A Look at The Walking Dead- Season 7, Episode 6: “Swear”

You remember Tara and Heath, right?  While Rick and the others left to further attempt dismantling the Saviors, Tara and Heath left to go on a run after the events of “Not Tomorrow Yet.”  Now it’s time to catch up with The Walking Dead’s two most exciting characters.

I kid, but there’s been a lot of speculation about this episode.  We’ve had bottle episodes this season that deal with, for the most part, one community.  But given how the Saviors are the major threat, it’s easy to write off Tara and Heath’s time as filler.  However, that’s not the case here, as we get an episode that focuses a good amount of time on Tara and introduces us to a new community that could be vital to the battle ahead.

This is “Swear.”

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The episode begins by the water.  A couple of girls: Cyndie, played by Sydney Park, and Rachel, played by Mimi Kirkland, make quick of walkers lying dead in the sand, though Rachel is more eager than the other.  They then stumble upon Tara’s body.

Rachel wants to kill her, but Cyndie says that they don’t have to, even if that’s their responsibility.  Rachel won’t snitch, but she’s not going to help Cyndie, either.  With that, Cyndie drags Tara onto the shore.

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Then we cut back to the camper as Heath and Tara go through what they’ve found so far.  They two went further than they were supposed to, but as Glenn once said, there’s nothing in the world that isn’t hidden, so they just need to keep looking.  But there’s not enough gas to keep going, as it’s already been two weeks.  Tara maintains that they need ammo and medicine, so she doesn’t want to leave without fulfilling her end of the bargain.

But Heath is still rattled by the amount of people killed at the Savior outpost.  Sure, maybe they all had to do it, but Heath reminds Tara that the people of Alexandria lived a certain way before Rick’s group arrived.  Now Heath gets it: you take what you can, kill who needs to be killed, and keep going because no one is in this together.

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Tara calls bullshit on that and knows even Heath doesn’t believe his words, but Heath disagrees.  That’s not just him, but it’s Tara and everyone who wants to stay alive.  After today, Heath declares that the two will push towards the shore, but head back after that, even if they just have rusty cans.  Tara picks up the gun with a bat scrawled onto it.

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In the present, Cyndie, after looking over a map, returns to the shore and leaves Tara two bottles of water, a fish, and a spear before leaving.  Soon after Cyndie is a good distance away, Tara awakens and begins to down the water.

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As Cyndie goes through the forest, Tara follows her from a considerable distance and winds up in a small village.  She finds the people working under the cover of mesh, which also is used to cover their homes.  Soon, the members then all fall in, grab their guns, head off…and start opening fire on Tara.  But they have Stormtrooper aim, so of course they all miss.

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Tara manages to take down one woman, Beatrice, played by Briana Venskus, and knocks her out with the butt of her gun, but she’s soon cornered by Rachel, who still wants to kill her.  Tara finds herself surrounded and then meets the group’s leader: Natania, played by Deborah May, who warns Cyndie to get away from Tara.  In response, Tara feebly offers to leave.  A bit late for that, Tara, isn’t it?

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We flash back to Tara and Heath heading to the bridge, where they find a cavalcade of vehicles .  The two wait to see if any human or walkers are waiting to strike, but soon head towards the cars.  They then happen upon an overturned truck filled with sand.

Just as Heath finds some shells in the ground, Tara pulls loose a backpack that sends down all of the sand.  Walkers begin to crawl out of the sand.  As walkers surround Tara, Heath falls back.

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Back in the present, Natania introduces brings Beatrice and Kathy, played by Nicole Barré to speak with Tara.  Natania explains that the bells and horns that Tara hears are in place to redirect any dead.  The area is clear, for the most part.  When asked where she’s from, Tara explains that she came from Atlanta and stayed on the move with her friend, whom she worked with on a fishing boat apparently called a larder.

Then Tara is asked why she’s here, as the community gets nervous when newcomers arrive.  Tara explains finding the settlement on the bridge when, during the walker attack, she got knocked off the bridge and ended up in the water.  She only snuck around to see if the area was safe.  If she’s pointed in the right direction, Tara will leave.  However, Tara knows too much about the community.

Normally, Tara would have been killed because strangers are killed on sight, which I find hilarious since these women can’t aim for shit.  But anyway, Tara spared Beatrice at least, so that has to count for something.

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That evening, Tara is invited to dinner, which is fish stew.  Natania then formally introduces Cyndie to Tara, who thanks Cyndie for saving her life.  Cyndie is trying to show Rachel a certain way, as she hasn’t had to kill yet.  Natania explains that living so close to the ocean gives the village access to fish.  She’s hopes that Tara can stay so the village stays a secret.  Plus, Natania believes that Tara is a skilled fighter and is a good person.

When Natania offers a chance for Heath to stay as well, Tara asks the million dollar question: where are the men?  The women explain that their group got into a fight with another group and none of the men made it.  After that, the women decided to protect themselves and kill whomever they met on sight.

