The Walking Dead continues its ill-fated tour around its ever-expanding world that we're traveling this season. Over the course of five episodes, we've managed to check in with all our characters except for the last two — Heath and Tara.
You may have forgotten about them because they're not very important, but the show decided to invest an entire 70-minute episode into their supply-run adventures anyway.
The episode is told slightly out of order, skipping between Heath and Tara on their two week mission and the aftermath of a zombie attack that separates them.
The pair left shortly after the attack on the Savior outpost last season. Heath is dealing with the moral ramifications of having murdered a bunch of people proactively, while Tara exudes her usual pragmatic and likable charm. After two weeks of searching, they haven't found much and don't want to return empty-handed.
They stumble upon a barricade on a bridge that looks straight out of a raider camp in Fallout. Tara inadvertently triggers the classic Sand-Zombie Dungeons & Dragons trap, unleashing a tidal wave of undead who were hiding in the sand next to a dump truck. The attack separates them, and Tara falls over into the water.
Tara washes up on a beach, and is nearly killed by a young girl named Rachel. Luckily, she's saved by another young woman named Cyndie — and it won't be the last time, either. Tara stealthily follows her back to discover a hidden settlement near the water full of women, children and an armory full of weapons. Tara is swiftly captured and saved from an instant execution by Cyndie. She proves herself (mostly) honest and forthright with what she's doing, though she's careful not to mention Alexandria.
Tara's wit and charm win over her captors, and we learn about them from their leader, Tanya, who turns out to be Cyndie's grandmother. All their men were killed in an attack, and they've adopted a policy to shoot strangers on sight and remain hidden from outsiders. They suggest that Tara stay with them so they don't have to kill her or risk letting her go and telling anyone about them.
They also manage to catch Tara in a lie about her made-up past working on a fishing boat. She comes clean and tells them about her safe community at Alexandria. They agree to help find her friend Heath, then send a pair of escorts with her to check out the city.
"Some people are evil. I've seen it"
This seems reasonable, but at the first chance she gets, Tara makes a break for it when they're halfway there. She ends up in a scuffle with one of her guards and learns, at gunpoint, what happened to their men: they crossed the Saviors. Tara still thinks that the Saviors were all defeated in the attack last season and it becomes an annoying moment where the audience knows far more than the character does.
She's saved by Cyndie yet again, who tackles the guard and lets them both escape back to the bridge. Cyndie has some philosophical differences with the rest of her post-apocalypse family — namely the shoot on sight rule — and opts to help Tara because it's the right thing to do.
"Nobody's evil. They just decide to forget who they are," Cyndie says.
But Tara replies, "Some people are evil. I've seen it."
The bridge is still crawling with sandy zombies, but Cyndie is a crack shot with a rifle and Tara knows how to dodge and weave.
Tara makes it across, but not before bonding with this young woman that is strongly against killing. She and Morgan would get along swimmingly, and she may be the key to unlocking this whole community.
For now Tara leaves it all behind to try and find Heath, but simply finds tire tracks and his glasses instead. She hoofs it on foot all the way back to Alexandria in a small montage where she continues to scavenge and avoid zombies, eventually making it back home where she hears the terrible news of all the deaths that have transpired.
In the end, Rosita asks Tara if they found something, anything, to help them fight back against the Saviors. Tara lies, ultimately protecting the group she stumbled onto for now. And also making this episode an even bigger waste of time.
Still no word on what happened to Heath. Hopefully he didn't get kidnapped and forced into a terrible subplot.
The Walking Dead is brazen in its ability to draw this season out and focus entire episodes on just a few characters, a single location or event. It's passable to do this for maybe one or two episodes, but so far it has taken up the majority of the season, and it's destroying all sense of pacing and coherent plot structure. Based on the show's recent drop in ratings, fans aren't happy, either.
[COMIC SPOILER] We know from the comics that we're building up to an all out war with Negan and the Saviors. We also know that it requires multiple communities — and Dwight — to rise up against him. But we already have the Hilltop and the Kingdom. I don't think we need this random warrior women fisher tribe, and we certainly did not need to devote an entire episode to Tara's discovery of it.
Tara: Who would have thought a relatively minor character would suddenly get her own episode? I like Tara as a character but she's not exactly a Daryl or a Morgan. Still the writers gave her plenty of jabs, jokes, and playful shrugs that I could never hate her. She'd give Jesus and Aaron a run for their money in people-recruiting skills, even if she's not quite successful here.
The Walking Dead: Seriously what is the show doing right now? An entire episode on what Tara and Heath have been doing was the last thing we needed, and we really didn't need to introduce yet another community so soon. You're officially in the Losers column this week, Walking Dead!