The Walking Dead

‘The Walking Dead’ Season 7: 7 Questions Raised By “Swear” Source: AMC

The Walking Dead focused in on a single setting / storyline yet again this week with the long-awaited return of Tara and Heath, who hadn’t been seen previously since Season 6, Episode 12. Titled “Swear,” the episode focuses on Tara’s discovery of a new community of survivors who just so happen to have a ton of guns and also hate Negan and the Saviors. While Tara leaves Oceanside on something less than friendly terms, it’s clear that this all-female settlement will be integral to the eventual war with Negan that is on the horizon, but in what capacity remains to be seen. With only two episodes left until The Walking Dead goes on a mid-season break, here are the most pressing questions raised by “Swear.”

7. What Happened To Heath?

This is the most obvious question raised by “Swear,” but one that I could see being left unanswered for awhile. It’s no secret that Corey Hawkins, the actor who plays Heath, was given less of a role on The Walking Dead on account of his commitments to 24: Legacy, but to be honest, I’m surprised that he wasn’t killed off in this episode. While it may very well turn out that he’s lying dead in a ditch somehwere, I suspect that we’ll actually get to see Heath again because he wasn’t explicitly killed off in this episode. If Hawkins were leaving the show, why not just have Tara discover he died and be done with it?

The fact that Heath’s fate is left up in the air suggests that he will return somewhere down the line. I’m guessing we probably won’t see him again until the latter half of the season, but it’s difficult to say how much of a role he may have going forward. If Hawkins is willing to balance his commitments to 24 and The Walking Dead, perhaps his character will stick around, which certainly could be a possiblity considering Heath is an important character in the comics and I’m sure AMC would like to keep him around if they can. It’s also possible that Heath may return for an episode only to be firmly killed off, so really it’s anyone’s guess at this point.

Source: AMC

6. Why Did The Saviors Kill All The Oceanside Men?

One of the biggest questions introduced by Tara’s discovery of the Oceanside community is why there are no men among its inhabitants and thankfully, we don’t have to wait long to find out why. It turns out that Negan and the Saviors are responsible for killing every male member of the group, as Beatrice reveals to Tara that every male 10 and older was lined up and shot. While this is certainly a chilling discovery — and makes the Savior slaughter at the satellite station seem not all that bad in comparison — it’s unclear why Negan would order the deaths of every male member of this community.

Negan is a remorseless killer, yes, but there at least seems to be a method to his madness. His entire operaion is based on keeping people alive so that they can work for him, so why would he slaughter an entire group of able-bodied men? The fact that he kills all the young boys too is especially problematic, as you would think that he would want to keep them alive in order to turn them into Saviors (it’s not exactly a secret that young men are impressionable and easily molded by ideaology). Hopefully we get more clarification on what went down with the Oceanside group and the Saviors, as I’m genuinely curious to find out why Negan made this decision.


5. How Has Negan Not Found Oceanside?

Although “Swear” is yet another middling episode of The Walking Dead overall, the introduction of the Oceanside community is easily one of the most intriguing developments of the season. The all-woman community’s kill on sight mandate comes as a shock at first, but once it’s revealed that it’s because the Saviors slaughtered all of the group’s men, it begins to make a lot more sense. It turns out that Oceanside is, like Alexandria before it, a settlement that Negan has yet to discover, which at this point is starting to stretch plausibility. With the sheer amount of reach and resources that the Saviors have, it already felt a bit unbelievable last season that Alexandria went so long without the Saviors knocking on their door and now with Oceanside, it’s starting to feel like they’re actually really bad at scouting / managing their territory.

