‘The Walking Dead’ recap: Life’s a beach for these survivors – New York Daily News
SPOILER ALERT: DO NOT READ UNLESS YOU HAVE WATCHED “THE WALKING DEAD” EPISODE “SWEAR.”
Hey, remember Heath and Tara?
They’ve been left adrift since they drove off in a camper to scavenge for supplies after helping Rick (seemingly) take out the Saviors at the outpost last season. It’s been two weeks show-time (more than half a year real-time) since they left. And they are still blissfully unaware of Negan’s bloody retribution that killed Abraham and Glenn. And Tara also still doesn’t know that Dwight killed her girlfriend, Denise, with a crossbow bolt through the eye.
So on Sunday’s night episode, we finally got to catch up with these two scavengers as they closed in on the Atlantic coast. Pickins are slim, except for eight rusted cans of okra and a bottle of aspirin. Tara remains as annoyingly optimistic as ever. “There’s nothing left in this world that isn’t hidden; we just have to find it!”
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But Heath is dispirited. And he’s haunted by the massacre that they inflicted on the Saviors just before they left. “You take what you can, you take out who you have to, and you keep going,” he says. “Nobody is in this together; not anymore.”
Their luck changes — and not necessarily for the better — after finding an abandoned settlement on a bridge. It’s been blocked off by shipping containers on one side, and two dump trucks and a mound of sand on the other. They cautiously pick through the abandoned cars and tents that are left behind, and all evidence points to these people taking off in a hurry, or dying suddenly. The mountain of sand is littered with shell casings. And when Tara rashly starts digging into it, the sand pile collapses, and dozens of walkers start crawling out of it.
The showrunners play with perspective, making it look like Heath abandons Tara to sudden death in scattered flashbacks for the first half of the show. You gather that she fell off the bridge, got swept down river and toward the mouth of the ocean, where she’s found washed up on shore by a teen and a tween. The girls turn out to be Cindy, the older one, and Rachel, the younger. And they’re from an entirely new community that we haven’t met yet.
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We learn a lot about these two girls with a quick scene that serves as the cold open at the episode’s beginning: Cindy finds a teddy bear, which she thinks Rachel will enjoy once they dry it out and fill it with sage and lavender. But Rachel takes more delight in killing a walker on the beach with a single thrust of her spear. She later throws the soggy teddy in the ocean in a fit of spite when she’s banned from killing Tara — an unconscious, unarmed human being who is posing no threat at the moment.
It harks back to the dangerous direction Carl was once heading in when he shot an unarmed teen working for the Governor. Rachel is eager to kill Tara. Cindy only just manages to spare Tara’s life, and make Rachel promise not to snitch about it.
We learn that these two come from a community made entirely of women — and one or two small boys — that have hidden themselves in a heavily thicketed part of the woods on the coast. They were part of a larger community — it’s implied it might be the group that was living on the bridge. (They were at least familiar with the bridge community when Tara mentioned it.)
But they got into a war with the Saviors, and lost. Badly. Negan and his men killed all of the men and boys over 10, and the remaining females were then supposed to work for them. But the women slipped away in the night, and have built a super-secret society by the water since. They live in constant fear of the Saviors finding them again — or of someone like Tara leading Negan back to them. So they kill everyone they see on sight — something that Cindy has done, and finds as distasteful as Heath found killing the Saviors.
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Tara stumbles across the hidden village when Cindy brings her food and water. Tara follows her back, and observes the women working and children playing in what looks to be a repurposed campground complete with cabins, canoes and picnic tables. The sentries spy Tara, who makes a break for it, but is ultimately caught by one guard. Tara disarms her, but spares her life, knocking her out with the butt of her rifle instead.
But then Tara gets caught by young Rachel, who is ready to shoot her. Again. “Doesn’t matter. We’re supposed to,” the child says coolly, cocking her pistol, but once again Cindy steps up and stops her. Soon Tara is surrounded, handcuffed, and the women take her into the main house for questioning.
Village leader Natanya, Cindy’s grandmother, shares that they spared Tara’s life because Tara spared one of theirs; but now they’re stuck with what to do with her. They make a strong case for her to remain with them. They also make a strong case for killing her. But Tara wants to go home, and for these women and the Alexandrians to work together. “If you keep seeing everyone as an enemy, then enemies are all you ever find,” Tara says. “Sooner or later, you need a friend.”
Natanya seems to agree to this, and sends two scouts ostensibly to escort Tara back to the bridge to find Heath. Then they are supposed to come with Tara to Alexandria to decide whether the community looks safe. Cindy is ordered to stay behind.
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Oh, and charming young Rachel spits at Tara’s feet as she’s leaving. Tara flips her the bird in return.
But something’s rotten in these woods, and it’s not just the walker that they stumble across. It becomes clear these women are leading Tara out in the woods to kill her, not to take her home. And guessing that, Tara uses the distraction of taking out a zombie to cut and run away.
But Beatrice — the guard whose life Tara spared earlier — catches up with her. Tara asks Beatrice to spare her life in return, but that’s when Beatrice explains that they can’t risk Tara bringing the wrath of the Saviors upon them. She dashes cold water on all of Tara’s hopes: Not only did Tara and Rick and company not even come close to taking care of the Saviors, but the Saviors have likely already gutted Tara’s community. Which we know is true.
“You have no idea what you started,” Beatrice says. “If [the Saviors] know about your friends, it’s already too late for them. … They get what they want.”
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