‘The Walking Dead’ 7.06 Recap: “That’s a Pickle, All Right”

We’re just a couple episodes away from the mid-season finale of ‘The Walking Dead’, and I’ll be damned if anything at all has happened on the show since the sadistic season premiere. We’ve had five episodes since then and the series is clearly going nowhere. This week’s entry spends nearly 70 minutes devoted entirely to a character I had honestly forgotten even existed.

Remember Tara, the kind-of annoying lesbian who was introduced during the Governor story arc and never really had much to do after that? She was written off the show at the end of last season due to actress Alanna Masterson’s very visible pregnancy. Rather than kill off this basically useless character that nobody cares about, the writers decided to send her out on a two-week scavenging mission, never to be seen again. Or so we thought.

Guess what, she ain’t dead… yet. (Being the sole focus of an episode is often a sign that a character’s about to get offed.) She and… hold on while I look this guy’s name up because he’s so inconsequential that he never made any impression on me… oh right, Heath… She and Heath stayed out longer than planned and have had no luck finding anything useful. Tara remains optimistic, but Heath is having a hard time getting over the wholesale slaughter that their group perpetrated on the Savior outpost. Because they left soon after that, neither of them knows what happened to Alexandria afterwards. They assume that the Saviors were completely wiped out.

After some bumbling dumbassery, the two of them are attacked by zombies on a bridge. Tara falls off the bridge and is separated from Heath. She washes up on shore somewhere downriver and is found by a psychotic little girl who really really really wants to stab her in the head with a spear. Tara is spared this fate by a young woman (potential future love interest!) named Cyndie, who drags her behind a pile of driftwood and leaves her with a couple bottles of water and a salted fish.

Tara was just faking being unconscious. She stalks Cyndie through the woods and follows her to a hidden community called Oceanside, which is populated entirely by women and girls. This looks like Tara’s kind of place! Unfortunately, aside from Cyndie, they’re not terribly friendly. They’re well-armed and, as soon as somebody spots her, they immediately open fire on her. Tara fights with a woman named Beatrice, but doesn’t kill her even though she has a chance to. Nonetheless, she’s quickly captured by others. Cyndie intervenes before anyone kills her.

The community leader is a woman named Natania. She questions Tara, who tells her some half-truths and some outright lies about her past. She claims that she and a friend were separated (true), but that they worked together on a fishing boat and have been on their own since the zombie apocalypse. She’s smart enough not to tell them about Alexandria yet, but isn’t smart enough to craft a convincing lie. Natania sees right through it.

Natania explains that they value their privacy and have a policy of shooting strangers immediately on sight. It seems that all of their menfolk were killed in a conflict with another group (I wonder who that could be?) and they’ve been a wee bit cautious ever since. Now that she knows about them, they have to decide what to do with Tara.

Eventually, Natania offers to let Tara stay with them at Oceanside. At this point, Tara spills the beans that she comes from Alexandria, and tells them about how they just killed off a group of very bad people called the Saviors. She proposes that their groups could make an alliance and help each other. Natania is wary of this, but agrees to let Tara leave in the company of two scouts, who will go with her to Alexandria, scope out the situation, and return to decide whether an alliance is something they want.

The scouts in question are Beatrice (the woman she fought earlier) and another woman named Kathy who hasn’t exactly been friendly to her either. Because Tara’s not a total moron after all, she figures out that these two are really just hiking her out to the middle of the woods to execute her. She makes a break for it and they shoot at her. (Luckily, they’re pretty lousy shots.)

Tara has a face-to-face showdown with Beatrice, who reveals to her that they know all about the Saviors, and explains that the Saviors are a much bigger threat than she understands. It was of course the Saviors that her people had a conflict with. They marched into their community and murdered all the men and boys. The women were forced to work for them for a while, but later made an escape and formed a new community hidden in the woods where the Saviors couldn’t find them. It’s awfully nice for Beatrice to lay all this exposition out for Tara at such a critical moment, especially if she plans to kill her now.

Cyndie (who we found out is Natania’s granddaughter) once again comes to Tara’s rescue. She helps her escape from Beatrice, then makes Tara swear to keep Oceanside a secret. Tara asks, “Why would I tell anyone about this place?” Quite frankly, that’s a question the writers of this show should have asked themselves.

