Sunday, December 11, 2016

Walking Dead recap: Season 7, Episode 8, "Hearts Still Beating"

This season's start was as bleak as any in The Walking Dead's history, but the show's midseason finale closed on a major note of hope. Tested by the fire of Negan's (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) sadistic dictatorship, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and most of his core group wound up stronger than ever, determined to stand up to their tormentor—and to do it together. “Hearts Still Beating” ends on a shadowy figure who's spying on our survivors, the close-up of his (or her?) boots establishing that it's the same person who shadowed Aaron (Ross Marquand) and Rick on their supply run earlier that day.

Right before that bit of foreshadowing, though, Rick's group had one of those satisfying reunions they get every few seasons, complete with teary hugs, meaningful stares, and a surprise appearance by Daryl (Norman Reedus), who escaped from his solitary confinement in the Sanctuary. And right before that, Rick and Michonne (Danai Gurira) came together tighter than ever before, after having gone solo soul-searching in different directions in reaction to the carnage that started this season. Rick even got reunited with his Colt Python, which Daryl reclaimed after killing Fat Joey (Joshua Hoover).

The most upsetting thing about the episode's inevitable deaths was that they weren't all that upsetting. We'd seen enough of Fat Joey to feel some empathy for him, but when Daryl took that pipe to his head, you might have found yourself worrying more about Daryl. Maybe he was smart not to believe that Joey wouldn't send people after him as soon as he escaped, having learned his lesson from the aftermath of his decision to spare Dwight and his family. But if Joey was sincere, his death was coldblooded murder, and when Daryl leans over his corpse to hiss, “It ain't about just getting by here. It's about getting it all,” he sounds more like a bad guy than a badass. Read the rest in Slant Magazine

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