For a full recap of the episode, visit The Walking Dead Wiki here. This article is a review of the episode in which specific details and events are discussed. SPOILERS may occur, so read at your own risk.
Is The Walking Dead really just about who dies? Season seven kicked off with an attitude that this was the case. Now, the mid-season finale looks to be congruous with that. Though we finally get some serious momentum in the narrative, it’s all in service of more character deaths. Actually, the story is practically where we were at the beginning of the season. It’s been a lot of wheel-spinning to split everyone up and put them back together again.
And if we really have to focus on the deaths, they were two characters that won’t be severely missed. No one was making tons of fan art featuring Spencer and Olivia. Spencer’s death was fairly expected since he’s been at odds with Rick from the get-go. Olivia’s death was unfortunate but not nearly as impacting as the show wants us to feel it was. The shock just wasn’t there and neither is the emotional fallout. If the show wants to make us care about character deaths, they need to make their deaths more important. The murders in this episode feel so perfunctory.
Looking at “Hearts Still Beating” through the prism of the rest of season seven, it’s even clearer how much the first half of this season was a slog. So many stories could have been condensed or even excised. For Rick to actually say that they should have been ready to fight from the start is practically kicking dirt on the previous seven episodes. If the season had actually been Rick placating Negan while forming a counter-offensive, maybe things could have felt more propulsive.
If the second half of season seven actually gives us some action against Negan, then maybe we’ll have a good show. More importantly, everyone is together now and should stay that way. Splitting up again is going to give us the same disjointed problems we’ve had so far. Keep the group together, start planning against Negan, and throw in a few surprises along the way that don’t have to do with killing tertiary characters. That’s how you’ll bring this season back to life, The Walking Dead.
Best Moments of the Episode:
- Daryl killing Fat Joey. This is the most interesting bit of character development that the season has given us.
- Negan disemboweling Spencer. A rare gore gag of the week that wasn’t zombie-related!
- Jeffrey Dean Morgan. He’s possibly the only actor on the show doing something truly interesting, even if it is over-the-top at times.
- That post-credits teaser! Who could this mystery individual be? My money is on a member of the Whisperers.