The Walking Dead Recap: “Head’s Up” and “Start to Finish”

The Tribe is still separated, Alexandria remains vulnerable and survivors continue to evolve and change who they are in order to make it through another day. The story is moving slowly toward the inevitable; fear the walkers, fear the living and don’t ever get too comfortable.  For those inside the walls, safety is as precarious as it is for those outside, and there are no guarantees on who will make it out alive. This week, I’m recapping two episodes in one post, people, so keep up.

Spoilers ahead, Sweetie…

“Heads Up” starts off by answering the question of Glenn’s supposed death–spoilers–he’s alive and Enid has found him. The pair are “working” together, although that may be too strong a word. Enid hasn’t wanted to be part of a team thus far and Glenn has taken it upon himself to drag her back to Alexandria, to “safety”, most likely because of his guilt over Nicholas’ suicide, which he, in no way, could have prevented. Unfortunately, Enid is fairly self-destructive herself, and is barely convinced to head back to town, even though it’s obvious she doesn’t want to.

After the fiasco with Nicholas, Glenn has no qualms about using force in order to “save” Enid. Still, it’s obvious he is traumatized by the event of Nicholas’ death–not to mention his own subsequent time hiding underneath Nicholas’ dead and dismembered body and then a dumpster for however long it took for the walkers to lose interest and leave. After all we’ve seen Glenn accomplish over the years, it is not surprising that, if anyone could survive that situation, it would be him. And yet…his escape lacks power and plausibility. The same slow passage of time that has allowed us to explore individual stories in and outside of the walls has inadvertently caused Glenn’s survival to lose the impact it should have had. What we know about post-apocalyptic life is that anyone and everyone is susceptible to the threats, even our favorites. While Glenn and Enid may be surviving now, the pair hasn’t made it to safety of the Tribe yet. Unfortunately, they are heading back to Alexandria, which has become a beacon to walkers since the Wolves attacked.

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Back in Alexandria, Rick returns and immediately, Morgan is called out for allowing Wolf attackers to escape with their lives. The people who attacked Rick in the RV are the same people Morgan allowed to live, and which doesn’t bode well for the Wolf he is hiding in his basement. Of course Carol, our most mistrustful, capable and sneaky Tribe member, spots Morgan talking to Doctor Denise, hands over Judith to Jessie’s (whose sons are both creepy and crazy and really amazing examples if the PTSD that occurs in children as a theme within this series) and confronts him about his secrets. Before we can get an answer, Maggie spots the green balloons Enid and Glenn released, then the tower collapses and the walkers are through. Meanwhile, Ron is stalking Carl with a loaded weapon and a really bad attitude.

Wonderful.

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The mid-season finale, “Start to Finish” takes us right to the aftermath of the fallen tower, which is mayhem, of course. The walkers have infiltrated Alexandria and people start dying really quickly. Deanna, to her credit, takes out a few walkers in her own, before the group hunkers down at Jessie’s house and discovers that she’s been bitten. Much of the story thus far has included a passioned plea for Rick to accept the Alexandrians as part of his Tribe and to take care of them as if they were his own people. Deanna keeps up the narrative, but at this point, there are not enough Alexandrians left alive for the plea to hold much impact. Regardless, Deanna is going to die, and everyone knows it, but the fact seems to affect Michonne the most. Death is a fact of post-apocalyptic life, but community is not, and Michonne seems desperate for some semblance of normalcy that Alexandria might have provided. Unfortunately, the walking dead, the killer living and a nomadic lifestyle are the new normal, and those who survive cannot get caught up in the glamour of what could be. 

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That includes Morgan, who has taken a Wolf under his wing, so to speak, against the suggestions of everyone, including the WOLF. Morgan was taught by his mentor, Eastman, that killing is not always the answer and he wants to give his prisoner a chance to change his ways. This faith goes against everything that Rick, Carol and the Tribe have learned and lived by over the last few years, and so, when Carol finds out treating the Wolf is why Morgan has brought Doctor Denise to his basement, she is understandably upset. This scene pits two of the strongest Tribe members (for I consider Morgan to be part of the Tribe ex facto) against each other as a moral dilemma. Carol wants to kill the Wolf because he proposes a huge threat to the safety of pretty much everyone, while Morgan wants to keep him alive and well, with the help of Denise, in order to shift his way of thought and turn him “good”. The point is moot when the Wolf  gets free, knocks out Carol and drags Denise outside into the fray.

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Morgan’s decision-making skills within the context of a larger group are obviously self-motivated and he hasn’t been thinking about the Tribe as much as he has been thinking about his own morality. It’s a frustrating fact that not everyone in a post-apocalytic world WANTS to be a “good guy” and the captured Wolf illustrates this as much as the family whom Daryl met up with a few weeks ago did. Individual morality is grey, at best, and relies on mainly fear and the situation at hand. It will be interesting to see this dynamic play out across the storyline, with a shift in thinking eminent within this group of people who are not only trying to survive but build a better community together.

The Walking Dead returns to AMC Sunday, February 14 at 9pm.

Watch a prologue to the 2016 episodes here (featuring Daryl and the Neeganites).

C. Diva

Fighting zombies over on Twitter and Tumblr.

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