won't.
And to make matters worse, Carol doesn't want to patch things up. She tricks Morgan into thinking she's sick, just so she can run down and kill the Wolf. Which I get, but to paraphrase Ron Weasley, she has GOT to sort out her priorities.
And unfortunately it leads to not just a literally knock-out fight between Morgan and Carol, but the Wolf escapes and takes Denise hostage. Tara (Alanna Masterson), Eugene and Rosita (Christian Serratos) show up, but even they get taken in by the Wolf, who leaves with a gun to Denise's head.
In the frenzy to get out of the undead invasion, Deanna (Tovah Feldshuh) got bit -- and it's discovered by Michonne (Danai Gurira) and Rick. "Well, s--t," Deanna says plainly.
It's a sad end for a great actress on the show, but nice to not have the traditional "she was bitten and didn't tell anyone until it was too late" trope that happens more often than not. It's also nice to see how she deals with it.
"I got to do what I wanted, right up to the end," Deanna tells Michonne as she smiles, before asking, "What do you want?"
Michonne tells her the greater purpose, to make Alexandria work; but Deanna instead asks her what she wants, and encourages her to figure it out. Which of course has been Michonne's whole arc this season. What's nice about this is that in death, Deanna is giving Michonne the freedom to actually pursue her happiness instead of feeling trapped in Rick's spiral of death. We'll see if she makes it out of this whole "walker herd" thing first though.
Carl V Ron: Round 2AMC
Okay, so maybe Ron (Austin Abrams) doesn't shoot Carl's eye out (or butt), but he does attack his sort of not really at all brother. "They're dead, and you're dead too," Ron tells Carl after giving up all hope on the outside world. And then he turns to shoot him, leading to a very loud fight with a shovel that lets walkers into the house and turns the tables on Ron.
Jessie (Alexandra Breckenridge) and Rick manage to hold back the walkers in the garage, but in the confusion Ron picks up a gun. Carl follows him into his room, and pulls another gun on Ron, demanding his fire-arm.
"I get it, my dad killed your dad," Carl tells Ron. "But you need to know something. Your dad was an a--hole."
And this, without a doubt, is the single best line Carl has ever delivered on the show. Ever.
Because Rick vaguely remembers her, and when she starts crying he heads upstairs to shut her up. When he does finally get to Judith's room, though, he sees Deanna hunched over Judith's crib, shaking and moaning. Naturally he goes to chop her in the head with his axe, but at the last second she's all like, "JK, I just wanted to see your baby one last time, so naturally I bent over the crib to pretend to eat her."
Anyway, they do have a moment where Deanna passes the torch to Rick. "Guess what? They're all your people," she tells him... And though he defers, he also maybe leaves Judith in the room with Deanna, who is about to turn? So, uh. Okay?
Or maybe it was just a weird cut, as Michonne returns to visit Deanna one last time to say goodbye; and Deanna has decided to die on her own terms, "start to finish." She explains the latin phrase from several episodes back -- "someday this pain will be useful to you" -- and says goodbye. "Thank you," Michonne says. "For believing."
Welcome To The House Of The UndyingGene Page/AMC
Rick and Jessie -- and Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam), who can't even be trusted to hold a door correctly -- eventually can't hold back to the tide of the dead. They break through the door, forcing everyone to retreat up the stairs. Rick takes out one, Michonne another, and then Rick proves he's been reading fan forums because he suddenly remembers you can cover yourself in zombie guts to mask your scent... A trick he hasn't used (for some reason) since season one.
Rick, Father Gabriel, Jessie, and Ron all put on sheets and start rubbing themselves with guts... Which is when Sam comes in. He's been freaked out about monsters for weeks, and seeing his Mom dressed in guts isn't helping things. "Pretend you're brave," Jessie tells him, stumping for mother of the year. "None of this is real."
Sam doesn't seem convinced for some reason, but they head out anyway along with Carl and Baby Judith, walking straight through the house without a scratch. And there they stand on the porch. They hold hands as they look out at the hundreds of more walkers they need to get through... And then Sam f--ks it all up. "Mom," Sam says over and over as we cut to black.