Warning: Spoilers ahead for The Walking Dead Episode 8 'Hearts Still Beating'
It was a rocky start to the season, but hot damn if The Walking Dead didn't totally pull it back by the mid-season finale, airing one amazing episode for Episode 8 "Hearts Still Beating."
After setting up multiple character storylines in Episode 7, the mid-season finale brought everything together in one bloody mess and has basically set up a gory and action packed second half of Season 7.
Episode 8 saw all of our wandering characters make their way back to a community, with Daryl and Jesus fleeing the Sanctuary and returning to the Hilltop, and Michonne, Rick, and Aaron heading home to Alexandria. Meanwhile we bid farewell to Spencer Monroe and Olivia who were made short work of by Negan and Arat, as well as our favorite Savior, Fat Joey. As the episode wrapped up we finally saw the alliance we'd be waiting for, with Rick and co. heading to the Hilltop to hammer out a plan to take down Negan for good. If this union alone wasn't enough to excite us for Season 7b, we also have Rick's introduction to the kingdom to think of, plus that mysterious character wearing those boots!
But before we can even think about the possibilities for Season 7b, first take a look at these five thing you might have missed in #TheWalkingDead Episode 8, "Hearts Still Beating."
1. Maggie's cap seemed like a homage to Glenn
As "Hearts Still Beating" opened, we saw that despite Maggie seemingly getting back to business at the Hilltop, she was still very much grieving for her lost husband. Having been left with no pictures of Glenn (and giving Enid his pocket watch), Episode 8 revealed that she'd found her own subtle and heartfelt way of remembering her late partner by simply donning a cap. Baseball caps were Glenn's trademark accessory for the first few seasons of the series, including the episode in which they met way back in Season 2.
While the cap looked a little different to Glenn's original cap (though he did wear many throughout his hat phrase), there's no doubt that this was a sweet homage to her fallen partner, and if you're a long time fan of The Walking Dead, you probably got a little misty eyed when you made the connection.
2. The Kingdom never suffered at the hands of the Saviors
Though you might have caught Richard telling Morgan and Carol thing, I thought it was an interesting point to talk more on. Unlike Alexandria, Hilltop and even Oceanside, the Kingdom clearly has a much different relationship with Negan and the Saviors. While Negan forced his policy on the other groups, killing members of their communities and using fear to keep them in their place, only a select few members of the Kingdom know about Negan at all and for the most part the agreement has been very peaceful.
But what makes the Kingdom's agreement with Negan a possible problem for Alexandria and Hilltop is that the Kingdom has no big beef with the Saviors. They have no real reason to fight back against them. Sure Richard wants Morgan and Carol to tell Ezekiel that he needs to take out Negan as soon as possible, but they shot that plan down, and besides something tells me that Ezekiel isn't exactly accustomed to being told what to do.
As much as I hope that the Kingdom joins up with Alexandria and the Hilltop, it just might take some sort of trade gone wrong between the Kingdom and the Saviors before Ezekiel agrees. What do you think?
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3. Spencer's death was straight out of the comics, but Olivia's was not
So far Season 7 has been a comic reader's dream, recreating many of the iconic scenes involving Negan shot-for-shot and word-for-word (well, without any of the F-bombs of course). However the show has also kept the material fresh, being unafraid to add in extra bits and pieces were it would be beneficial to the series, such as killing two characters in the season premiere, and bringing forth the introduction of the Oceanside community and changing it into a significantly different — and more interesting — place.
Episode 8 largely followed the events of Issue 111 and 112 of the comic series, and as a result many comic fans knew that Spencer was likely to die in the mid-season finale - and he did, in spectacular fashion. However what kept the episode interesting for everyone was Rosita attempting to shoot Negan (in the comics it was Carl who fired a shot), and Olivia being killed as punishment (something that never happened in the comics). Olivia's death was quick, brutal and was totally shocking - not only for the residents of Alexandria, but for the viewers as well. While Season 7b will undoubtedly recreate some famous comic panels, the fact that the writers have thrown in so many new storylines and bits of material should have everyone very excited for what may come next.
4. Spaghetti Tuesdays live on even if Hershel doesn't
Ok so there's no way that Negan could ever have known about Hershel's tradition of "Spaghetti Tuesdays every Wednesday," but surely the inclusion of this particular meal in Episode 8 had to be some sort of sly wink from the writers to the fans.
Hershel, you may be long dead but your pasta legacy will continue!
5. Rick is back, baby
Following the horrific Season 7 premiere episode, Rick had sort of become a shell of a man. After seeing two of his closest friends pummeled into the ground, and being taken on the road trip from hell with the villain from hell, he'd accepted his fate and tried to convince others that from now on the safest way to exist was to play by Negan's rules.
But after Negan's men beat Aaron to a pulp and killed two more residents of Alexandria during Episode 8, Rick finally seemed to realize that Negan would never be satisfied and that it was no way for the community to live. So when Michonne found Rick in the jail cell (anyone else get the feeling that Rick was in the cell because we'll probably see it in use sometime?), and suggested it was time for retaliation, Rick finally agreed.
Despite all this though, the true moment that marked the change in Rick was not only being reunited with his right hand man, Daryl but also his weapon of choice since well before the zombie apocalypse: his Colt Python revolver. Negan better watch himself, because Rick Grimes is back in business!
The Walking Dead returns to AMC with Season 7b and Episode 9 in February, 2017.