THE WALKING DEAD 7.06 ‘Swear’ Review
THE WALKING DEAD Season 7 Episode 6
Episode Title: “Swear”
Writer: David Leslie Johnson
Director: Michael E. Satrazemis
Previously on The Walking Dead:
Episode 7.05: “Go Getters“
There are spoilers ahead for last night’s episode of The Walking Dead, but don’t pretend that you didn’t know that!
There’s rarely been a series like The Walking Dead that has so badly misjudged what its audience wants from it. If the incredibly sluggish pace of this season’s story wasn’t enough, the show’s primary players (Rick, Michonne, Carol, etc…) have had significant roles in only two episodes or less. After all of that, the creative team behind this series decided to give Tara her own spotlight episode. Yes, that Tara. The woman who hasn’t been seen on the show since she went off on the never-ending supply run with Heath.
It’s not even Alanna Masterson’s fault. “Swear” was actually one of Masterson’s best episodes of the series, and she delivered the only real highlights of this slightly extended installment. But the decision to stall out the storylines in favor of these one-off episodes has killed the narrative momentum. The show did have to get back to Tara at some point, but “Swear” proved that Tara’s Oceanside visit should have been playing as a subplot for a few episodes rather than getting a full 50 minutes.
The episode opened on an ambiguous note, as Tara was discovered unconscious on a beach by a girl named Rachel and a teenager named Cyndie. Although the mystery of how Tara ended up in that situation didn’t turn out to be as interesting as that set up. Basically, Tara and Heath were surrounded by walkers on a bridge and she fell into the water, while Heath ended up on another network…or somewhere. All things considered, a more definitive fate for Heath would have been appreciated.
Cyndie defied her standing orders to kill all strangers, and Tara eventually made her way into Oceanside, a community of almost all female survivors. It’s enough to make us wonder whether Tara would have chosen to stay if she knew what was waiting for her back in Alexandria. Masterson made the scenes in Oceanside somewhat bareable with Tara’s inability to lie convincingly. But only Cyndie and her grandmother, Natania, really registered as characters. In short, Oceanside was a lot less compelling than the Kingdom or the Hilltop, because it lacked strong personalities and important members of the ensemble cast.
In Tara’s defense, she at least realized that her escort intended to murder her and she briefly got to be clever before she was saved by Cyndie. As it turns out, Cyndie was actually a good partner for Tara because she’s actually a competent fighter, unlike Tara herself. They were enjoyable together, and Tara really did seem grateful to Cyndie, as demonstrated by the way she kept her promise about not revealing the existance of her community to anyone.
This may be the last time we see Corey Hawkins on this show, since he’s got the chance to be the next Jack Bauer on Fox. That means that Heath will either not match his comic book counterpart or perhaps the role will be recast. But it sure seems like the show is keeping the door open to bringing Hawkins back if it can. His disappearance seemed very reminiscent of Beth’s temporary departure from the series. And we all know how that hospital visit turned out. Also, was that female zombie Heath lookalike meant to be a joke? Because it sure played that way, even if the humor was unintentional.
At the very least, “Swear” ended on a strong note as Tara made it back to Alexandria and got the bad news about Denise, Glenn, and Abraham. Those scenes actually had some heart, as Tara reacted and commiserated with Eugene and Rosita over their shared loss. That wasn’t enough to make up for all of the wasted time in Oceanside, but it was at least a reminder of what this show used to be. The characters work best when they’re together, and separating them for multiple episodes has only diminished the series.
For a confessed murderer, Tara still has a pretty strong moral compass, since she didn’t give up the Oceanside community even though their arsenal would be very useful to the recently dearmed Alexandrians. It’s almost darkly funny to think that Rick and his crew will probably still get their hands on those weapons down the line, even if they have to do it by force. And they’re still the “heroes” of the show!
“Swear” was just frustrating. A few good moments weren’t enough to offset the growing tedium that’s starting to set in on this series. The Walking Dead badly needs something to shock itself back to life. Perhaps Carl’s signing lesson will be the jolt that we’ve been waiting for next week.
What did you think of the newest episode of The Walking Dead? Let us know in the comment section below!