The Walking Dead S7 Mid-Season Finale Recap “Hearts Still Beating”

We Walking Dead fans are an emotional bunch. We love these post-apocalyptic survivors and root for them every step of the way. Right along with our most beloved characters, we felt the blessed coolness of relief when Tyreese (Chad Coleman) escaped that groaning walker hoard. We felt righteous indignation when Daryl (Norman Reedus) took out those motorcycling Saviors with the grenade launcher. Most recently, we felt soul-crushing sadness at the bloody and horrifying deaths of Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Abraham (Michael Cudlitz). Because most of these gut-churning events took place around a mid-season or season finale, we’ve come to expect our Walking Dead worlds to be rocked when the time comes for the show’s hiatuses.

Unfortunately for us, that sad, sad day has finally arrived… this past Sunday, December 11th was The Walking Dead’s mid-season break. Anyone who’s ever watched The Walking Dead (or any drama, for that matter) knows that, just before this two month long hiatus, fans will probably be emotionally walloped with something heavy and possibly covered in barbed wire. As the clock ticked closer to the show’s start time, we all waited with nail-biting nervousness for what we always expect to be the death of a character that we’ve grown to love. What kind of devious torture were TPTB over at The Walking Dead headquarters going to hit us with this time?

The episode both started and ended with Maggie (Lauren Cohen) sitting at Glenn’s grave and then climbing up to a lookout point above the Hilltop’s fenceline. The first time, Gregory (Xander Berkley) made himself look like even more of a douche than usual by implying that, even though the rest of the town applauded Maggie and Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) for stepping in to save their bacon from the Saviors’ singing walker-gram, he was less than thrilled. After a shaming from some random Hilltopper, Gregory reluctantly gave the pregnant Maggie his apple. Later, when Sasha brought Maggie an apple pie baked by a grateful Hilltopper (what’s the deal with Maggie and apples? Can someone explain to me in the comments?), Sasha talked to Enid (Katelyn Nacon) about taking out Negan, but made her promise to keep it a secret from future Hilltop president Maggie, who must be protected at all costs.

Michonne was still driving around with her kidnap victim, who, after refusing to talk, brought Michonne to a place where she could see the size and depth of the Sanctuary before telling her to drive back home and dump the car into a lake. She also mentioned that there was a silencer in the glove compartment. Apparently, this poor woman had no desire to go back to the Sanctuary – or anywhere else, for that matter.

Outside the Kingdom, Carol (Melissa McBride) caught Morgan (Lennie James) dropping off fresh fruit. She called him back to tell him to bugger off, showing him the veggies that Ezekiel (Khary Payton) had already been supplying, much to her dismay. She just wanted to be left alone. As they talked, knight in shining fencing equipment Richard (Karl Makinen) showed up and tried to convince them to talk Ezekiel into taking on the Saviors. Neither one of them are interested, even after Richard tells them it’s just a matter of time before the Saviors go on the offensive. “The Saviors recognized Ezekiel’s capabilities,” he said. “They didn’t want to fight, so they cut a deal. In exchange for food and supplies, none of them would ever set foot in the Kingdom.” I’m not sure what Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) saw in Ezekiel that scared him into staying away from the Kingdom, but Richard i\was convinced that that opinion will soon change. Morgan and Carol couldn’t care less – they’re both done with fighting. I noticed that Richard seemed obsessed with glass milk bottles. I’m not sure what that’s about. Anyone?

We also saw Daryl (Norman Reedus) finally take the advice of the note from last week and GO NOW, escaping from his prison at the Sanctuary. After dodging a flying pickle jar, changing into some guy’s clothes and chowing some peanut butter straight from the jar, Daryl made it outside to his bike, but not before running into Fat Joey (Joshua Hoover). Although Joey obsequiously promised to let Daryl ride right out the gate, Daryl beat his head in with a length of pipe, mumbling, “It ain’t about just getting by here. It’s about getting it all.” Jesus (Tom Payne) just happened to be right there to witness the whole thing before they both presumably hopped onto the Daryl-cycle and tore off into the dusty sunset.

While trying to figure out a way across the water through the pond of walker/bobbers, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Aaron (Ross Marquand) found a rowboat full of bullet holes. Rick told Aaron that he didn’t expect his friend to take this giant risk for the Saviors’ gain, but Aaron justified joining him by saying, “We take what they give us so we can live.” They decided to use Bullet Boat to get to a conveniently floating canoe, which they could then use to get at the houseboat. Aaron broke off a couple of boards from the dead hermit’s sign and the men used these as paddles/walker smackers to make their way to the safer canoe. The shot of Aaron using a board that said ASSHOLES to kill walker/bobbers was not lost on me (unlike so many other things this week).

