Warning: Spoiler Alert!
turn back now if you haven’t seen this week’s episode of The Walking Dead.
Well, sand walkers were cool. It was also nice to see some beach terrain in TWD (sorry Fear the Walking Dead, I don’t count you). A colony of ultra-cautious women? Neat idea. Tara being dropped into it? Okay, fine. A whole episode dedicated to a seemingly-pointless side adventure? Erf. Another fake-out in the form of zombie-dreads lady being mistaken for Heath? Erf.
The B Plot Gone Horribly A
This was a B plot, at best, yet here we are spending the entire precious hour of this already-expansive show re-learning that the Saviors are bad guys. We also got to watch Tara look rightly confused as her lady-captors tried to kill/feed/interrogate her in equal measures and practically at random. It might have been neat to see an all-woman settlement where the men were driven out for their violent behavior, only to have the women succumb to the same tendencies, or the men all set on some expedition and never returned (maybe one or more of our known characters secretly comes from this place and there is a dark reason they never talk about it).
Something, anything, other than: Saviors = bad. We know that lesson already. We watched Negan personally bash two of our beloved characters’ brains in. We were kept in suspense for an entire off-season over it. We get it. Okay, maybe lining up every male over 10 and executing them in a line is more brutal, but we don’t even get to see it! If the show really wanted to drive the point home, show us the line of boys and men being slaughtered in front of their women and children. At least in flashback? The show isn’t shy with showing through flashback how Heath and Tara ended up in this wacky situation.
Anyway, here’s the executive summary of yesterday’s entire one hour episode: Tara falls in river, washes up on beach, is rescued by secretive lady-colony hiding from Negan, flees when they try to kill her to keep her quiet.
A Distinct Lack of Death
Sometimes these side-stories can work. Beth’s adventure in the police-run hospital and Morgan’s rehabilitation were both some of the strongest episodes in the series, because both had a strong theme and emotional core. Morgan’s journey was about learning to rise above the insanity of death and carnage, and he loses his teacher (and beloved goat) in the process. Beth learns how strong she is and the value of courage and sacrifice, and she dies for it (likely stopping a massive shootout in the process and saving many lives).
In “Swear,” we see gun-toting and merciless ladies blasting away constantly at other people (mostly Tara). Tara gets a gun and turns it on one of the most merciless of them all, one who will kill her in a heartbeat, and she’s a teenager. Said teen turns her gun on Tara multiple times and says creepy things about having to kill her. AND NO ONE GETS SHOT.
No one. Every bullet either flies wide or someone jumps in at the last second to stop the bloodshed. How convenient. In a show focused on death and survival, survival sure seems to be winning the day. In fact. since the deaths of Abraham and Glenn in episode one, no other major characters have died this season. The cast has become expansive, and the threat has become more intense as Negan brings his power to bear on them all. Why hasn’t the carnage intensified as well? I know we keep hearing stories about how horrible the Saviors are, but, other than two retribution killings against the Alexandrians, they just seem like bully bosses. Give us your stuff or we’ll loose zombies in your yard, but just so we can come in and kill them to demonstrate our value (D.E.N.N.I.S. system, anyone?).
The Walking Dead is beginning to suffer a distinct lack of balls (and I don’t just mean because last night’s episode was all women. Za-zing!). Much like Tara, I also catch myself wondering: “I thought I’d never say this, but where is all the death?” Yeah, yeah, she comes back and learns her girlfriend, Glenn, and Abraham are all dead, but that’s old news at this point.
And we never find out what happened to Heath! Can’t wait for next week’s episode: Heath finds a sixth colony where everyone wears silly hats as a religion, but they have been forced to give up half their hats to Negan. The Saviors are so mean!
This week’s side story failed to give us anything new other than a fourth potential ally against the Saviors, and their story is basically the same as everyone else’s. Tara didn’t learn anything new about herself or her situation, and there was no emotional core. In other words, Swear was a dud that could be skipped entirely after reading the one-sentence executive summary above. Sand zombies and beach were cool, so that’s something I guess.
P.S. Complete side-complaint (sort of like Swear’s side-story!), but was anyone else bothered by the pristine makeup Tara was wearing after washing up on a beach? She looked great. Better than most women do normally at the beach, and she’s in the zombie apocalypse, two weeks into a recon mission, just had a zombie fight, got covered in sand, and washed downriver onto a beach. Maybe she’s born with it…
Photos courtesy of Gene Page/AMC.