Season 6 episode 8 titled, "Start to Finish," delivers on all facets and then some. Solid acting supported by a superb story with impressive visuals. All creating those memorable moments.
The opening scene begins peaceful with a slow zoom shot of upstairs within a beautifully kept home. Then a young boy, Sam, leaves an empty plate outside his room and goes back inside, while the song "Tiptoe through the Tulips," is playing from his room. Though the scene begins peacefully enough, there's also a disquieting air similar to a quiet scene from the Stanley Kubrick film The Shining. Then Sam is seen again, drawing a crayon picture of a man tied to a tree with walkers close by. Perhaps the drawing came as he remembered Carol's past scare tactic, after he followed her to the armory during Deanna's house party in season 5. And while he draws, there's a trail of ants coming from the window sill, to swarming all over a half-eaten cookie on a plate on his bedroom floor. Then outside, the watchtower collapses, a wall breach.
Then gradually coming from the smoke, are walkers. The Alexandrian community, a formerly walled placid community of beautiful spacious homes with running hot water and solar electrical power, a community not used to combating mayhem of any sort, yet were previously attacked by the barbaric Wolves, are now attacked by walkers. And yet in both cases, Rick's group fights for the Alexandrians and for their leader Deanna's vision for Alexandria.
"I want this place to stay standing," says Deanna Monroe (Tovah Feldshuh) in episode 5 titled, "Now," of season 6, shortly after she tried killing a walker, formerly one of the Wolves, by repeatedly stabbing it into the chest with a broken bottle, yet killed with a head stab by Rick. "You need to lead them," says Rick (Andrew Lincoln). "They don't need me, Rick. What they need is you," says Deanna, followed by her asking, "What I wanted for this place, was it really just pie in the sky?" To which, Rick says, "No," softly to reassure.
Now with the walkers swarming everywhere, Rick and his group though scattered, are still in the fight. Maggie (Lauren Cohan), who after seeing the launch of green balloons in the air, a sign that Glenn is alive, manages to escape onto a lookout post. Glenn (Steven Yeun), after also managing an escape and retrieving Enid (Katelyn Nacon), both watch outside as walkers are entering the east wall. They also spot Maggie, which all the more revitalizes Glenn to enjoin.
Rick yells for everyone to get back to their homes for safety, as Deanna gets injured after she yells for Rick to also get back while opening fire on the walkers. Soon after while helping Deanna, both join with Michonne (Danai Gurira), Father Gabriel, Carl and Ron as Jessie has all six take refuge into her house while her other son Sam is still upstairs.
Meanwhile, after Morgan (Lennie James) helps Carol (Melissa McBride) off the street after she trips and injures her head, she later confronts Morgan after discovering he had the captured injured Alpha Wolf held in a townhouse holding room. Which happened in previous episode 4. Whereas in previous episode 7, Morgan sought Dr. Denise Cloyd, to give aid to the Alpha Wolf.
Carl (Chandler Riggs) fights off Ron after both argue within Jessie's garage, while Rick and Jessie hear the noise both thinking walkers have entered. Which happens, caused by Ron who attracted the walkers attention after he breaks a window with a shovel while attacking Carl. Rick breaks the door with an axe, rescues Carl and Ron, and while Rick and Jessie use a couch to hold off the walkers, Rick asks Carl what happened. Carl then does a Glenn by covering for Ron, like Glenn covered for Nicholas in the season 6 premiere, who tried to kill Glenn in season 5's finale.
Later, after slamming Carol on the ground now lying unconscious, Morgan is then distracted as he too is knocked unconscious with his own bo-staff by the Alpha Wolf (Benedict Samuel). He then manages to get free and takes Denise (Merritt Wever) hostage, just before Rosita, Tara and Eugene all storm into the room. Seeing Denise now held with a knife at her throat, the three are forced to lower their weapons. The Wolf then takes a gun and escapes with Denise.
Meanwhile, Rick has a last moment with Deanna upstairs as he retrieves his baby daughter Judith before leaving with the others, like Michonne also had a last moment with Deanna earlier. Earlier, they both noticed that Deanna had also been bit on her side by a walker. While lying down, Deanna gives Rick her final notes she wrote for her son Spencer, and Maggie. "Will you look out for him?" Deanna asks. "I will," Rick replies. And then she says, "Will you look out for him like you look out for your people? Guess what. They're all your people, Rick." She then finishes by saying that she didn't help Rick while shooting at walkers just because he's a good man and a good father who also can grow a hell of a beard. She helped him because she considered Rick as one of her own people. "That's the right answer," she says, before later while dying from her wound, she decides to shoot at walkers in the hallway.
Yet one shouldn't be too hard on Rick. In the previous episode 7 titled, "Heads Up," with Tara's help, Morgan and Tobin, it was Rick who first spotted Spencer's attempt to traverse on a rope above the herd of walkers. After managing to save him, Rick tells Deanna that while the walkers came for Spencer after he fell, Rick saw an opening that he could have taken, gotten into a car, and lead the walkers away. "But you didn't do that. Why?" Deanna asks. "I helped save him because he's your son," says Rick. "Wrong answer," Deanna replies softly.
On Talking Dead hosted by Chris Hardwick with guests The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman with actors Jason Alexander, and Tovah Feldshuh, during the show, Chris Hardwick asked Tovah Feldshuh how confident is Deanna about Spencer conducting himself in the zombie apocalypse. The actress replied not very. Then Ms. Feldshuh says, "If you visit the children of very famous and very busy women, they're loving parents, but they're absent parents. My sons (Aiden and Spencer on The Walking Dead) are a little bent." She then followed up by also saying, "I've played one prime minister in my career, and I've met the children and they were not what I'd hoped."
An actress of the stage as well as TV and film, Ms. Tovah Feldshuh had played former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir twice, in the film O Jerusalem, and also in the Off Broadway play by William Gibson titled, "Golda's Balcony." I for one was very happy that she was cast as Deanna Monroe, former congresswoman from Ohio pre-apocalypse, before becoming the leader of the Alexandrians, written about, in my March 6, 2015 blog titled, "The Walking Dead: Season 5 Continues the Show's Enduring Resonance," with Deanna's first appearing in episode 12. Tovah Feldshuh will be missed, for having brought a signature strong magnetic presence.
Also, what Tovah Feldshuh had said could just as well apply to any other absent parent regardless of gender. Yet while on the subject of mentioning those in TV or film, there's also the film Gladiator, winner of a Best Picture Oscar in 2001. Shortly after Rome's greatest warrior, General Maximus's victory over Germania, the ailing Emperor Marcus Aurelius wants Maximus to succeed him as the new emperor. This causes the emperor's son, Commodus, the expected heir who's not characteristically fit to lead Rome, to experience anger. To which the emperor says, "Commodus, your faults as a son, is my failure as a father."
Directed by Michael Satrazemis and written by Matthew Negrete, the mid-season 6 finale was high caliber all the way. Leaving with Abraham, Daryl and Sasha while driving towards Alexandria, to later be stopped by several men devoted to Negan. Long live The Walking Dead.