Floating boats are not the sturdiest things to begin with – add to that a hull full of holes and hungry walker/bobbers trying to climb inside, and this was not an easy task. At one point, one walker/bobber reached up and yanked Aaron into the water, dragging him under. After a few precious seconds of doubt and guilt, Rick saw Aaron’s head pop back up, insisting he was alright. From the shore, two feet in wire-wrapped boots stepped up to watch them struggle.

They made it to the houseboat, where they found everything but ammo. The men got back to shore and loaded up a box truck that I don’t remember being there and drove back home, where they found the Saviors waiting for them. Random Savior #73 discovered one of the hermit’s notes in one of the crates – “Congrats on winning but you still lose” – which he assumed was a dig/threat from Rick. They told Rick to run along to Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) while they kicked the shit out of Aaron. Instead, Rick stayed until they were done and helped his bloody friend back to town.

For reasons unclear to me (I need a lot explained to me this episode), Negan shaved his peppery beard in the Grimes’ sink while waiting for Rick to come back from his scavenging mission. I must admit, the man looks much less scary when he’s clean-shaven. He then made an aproned Carl (Chandler Riggs) help him cook a nice spaghetti dinner (it must have been Tuesday) while mentally torturing poor Olivia (Ann Mahoney), who refused to leave the house since she told Rick that she would watch baby Judith.

As they waited, weaselly kissass Spencer (Austin Nichols) – fresh from giving all of his scavenged items to the Negan’s henchmen, flirting with a cute blonde Savior psycho and asking Rosita (Christian Serratos) to have dinner with him – visited the bat-swinging maniac with his stolen bottle of Scotch, info on where to find a pool table and an offer that Negan had no problem refusing. Using nepotism and Rick’s hatred as reasoning, Spencer thought the town would be better off being run by himself instead of the Rickorator. Citing that “Rick is swallowing his hate and getting shit done” and the fact that Rick was currently risking his life to collect while Spencer sat around playing pool in the safety of Alexandria as two perfect reasons why this would not fly, Negan then disemboweled him right there in the middle of the street in front of a crowd of horrified Alexandrians. Stunned, Rosita pulled out her gun with the one bullet Eugene (Josh McDemitt) had made and shot it at Negan’s head.

Luckily for him (but unluckily for everyone else), the bullet was stopped by none other than Lucille. Quickly getting over his shock, Negan had his right hand assassin Arat (Elizabeth Ludlow) get ready to flay Rosita’s face, but not before trying to force her to admit who made her the bullet. Rosita choked out that it was her, but Negan wasn’t buying it. With a single command, the psycho unleashed Arat, who turned and shot Olivia in the face, killing her instantly. After some more cajoling, Eugene tearfully admitted it was him who made the bullet. Negan surprisingly let Rosita live, but took poor, too-smart-for-his-own-good Eugene with him to go back to the Sanctuary.

This is about the time when Rick showed up. Negan was pissed about everything that had happened – after all, he brought Carl back even after the kid murdered his men plus he took out the guy who wanted to take Rick’s place, and this is the thanks that he got? He told Rick that whatever he found while scavenging was not nearly enough. He surprisingly didn’t mention knowing about Judith to strike another chord of fear into Rick’s heart. After everyone left, Spencer reanimated and Rick had to stab him in the cranium.

Later, Michonne and Rick met up, where they fell into each other’s arms. Michonne promised to work with Rick rather than trying to do everything on her own. She told him about the huge Sanctuary complex and the inundating amount of people living there, but insisted that they can take the dictator out. Rick also talked to Aaron again, who pretty much agreed with Michonne. If they can convince the Hilltop and the Kingdom to work together, the three towns can take out the Sanctuary.

Maggie was once again sitting on her lookout perch at the Hilltop fence when a huge smile crossed her face. The gate opened and Rick walked in, followed by Carl, Michonne, Rosita and Tara (Alanna Masterson). Inside, Rick found Daryl, who bravely chucked his chin at Rick’s shocked expression before ducking his head and burying his face in the front of Rick’s shirt. As Rick wrapped his arms around his friend, a million tears leaked from two million tear ducts across the US. Daryl gave Rick back his shiny Sheriff revolver before the group headed up the hill to Gregory’s house.

So, Spencer and Olivia are dead. Eh. I’m sad about Olivia, but not that sad. It totally could have been worse. I’ve been waiting for Spencer to bite it for this entire season, so good riddance. Surprisingly, this Walking Dead ep actually ended on a high note for once. Rick is getting the band back together! They’re going to storm the castle! Woohoo! Alas, this is adieu for now, Walking Dead fans. I’ll see you again in February! Until then – did anyone else catch that walker with the huge spikes in the teaser? Woah!

About Tracy Allen

As the co-owner and Editor-in-Chief of, Tracy has learned a lot about independent horror films and the people who love them. Now an approved critic for Rotten Tomatoes, she hopes the masses will follow her reviews back to PopHorror and learn more about the creativity and uniqueness of indie horror movies.

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