The Walking Dead: season 7 episode 8 review – Hearts Still Beating
After last week’s episode of The Walking Dead, I had high hopes that AMC would deliver a strong mid-season finale. However, I find myself disappointed yet again. Here we have another extended episode, which I believe makes four out of eight so far this season. Sixteen episodes per season is a bit much as it is, adding extra time for a whole lot of dialogue that rarely goes anywhere feels unbearably tedious at this point. But I digress. Aaron and Rick manage to procure supplies and arrive back at Alexandria to find Negan and company making themselves at home, Maggie continues to exhibit strong leadership skills, Daryl finds a savior in Jesus, Carol and Morgan’s convictions cannot be swayed, Spencer has guts, Michonne helps Rick see the light. Oh, and evidently overweight people are unlikely to survive in an apocalyptic world, but more on that later. While the episode did tie some of the storylines together, it still somehow managed to fell plod along and feel muddled. Below is our spoiler-heavy review.
Rick and Aaron decide to risk getting supplies from the boat they discovered floating in the middle of a pond surrounded by walkers. They take a rowboat riddled with bullet holes, despite knowing that it will take on water, which brings them to a canoe. The plan is to take the canoe the rest of the way to the larger boat, but they somehow don’t see undead body lying in it and everything starts to go to hell. Aaron falls into the water and things aren’t looking so good for him, but he somehow manages to swim underwater and make his way back to Rick. The duo then takes out the rest of the dead on the way to the larger boat where they find a large stash of supplies. They then drive the boat to the shore and it’s revealed that they’re being watched, but we don’t know by whom. Presumably the owner of the boat, but it’s too soon to say for sure. While the water zombies were entertaining to watch, one must wonder why they stayed in the water. There didn’t seem to be anything holding them there, and they were mobile enough to attack the boats and Aaron. So why didn’t they just walk out of the pond? Who knows, I sure don’t. Regardless, Rick and Aaron make it out in one piece with an abundance of supplies and head back to Alexandria where Negan and company are settled in and the community anxiously awaits their return.
Meanwhile Spencer is taking advantage of Rick’s absence by introducing himself to Negan and declaring that he would make a better leader than Rick. The fearsome leader is unimpressed and literally guts him in front of the entire community. I’ve been anticipating this scene ever since Spencer was introduced, as it’s taken directly from the comics. Yet somehow it didn’t quite translate as well and felt a bit lacklustre. Maybe it’s because Spencer was difficult to take seriously, or possibly because Negan talks so much that he doesn’t feel like the imposing threat that he should. Rosita, having lost yet another lover at the hands of Negan, puts the bullet Eugene made her to use and fires at Negan. He moves Lucille just in time and instead she hits his beloved bat, causing him to be furious. He has one of his croneys pin her to the ground at gunpoint and demands to know who made the bullet. Rosita insists that she did it herself, but he’s has a keen sense for bullshit and knows she’s lying, so he commands that someone be killed. The woman holding Rosita down raises her weapon and shoots Olivia, who until then had been standing on the porch next to Carl. This was both predictable and disappointing. As is common with The Walking Dead, they gave her dialogue and character development very recently, so her death was pretty much a given. Eugene eventually admits to having made the bullet and is taken by The Saviors when they leave.
Denise was not the only overweight character to die in this episode, making it evident that the writers have no tact whatsoever. When we last saw Daryl, who’s been captive at The Sanctuary since the beginning of the season, he was given a note telling him to leave along with the key to a motorcycle. He manages to sneak out undetected until he reaches the area where the vehicles are being held and is spotted by Fat Joey. The man tells him he won’t try to stop him, but Daryl goes full Negan on him with a metal pipe and bashes his head in. Jesus, apparently being the one to assist in Daryl’s escape, turns up and tries to stop him but is ineffective. Not only were two overweight characters killed violently in this episode, but they were both repeatedly shamed for their weight. Stay classy, TWD. Anyway, my other issue with this sequence is the unlikeliness of the entire scenario. Anyone who reads the comics knows that Jesus is stealthy, but this is preposterous. You’re telling me he somehow got inside the compound, found the motorcycle keys, discovered where Daryl was being held captive and unlocked the door and slipped him the key, and then waited around undetected while Daryl escaped (during which he took the time to change his clothes and eat Dwight’s peanut butter). Why slide Daryl the note if he unlocked the door? Why not just open it and show him the way out? Not to mention, AMC’s golden boy bashing in the head of a character who didn’t seem to be an immidiate threat? Seems horribly out of character to me, but maybe Negan has a hold on him after all.
The Hilltop seem to be the only group operating reasonably, which is ironic considering Maggie and Sasha are both grieving their significant others. Gregory proves yet again to be tasteless, but is again put in his place by Maggie who is gaining favor within the community. Sasha lies to Maggie about Jesus’ whereabouts and Enid calls her out on it declaring that she isn’t the only one that wants Negan dead. And she’s not wrong, the ladies all have it in for him as was already proven by Rosita, but Michonne is also on her own mission. We last saw her after she trapped a female Savior and demanded to be taken to Negan. Michonne tries to get information out of the woman, but doesn’t have much luck. She’s driven close enough to their compound so that she can see how vast their numbers are and comprehend what they’re up against, and then the woman tells her there’s a gun in the glovebox with a silencer, and that she should get rid of the vehicle afterward. So, Michonne shoots the woman. Okay, what? Much like the scene with Daryl, I’m pretty sure this whole plotline didn’t have to involve her killing someone. Again, this felt really out of character.
Carol seems to be the only one who’s anything but interested in taking on Negan’s group. She receives a surprise visit from Morgan, and then Richard from The Kingdom shows up and tries to persuade them both that they need to aid him in convincing King Ezekiel to duel with The Saviors. Neither of them are having it, and Carol yet again insists that she doesn’t want to be involved with anyone or anything at any time and just wants to be left alone. Morgan won’t comply because there’s currently peace between the groups and he won’t be involved in ruining that. Quite frankly this is getting a little old for both characters and they really need to try something new for each of them. While I appreciate their strong convictions, the writers have really managed to overplay their hand here. I sincerely hope that by the end of the season both Carol and Morgan find some sort of balance with what they’re comfortable doing and what needs to be done for survival. Otherwise these once interesting characters have become unbearably one dimensional.
Rick and Aaron make it back to Alexandria to find Negan there making himself at home and, you know, randomly killing members of his group. He’s informed of Carl’s journey to The Sanctuary and learns that he killed two members of Negan’s group. In the comic books this scene played out a little differently and involved Rick assaulting Negan. Here he just stumbles around sweating and giving Negan the stink eye, making me really miss the Ricktatorship days. However he does manage to tell Negan to leave, who more or less obliges. Thereafter Rick and Michonne have a moment in which she reveals some of the details of her expedition and he tells her she’s right in wanting to take on The Saviors.
The core members of the group then make their way to The Hilltop and we have a family reunion. Daryl is revealed to be there with Jesus and everyone hugs it out. They then head to the main house to presumably start making plans for fighting The Saviors. While this should have been a really touching moment, I found myself feeling really detached and, well, downright bored. While I have and idea of what’s to come, I’m not confident that the writers will handle it in a meaningful and entertaining way. What I anticipate is that the upcoming war between the communities will be dragged out needlessly and the stories will become even more disjointed. I guess we’ll have to wait and see, because the series is on winter hiatus for the next several weeks. I for one am welcoming the break. Maybe I’ll even be less jaded when it returns.
Don’t miss the Mid-Season Premiere of The Walking Dead, Sunday, February 12th in the US and Monday, February 13th in the UK and check out the promo below for the second half of the season:
Image credits: AMC, FOX TV