I’m admittedly breathing a sigh of relief that “Hearts Still Beating” picked up the pace a bit after the complete snooze that was last week’s “Sing Me a Song“. Does that mean it was a great episode? Not exactly. But for the first time in several weeks I felt something other than complete relief that the episode was over when it ended.
Granted, at first it was a bit frustrating that “Hearts Still Beating” was jumping back and forth between the Hilltop, Alexandria, and the Sanctuary, as well as Rick and Aaron and Michonne on their little side trips plus some scenes in Carol’s little house. But hey, at least most of our old favorites came together at the Hilltop in the end, right? (I’m not going to lie, I’m hoping this means that at least for a while in the second half of the season, we won’t have to deal with the constant jumping around, especially as The Walking Dead hasn’t been handling it very well lately.)
While I was certain that someone – or possibly several people – were going to die in this midseason finale, it was one of those episodes where the deaths didn’t hit me very hard. Spencer was doing a bad job of playing his little game, and had been for a while; Negan was constantly threatening Olivia; and who really cares about Joey the Savior? If anything, I felt the worst about Michonne killing the redheaded Savior woman, because it seemed pretty obvious that the woman was past ready to die – that she was, in fact, almost asking for it. After seeing how the Saviors live, and especially the choices many of the woman are forced to make, I would almost be more surprised if she’d begged to be spared.
As I said, the pacing in “Hearts Still Beating” was definitely better than in the past few episodes, but in a way how slow “Sing Me a Song” was meant that the show had to rush through a few things to reach the midseason ending that it was going for. You’d think that after seven seasons they wouldn’t make such obvious mistakes, but I suppose for now I’ll keep my fingers crossed that they’ll do a better job with the second half of season seven.
Meanwhile, it was a relief to see Michonne learn her lesson – she got a real glimpse of how many Saviors there are, and I think her captive’s refusal to talk until the very end of their time together taught Michonne a few more things about who they are as a group. (At the very least, I think she finally understands what it means when they say they’re all Negan.) I loved that we finally got some more Richonne action, and especially that she and Rick are once again on the same page. I actually found myself caring and rooting for them to actually be the people who get things done, the people who live – because it’s been really hard to care very much about this show and its characters so far this season.
Rosita, on the other hand, was maddening. I hoped that she would listen to Gabriel (who by the way continues to be awesome and show the best character development I’ve seen in a long time on TWD) regarding her decision to try to kill Negan, but she didn’t, and now she has to live with the consequences of that stupid decision – she got Olivia killed and Eugene taken away by the Saviors, not to mention that bullet lodged in Lucille, which will surely remind Negan of Rosita’s attempt every time he sees it. Or at least, that would be the sensible route for the writers to take, although this is The Walking Dead and there’s always the [strong] possibility that they’ll never mention the bullet in Lucille again.
Even though “Hearts Still Beating” ended with Daryl escaping the Sanctuary and returning to the Hilltop with Jesus and then Rick, Michonne, Carl, and Rosita showing up there, too – meaning they, Maggie, Sasha, and Enid are all together again and are probably about to confront Gregory about the need to fight the Saviors – there are still a few mysteries afoot. For instance, Richard didn’t do a good job of debating with/convincing Carol and Morgan of that same need, and I get that he’s worried and also probably still upset about losing his family (whenever that happened), but I still don’t quite understand the focus on him in this episode, especially when there was so much going on already. On top of that, there was a mysterious person following Rick and Aaron and then spying on Alexandria, which was somewhat intriguing but also a bit eye roll-inducing. I mean at least when Morgan was following in the group’s footsteps, we knew who he was in a timely manner.
Speaking of Morgan, perhaps the biggest question of all is how he and Carol will react when they finally find out what the Saviors have done to their people – especially Abraham, Glenn, and Daryl. Will Morgan continue to refuse to kill? Will Carol still insist that no one know where she is, or even that she’s still alive? And how long is it going to take for Maggie to end up as “president” of the Hilltop, considering she’s already well on her way to being the most popular person there? I definitely hope that we find out sooner rather than later when The Walking Dead returns on February 12th of next year.
Author: Tara Lynne
Tara Lynne is an author, fandom and geek culture expert, and public speaker. She founded Ice & Fire Con, the first ever Game of Thrones convention in the US, and now runs its parent company Saga Event Planning.
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