You know how we’ve all been wondering what happened to Tara (Alanna Masterson) and Heath (Cory Hawkins) since they left to go scavenging last season? Yeah, me neither. Apparently, their stories are not ones TPTB want us to forget, and this week’s episode of The Walking Dead, titled “Swear,” is 99% about them. Or, should I say, it’s 99% about Tara and her adventures with a newly discovered community called Oceanside.
See all those clips of other people from far more interesting plotlines? Yeah, forget about them this week. This Walking Dead episode is All Tara, All The Time. Sigh… Yes, I realize it’s not a bad thing to have some Tara time, but a whole episode? When there’s so much other stuff going on? And after poor Alanna Masterson just had a baby? The directors gave her a post-baby workout that rivaled Daryl’s (Norman Reedus) time in the woods eating squirrels and collecting walker ears. She was running through the trees, knocking people in the head with rifle butts, spearing zombies, getting into fist fights with other women, dealing with handcuffs, dodging bullets and sliding into dirty hiding places. It was like Chained Heat but without the bars and lesbian rape.
Anyway, this episode of The Walking Dead starts with a young woman named Cindy (Sydney Park) and her murderous little protege, Rachel (Mimi Kirkland), as they stumble upon an unconscious Tara on the beach by the ocean. Rachel wants to kill Tara and refuses to help Cyndie try to save her. When she finally wakes up in the shade next to some fresh water and salted perch, Tara sees Cyndie and follows her back to Oceanside, a small fishing camp full of women, where her sneaky behavior gets her attacked. She spares the life of Beatrice (Briana Venskus), knocking her out with a gun butt rather than shoot her. Her kindness does not go unpunished, and she’s eventually trapped and nearly killed once again by psycho Rachel, before Cyndie comes to her rescue. Why are all of the little girls in this show such murderous psychopaths?
Handcuffed to a radiator, Tara meets the leader of the group, Natania (Deborah May). After some lie-speckled back and forth, the women decide to feed Tara a lovely dinner of fish stew and bread and explain that they’re so reclusive because the Saviors had killed their entire male population over the age of ten after they had decided to fight back against Negan. They invite her to stay with them forever and ever and ever. Tara convinces them it’s better all around if this new village teams up with Alexandria and they help each other out rather than hiding themselves away. The Oceansiders eventually agree to this and, after an awkward semi-fist bump with Natania, send Tara off with two bodyguards to help her find Heath and make their way back to Alexandria, where this shiny, happy helping can begin.
Oh, yeah. By the way, Heath is in this episode, too. We get a little backstory where we’re reminded that Heath and Tara had decided to go on a scavenging mission back in season 6. They stumble across an abandoned camp set up on an easy-to-defend bridge, but accidentally release about 50 desiccated walkers under a pile of beach sand. It’s implied that Heath abandons Tara, but we eventually find out he actually held the walkers off so she could escape. Tara gets knocked off of the bridge and eventually floats to the beach, where Cyndie and Rachel find her. Heath may or may not be alive.
On their way to the bridge, Tara figures out the women were really leading her off into the woods to kill her (Why did they bother going through so much trouble to convince Tara they were going to set up relations with Alexandria just to kill her?) Anyway, there’s a chase scene and a throw down between Tara and Beatrice, where sneaky Cyndie saves her yet again.
After swearing that she won’t tell anyone the whereabouts of Oceanside, the two women get to the bridge where Tara last saw Heath. Cyndie takes out walkers so Tara can make it across. She sees a walker with very similar Heath hair, but it ends up being a woman. Phew! She also sees a fresh skid mark in the mud and a key card with PPP written on it. This makes Tara relax and smile for some reason, as if PPP somehow confirms that Heath is still alive.
With a new bounce in her step, Tara makes her way back to Alexandria, stopping off at an abandoned curio shop to pick up some orange sunglasses and a doctor bobblehead for her girlfriend, Dr. Denise (Merritt Wever). As Eugene (Josh McDermitt) opens the gates, his tear-streaked face reminds the audience that, not only did Tara and Heath miss Glenn and Abraham’s deaths, but also that of Tara’s lover, Denise. Even after finding this out, Tara still keeps Oceanside’s existence a secret from the others.
Who else believes the story behind the lack of men in Oceanside is total BS? If Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and the Saviors killed all males over the age of ten, where are the younger ones hiding? Wouldn’t those women actually want men in their village to – oh, I don’t know – procreate with to keep the entire town from eventually going under from old age? I seriously thought the leader of the group would introduce herself as Diana Prince.
They also have electricity, which seems far-fetched. How many solar power geniuses could there possibly be left? Unless they’re all running on generators, but that gas can’t last forever. Also, the Oceansiders say they’re trying to remain hidden from all other groups, yet they have bells and air horns going off all around them to draw the walkers (or, as they call them, bobbers) away. Aren’t they afraid some other wandering parties will hear them and figure out where the village is?
Also, why they thought that adding yet another community into the mix just three episodes before the mid-season finale, I don’t know. There are a lot of storylines to wrap up now. Or, as The Walking Dead so deftly proves, there are a lot of storylines to leave on cliffhangers for the hiatus. Since Carl (Chandler Riggs) and Jesus (Tom Payne) are already in the truck and headed off into adventures unknown, I’m guessing we won’t be seeing much from them in the next two eps. Instant cliffhanger! We’ll probably be left swinging in the wind about the status of Heath, too. Because why not? But considering the fact that Corey Hawkins will be starring in a new 24 TV series, it’s not looking good for our bespectacled hero.
My guesses for the next two episodes of The Walking Dead: one will be about Daryl as he readies himself to fight back against Dwight (Austin Amelio) and finally Negan, and the next will be Rick (Andrew Lincoln) realizing that Carl is missing and his will to fight for his son relights like a flaming phoenix. Maybe we’ll get a snippet of Morgan (Lennie James) coming back to Alexandria with news about Carol (Melissa McBride) or possibly Maggie (Lauren Cohen) having it out with Gregory (Xander Berkley) over The Negan Crisis. There’s got to be a reason they showed Oceanside, so I’m guessing there will be some sort of repercussions from that that will somehow put Alexandria in even more danger. However it happens, you can bet that at least one main character will be in mortal peril by the end of the next two episodes of The Walking Dead.