The Walking Dead: season 7 episode 6 review – Swear
This weeks installment of The Walking Dead is a bottle episode focusing almost exclusively on Tara, who was last seen leaving on a two week supply run with Heath in episode twelve of last season. Although this was a relatively interesting episode, the pace was rather sluggish and not much happened in the way of plot development. Below is our spoiler-heavy review.
Tara and Heath aren’t having much luck on their mission to find supplies for Alexandria, and viewers learn that they went further than intended and have already been gone for the planned two weeks. Having left immediately after attacking the satellite station occupied by The Saviors, neither character has any idea about what’s recently happened to their group and assume all is well back home. They briefly discuss whether they should return or keep looking, and they also debate on what they did to the rival group, analyzing what type of people they are for doing such things to survive. This is a running theme throughout recent episodes, and it will be interesting to see where the characters fall on the topic by the end of the season.
The duo continue onward, but soon get separated when they discover an abandoned camp located on a bridge and get attacked by walkers. These events are told in the form of flashbacks throughout the episode, most of which follows Tara as she encounters another community after falling off the bridge and being found unconscious. She is pulled from the shore to safety by a young woman named Cyndie, who leaves supplies while Tara pretends to remain unconscious. Once the girl is a safe distance away, Tara gathers the items and follows her, discovering that her community is located in a nearby forest, well concealed by branches and camouflage netting, and consists entirely of women and young children. After sneaking around to determine the camps safety, Tara is discovered and the inhabitants gather weapons and surround her. She lowers her weapon and surrenders, and is then taken hostage and handcuffed in one of the many cabins within the community.
After some time, the leader of the group and two other women interrogate her in an effort to decide what to do with her. Not wanting to divulge information about her own group, Tara tells them that her and Heath worked on a fishing boat and then stayed on the move until they recently got separated, and asks to be allowed to leave so that she can look for him and be on her way. Here viewers learn that the faction has a policy to kill strangers on site, and that Tara was only spared because she didn’t kill one of their members when she had the chance. Unsure what to do with her, the group leaves her to deliberate, but later retrieve her and they all share a meal together. They discuss their kill on sight policy with her, revealing that they had a skirmish with another group which lead to the loss of every man and several other members of their group. They then invite her to join them, declaring that it would be the perfect solution to their problem, meaning they didn’t have to fear being discovered and she would be able to put down roots. Having been honest with her, they ask for her to do the same in return, since they detected flaws in her own story. Tara then tells them about Alexandria, and suggests that the groups work together and help protect one another.
The group is skeptical of this notion, and the mood shifts considerably when Tara mentions attacking the satellite station to get rid of the threat the occupants imposed so their group could survive. Presumably the women are concerned that her people are dangerous, but they agree to send a scout with Tara to see what Alexandria is like. All seems well enough until Tara leaves with two women posing as scouts and it’s revealed that it’s a setup and they intend to kill her. In a standoff with one of the women, it’s disclosed that the group had worked for The Savior’s until they fought back and every man and boy over ten was lined up and executed. The women then fled in the night and have been in hiding ever since, and are unwilling to risk disclosing their location. Tara is told that the satellite station she mentioned was only an outpost and that there are many more Saviors and that her group is probably already dead.
It seems grim for Tara at the moment, until Cyndie appears and saves her yet again. She makes Tara swear that she’ll never return or mention their groups location to anyone, and then brings her to the bridge where she was separated from Heath and helps her get across safely. Heath is nowhere to be found, although Tara discovers a set of tire tracks leading away from the scene and hopes it was him escaping. It can be assumed that he’s still alive, as killing him off screen and not making his death obvious both seem unlikely. Tara then makes her way back to Alexandria on her own, where she encounters Eugene at the gate. Her friend is in tears at the sight of her, and we assume he tells her all of the horrid events that have transpired since she left, including the death of her girlfriend Denise, and that of Glenn and Abraham. The final scene is between her and Rosita, who pleads with Tara to tell her of any location where there might be weapons so that they can set things right and avenge the deaths of their friends. Keeping her promise to Cyndie, Tara remains true to her word and tells Rosita that she didn’t see anything like that out there.
It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of bottle episodes, however I did find this one to be enjoyable overall. The setting was unique, and I adore Tara as a character. Furthermore, Alanna Masterson is a talented actress whose performance was stellar in this episode. I also found the new characters to be quite fascinating, but it wasn’t clear what the purpose of introducing them was. I suppose in part it was to show how far The Saviors influence reaches and what lengths they’re willing to go to to keep other communities in line. The problem I have with this concept is that it’s extraordinarily dark, even for The Saviors. Nothing like this has ever taken place in the comics, and in my opinion it violates the code that Negan lives by. While he would absolutely kill members as a show of force, killing every man and boy over ten in a community isn’t his style. His intent has always been to intimidate just enough to keep people in line, not send them fleeing for their lives. It begs the question whether he knew of or approved of this situation, or whether there are members of his group acting of their own accord. Regardless, I fear what it means for this group of strong and capable ladies. Either we met them for a single episode, which would be a shame because they would make an interesting addition to the series, or we’ll see them again and it will likely be their demise. Either way, it leaves me wondering what the writers have in mind for the bigger picture. While there are good episodes and occasionally compelling arcs, the endless bottle episodes and plodding pace is doing nothing but hurting the show at this point. With any luck the pace will gain momentum and the remaining episodes of the season will improve.
Image credits: AMC, FOX TV