The Walking Dead Review by John Keegan

The Walking Dead 7.06: Swear

The Walking Dead 7.06: Swear

Written By:
David Leslie Johnson
Directed By:
Michael E. Satrazemis

As someone familiar with the source material, I have been expecting that exploring the larger world around Alexandria would take some time.  There are a lot of communities that ultimately stand as potential allies in a war against Negan, and it’s not like Rick or anyone on Team Grimes is really in a position to just walk up and convince people to fight.  In fact, a good deal of this episode is devoted to explaining, quite well, how thoroughly Negan has terrorized and cowed the smaller communities in the region.



It says something that the supporting cast is so large that we haven’t even seen Tara and Heath since the slaughter at the Saviors’ outpost.  And the fact that it’s been just a bit over two weeks within the show’s timeline since that moment speaks volumes as well.  A lot is happening in a relatively short period of time, but it’s taking several episodes to get there.  Frankly, it feels like this episode could have been merged with “Go Getters” without really missing too much substance.  What was a one- or two-act sequence of events was stretched to fill a bit more than the full timeslot, and it shows. 


I understand why they made this choice.  For one thing, it’s another chance to give the main cast a bit of time off, and that has been a strategy employed for a few seasons now.  We’re never going to have a run of episodes with the entire ensemble featured throughout, it’s just not viable.  So side stories will get a bit padded out.  And more importantly, when the time comes to pull the alliance triggers, the same characters can’t be forming relationships with everyone, or it will be impossible to move quickly and quietly at once.  It’s smart for each major community to have a suitable representative of Team Grimes as the point of contact.



The one story beat that helps keep the episode from collapsing entirely is the revelation that the Saviors killed all the males of the community over the age of ten in one horrific fell swoop.  And that’s possible because Negan’s empire is far bigger and better populated than has been revealed previously.  Suddenly it doesn’t seem so shocking that he was able to herd Team Grimes into the crucible in the sixth season finale the way he did; Negan has the numbers and the methods to rule. 


Interestingly, it feels like the horror that Team Grimes and Alexandria had to endure was actually nothing compared to what others had to experience, and that could explain why there is such a horrified reaction to facing off with the Saviors at all.  No one wants to risk tempting a further response.  If anything, it adds even more tension, because now it’s pretty clear that if Negan wanted to do so, he could wipe out Team Grimes without a hint of remorse.  Rick is on very thin ice.  (Alternatively, how much did other groups defy, threaten, or victimize the Saviors once to drive Negan to such extremes?)



Despite the fact that Tara is a fun character and one that has been underutilized, it’s hard to justify an extended episode, even if it was just a few minutes.  There were plenty of places to trim, and while no fan is going to complain when the additions are substantial and add to the presentation, this is quickly starting to feel like a vanity project for the directors’ stable.  And the truth about this community would have been a nice addition to what was happening at Hilltop last episode, to add to the tension of what might happen with Simon being aggressive with Gregory.  The season is losing momentum fast.

Our Grade:
The Good:
  • It’s good for some of the side characters to get some time to shine
The Bad:
  • This story didn’t justify an entire episode, let alone an extended one

John Keegan aka "criticalmyth", is one of the hosts of the "Critical Myth" podcast heard here on VOG Network's radio feed Monday, Wednesday & Friday. You can follow him on twitter at @criticalmyth

The Walking Dead by - 11/29/2016 1:23 PM144 views

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