Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Walking Dead, Season Six, Episode Eight: Start to Finish

Though this is the eighth episode of this season, very little time has actually passed for the characters.  What we have actually seen is a period of approximately 2 days and what has happened to the characters separately because they were split into groups. We were also treated to an episode dedicated to what happened to Morgan before he managed to join up with the group.   By the end of this episode, the characters had still not reunited but the level of danger and panic continues to be high.

At Alexandria, a section of the wall has come crashing down, just as Maggie receives the signal that she has long waited for - proof that Glenn is alive.  The dust comes pouring into the town and  the residents are forced to flee for cover.  Deanna comes to the aid of Rick but still seems to be shooting wildly.  How many times do Alexandrians need to be told to go for the head?  Rick scoops her up and heads into a house with Carl, Michonne, Jessie and her two kids.   Carol ends up housed with Morgan and in a lower level of the house, are Denise and the Wolf. In the garage of the same house, are Rosita, Tara and Eugene.  Sasha, Abraham and Darryl are still making their way back to Alexandria and Glenn and Enid are stuck outside of the walls, watching in horror as the zombies invade their home.

With all of the zombies entering Alexandria this mid season finale should have been epic but instead it was anything but.  It's been clear for some time that there's tension between Carol and Morgan due in part to the fact that they have opposing views on how to survive a zombie apocalypse.  Carol's mentality is based on doing whatever is necessary for the group to survive.  We have seen this manifest in pretending to be a harmless housewife and in offering no mercy to the invading Wolves. Morgan does not believe in taking life, so much so, that he let five of the attackers leave Alexandria and is keeping one captive.  This is a critical point because it's clear that while zombies remain a threat, the remaining humans can be that much more so.  We have seen this play out with Terminus and the Governor.  Both have valid reasons for their positions but what I don't understand is exactly why with zombies piling into Alexandria and their lives at risk that now is the time for this confrontation.

Carol attacks Morgan despite his repeated call for calm and suggestion that this could be settled later. Yes,the Wolf that he is trying to rehabilitate is a threat to the group but not more so than the horde of zombies pouring through the walls.  I found myself shaking my head repeatedly at this.  The Carol that we have come to know would have known this and acted accordingly.  It seems that the writers were simply determined to force a confrontation whether or not it fit the characters that they have created or not.  Why did this have to happen?  It's almost as though the writers didn't know what to do with the characters once they were separated into smaller groups.

We knew when Rick decided to teach Ron how to defend himself that it would lead to a problem.  At the end of Head Up, we see Ron stalking Carl with a loaded weapon.  It's clear that had the walls not crumbled, Ron would have shot Carl.  As with the confrontation between Morgan and Carol, this fight made little sense.  Are we supposed to believe that Ron really has that little sense of self preservation?  Let's just say that he managed to kill or wound Carl, how was that going to work out for him with Rick in the house, even with Jessie there to plead for him?  Carl being so much more experienced than Ron managed to fight him off but then chose not to tell Rick what happened.  I know that we are meant to see this as a sign of Carl's maturity, especially given that when put in a less dangerous situation outside of the prison, Carl pulled the trigger. The difference however between the incident outside of the prison and what happened with Ron, is that Ron does actually pose a danger, much like his porch dick father did.  Carl's actions however do fall in line with Glenn's choice not to turn in Nicholas.  Despite all of the drama and speculation as to whether this would be the scene in which Carl lost his eye, it all felt really anti-climactic and unnecessary. This is a confrontation that didn't need to happen when it did and end up feeling like filler.

In our Friday discussion, The Failure of Female Leadership in The Walking Dead, we talked quite about Deanna and it now feels rather prophetic because Deanna is dead.  There was never any real doubt in my mind that Deanna was destined to die, despite the fact that she kept busy drawing up plans for the future of Alexandria.  It's telling that the first time Deanna actually shoots accurately is when she decides to kill zombies instead of committing suicide to avoid becoming a walker. From the very beginning, Deanna, the one time politician was destined to be eclipsed and ultimately replaced by Rick.  Given the nature of how female leadership has continually been a problem in The Walking Dead universe I doubt that we were the only ones not surprised with Deanna's end.

Deanna asks Rick to look out for Spencer, like Spencer is one of his people and Rick is hesitant to give this promise to the dying woman.  Despite making Alexandria his home, Rick is reluctant to take on the people of Alexandria as his people - something btw he had no problem doing for the survivors of Woodbury after the first fall of the Governor.  Deanna has to implore that they are all his people and Rick should understand that because with Deanna's death, Rick is the de facto leader of Alexandria.  Given that Rick is absolutely determined not to give up the safety of the breached walls, the failure to immediately acknowledge this irks me to be honest.

Deanna is forced to turn to Michonne to share her last bit of advice with. When Rick's group first arrived in Alexandria, Deanna chose to mentor Maggie and to create a connection between the two communities, yet it was Michonne who ended up with Deanna's plans for the future of Woodbury. Deanna tasks Michonne to think about what it is she really wants and how she will frame the world they live in now.  It is sn absolutely a bittersweet conversation; however  Michonne is only chosen because she happens to be available.  Can we ever have Michonne picked for something first beyond being a weapon?

In the final moments of the episode with the house breached, Rick makes the decision that everyone is to leave and head to the armory.  Covered in Walker gore, the group make their way out of the house. Despite Jessie telling Sam repeatedly to pretend that he's brave, the episode ends with Sam trying to get his mother's attention by whispering harshly to her.

People of colour felt rather ancillary this first half of season six.  We had Sasha helping Abraham working out his issues with what to do now that it's clear that they have a good chance of surviving. Glenn was caught underneath Nicholas and then missing for a few episodes. Rosita seemed to pretty much disappear and in fact only reappeared long enough to lecture Eugene on his cowardly behaviour and then hand over her gun to the lone Wolf.  Gabriel was largely being ignored by everyone but he did manage to get in a few lines at the end of the episode -- promising not to run -- leading me to believe that he is dead man walking.  Finally, we have Morgan, who was given an entire episode to deal with his PTSD but then spent the rest of the time at odds with the Ricktocracy's scorched earth policy.

The first half of this season also saw the second same sex kiss in six seasons between Denise and Tara.  Unfortunately, it was all rather chaste.  If Denise happens to survive being kidnapped by a Wolf, I hope that this relationship develops.  The problem however is that despite being a part of Rick's group, Tara is not a part of the inner circle, meaning that whatever happens between her and Denise will probably not get a lot of attention.  

Despite the high number of Walkers this season, it began to feel repetitive towards the end. Yes, we got the big pay off of the introduction of Negan but it really feels like nothing happened and that's because nothing did.  The problem with restricting eight entire episodes to a span of 48 hours, is that everything gets drawn out.  It wasn't as bad as White people sitting on a porch but it was enough to make me hope that the second half of the season moves along at a quicker pace.