Episode 6 opens with us checking in on Heath and Tara, not seen since the end of Season 6 on The Walking Dead. It’s clear The Walking Dead is sticking to its fractured approach of focusing on a different setting and few characters an episode at a time. Although it’s moving frustratingly slow for me personally, the show is laying the ground work for some interesting conflicts sure to come between Team Rick and Team Negan. As its own piece of storytelling, the episode is enriched by Tara’s (Alanna Masterson) performance and interaction with yet another group set against the Saviors.
It’s unfortunate that The Walking Dead has seen ratings drop from episode to episode this season. An episode focusing entirely on Tara and Heath encountering zombies would’ve normally been more welcomed if overall pacing were better. Despite that, Sunday’s episode proved more entertaining than the previous week. After being separated from Heath, we are introduced to a group of survivors who did not fare well against Negan’s Saviors. Natania, a member of this all female community, presents herself as the leader. Tara learns the Saviors executed the men of Natania’s group after they chose to fight them instead of being subservient.
After all this time, Tara and Heath (wherever he is at this point) still don’t know what’s happened to the folks back at Alexandria. Initially, she plays coy with the new community who are equally as distrusting of her. Eventually things lead to a dangerous escape for Tara, with the aid of one of the sympathetic members, Cyndie. After escaping the community who was dead set on leaving no evidence of their existence, Tara fights her way through Zombies and back to Alexandria. Much to the shows strength, the simple moments of Tara coming to realization of what’s happened is masterfully captured in her and Eugene’s faces. The emotional brevity of the moment is aided by our investment in these characters. The multiple losses suffered by the group is still poignantly felt after six episodes. With Heath’s whereabouts unknown by the time the credits role, The Walking Dead shows the groups suffering is far from over.
Six episodes in and we have quite a few community’s shown with a reasonable grudge against the Saviors. This new one just happens to be packed with ammo and guns. Maggie just so happens to be in a great position to overthrow the Hilltop’s current leader. Rick is going through another existential crisis while Rosita and Michonne are ready to punish Negan. The overall conclusion feels a bit too obvious. With two episodes left before winter break, I doubt we get to a conclusion regarding the simmering tensions between everyone and the Saviors. However, maybe we’ll finally get Rick back to form and see the beginnings of a united front against Negan and crew.