Season 7, Episode 6 - Swear
Welcome to the sixth installment of a weekly column where Gingernutters Kayleigh Edwards and Kit Power take to a shared Google Doc to discuss this week’s Walking Dead broadcast episode in a conversational exchange. Enjoy!
Warning: The following conversation contains SPOILERS for The Walking Dead, up to and including the events of Season 7, Episode 6. If you don’t want to be spoiled, please turn away now. For those of you who have seen S7 E6, please join in with the conversation in the comments section.
Kit Power: So, then. Tara. Heath. Zombie sand surprise! And yet another chess piece on the board (and indeed settlement). How did this one find you, Kayleigh?
Kayleigh Edwards: Welllll I think this one slowed the pacing down overall, but I did enjoy watching a ‘Tara’ episode - we haven’t seen her in quite a while!
KP: I like Tara. Seeing her made me sad all over again about Denise because I liked her too. Damnit, show, why can’t we have nice things?!?
I gotta be honest, I’m less sold on Heath. I’m kind of struggling with the ‘big moral conundrum’ that taking out The Saviours supposedly represents - the fundamental crossing of a line. I mean, I get that it was, say, the first time Glen killed another person, but I don’t get why everyone in the show seems to be treating it as this huge line that’s been crossed. Just like in Terminus, this was about survival, for me - The Saviours are basically somewhere between the Mongol Horde and slavers, after all. So the opening ‘moral debate’ part fell a bit flat for me, because a) we’ve heard it before and b) I don’t really think the debate is that deep. And as it came up again later in the episode, I guess it’s worth talking about. What’s your take on it?
KE: Yeah, we’ve seen this before… all the way back in the grand, old season 2 ‘Dale vs The People About Randall’ episode. Things have changed a lot since then, and it’s been a recurring issue, particularly with Carol. We’ve gone through this whole killing to survive debate with Carol and Morgan, and Carol and herself. We went through it again when Rick’s group opted to take out the Saviours at the satellite station. I guess the difference with that scenario was that it wasn’t a battle scenario, but a premeditated, sneaky attack, that involved slaughtering sleeping, unsuspecting people in their beds. It is a step further than they’ve gone before, but as much as I love TWD, even I will admit that this theme is turning into a snoozefest - particularly when it’s coming from a clueless character like Heath, who had the luxury of ignoring the apocalypse until now.
KP: Right. And I mean, I don’t want to ding him for that, it’s not his fault, but it’s just… I mean, yeah, killing them in their sleep I’m sure felt rotten, but to me that’s still just a different tactic, not a step change morally. Once you’ve made the clear eyed assessment that these people are an existential threat and there’s no bargain to be made, you do what you gotta.
Or maybe I’m just a sociopath.
Hey, zombies in sand though! Sand zombies! That was a fun moment, no?
KE: Yes.. they were new! I love the zombies in this show, I honestly think they’re the best in the world, in terms of SFX. I love to be surprised by ‘new’ zombies still, even though we’re now seven seasons in!
KP: Agreed, and the one with the sand pouring out of its mouth - I love how this show is still finding new and exciting ways to make me say ‘Eww!’.
Meanwhile, downstream, we have a new settlement. Now, first things first - how long did it take you to work out what was different about the place? And how did you feel about WHY the place was so different?
KE: As soon as Tara snuck in, I noticed the lack of men. I can accept that the Saviours slaughtered the men… however, I think there’s something “fishy” about the idea that they also killed all the boys over ten. That, to me, doesn’t seem to be Negan’s way, but what do I know?
KP: Well, see, this is where my ‘Negan is Ghengis Kahn’ theory plays out. Because that’s almost exactly what the Mongols did. If a town showed resistance (or sometimes even when it didn’t) they’d take all the men and walk them past a wagon, and anyone tall enough so that their head was above the wheel axle was beheaded. True story. And I think Negan’s easy that much of a brute - I know everyone loves him, but he is still the bad guy!
Anyway. So I went and punched the air when she said that, then felt guilty, because I was just celebrating all those murders just because it proved a pet theory of mine. So I’m a bad person, but at least I know I’m bad…
Still and all, I enjoyed that sequence. I like how even a relatively minor character like Tara is still pretty bad assed - the moment where she took out the woman with the gun was really enjoyable. What did you think of Oceanside? And do you think this is the last we’ll see of them?
