(Spoiler Alert: Do not keep reading if you have not seen this week’s episode of “The Walking Dead”)
This week’s episode of “The Walking Dead” offered up some lighter moments than previous episodes this season, while still keeping the very real danger of death on the front burner.
The episode opens with a woman, Cyndie (Sydnie Park), and a young companion named Rachel (Mimi Kirkland) exploring a beach. Rachel happily kills a walker lying in the surf, and rushes over to what appears to be another one. Only it not a walker: It’s Tara (Alanna Masterson).
We flashback to Tara and Heath (Corey Hawkins) some time earlier out on a scavenging run, unaware of the terrible fate that has befallen the group courtesy of Negan. Heath has lost hope in humanity after he joined Rick’s group in killing a large number of Saviors at the satellite station during the events of Season 6.
Later, he and Tara try to cross a barricaded bridge but are separated by a group of walkers. The last we see Heath, he has run away in fear. We then flashforward to the present. Tara is still unconscius, but Cyndie has hidden her among some trees and leaves food, water, and a makeshift spear behind.
When Tara regains consciousness, she quickly eats and drinks and strikes out to tail Cyndie back to her camp. What she finds is an entire community sprung up around an old cabin motor court populated entirely with women. As she looks on, shots suddenly ring out and Tara is on the run.
She is able to outmaneuveur another woman, Beatrice (Brianna Venkus), and get a hold of her shotgun. Tara stands able to kill her, but instead knocks her out with the butt of the gun. She continues to run but is cornered by Rachel. Cyndie intervenes and begs that Tara’s life be spared.
Masterson makes the most of the tense moments with some good awkward banter while her character’s life is on the line yet again.
Tanya, the group’s leader, asks Tara why she came to their camp. Tara lies and says she has been living on the road with a friend and that they were separated on the bridge, with Tara washing up on their shore.
Later at dinner, Tara asks where all the men are. Tanya tells her that they got into a fight with another group and all the men were killed. She then offers Tara the chance to stay and work in their community. Tara says she can’t, but Tanya lets on that she knows Tara is lying about living on the road.
Tara, knowing she is caught, begins to tell them about Alexandria and the benefits of an alliance. Cyndie begs that they reach out and begin working with other groups, but everyone else is paranoid. Tanya agrees to let a guide show her the way back to the bridge, but is vehement it not be Cyndie.
Out in the woods, Beatrice and another woman, Kathy (Nicole Barré), tell Tara to kill a walker that lie in their way. Tara, sensing something is wrong, takes off running just before bullets begin whizzing by her head. Beatrice gets the drop on her, but Cyndie appears out of nowhere and tackles Beatrice.
Cyndie then presses on to the bridge with Tara. She covers Tara with her rifle as she runs through the walkers left on the bridge. We again flashback to Tara’s earlier run with Heath, and we see that Heath did indeed return and try to save Tara before she was knocked over a guard rail into the river below.
As Tara runs across, she sees a black walker with braids just like Heath’s, but she is relieved to see that it is not him. She makes her way back to Alexandria, only to find Eugene crying at the gate as she enters. Tara leans her girlfriend, Denise, is dead and that Negan has taken over.