Again, ladies, your aim is shit, so I don’t buy that claim.  Anyway, the women found the village with the intent to stay hidden and alive.  Tara could have hurt them, but she didn’t.  Natania hopes that Tara can be honest about where she’s really from since a larder is not a boat, but a room for storing meat.  Silly Tara.

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Tara talks about her community, her girlfriend, and how her group has done bad things like this village, like kill this group of people at a satellite station.  In Tara’s eyes, the people her group killed got what they deserved, but that’s not why they were killed.  Tara’s group did it to stay alive, just like these women.  In fact, she hopes that the communities can work together, but the women shoot down that idea.   After all, they want to stay hidden.

Tara says that, eventually, the village will need friends.  If they see everyone as enemies, then enemies are all they’ll find.  Natania offers Tara a guide so she can find Heath and so the women can check her community.  Beatrice will go, but Natania refuses to let Cyndie leave as punishment for breaking the rules.  Though Natania does tell Cyndie that, if this works out, there will be plenty of other chances.

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The next day, Natania bids Tara farewell as Kathy and Beatrice escort her away from the village.  When the three happen upon a walker caught in some branches, Tara goes to kill it right when she finds herself under fire from Kathy and Beatrice.  But again, their aim sucks, so they miss as Tara makes her escape.

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Tara soon hides in a ditch and eventually engages Beatrice in another fight until Beatrice gets her gun.  Tara pleads for Beatrice to let her go, given that Tara could have killed her.  Beatrice retorts that Tara’s group had no idea what they started by killing the people at the satellite post, and she calls mentions the Saviors by their name.

Even if Tara’s group got one small win, Beatrice tells her that there are more Saviors and outposts, and if they know about Tara’s group, it’s too late for them.  Beatrice explains that the Saviors executed every man and boy over the age of 10.  Jesus.  The remaining people were supposed to keep working for the Saviors, but they decided to just leave.  And Beatrice won’t let Tara lead the Saviors back to them.

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Before Beatrice can open fire, given her many chances, Cyndie tackles her.  Tara continues her escape, knowing that Cyndie won’t shoot her since she saved her already. Cyndie wants Tara to swear that she’ll never return or tell anyone about this village, but Tara sees no reason do so in the first place.  Cyndie tells Tara that her group didn’t have to kill the Saviors at the outpost.  No one is evil- they just decide to forget who they are.

Again, Cyndie demands that Tara swear that she’ll keep the area a secret, and Tara soon does agree not to talk about the village.  Cyndie gives Tara a backpack of food and water before taking her to the bridge.

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The two return to the bridge, with Cyndie not willing to leave until Tara makes it to the other side.  Tara asks why Cyndie isn’t like the others, but Cyndie simply asks why Tara isn’t as well.  That’s not an answer, Cyndie.

The two make their way past the vehicles and take out as many walkers as possible. Cyndie picks off as many as she can, but she soon runs out of ammunition.  As luck would have it, Tara soon makes it to the other side.

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After a flashback of Tara and Heath’s final moment before the two were separated, Tara spots Cyndie being hauled away.  She continues her trek when she spots a pair of broken glasses and begins following a path in the dirt.  She then finds a key card in the dirt, hoping it was Heath, and heads off.

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She later happens upon a fishing boat because payoff and then winds up at a supply shop where she eats the fish that gave her.  With a new pair of sunglasses, Tara soon returns to the Alexandria Safe Zone, where she reunites with a crestfallen Eugene.

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Having been briefed on what’s happened, Tara later talks with Rosita, who asks if she has any leads on guns or ammunition, no matter how dangerous of an area she found. She’s ready to take this fight to the Saviors and needs any way to make this right, but Tara that they can’t.  The episode comes to a close with Tara telling Rosita that she didn’t see anything while on her run.

Well, here we are.  There’s been a lot of talk and anticipation about this episode.  Many had believed it would be filler or just a much slower paced episode.  Given how we’ve spent the past few weeks dealing with how communities deal with or combat Negan, to go from that to catching up with Heath and Tara felt like something that wouldn’t factor into the overall plot.

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Not to mention the fact that Tara and Heath probably aren’t topping many people’s favorite character lists, and how we were meeting this new community, “Swear” had the makings of what could have been an episode that people could write off as irrelevant to the season.

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But, to my surprise, that wasn’t the case.  While this wasn’t anything great, this episode did two things: first off, it introduced us to Oceanside, a community I never thought we’d see this early on the show.  More than that, the show fleshed the community out in a way that I don’t believe the comic did, certainly not this soon or prior to “All Out War.”

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However, instead of the TV version of Oceanside having any generic backstory, the show managed to tie them into the main storyline by connecting them to the Saviors.  Granted, if you removed the Saviors from the equation, Tara’s time with this group probably would seem more like filler, but this was a good way to make the community more relevant right now as opposed to later.

