For those of you who read this column regularly (HI DAD), you may have noticed that I’ve been pretty hard on the series of late. It could be just me, but it feels like the writing on The Walking Dead has been on a downward trajectory since the middle of Season 6.
Negan’s awesomeness aside, we are in desperate need of an episode that will injects some much needed energy into the show while also helping to move the overarching narrative forward…
…and what better way to do that than with a bottle episode featuring one of my least favorite characters?
Ugh. I’m going to try and keep an open mind here. But if any of you try to defend Tara, I’ll fistbump you in the face.
Also, this episode does a lot of time hopping (which is becoming a very tiresome/overused narrative device). But I’m a simple man, so I’ll be recapping the events in chronological order.
Long Way Out
Remember Heath and Tara? Turns out they’ve been on a scouting/supply run for a ridiculously long amount of time. I know they said “two weeks,” but that just doesn’t track with what we’ve seen.
Regardless, their road trip gives the characters an opportunity to have a different version of the same conversation we always hear about retaining your humanity, if living just to survive is worth it, blah blah blah.
Later on, they find a settlement in the middle of a bridge. There also happens to be a truck full of sand (or maybe dry cement) that has partially spilled out onto the roadway. Despite Heath’s warnings—and because she’s an idiot—Tara yanks a partially buried bag out of the sand, causing the truck bed to tip over and release a horde of ashy walkers.
The pair quickly becomes surrounded and overwhelmed. Heath tries to save Tara, but she waves him on (thank goodness) before falling over the side of the bridge with walkers hanging off her arms and legs.
If the impact from falling over the overpass into a river didn’t kill Tara, then the walkers who fell in with her certainly should have. Maybe a dumpster bobbed up to the surface right when she hit the water and she was able to float under it.
As if Tara weren’t fortunate enough already, the (apparently walker-free) river somehow carried her unconscious body all the way to a beautiful ocean shoreline. At this point in the show, we see a little girl running around and stabbing walkers while a young woman looks after her. For a moment, I was genuinely scared that we were about to have some sort of Fear the Walking Dead crossover. Then I got excited when it looked like the little girl was going to stab Tara and end our misery. Unfortunately, her babysitter (?) stops her and decides instead to drag Tara to safety and leave her with some supplies.
Welcome to Themyscira
Tara wakes up and follows the woman through the woods back to her home—which turns out to be a very well armed/stocked encampment completely devoid of men. Tara reacts to this by doing the worst job of hiding imaginable. As you might expect in a post-apocalyptic world, this causes her to get shot at.
Tara flees, eventually running into one of the villagers and overpowering her. She takes the villager’s gun, thinks about killing her, then decides to knock her out instead. She’s repaid for her kindness by getting surrounded and captured (and almost shot by the little girl from before, which would have been awesome).
Tara is taken prisoner. Thankfully, her captors seem like pretty decent people. After interrogating her a bit, they reveal that intruders are normally shot on sight due to them wanting to keep their settlement, called Oceanside, a secret. Since Tara spared one of their people, they have decided to spare her…for now.
Later, they have Tara over for dinner, where the head of the settlement that all their men were killed off in a battle with another group of survivors (I’ll give you three guesses who it was). They also invite Tara to stay with them at Oceanside. She declines, offering instead to help them meet up and work with her dysfunctional people back in Alexandria.
The Oceansiders refuse at first, but later decide to send Tara off the next day with two of their people to check things out.
As much as I dislike this episode as a whole, this is where things really went off the rails for me.
Remember that woman Tara knocked out out before? Well, the Oceansiders send her and another person with Tara to go to Alexandria…only it turns out they were actually taking her out into the woods to kill her.
Let that sink in for a minute. They weren’t going to let Tara go back to Alexandria, but still wanted her to think she was going to get to (for whatever reason). Then, instead of killing her when she was securely held captive in their well-armed encampment, they sent her out into the woods—without any sort of restraints—accompanied by two inept guards, one of whom Tara had already overpowered before.
That same woman does manage to get Tara in a position to be executed, but not before the shows’ writers force her to reveal two major weaknesses in their already spotty script for this episode:
- The people who attacked and killed all their men were The Saviors (duh).
- They fled from their original settlement with nothing but the clothes on their back. (So where did they get all the guns?)
Then out of nowhere, Cindy (the woman from the beach) comes to Tara’s rescue. The two flee (because I guess the other guard couldn’t hear all the noise everyone was making) and manage to reach the bridge where Tara fell over into the river. They bond for a while—via the same damn conversation about survival, morality, etc.—before coming up with a plan to get across. Cindy also makes Tara promise she won’t reveal anything about Oceanside to the Alexandrians
Cindy shoots out the walkers while Tara runs like a kid playing in traffic to the other side. When she gets there, she finds someone with dreads that looks exactly like Heath from behind. Then the person turns around, revealing themselves as female walker who also happens to be the only zombie not covered in sand and without any sort of decay/withering of their hair.
Tara gets across the bridge. Cindy gets recaptured. Tara makes it back to Alexandria and finds out that a bunch of main characters died, including her girlfriend, Denise (like I said, there’s no way they were only gone two weeks).
Rosita asks Tara if she met any people on her journey who might have lots of guns and ammo. Tara decides to keep her promise to Cindy and refuses to reveal her knowledge of the Oceanside settlement.
This was not good. Not at all.
Maybe some people find Tara’s quips to be fun and quirky, but I find that they only compound how frustrating it is to watch her make stupid decisions. Also, can we please not have Tara flipping people off (especially children) become her new thing? The fist bump is bad enough.
When you add all the usual Tara-badness to the gigantic plot holes, redundant dialogue, and lack of narrative momentum, this might literally be one of the worst episodes of the series. To be fair, a lot of that may be due to my personal bias (since I can’t stand Tara), but if next week’s episode sucks, then we might really be in trouble.
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