Cyndie leads Tara back to the bridge where she was separated from Heath and helps her get across by sniping zombies for her. (Unlike everyone else from Oceanside, Cyndie is a good shot.) Tara doesn’t find Heath, either alive or undead, but she notices fresh tire tracks and hopes that he somehow got away. She also finds a card with the letters “PPP” written on it. What that means isn’t revealed yet. As Tara looks back across the bridge, she sees Cyndie being dragged back toward Oceanside by Beatrice and Kathy.

Tara has to hoof it all the way back to Alexandria. She arrives, happy to be home again, only to be greeted by a blubbering Eugene, who has to tell her that both her girlfriend Denise and her best friend Glenn were murdered. Bummer.

The episode ends with Tara talking to Rosita, who’s itching for payback against the Saviors. She asks Tara if she came across any possible sources for a new supply of weapons during her scavenging. Tara hesitates for a moment, debating whether to tell her about the armory at Oceanside, but then keeps her promise to Cyndie. She lies to Rosita and says that she never encountered any other people or guns while she was away.

Episode Verdict

This will almost certainly go down as one of the worst ‘Walking Dead’ episodes. I’ve spoken to a few people who are ready to declare it the worst, but I think that’s going a little far. The early seasons of the show had some real clunkers that make even this one look good.

Nevertheless, it’s a big, pointless waste of time. No offense to the actress, but Tara’s not an interesting enough character to carry a whole episode by herself. This diversion to Oceanside seems like a needless distraction when all viewers really care about is how Rick’s going to handle Negan. Obviously, the only purpose of the episode is to serve as plot setup for the Alexandrians eventually finding Oceanside and taking all those guns. Did we really need a whole episode to establish that? One, maybe two scenes in the middle of a better episode could have sufficed to get the same point across.

The worst part is that the tire tracks at the end make me suspect that we’re going to get a whole episode about Heath soon. Why the hell would anyone care about friggin’ Heath?

8 comments

  1. cardpetree

    I’m not sure what’s more upsetting, how bad this show is now or the fact that you posted this ridiculous show’s recap before you posted Westworld’s recap. I’m so done with this show man. I really didn’t think I couldn’t care any less about a show than I do for The Walking Dead right now.

    • Josh Zyber
      Author

      My wife is still into Walking Dead, so we watch that together on Sunday night as it airs. She also likes to watch Talking Dead afterwards. However, she didn’t get into Westworld (she has no interest in Westerns or robots), so I save that one to watch alone on Monday.

      It’s going to take me a lot of work to unpack everything that happened in this week’s episode of Westworld.

  2. Charles M

    Apparently the Heath actor has signed on to the 24 reboot as the lead. So I don’t think we’ll see all that much of him. Think the showrunners just wanted to keep his character open for a possible return if Heath actor can comeback.

    Can not agree that this was the worse episode. Then again, I do like Tara character and the actress.

  3. Guy

    Nearly everything I said last week applies again. I was okay with the episode itself, but the season as a whole is a mess. I like discovering new corners of fictional worlds and Oceanside certainly qualifies as interesting. I’m also always all for minor characters getting a chance to shine; if successful, a show is only enriched. Given all that, I should be rather satisfied right now, but the cumulative effect of all this tarrying is harmful to the show. How can the creative staff think this is the path forward? Or path in a circle? Or right in the same spot? I’m not sure how to describe the flow here.

    Every time I see people complain about episodic broadcast network television, this is the sort of glacial, taking a lot of episodes to tell one small story serialized arc I imagine as a counterpoint to prove that neither format is inherently superior. It’s about execution.

  4. Joshua P. Christie

    I will defend this episode a bit since it seems to have become a punching bag around internet. It is not the worst episode but it certainly wasn’t a good one. My problem wasn’t with Tara or the story but the execution of it. This was amateur hour plain and simple. The dialogue, the action, the choreography– everything felt off and like it belonged on another show. I too have come to like Tara as one of the outside periphery characters on the show but Alanna Masterson’s dialogue was so clunky and the humor ill-timed that it felt like she was reading somebody else’s part.

