Episode Title: Hearts Still Beating
Original Airdate: 12-11-16
Since we checked in with everyone this week, and it was a 90-minute mid-season finale, there is a lot to cover. First, over at the Kingdom (or just outside at Carol’s new place), Richard pleads with Carol and Morgan to convince Ezekiel to attack the Saviors before their deal turns sour and the Kingdom falls. Both refuse to help and Carol demands to be left alone, which would totally be me in the zombie apocalypse. Actually, that’s pretty much me now.
Back at the Sanctuary, Daryl escapes with the help of Jesus, but when he is caught by Fat Joey who is ready to look the other way, his weeks of torture catch up and he bludgeons poor Joey to death with a lead pipe. Michonne’s ride back to the Sanctuary with her captive Savior is stopped when she realizes they won’t make it past a large checkpoint. She kills the Savior (who suggested it) and turns the car around. While scavenging for supplies, Rick and Aaron finally make it to the assumed dead man’s boat, with some very close calls, but are being watched by a stranger as they load up their truck. At Hilltop, Maggie wears a baseball cap like Glenn and gloves like Abraham while she eats everything in sight.
Meanwhile at Alexandria, Spencer decides to approach Negan with a request and alcohol. He believes he will be a better leader than Rick and would like Negan to make such a thing happen. After a few drinks and a game of pool, Negan sees Spencer for the weasel that he is and guts him in the street. Rosita, having decided to bide her time with her one bullet, changes her mind and takes her shot, hitting Lucille instead. After Negan examines the bullet casing and realizes it was “homemade” he demands to know who it was. When Rosita insists it was her, to which he knows she’s lying, he tells one of his people to kill someone, and so Arat takes out poor Olivia without hesitation. Eugene finally confesses to making the bullet. Rick, having seen the latter half of these shenanigans, tells Negan to take his stuff and go, which he does, with Eugene in tow.
In the aftermath of the Negan’s bloody visit, Rick confesses to Michonne that he realizes they cannot live under Negan’s rule. They, along with Carl, Tara, and Rosita visit Hilltop and reconnect with Maggie, Sasha, Enid and (finally) Daryl, who returns Rick’s Colt Python and the Group seems ready to take Negan down, united.
Once again, this episode was pretty intense. Being the mid-season finale, it seemed fitting that there’d be a death, or more, in an already bloody season, which there was. Thankfully, the two deaths weren’t nearly as traumatic as the two that opened the season. Spencer’s been a third tier character for awhile a now, and his attitude and actions haven’t done him any favors. And what a death he had! Not a fan of anything showing guts, but that was well played on Negan’s part. As for Olivia, she’s been little more than Keeper of the Pantry until the last couple of episodes, so though it is sad to see such an innocent character die, she doesn’t exactly leave a huge Glenn-shaped hole in the show.
Rick and Aaron’s adventure worked for me. I feel like those two haven’t spent much time together, and we’ve barely seen Aaron since his stint with Maggie in the sewers in the first half of Season 6 (other than Negan’s semi-circle of death). I’ve always felt like he has a lot of potential, but they haven’t used him much lately, so it was good to see him back in action, though heartbreaking to see him get a beat down by two Saviors over a piece of paper.
As for Rosita, I love how she’s grown so much this season. I feel Abraham’s death impacted her the most, and it’s taken her development to some deeper and darker places. Of course, I knew she’d miss (JDM has already signed on for Season 8, obviously) but I’m glad Negan didn’t take her out for her itchy trigger finger. I am very intrigued to know how Eugene will fare under Negan’s close watch and what will come of that relationship.
Two things really struck me as little more than filler. First, Michonne’s confusing plan to make it back to the sanctuary seemed so out-of-character for her. I understand that Negan’s arrival has changed everyone, but she hasn’t been given much to do this season and what she has done hasn’t really made sense. Thankfully she did the smart thing and went home to Rick so they could finally be on the same page about what to do next, which I suppose is why she needed to take her trip in the first place, but it seemed an unlikely way for her to end up where she did.
Secondly, Carol, Morgan and the Kingdom have been given the shaft this season. Introduced six episodes ago, King Ezekiel had the potential, and still does, of being a really cool character, but they’ve ignored all of that. Obviously they’re setting things in motion for the Kingdom to be more prominent in the second half of the season, but at this point the timing feels off. I still appreciate the introduction right after the intensity of the season premiere, but they should have sprinkled in a few more scenes over the past few weeks, so the meeting near the beginning didn’t feel thrown in.
But when it comes right down to it, really the only thing I flat out didn’t care for in this episode was Negan shaving the beard. The facial hair just suits his entire look better. All in all, that’s not too shabby of a complaint, so I call it a win. I love the note of hope that this first half of an intense season ended on. Come on, February!