KE: I don’t buy their entire story about the Saviours taking out the kids for two reasons, but your theory about Negan is probably right! A) I just find it difficult to believe that Negan, given his reluctance to kill women, would feel the need to murder children, and B) Kids are impressionable and so they are the perfect recruitment candidates.. Well at least I think so. The Oceanside’s policy to “kill strangers on sight” makes me wonder if there are bits to their ‘origin story’ that they left out.
I don’t think this is the last we’ll see of them, especially Cindy. I’ve got a feeling that someone else in the group will stumble across the camp and find the arsenal, orrrrrr perhaps Oceanside will need help and send someone out to find Tara’s group after all?
KP: It’s possible. Also, they are well drilled and sitting on a good arsenal. I also like the idea that the part of the map they occupy will effectively be labelled ‘here be dragons’ as it’s effectively a dead zone (literally). Though surely it’s only a matter of time before The Saviours find them again?
One of the things I think the show is really good at (which I think is a combination of excellent writing and casting) is creating these believable communities with their own internal politics and dynamics really efficiently - the women of the settlement as a group get about three scenes, and by the end of that we as the viewer have got pretty good sketches of who the characters are and how they interact? What did you think of those group scenes? And do you think the kill order on Tara came from the top? That’s been bugging me...
KE: Yeah, totally. I think they decided that she was dead as soon as she said she didn’t want to stay. Again, it’s like the situation with Randall - with Tara being Randall. This group are absolutely terrified of a more powerful group finding them and potentially wiping them out or seizing control. Allowing Tara to leave with knowledge of their secret location is very very risky for them, so I understand the kill order (obviously glad Tara got away though!).
KP: Well, yeah, I can see that - and if their origin story is even close to true, it would certainly explain it.
Interestingly, it does mean they aren't planning on lasting more than the next generation. So when they say their goal is survival, it’s survival for them, but not in any wider sense.
I’m glad Tara got away too, and I thought her homecoming was beautifully played, especially with Eugene (Josh McDermitt) greeting her in tears as she walked in. That really got to me, I have to say.
KE: Yeah I’ve got a feeling that there’s more to it than they just ‘don’t trust strangers’ at Oceanside, like there’s another reason they don’t have any men around. Like, you know, like maybe something horrible happened to a few of those women, at the hands of some awful men, and now they’re playing a ‘better safe than sorry’ game because they only trust each other? I dunno. Maybe I’ve completely overthought the whole thing!
I felt so sorry for Tara when she finally made it home, only to be confronted with the worst kind of news. What did you make of her lying to Rosita?
KP: I think that was about honoring her promise to Cindy. I think we were supposed to think of them as kindred spirits, and that was the deal for getting away. It would have been a pretty awful betrayal of trust to turn them over, and I think Tara’s whole point is that she’s just not going to be That Person, morally. Which means the show is going to kill her painfully, of course, because that’s what the show does to decent people. But still. I’ll enjoy her while she lasts.
Of course, if the rest of the gang later find out she knew where there was a huge weapons cache the whole time, they might kill her themselves. Which would be horrible.
I guess the biggest problem with self-contained episodes like this is that by definition they don’t advance the main plot much - I can’t see Oceanside playing immediately into the main story, so we’re left with Tara back in Alexandria. Do you think that impacts much on the group dynamics there, moving forward? And what do we suppose next week has in store, and the mid season break hurtles towards us?
KE: At the moment, it doesn’t advance the plot, but I think it will eventually. There are several ways it could go - like you say, if the group find out that Tara knew of an armoury and another group with reason to hate the Saviours, then she could be in trouble. Perhaps something will happen, like someone else in the group will die, and then Tara will feel guilty because if they’d had weapons, it could have been avoided, and then she’ll tell Rick about Oceanside. Perhaps she’ll end up going back? It could be used for anything!
I’m not sure that Tara’s presence in Alexandria will have much of an impact on the group dynamic, because she still needs to figure out what her role in the group is.
I’m really hoping that we find out what happens to Carl and Jesus in the next episode!
KP: Oh, shit yeah! That was the bastard cliff hanger from last week. Okay, yes please, Carl and Jesus and Negan and Daryl, oh my! I really have just no conception about how that shit’s gonna play out...
KE: Me neither, I just hope that none of those characters die, or I’ll be emotional.
KP: Oh boy… :/