It’s not really clear how far out of the way Oceanside is from the rest of settlements, but considering Tara is able to walk back to Alexandria without too much trouble, it can’t be that far from everything else. I get that Oceanside is supposed to be “well-hidden” but I’d like to know how one of Negan’s many scouts has never come across it. Then again, taking a look at what kind of firepower the Oceanside ladies are packing, they’ve probably killed any Saviors that have happened to find their way into their territory, so perhaps it’s not all that

Via: AMC

4. What Will Happen To Cyndie?

Tara narrowly escapes getting a bullet to the head thanks to the assistance of Cyndie, a young Oceanside resident who takes issue with the community’s kill-on-sight mandate. Tara actually forms a pretty tight bond with Cyndie and I wouldn’t say no to the two of them reuniting at some point in the future. The thing is, it’s unclear whether Cyndie will even be alive to do this.

Tara witnesses Cyndie being taken back to Oceanside by her would-be executioners and I’m guessing that they’re none too pleased with her for letting Tara escape. If it was anyone else, I would guess that they wouldn’t escape this betrayal with their life, but considering that Cyndie is the granddaughter of the community’s leader, it’s probably a safe bet that she’s going to be okay. Source: AMC

3. How Ridiculous Was That ‘Faux-Heath’ Walker?

When Tara finally makes it back to the bridge where she got separated from Heath, she spots a walker who shares Heath’s distinctive hairstyle. Tara and the audience quickly assume the worst has happened, but then it’s quickly revealed that the walker is merely a woman who looks like Heath. Although this is a plot device that The Walking Dead has used many times in the past, in this instance it crosses the line into the absurd and ends up being more comical than anything.

On a bridge full of walkers covered in sand — most of them were buried under rubble previously — are we really supposed to buy that a female walker sharing Heath’s exact hairstyle just so happened to wander over to play a visual trick on Tara? It’s simply a ridiculous scene that is made all the more so by the fact that the way the show tells us it’s not Heath is by giving the walker a paisley dress, a clothing item that has become a visual gag for many Walking Dead fans over the years (seriously, was this a fashion trend at the time the zombie apocalypse hit?). The show should have just killed Heath off and spared us from witnessing this laughable scene.

Screenshot via AMC

2. Are The Next Two Episodes Going To Actually Tie Things Together?

While it was refreshing in a way to get an episode focused on Tara and her harrowing, sometimes hilarious encounter with the Oceanside settlement, “Swear” was yet another episode that focused entirely on one storyline, which has become a nagging issue with this season as a whole. The Walking Dead’s pacing has absolutley slowed to a crawl, with every episode since the season premiere focused on a totally different location and set of characters, which has made the season as a whole feel like one endless string of introductions.

I simply don’t understand why The Walking Dead has relegated its many different storylines to separate episodes instead of tackling a few at a time each week and with two episodes remaining until the show goes on hiatus, I can only hope that these upcoming episodes will tie things together more efficiently than the last five episodes have. It’s been over a month since we last saw Ezekiel and the Kingdom, for crying out loud! When you only see certain characters once or twice a season, it’s no wonder it’s getting difficult to remember their names or that they exist at all (admit it, you forgot Heath was even on this show).

Source: AMC

1. Is It Too Early To Call This The Worst Season of The Walking Dead?

Seriously, is Season 7 the worst season of The Walking Dead yet? I know we aren’t even halfway through it yet, but six episodes in, this is easily ranking alongside the worst moments of Season 2 as the lowest point in The Walking Dead’s history. Ever since the season premiere pissed off many viewers with the deaths of Glenn (and to a lesser extent Abraham), the show has done little to try and gain back some goodwill, delivering meandering episode after meandering episode that have largely felt like filler designed to carry us through to the mid-season finale, which if past episodes are any indication, will be an eventful affair.

While some viewers are surely enjoying this season, there is evidence of fatigue setting in among the viewer base, as the show’s rating have steeply declined since the premiere, to the point where they’re hovering around Season 3 levels, which was the show’s lowest point up until now.  Fortunately, with two episodes left in the first half of the season and a whole back half of episodes to go, there is still ample opportunity for this season to course-correct, but with how things have been progressing so far, it’s becoming more difficult to be optimistic that Season 7 will find its groove.

Gene Page/AMC
Nick Steinberg (@Nick_Steinberg)

Nick Steinberg (@Nick_Steinberg)