There’s been so much going on in The Walking Dead universe this season that I completely forgot we have some people unaccounted for. Last season, after the Alexandrians took out the Savior bunker (and thought they’d taken care of their Negan problem), Tara and Heath left on a scavenger mission. We haven’t heard from them since. They don’t know Negan is still alive and worse than they ever imagined. They don’t know Carol and Morgan have run away from home and joined a cult. They don’t know Daryl eats dog food. They don’t know Rick turned into a sniveling wuss. Heck, they don’t even know that the Savior’s killed Dr Denise (and Tara really needs to know that). So where are they and what are they up to? Tonight we’ll answer those questions and probably ask some new ones.
We’re on a beach. A woman is trying to talk to her young companion about teddy bears but all the girl cares about is finishing off walkers that have floated ashore. There’s a wide generation gap between those who grew up before and during the zombie apocalypse. The girl runs from corpse to corpse, enjoying her game. She’s about to kill another of the unliving when the woman stops her. This one’s alive. It’s Tara. The girl wants to do it anyway. “We’re supposed to.” But the woman won’t let her. They can get away with it as long as they keep it a secret. The girl storms off. She won’t snitch but she won’t help either. Tara survives. And something tells me she’s about to make some interesting new friends.
And now we’re in a flashback. Tara and Heath are bonding in their RV. They haven’t found much of value for their two weeks of travel and Heath wants to go home. Tara’s not ready. She wants to be a returning hero. Heath is still traumatized by what they did at the Savior compound. Tara tries to explain that they had to kill the Saviors but he can’t justify it. “I get it now. If it’s you or someone else, you choose you. You take what you can. You take out who you have to. And you get to keep going. Nobody’s in this together, okay? Not anymore.” Tara calls bullshit on this but he doubles down. This is who they are now. This is them.
The woman who found Tara goes to check on her, weapon drawn. Tara pretends to be unconscious so she leaves food and water. And a spear. As soon as she walks away, Tara shadows her. At some buildings she spies other women and children, working and playing. She’s scared and confused. What has she walked into? There’s a clicking noise and everyone scatters like they’ve done drills for this. The children run inside, the women grab guns from their well-stocked armory. They shoot at her. She’s the fox in their henhouse! She runs but she’s outnumbered and lost. She’s able to disarm someone and take her rifle. They stare into each other’s eyes. “Go ahead,” the woman dares her. No. Tara turns the gun around and pistol-whips her. She’s about to get away when she’s stopped by the girl from the beach. The girl cocks her gun. Tara drops her rifle. “Doesn’t matter,” the girl tells her. “We’re supposed to.” Tara’s rescuer saves her again but this time the cat is out of the bag.
Back in the past, Tara and Heath come across a deserted community on a freeway overpass. Nearly dead tomato plants in a kiddy pool. Tents and cars that used to be homes. And dump trucks full of sand. Tara finds a bag buried in the sand and pulls it loose. Not a good idea. It shifts the sand piles, freeing up the walkers trapped underneath. Another clever safety measure that backfires on our friends. They get overwhelmed and Heath runs off, leading the majority of the walkers away from Tara.
Tara is handcuffed to a radiator (I kid you not) while her captors discuss her fate. The HBIC, Natania, and a group of women sit down to talk to her. Tara explains she’s from Atlanta but has been traveling the past couple of years with a friend from a fishing boat (lies, lies, lies). They ask about her boat and realize she’s lying. Things turn a little less friendly. She tells them about finding the community on the bridge and the walker assault. “Then I got knocked off a bridge.” The truth sits better with them but they’re still freaked out she snuck into their camp. She assures them she just wants to leave. She needs to find her friend. They don’t know if they can let her go. She knows too much about them. “You see, normally we would have killed you already. We shoot strangers on sight if they come into our camp.” But Tara had an opportunity to kill one of them and didn’t so they want to find another way to deal with this situation. They just don’t know what that is yet. I think they should keep her. Just like the Kingdom seems tailor made for Morgan, this Amazonian retreat has Tara written all over it.
