The Alexandria Safe-Zone becomes anything but safe as a zombie mega-herd invades the formerly protected community on "Start to Finish" (Episode 608), the midseason finale of AMC's "The Walking Dead."
"Everyone get back," Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) yells as undead "walkers" stream in after a damaged tower collapses and creates a breach in the wall. "Get into your houses! Go!"
Alexandria's matriarch Deanna Monroe (Tovah Feldshuh) helps Rick escape this onslaught but sustains a lethal zombie bite during the chaos. She accepts her horrific fate with courage and humor.
"I'm lucky," Deanna tells Michonne (Danai Gurira). "Working with my family for a better future, it's all I ever wanted. I got to do what I wanted, right up to the end."
Later, when Deanna leans over the cradle of baby Judith, her father Rick fears the worse. But Deanna hasn't "turned." She just wanted to gaze at the little girl one last time.
Deanna also wants Rick to protect her son Spencer (Austin Nichols) and all the other Alexandrians as the zombie apocalypse worsens.
"Will you look out for him like you look out for your people?" Deanna asks in earnest. "Guess what? They're all your people, Rick. They are!"
When Deanna knows her time is up, she puts a pistol under her chin and starts to pull the trigger. But then she thinks better of it. She opens a door and guns down zombies in the hallway -- a fighter down to her last bullet.
Rick, meanwhile, devises a macabre but possibly effective way of reaching the armory, where he'd shoot flares into the air and hopefully draw the zombies away. His plan involves slicing open a couple of walkers and removing their entrails.
"We're gonna gut these things," Rick explains. "Cover ourselves with the insides. It will mask our smell. Make them think we're like them."
That strategy worked in Season 1 and it might work again. But the weak link in Rick's plan is psychologically traumatized Sam (Major Dodson), the youngest son of Jessie Anderson (Alexandra Breckenridge).
"We need to look like the monsters," Jessie tearfully says to Sam before smearing him with blood and guts. "Just pretend you're brave!"
And keep quiet, Jessie should have added, for anyone who makes noise could turn into zombie fodder.
"Mom," Sam desperately calls out as they slowly walk among the walkers. "Mom!"
What happens next? A cliffhanger, for sure.
Another cliffhanger involves Dr. Denise Cloyd (Merritt Wever), a psychiatrist who reluctantly became Alexandria's resident surgeon. She's treating a captured, wounded and homicidal Wolf (Benedict Samuel) who's protected in a cellar by peace-loving Morgan Jones (Lennie James).
Morgan's polar opposite, philosophy wise, is pragmatic Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride). She points a knife at Morgan as he defends himself with a stick.
"I will kill you to kill him (the Wolf)," Carol threatens, "because I don't want anyone else to die!"
"You should kill me," the Wolf interjects. "But you're all going to die. You don't belong here!"
After Carol and Morgan knock each other out in a brawl, the Wolf grabs the knife and frees himself. Then Tara Chambler (Alanna Masterson) and Rosita Espinosa (Christian Serratos) burst in, followed by phobic Eugene Porter (Josh McDermitt).
"You don't need to kill us," Denise pleads with the Wolf after he disarms Tara and Rosita. "Just let us die!"
What's this crazy scavenger's next move? He takes Denise hostage and forces her out of the cellar and toward the zombie herd.