The Walking Dead’s mid-season finale “Hearts Still Beating” is my favorite episode, hands down. And it’s not because they killed Spencer and we got to see Negan (aka the hottie known as Jeffrey Dean Morgan) act all domestic. Oh no, this was the best episode so far because of the pay out at the end and how different it was from the end of episode 1 of season 7.
This past half of the season shook Rick & Co.’s faith like we’ve never seen before. Loved ones that have been there from the start were taken from them (and us) and we saw them broken and defeated. They were shown that they weren’t as untouchable as they thought they always were. It was only a matter of time until they all broke.
We could only sit here and watch, week after week, as The Walking Dead focused on their journey’s individually and communities apart. It was infuriating and saddening watching them all fall apart separately when we knew they could only work this out together. There was nothing we could do until they figured it out on their own.
That happened in Hearts Still Beating.
The reunion scene at the end felt like a soothing balm. They needed to see each other and reaffirm with their touch that the other members of their family were still there. That’s why the hugs were so all-encompassing and tugged at our heartstrings. They were grounding each other and finally seeking comfort with the only people they still trust, their family.
The final moments were they all walk together towards the main house like a bunch of BAMF’s, was a statement. They might be broken, they might be scared, and they might be out of options. But you better believe that they’re in this together.
Praise the Lord, The Richonne is Strong in This Episode
I’ve been watching Richonne like a hawk this season, worrying that the bond between them would become frayed and that they’d fall apart. Not a lot of relationships last too long in the zombie apocalypse, especially after what Negan did. And admittedly things did get a little strained and they did go off half cocked without each other. Now they’re stronger than ever.
The scene between them in the prison cell was beautifully acted by Andrew Lincoln and Danai Gurira. It was full of love and an understanding that this is a partnership. For two long this season they’ve been just floating along, trying to find a way to kill Negan, without fully confiding in each other. They’ve seen the error of their ways and come out even more united because of it.
They’re not giving up on each other, the family they’ve built, or the love they share. Defeating Negan is something that they can and will do together. Like Michonne said, it has to be “our way” because everything else is doomed to fail or flounder.
P.S. Don’t forget the hand holding when Richonne arrived at Hilltop. It’s the simple things that speak thousands of words.
That Bro Hug Between Daryl and Rick
Daryl is a man of few words. As the seasons have progressed, he’s talked less and less. It’s been left to facial expressions and his body language. You best believe I was reading that body language when he hugged Rick, his brother from another mother. In fact, I might of watched it over and over looking for every little thing I’d missed before.
There was pain, confusion, guilt, and relief on Daryl’s face. For days he’s been away from his family, confined like a dog, and tortured by the douche known as Dwight. The Saviors might not know this but they were so close to breaking Daryl and Rick knew it with one look. That’s why he pulled Daryl close and hugged the hell out of him.
It was a hug filled with love, understanding, and a fierce protectiveness born out of surviving hardships together. Whatever comes next, aka fighting and uniting against Negan, Rick and Daryl will continue to support each other. They’re brothers who don’t give up and would destroy the world for the other.
In the meantime, I’d like more manly hugs. Please. #Rickyl forever.
The Deaths of Spencer and Olivia
As the last Monroe, I felt sad for the end of a family line. I had so much respect and love for Deanna that a part of me wanted Spencer to survive despite him being a jerk 75% of the time. Setting aside my respect for his mom, I’m so glad he’s dead. I don’t want to celebrate a man’s death but this is TV and it was by far one of the best I’ve seen in years.
I should feel guilt at the method of Negan’s killing and the joke he made after but I don’t. That’s the messed up part about Negan, he’s infuriatingly charming and borders this precarious line where he makes sense. Spencer was pulling an underhanded move instead of facing Rick like a man. Negan didn’t have time for that and wanted to squash any rebellion against the man he’d broken for his own purposes.
Olivia on the other hand is a completely different story. The last couple of episodes have been defining for this Alexandrian. We saw how willing, determined, and brave she was despite the crying fits with Negan. She was a strong woman that when pushed, fought back and slapped the hell out of you.
If there’s anyone that Negan (or myself) regrets died, it’d be her. She had a fire about her that was doused too soon. In retrospect I should’ve known that she was going to bite the bullet. But I ignored the signs because I liked her so much and maybe saw a little bit of myself in her awkwardness and tenacity.
Either way, thank you Austin Nichols for making me hate you and Ann Mahoney for showing that there’s a badass in the most unlikely of people.
Rosita Getting Clarity from Father Gabriel
Set aside the fact that Rosita shot at Negan and hit Lucille and focus on her talk with Father Gabriel. Rosita needed to be told everything that he said. Every last bit. When we’re lost and spiralling in our own anger we forget the most basic of things; that people need us, that we’re not alone. We try to set out on our own and neglect ourselves and those around us because of it.
She’s been spiralling on her guilt and wishing that she’d died instead of Abraham. Her self worth is a the lowest it’s ever been on this show and Father Gabriel gave her the gentle kick in the ass that she needed because he cares about her. He wants her to know that they need her, not Abraham or Glenn because, unfortunately, they’re gone.
Top this talk with the nod that she got from Sasha, the woman Abraham left her for, and she’s finally touched the ground after floating in her own self loathing and anger for Negan this season. The only direction she can go now is up.
Additional Notes from Hearts Still Beating:
- I’d watch Daryl eat peanut butter far longer than I’m willing to admit to.
- The real crime of this episode is that Jeffrey Dean Morgan shaved his face. Bring it back!
- Teasing the possible death of Aaron had me on the edge of my seat for far too long. We must protect Aaron and make sure he survives the crazy of the apocalypse.
- Carol is undoubtably the most badass out of all of them. Here’s hoping that she finds her way and returns to the Rick & Co. fold. Daryl and her need to hug, asap.
- The ladies were in full force in Hearts Still Beating. Sasha and Enid supporting Maggie. Tara supporting Olivia. Michonne and Maggie hugging. And Sasha and Rosita finding peace with each other.
The Walking Dead returns February 13, 2017 at 9/8c on AMC.