Tara is brought to Natania’s house for dinner. She’s introduced to her rescuer, Cyndie. Cyndie doesn’t like their shoot first policy. It’s not how her mother (past tense) raised her. But she’s done it which kind of explains her unhappy demeanor. Natania starts feeling Tara out about staying. Yes! I knew it. She won’t do it (Dr Denise) but she should. They even offer to help find Heath and give him a home. “He could stay here?” She took the words right out of my mouth. Natania seems surprised she’d ask so she continues. “Well, I never thought I’d be asking this but where are all the men?” They lost them all in a skirmish with another group. The Saviors? They lost some women too, including Cyndie’s mom/Natania’s daughter. After that they came up with their kill ‘em all approach.
Natania says she’s been honest with Tara even though it makes them look bad because she wants her to really know them. “And maybe you could be honest with us about where you’re from.” So Tara tells the truth about Alexandria. She tells them about taking out the Savior compound. It hits a nerve. Do they know the Saviors? There must be some connection. Tara suggests their groups work together but they’re determined to remain hidden. After Cyndie gets involved, Natania agrees to send a guide out with Tara to find Heath. The guide can travel back to Alexandria with them. “Just to see what it’s like.” Beatrice, the woman Tara didn’t kill (and her future girlfriend), offers to go. Cyndie wants to go too but her Grandmother says no. Tara assures her she will have other opportunities to visit.
Tara leaves with two guides. Halfway to the bridge they come across a trapped walker. Tara goes to kill it and her two guides start shooting at her. Betrayal! They pulled a Shane on her. Tara takes off with the others in close pursuit. She hides in a gully with only a knife to protect herself. She attacks Beatrice. They tussle but Beatrice ends up the victor. Tara begs ther to let her go. Beatrice doesn’t see the point. “You don’t have anything left. Your people are dead.” Tara is confused. “The Saviors. That satellite post you took out… You have no idea what you have started.” Tara assures her they killed them all. Beatrice clues her in about how big the Saviors are. “If they know about your friends, it’s already too late for them.” Tara finally makes the connection between the Saviors and Natania’s group. “Every man. Every boy over ten. They lined them up, shot them in the head.” They were able to get away from Negan. They aren’t going to let Tara lead him back to them. Even if it means killing her.
Beatrice is about to shoot when Cyndie knocks her over. She tells Tara to run and Tara doesn’t need to hear it twice. She takes off. Cyndie follows. She makes Tara swear she’ll never come back or tell anyone about them. “Why would I come back? Why would I tell anyone about this place?” To save her ass? It’s why they killed the Saviors at the compound. Because they thought they had to. But they didn’t. Not really. “Nobody’s evil,” Cyndie explains. “They just decide to forget who they are.” Tara tells her some people are evil. She’s seen it. And that’s why she has to get home. To protect her friends from the evil. She swears she’ll never tell so Cyndie takes her to the bridge.
There’s no sign of Heath but still lots of walkers. Cyndie refuses to leave until she knows Tara is safe. As they start across the bridge a tarp falls revealing way too many walkers to handle. They forge ahead anyway, Tara on the ground with Cyndie acting as sniper. She makes it most of the way through before Cyndie runs out of ammo. As she looks around she remembers the last time she was there. Walkers had her pinned but Heath saved her life. She wanted protect him but he told her to take care of herself. “We’re in this together,” she told him. “I Know,” he replied. The last she saw before she fell in the river was Heath completely surrounded. She has no idea if he survived. She thinks she sees him but it’s just a walker with dreadlocks. And then she sees fresh tire tracks. “Maybe that was you.” She finds a keycard with PPP written on it on the ground. “I hope that was you.”
Tara walks all the way home. Eugene greets her at the gate and he’s crying. She sits in the hospital mourning Dr Denise, Glenn and Abraham. Rosita tells her they don’t have to just sit there. They can act. They just need guns and ammo. She begs Tara to tell her where to find some. “Anything. Anywhere. I don’t care how dangerous it looked. Tell me a place. I’ll go.” But Tara denies seeing anything. She keeps her word. She’s a good person.
Next week: Rick and Aaron scavenge. Daryl is a slave. Jesus jumps in and out of Savior trucks. Oh, and we only have two more episodes before the mid-season break.