    The problem with this season in general is it has become clear the network (no doubt for cost cutting) is content with having different directors and actors film “their” episode so that these can be churned out more quickly and at a lower cost. Example– based on the episode descriptions for the last 2 episodes of the mid-season, we may not even return to the Kingdom or see Carol, Morgan, or Ezekiel again until next year. And that was the 2nd (and easily the best) episode!! Furthermore, the show has been suffering the last couple of seasons with episode placement which hurts the momentum and overall flow of the season. If AMC is hellbent on going about production in this manner, why can’t these episodes be cut and edited after the fact to be more in line with Game of Thrones where each (or most) character/storyline gets 10 or 15/min an episode so that your principal cast can appear in each one and these arguable arcs that nobody cares about are mixed in and camouflaged a bit?

    The ratings have nosedived for this very reason (probably in conjunction with the brutality of the premiere as well) and it is clear that either Scott Gimple will have to be replaced as showrunner to axe the complacency while giving the show fresh blood (no pun) in the storytelling department or the network is going to have to rethink how to go about laying out future seasons. There are enough characters and stories to make it work and honestly there is too much talent on and behind the scenes for us to even be having these conversations. Finally, it appears I got way off track on this being about the Tara episode but really, these are the things that make episodes like this a lot worse than they are or should be. The end.

    • Josh Zyber
      Author

      FYI, I edited your comment to add some paragraph breaks because the giant block of text was a little hard to read. I did not change any of the content of what you wrote.

  5. Kraig McGann

    I think arc driven TV shows with a lot of characters have quite a challenge. I enjoy GAME OF THRONES, but it has way too many characters in too many different locations for the amount of episodes per season. I have complained that some GOT episodes seem like a collection of trailers; teasing, but not spending enough time before moving to another part of the storyline. On the other hand, episodes that focus in a single setting and/or with just a few characters can certainly make one impatient, but I am patient. I think calling for the replacement of Scott Gimple is premature. I do not share the opinion that this Season of TWD is “a mess” as I think it is still too early to evaluate what is clearly intended as a Season length (or longer) arc.

  6. Thulsadoom

    I’m really losing my patience with TWD at the moment. It’s always been a show of polar opposites, sometimes excellent, sometimes downright idiotic, but this season is taking the cake. I finally started catching up (on episode 5 at the moment), but the whole Negan thing has well and truly jumped the shark.

    Not only was the way they were cornered at the end of last season completely stupid, but the way the first episode played out was just eye-rolling moment after eye-rolling moment. They’ve been up against so many bad guys, crazy whack jobs and nutcases with gangs, but Rick is off on his own with the villain and a weapon and numerous opportunities to take him out, but for the convenience of the story they want to tell, he turns into an indecisive halfwit. The deaths of two leads was gratuitous and unnecessary, but it is TWD. That didn’t bother me. What I hated was the monumental stupidity of the whole episode.

    Episode two was back on form. Interesting, introducing some good, new characters. Episode three was merely okay… but…

    Episode 4 is the worst yet. I ended up skipping it. Our lead characters have been through so many scrapes, and wouldn’t shy away from taking the opportunity to kill an a-hole like Negan. If ever there was a character where simply removing the head of the snake would solve 99% of their problems, this is it. Yet they have opportunity after opportunity to kill the idiot with impunity and still don’t take it because they’re suddenly ‘afraid’. Really? After six seasons of dealing with unimaginable horror and losing loved ones, they’re suddenly afraid to kill this guy? I made it to the point where Carl could’ve shot Negan and just skipped. It was actually more infuriating and stupid than episode 1. The whole thing could’ve still worked if Negan had just sent his people without going personally, then our gang would have a reason still to not risk anything. Heck, the characters could just move on, if they don’t want to risk living near Negan! It’s not like they haven’t done it before… Instead “We have to stay, this is our life now…” rubbish…

    Episode 5… well, so-so… certainly better. But jeez… It’s on a knife edge for me at the moment. If it wasn’t for how good it can be, at its best, I would’ve given up after these last few episodes. They need to just wrap up the INFURIATINGLY STUPID Negan storyline as quickly as possible and get on with things.

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