by Billie Doux
I thought Tara carried an episode of her own pretty well, a bit better than Beth did. Tara showed that she was brave, clever and resourceful. She charmed Cyndie to stay alive, she fought when the women decided to kill her, she ran, and she got home in the end, even though she couldn't find anything to scavenge. The complete lack of scavenge-able goods doesn't speak well for how things are going in the great state of Virginia during the zombie apocalypse and how Rick can possibly provide enough goodies to Negan to keep him satisfied. Hey, at least Tara picked up a jaunty pair of sunglasses and a bobble head before she arrived home and got some very bad news. (I kept thinking all through the episode that Tara didn't know that her girlfriend and two other people she loved had died.)
The theme of the episode, stated early by Heath so that we would all know what it was, was doing whatever you had to do to keep yourself alive, not others. The women of Oceanside have apparently gotten it down to an art. They have bells and air horns to redirect the walkers, they have crops and a whole lot of fish that they salt to preserve, and they kill anyone who finds their camp, no exceptions.
That seemed a bit extreme to me until they told Tara what happened to all of their men and boys, which was the omigod moment I referred to at the top: because their community fought back, the Saviors lined up all of their men and boys and shot them in the head. That must be the next step if beating one person to death in front of their loved ones doesn't work. I immediately imagined that happening to all of the men and boys in Alexandria. Unthinkable.
Up until that point, I was imagining that Tara had stumbled onto a colony of Amazonian warrior women. But you know, that's what they became, even if it wasn't a deliberate choice on their part. Negan isn't just a mass murderer and terrorist with a big mouth and a bat: he's a great big sexist, isn't he? He assumes that a community of only women isn't a threat, and he's wrong. Oceanside would make a powerful ally for Alexandria, if they could get close enough to negotiate and not die, that is. And if Tara finally does break her word and tells Alexandria about Oceanside and its arsenal, which she probably will at some point.
Because we all know that eventually, Rick will fight back. It's the way he is. And all of these new communities they're introducing are in the same boat and are possible allies. It won't be easy; Beatrice told Tara that there were more Savior outposts than the satellite station. And now we know the price Alexandria will pay if they don't win.
I also liked that Heath said he'd learned his lesson and would put himself first, but he couldn't leave Tara to those creepy sand walkers. That was actually the real message of this episode, if it had a message. You take care of the people in your community. Heath was trying to save Tara when she fell off the bridge with the walker. And while I completely understood their homicidal rules, I thought Cyndie's refusal to kill Tara was supposed to give us a little bit of hope that civilization might return, after all.
Finally, I have to say more about the sand walkers and set dressing. I could just feel that something was wrong about that bridge, but having those dessicated walkers slithering out of that huge pile of sand was new and different. I also really liked the driftwood on the beach that looked like sculpture, and the actual camp ground with all the fishing nets. It looked a lot like a place my family went when I was a kid, and still remember fondly.
Bits and pieces:
-- Heath is still freaked about killing the Saviors at the satellite outposts. So what happened to Heath? Is he getting an episode later on? I did go "Oh, no" when Tara saw the walker with the braids, but didn't completely fall for it. That's a trick they've pulled before.
-- Cyndie is a good shot, like Andrea. Good for the coming war.
-- The Oceansiders called walkers "bobbers." Or maybe that was just the ones in the water.
-- Tara had Roman numerals on her arm: 26 13 22 9. Have we seen them before? If we have, I'm spacing it out. And the card Heath left with "PPP" on it. What did that mean?
-- I loved that Tara gave Rachel the finger. The kid did spit on her.
-- Are you sure there isn't a fishing boat called a "larder"?
Heath: "I get it now. If it's you or someone else, you choose you. You take what you can, you take out who you have to, and you get to keep going. Nobody's in this together, okay? Not anymore."
Beatrice: "When was the last time you ate?"
Tara: "Do soy sauce packets count as food?"
Tara: "I never thought I'd be asking this, but where are all the men?"
Tara: "People getting together? That's how the world is going to be the world again."
Cyndie: "Nobody's evil. They just decide to forget who they are."
I really liked Cyndie.
An interesting introduction to another post-apocalyptic community, and I hope we'll see them again. Three out of four salted fishies,
Billie Doux loves science fiction but hates horror, and is confused about why she loves The Walking Dead so much.