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‘The Walking Dead’ Midseason Finale Review: ‘Hearts Still Beating’ Promises Excitement In 2017

Season 7, Episode 8 — the midseason finale — is still pretty dull, but there's war on the horizon.

Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier - The Walking Dead _ Season 7, Episode 8 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

Melissa McBride in “The Walking Dead.”

Gene Page/AMC

LAST WEEK’S REVIEW: ‘Sing Me A Song’ Shows Carl the Joys of Dictatorship

Whose Episode Is It?

It’s the midseason finale, so everyone’s accounted for, even Carol and Morgan. “Hearts Still Beating” is yet another 90-minute episode, and even with so many characters to feature, it’s still a drag. It’s at least better than last week’s “Sing Me A Song,” but that’s damning with faint praise. The main idea is that Rick finally realizes that the Saviors need to be resisted, and the best way to do that is to unite all the Saviors’ enemies (and not have five different “lone gunman” assassination plots). The problem is that the audience knew that’s what needed to happen after, say, Episode 2 of Season 7, but we’ve had to sit around as the communities were all introduced and the Saviors repeatedly proved that yes, they were terrible people (we get even more of that this episode). So while it’s nice that things are moving along, the show took its sweet time getting there.

Man Is The True Monster

So yes, we get some more deaths this episode at the Saviors’ hands, but they feel pretty perfunctory. Spencer gets killed by Negan when he suggests that Negan replace Rick with him, but Spencer was always a jerk, so who cares. Olivia gets killed by a random Savior after Rosita’s failed assassination attempt, and she at least had some nice moments here and there, but she’s still minor enough that it’s not much of a blow. That leaves Tobin as the only speaking-part original Alexandrian left, but while he’s hovering in the crowd scenes this episode, he doesn’t get a line. That means there are almost no bit players left for Negan to artificially raise the stakes by murdering, so this presumably brings the Savior killings to a close before next year’s war begins.

Christian Serratos as Rosita Espinosa - The Walking Dead _ Season 7, Episode 8 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

Christian Serratos in “The Walking Dead.”

Gene Page/AMC

Eugene gets taken away by the Saviors after Negan finds out he can make bullets, but Rosita gets to live. At this point the Alexandrians are so clearly more trouble to Negan than they’re worth, it’s almost funny. The episode also does little to dissuade me from thinking that Negan would be a really easy assassination target. Rosita completely caught him off guard — she just totally choked.

Obligatory Zombie Action

Rick and Aaron cross the lake of zombies, and there’s a decent fake-out where it looks like Aaron is doomed, but then he makes it. Whew! Of course, Aaron later gets the crap kicked out of him by the Saviors for no reason, so it’s all peaks and valleys with that guy.

Viva La Revolución

Morgan’s visit to Carol is interrupted by Richard, the Kingdom’s head of security, who wants them to help him convince Ezekiel to go to war with the Saviors. Since they both hate violence, their answer is no, but Richard gives a depressing speech where he tells Morgan that he’s definitely going to choose to kill one day, because life in “The Walking Dead” is an endless moral quagmire from which no hope can escape. I really hope Richard is wrong. Obviously the Kingdom will eventually join Rick’s rebellion, but not until next year.

Lennie James as Morgan Jones - The Walking Dead _ Season 7, Episode 8 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

Lennie James in “The Walking Dead.”

Gene Page/AMC

A Shred of Humanity

Michonne has her kidnapped Savior take her to Negan, but the lady shows her a huge gathering of Saviors instead, to let her know what she’s up against. The Savior then gives her helpful instructions on killing her quietly and discarding of her vehicle so that the Saviors aren’t suspicious. It’s so tense and odd it actually makes for one of the episode’s more compelling scenes. Michonne does kill the Savior, but realizes that loner cowboy shit isn’t going to win this for them, and heads back to tell Rick as much.

Daryl does manage to escape the Savior compound, killing Fat Joey in the process. It’s a pretty tension-free escape, but at least we don’t have to watch any more sad, confined Daryl scenes.

After Rick and Michonne decide to start their rebellion, everyone in the opening credits goes to visit Maggie and Sasha at Hilltop, and everyone’s delighted to find that Daryl is there, too. Each cast member gets a big sappy, smiley close-up as the music swells, since everyone’s psyched to be together again, planning murders. And thank God, because life under the Saviors rendered the first half of this season into a pretty boring bummer. Bring on the revolution!

The Remains

  • It’s pretty funny that Hilltop seems ready to instantaneously put Maggie in charge, since Gregory so obviously sucks. Just give the pregnant lady your apple, jerk!
  • Some guys in boots watches Rick and Aaron load their supplies and then spies on Alexandria in the post-credits scene. This is presumably a tease for the comics readers out there, but it means nothing to me now.
  • Seriously, Rosita, how could you miss that shot at Negan? He was right there.
  • 90 minutes long and still no King Ezekiel? This show’s priorities are out of whack.

Grade: C+

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