As the scattered remnants of Alexandria and Team Rick move on once again in The Walking Dead episode 6.08, Start to Finish, where are we? More to the point, viewers of The Walking Dead: where are you? Are you still on board with this crew, or not? After a wildly uneven half season, I find myself on the side of “not.”
As the hour starts, the tower has fallen on the walls. (We’ll never know why.) Everyone’s running for shelter, Deanna’s wounded, and creepy Ron is sort of pretending to look as stunned as everyone else, though he just seems disappointed. You can see how badly he’d wanted to shoot someone.
Meanwhile, poor Glenn is still (STILL!) stranded outside the walls. With Enid. There are plenty of us who are glad he’s still alive, but the way the show has handled the guy’s not-deadness is TERRIBLE. He’s in a sort of zombieland purgatory, wandering the empty wastes of what was once a world, forced to repent for no sins in particular with this glum teenage wraith, this … Enid. This is the very last place on Earth our funny, sexy, inventive Glenn deserves to be: in the Instagram-filtered twilight of The-World-Is-Dying-So-Why-Don’t-We-Let-It Enid.
This is how it starts … – Enid, gazing upon the fallen tower and ruined wall of Alexandria
Inside the walls, the survivors end up in groups, generally unaware of one another: the Rick Clan (Rick and his kids, Deanna, Jessie and her kids, Michonne, and for some reason Gabe); weapons-training-and-avoiding Rosita, Tara, and Eugene; and the secret-mission detail of Morgan, Denise, and spy-Carol. This split kicks off several scenes of coping and avoiding behaviors, in which we establish several things:
Creepiness runs in families. Creepy Sam, brother of Creepy Ron, has taken to playing an old recording of “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” on repeat, and miniaturizing his world in order to make sense of it. He’s also, from the looks of the dark circles under his eyes, not sleeping.
In the chaos of the falling walls, Deanna gets bit. She reacts to this stoically enough at first (“well, shit”), but then she unleashes a torrent of advice-giving that lands on everyone who ventures near. By the time she opens the bedroom door with her gun, even the visiting zombies are scared.
Eugene is scared of weapons, but boy, can he pick a lock!
The season’s twin demons – human mistrust and gravity – continue to drive the action. Maggie’s struggles with a stagger of zombies and a falling ladder strand her on a lookout platform. Morgan finally heads down to the Wolf cell to check on Denise’s progress with the patient, but he has to race Carol to get there. And when Carl follows Creepy Ron down to Jessie’s garage (where of course nothing good ever happens), Ron locks them in and tries to go all Columbine on his only remaining friend. Failing that, Ron lets the walkers in, because what the hell.
Carl covers for Ron one last time, but there’s a price Ron pays for that:
I know my dad killed your dad, but you need to know something. Your dad was an asshole. – Carl
It’s taken a few seasons, but it seems that sheriff’s hat finally fits.
The stage is set for ridiculous action, and for the rest of the hour, that’s all we get. As the group digs into the bodies of some handy walkers for the old zombie-guts-as-disguise gambit, Jessie’s finally forced to introduce the concept of reality to her younger son.
Act like you’re someone else. Just … pretend you’re brave. – Jessie
What gets to me about this scene is this whole feeling that Jessie is putting off even speaking to her child until the last possible second. Would it have killed you to open the boy’s door once or twice, Supercuts? Made him come down to dinner every night? Something?
Meanwhile, Carol and Morgan are airing their philosophical differences in front of Doctor Denise and the clearly delighted captive Wolf (who is not as captive as they think he is). Neither Carol nor Morgan is ever this adamant or this messy, but the show doesn’t care what we know about them anymore. Sure enough, the two face off in battle, Morgan briefly gets the upper hand, the poorly-secured Wolf sees an opportunity and takes Denise as a hostage, just in time for Tara and Rosita to stop by and use the Wolf for some point-blank target practice.
Except that this is not what happens. Again, the show no longer cares what we know about Rosita’s weapons skills. It asks us to believe that these two badass women would obey this wounded creep and lay down their weapons. It asks us to find their compliance with such a demand plausible.
But it had to be this way, eventually. Those are the comic-book rules.
In the end, the world of the comic book needs men to be bosses and women to be compliant. It needs fear to drive us, weapons to fascinate us, end-of-the-world scenarios to threaten us, and places to hide when the inevitable end comes. It’s in love with this idea that whatever is Out There is different from us, an existential danger to us, and we need layers of stuff between Us and It.
For as long as humans have had narrative, we have also been predicting the end of “all this.” It never happens, not in the way the doomsday people hope. The bunker people are always wrong. Someday this pain may be useful to me, sure. And it’s possible that one day I’ll need a katana sword, or even a crossbow. But you know what? I like it out here. I’ll take my chances with all of you, over even the nicest bunker.
I’ve left my stuff at the armory. Tell Morgan I saved him a peanut butter bar.
Anne B, over and out. 🙂