After sputtering along for the last few weeks, The Walking Dead finally delivered an adrenaline-filled episode with this week's mid-season finale. Lives were lost, hope was gained and, most notably, Rick got his groove back. The gang's (almost) all together again and ready to wage war — huzzah!
Let's start with the obligatory spoiler alert by saying we are about to delve into pertinent plot points from this week's episode titled "Hearts Still Beating." If you haven't yet watched, cue up your DVR and hit this review up later.
For those of you who did tune in, well, hopefully, you're feeling a bit better about the future trajectory of The Walking Dead after this week. 'Cause truth be told, it's been a long, hard season so far.
Although, admittedly, Chris Hardwick made an excellent point on The Talking Dead this week. When Norman Reedus (aka Daryl Dixon) expressed how difficult this season has been for the actors because they have been split up so much, Hardwick echoed that sentiment on behalf of fans. Part of the reason we've all had trouble connecting to this season is because we've been missing the connection between our core group of survivors.
Of course, they can't always be one, big, happy family... this is the zombocalypse, after all. There must be moments of separation and tension so that we can celebrate the victories when the group comes back together.
Having said all that, yes, it has still kind of sucked not seeing the whole crew together this season. Hell, we've barely seen Carol and Morgan at all! This week's episode certainly seemed to set us down a far more unifying path, though.
After returning (barely) from a supply run across a lake full of swimming walkers, er, swimmers, Rick and Aaron arrive back at Alexandria to find Negan and his Savior cronies waiting for them. Little do they know, but much has transpired since they last saw Negan.
First, there was young Carl's assassination attempt on Negan. Then Negan brought Carl back and started getting a little too cozy in Alexandria. After that, Spencer tried to proposition Negan to killing Rick and make him, Spencer, the new acting leader of Alexandria.
We all know Negan isn't a fan of spineless behavior, so we suspected this would not end well for poor, pretentious Spencer. And, well, Negan spilling his guts all over the pavement proved that suspicion to be on point.
Then, Rosita tried to shoot Negan but hit Lucille by accident — which, by the way, was Carl's attempted assassination arc in the comics — and was nearly carved up by one of Negan's Saviors in retaliation. Negan ultimately lets her off the hook, but he instead allows one of his lackeys to fire a bullet into an unsuspecting Olivia's brain.
Yikes, that's two more Alexandrians down for the count. And, oh! Negan also decided to abscond with Eugene after discovering his ability to make bullets.
So, in comes Rick and a now nearly beaten-to-death Aaron, and they survey the chaos. Rick is visibly angry, but he manages to reel it in. After Negan and his Saviors leave, Michonne returns and tells Rick she understands his point of view now — they are far outnumbered by the Saviors.
However, like some weird zombocalyptic Gift of the Magi, Rick tells Michonne he understands her perspective and agrees they can't continue to live this way. Aw! Hooray for Rick swagger.
The next day, Maggie excitedly opens the gates at Hilltop to let Rick, Michonne, Rosita and Carl in. Rick and Maggie embrace (*tears*) after which Jesus and the recently escaped Daryl round the corner. Rick rushes toward Daryl, who is still broken-spirited and now sobbing. Grateful to see his friend once again, Rick immediately embraces him (*more tears*).
'Twas the bro-hug that brought The Walking Dead back from the brink.
Now our favorite survivors — with the exception of Morgan and Carol, who'll hopefully soon join the OG crew — are ready for war. And gosh damn it, so are we.
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