And while Tara may have been cocky enough at first to think that the outpost attack was enough to derail the Saviors, the Oceanside community knows all too well what happens when you fight against Negan.  And wow, the repercussions paint Negan as even more of a villain than he already is.

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This is a lingering questions I have regarding Oceanside’s conflict with the Saviors: what in the world did they do to warrant all of the males over 10 being executed? Hell, Rick’s group killed an entire outpost and Negan planned to kill just one person in retaliation- two due to Daryl’s interference.  But the Oceanside group must have screwed up or fought back long and hard to lose the majority, if not all, of their male population.

Either way, even if we don’t know, this further showed the consequences of trying to fight against the Saviors and took some of the wind out of Tara’s confidence.  Tara was in cahoots with the Governor and now sides with Rick: she’s now allied with two leaders willing to kill who needs to be killed in order to survive.

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Sure, Tara is nowhere as hard or cold as Rick or the Governor, but she still understands the need to strike early.  But between learning how both Oceanside and Alexandria suffered at the hands of the Saviors, I think that Heath’s words about killing have left a mark on Tara and she may not want to take part in or possibly be the catalyst of another incident.

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After all, she didn’t tell Rosita about what she saw on her run, but keep in mind that Tara only promised to not reveal anything about Oceanside.  She didn’t promise anything about the bridge.  We saw all of the shells in the sand, and between that and Rosita wanting Eugene to make her a bullet, there’s nothing stopping Tara from at least telling the others about the bridge.  So the door’s still open for Oceanside to meet our survivors.

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As for the Oceanside folks themselves, I’m curious to see whether they play a part in the coming conflict with the Saviors.  Given how we see all of those guns just after Negan has deprived Alexandria of their weapons, I expect some sort of follow-up.  You don’t introduce a community like this that has a shit ton of guns and there not be any sort of payoff later.

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That said, I’m of two minds about the inhabitants.  They seem like decent people when you get to know them and they have every reason to be suspicious of anyone they meet. But for all their talk of killing strangers on sight, Tara walked out relatively unharmed.  Not even so much as getting popped in the knee for even sneaking around the village.  It’s hard for me to think Oceanside’s inhabitants are ruthless when they couldn’t subdue one person.

But at least they were smart enough to see through Tara’s ruse and invite her to stay to help grow the community.  I get the sense that Oceanside would prefer not to engage in battle, but if necessary, they will defend themselves.  Of the residents that we meet, Cyndie comes off as the most welcoming to Tara, given how she saved her multiple times and helped her cross the bridge.

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And I got the vibe that she’s one of the residents who is still willing to fight the likes of the Saviors.  The others seem reluctant, but ready, to take part in another clash, but Cyndie admitted that she’s a good shot and she’s not against breaking the rules to help out someone else.  If the other communities had a battle ready ally in Oceanside, I would put good money on Cyndie stepping up first to lend a hand.

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It was nice to see Tara handle this new situation on her own.  While I like Alanna Masterson in the role, Tara has never been a character I’ve had an attachment to, and while I’m still not her biggest fan here, it was good to see her prove how useful and good of a fighter she is outside of the main survivors.

Though she could use work on her storytelling, since she was exposed on not knowing a larder, followed by her coming right out and admitting what her friends had done to the Saviors.  Then again, as far as I can tell, she hasn’t told them the name or where her community is located, so she didn’t play her entire hand.

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The problem with this episode was the pacing.  More so the cutting back and forth between the past and present.  It wasn’t done as well as “First Time Again,” I feel, and not like the flashbacks were frequent, but I would have rather we had all of Tara and Heath’s moments played out as one long sequence.

You can start out with Tara washing up on the shore, sure, but then just start with Tara and Heath’s conversation, end with Tara falling into the water, and then play out the rest of the episode in the present.  The problem with cutting back and forth is that we knew where Tara ended up before we saw the scene of her ending up in the water.

And once more, going back to “First Time Again,” those flashbacks filled in the blanks of how the community dealt with the deaths of Pete, Reg, and the new set of circumstances. Those flashbacks were complimented by them still addressing those issues in the present. Whereas here, Heath and Tara have a conversation before heading to the bridge and dealing with walkers.  That’s about it.

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I hope that Heath’s fate being unknown isn’t just a way for the show to remove Heath from the equation right now since Corey Hawkins is also going to be on 24: Legacy, but for now, where Heath went to is anyone’s guess right now.

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By the way, getting real tired of these fake-outs.  It would have been pretty damn cliche if the walker Tara saw on the bridge was indeed Heath, but it wasn’t.  Just a fake-out.  Was it necessary?  No.  Was it effective?  Also no.

So “Swear” was a good episode.  Not as bad as people expected it to be, but not as engaging as the others, in my opinion.  The introduction of the Oceanside community and the reveal that they have had a run-in with the Saviors helps connect this village to the greater, ongoing story.  Even though Tara swore not to tell anyone about what she saw, I’m hopeful that we see more of Oceanside this season.

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