The Walking Dead SN7 EP06-‘Swear’

Tara returns and shines in the spotlight as yet another new community is introduced.

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After a nine-episode absence, both Tara and Heath returned in this week’s extended episode which acted as somewhat of a breather from recent tragedies. It was a necessary episode if only to give us a much needed break from all grief and general depression surrounding just about everyone else on the show. Since her introduction Tara has always been brilliant for some great comic relief, and given Abraham is no longer in the picture, she’s needed now more than ever. That being said, by episode’s end it looked as though she’s joined everyone else in mourning. Still, Tara was on fine form this episode, which did even more world building, and mostly set events in motion for later on down the line.

If you told me when she first entered the show that Tara would one day get what essentially boils down to a solo episode, I would have laughed in disbelief. Indeed, the fact that she has managed to make it to Season 7 is a big enough surprise. Alanna Masterson has always been great as Tara, and I really like the character, she just hasn’t really been given a meaningful storyline up until now. Her relationship with Denise was a sweet element of Season 6, but even that was cut brutally short, so hopefully now that she has this secret, things will pick up for her. It will no doubt factor into Tara’s character from now on. She essentially holds the key to beating Negan, or at the very least putting up a good fight with all the guns at Oceanside, yet she’s honourably choosing to keep it secret. This will likely take its toll on her as the season progresses, due to her own likely desire for revenge, and pressure from all those around her who wish to put an end to Negan. This could mark a really interesting development for Tara and the show as a whole, as we’ve never really seen psychological damage as a result of a secret done as a storyline. Of course, who better to emotionally crush than the show’s peppiest character.

This episode also introduced us to yet another new community, in the form of the Oceanside. This was a group of characters that in the comic book just sort of appeared with little fanfare, so the story here was full of surprise. In an episode that essentially took a break from Negan, it showed that his reach is far wider than we ever could have imagined. It seems no group in quite a large area has been able to escape him, but the people of Oceanside might have had the most traumatic dealings with him yet. A question looming over much of the episode was why the group contained only women. Like Tara, my thoughts immediately jumped to whether they even accepted men, but the truth was much more disturbing. After refusing to work for Negan, every man and boy over the age of 10 was lined up and shot in the head, leaving only the women behind. Mass murder on a scale such as that is something that really could have only been told on the show rather than watched. If people stopped watching after what happened to Glenn and Abraham, I imagine this would have been a whole lot worse. The story, however horrifying, helps flesh Negan out even more. With the Hilltop and Rick’s group, he initially only killed one or two people to set an example, so the story of what he did to the Oceansiders paints him as a thoroughly more brutal man.

It helps that despite trying to kill Tara multiple times, the Oceansiders were an interesting new set of characters. Once the reasoning for their shoot on site policy became clear, they became much more sympathetic, and badass kid Cindy is someone I could easily see becoming an exciting new recurring character. Hidden among the trees, the settlement itself was different to what we’ve seen before, and added to the general feeling that this episode was a refreshing break from the norm. Yes, Negan’s presence was looming over the entire episode, especially given Tara and Heath didn’t know what had happened back home, but ultimately this episode was a reminder that Negan isn’t everything, and the show has other stories to tell. However, I don’t think it would have worked as well with any other character than Tara. Her humour and positivity despite all the tragedy that has befallen her makes her stand out from all the rest, and she brings some levity to most scenes she’s in.

Of course with so much newness going around there’s plenty more to talk about, so other notable highlights include:

  • Heath! I really enjoy Heath, and this episode only strengthened my opinion of him so it’s just a shame he can’t be on the show more. The actor who plays him, Corey Hawkins, is a very talented guy and clearly others have noticed, so between an emerging film career and starring in the new 24 reboot, he just hasn’t got much time to be Heath. Many assumed that because of this he wouldn’t make it to the end of this episode, so it was again a refreshing change of pace for the writers leave his whereabouts unknown. Writing him out like this gives him the possibility to return later on, and going out saving a beloved character is quite the exit.

  • It seems that wherever Heath went, he got away using the van he and Tara had, but he possibly left a key card marked PPP. Clearly the writers aren’t just going to have Heath pop up when next available like nothing’s happened, so this is an interesting way to inject some mystery into the matter.

  • How awesome was Cindy? By my count she saved Tara’s life a total four times this episode from her less than welcoming group, so that definitely makes her awesome in my book, and I imagine she’ll end up being the bridge between her group and the Alexandrians once the time comes.

  • You’d think that 7 seasons in they’d stop being able to come up with new and exciting Walkers, but it seems not. The sand Walkers were exceptionally eerie, but the scenes with them pointed out an obvious flaw. Whenever the group is ambushed by a large amount of Walkers, and the writers haven’t planned for any of said group to die, the Walkers seem to simply mill around. Sometimes they’ll get to eat people within seconds, and then at others they’ll just sort of half-heartedly grasp at people. It’s a noticeable problem that takes you out of the show for a moment.

  • After a fairly funny episode, it all came crashing down with those final few scenes. I was thankful that they didn’t make us live through the deaths all over again, instead using Eugene’s face to convey to Tara everything that had happened. In that one moment everything came crashing down.

So overall this episode was an enjoyable change of pace. The decision to give Tara the spotlight was a surprising one, but also one that payed dividends due to the character’s funny nature, as she brought some joy to the show. The introduction of a new group was obviously set up for them to return later on down the line, making this episode more likely to succeed as part of the whole season rather than stood on its own. It was reminiscent of the same episode last season that saw the introduction of Dwight and Sherry. Still, the episode offered up plenty of drama, with Tara now the bearer of a secret that could change the tides of the coming war against Negan, and Heath mysteriously disappeared. With only to episodes left until the show takes its midseason break, it’s nice to see things start to finally pick up.


Joe thinks that it’s so awesome The Walking Dead is devoting whole episodes to single characters, he’s now starting a campaign for Shiva the Tiger to get a solo episode. Follow his antics over on Twitter.

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