It’s almost jarring to see this episode open on a beach…you almost forget that, with the exception of the first few episodes, this entire series has been confined to the wooded areas. A weird thing to say but it almost felt like I was watching something totally different. We open on a pair of survivors coming across a one of the grossest zombies I’ve seen yet, decayed and bloated by God knows how long spent stuck under a rock in the tide. After dispatching it they come across another body washed up on shore, which turns out to be not only alive, but someone we haven’t seen in quite a while, Tara. Don’t feel bad if you had to look her up, I barely remembered her story line at first too (She and Heath left on a scavenging mission sometime late last season), thanks again TWD story design team! The two survivors debate killing her making it seem like wherever they are from is less then tolerant on new arrivals.
Non-linear storytelling brings us to a flashback after the credits with Heath and Tara debating the morality of what they’re doing, specifically the slaughter of the saviors at the satellite center last season…oh if they only knew what that group had done since he probably wouldn’t be so whiny about it. Pop back to present time and the kinder of the two as of yet unnamed survivors leaves water, a spear, and a fish by Tara’s body and heads on her way. Instead of calling out, Tara decides to sneak back and infiltrate her camp where she damn near gets herself killed. She’s finally cornered by a little girl who says only “I have to” again…that policy of not being to big on outsiders at this camp becomes very apparent as she’s surrounded by the entire community.
Cut back to the Tara and Heath scavenging saga where we see what a man Heath really is. The two come to a bridge that is blocked by cars and two giant mounds of sand, as they investigate Tara does the stupid thing and pulls a bag from the mound of dirt causing an avalanche and unearthing dozens of zombies that were pretty much the opposite of the earlier water zombie…straight up desert species. As they fight off the dead Tara’s able to see through to Heath who gives a last look back then slides out through a hole and leaves Tara to her own…way to go dick. I mean really, wouldn’t you rather go out helping the only person you can trust for 100 miles rather then wander aimlessly by yourself. Keep in mind this is the same guy that was just whining about how wrong it was for them to kill the saviors, morality confusion much? I mean dude is the same guy that played Dr. Dre in Straight Outta Compton..not very gangsta Heath, not very gangsta at all.
Like a yo-yo we go back to the camp were Tara is chained to a radiator and informed that they generally shoot strangers on sight…I mean, given what we’ve seen so far in the series I suppose it doesn’t seem to crazy out there. Tara’s brought to a dinner where everyone seems a little too casual all of the sudden…there’s a real Texas Chainsaw Massacre family dinner vibe to the whole thing. We do learn that the survivor who spared Tara is called Cindy. She’s apparently been made to murder quite a few who wandered into their camp and is obviously less then comfortable with her existence and status as “the good shot” of the crew. Then comes the Shamalyan twist..it’s pointed out that there aren’t any men around. The leader of the group lets it out that they got into it with another group and everyone of the men were killed…which has lead to their current policy of shoot first. Somehow…in the span of three sentences Tara convinces these people who are staunch isolationists to send a scout with her to find Heath and check out Alexandria. Seriously, they just straight up trust Tara…who just admitted her backstory was a lie, and risk exposing this place that had one rule, keep it secret. I know the endgame is to get another community to join the possible groups to band together against the saviors but why the whole pretense about secrecy just to throw it out, seems totally unnecessary. Everyone was just too nice too soon. Which is why the whole twist that they were really leading Tara out to shoot her dead away from the camp wasn’t nearly as surprising as they probably meant it to be. As Tara stares down the barrel of a gun we find out that Rick and co got off easy. The saviors took this community, lined up every male over 10 and shot them dead. Cindy saves Tara again then delivers your daily morality tale that people aren’t even they just do what they need to, Tara swears she’ll never tell anyone about the camp and they walk off back to the bridge. You know those super annoying escort missions you have to play in every call of duty game? That’s essentially how Cindy gets Tara over the bridge, by running over watch picking off zombies while Tara sloppily runs across the bridge. She makes it to the other side where we get a different flashback view of what happened when she and Heath got separated, turns out he didn’t leave her as much as she got stuck and fell off the bridge. However it happened she gets back to find nothing but tire tracks left by a retreating Heath. She somehow walks back to Alexandria with a smile on her face only to find out that her girlfriend along with a large chunk of the people she knew, are dead.
Somehow this episode ran over an hour. This was Tara’s episode…which I think says all you need to know. We didn’t need a Tara episode. I can’t say it was a BAD episode, but it does highlight everything that’s wrong with the series, I go on and on about how much I hate the “one story one week” style and this is why. This story didn’t need 65 minutes. It needed about 20 which could have been intercut with Carol and Morgan at the Kingdom. We don’t get a standard 24 episode season with TWD, we get 16. With as much story as there is to tell right now this just felt like a total waste. Maybe something will happen down the road that will make this worth it but I HIGHLY doubt it. To hammer that point home we only have two episodes left before the winter break. At least we have next week which looks like it’s going to be about Jesus and Carl infiltrating the Savior’s compound, now THAT’S gonna be worth watching!!