The Walking Dead 7×06 ‘Swear’: Faith and trust

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I thought that The Walking Dead was going to take my “diverse communities” idea only so far.  Alexandria.  The Hilltop.  The Kingdom.  The Sanctuary.  That’s already quite a bit to juggle.  So how much more does The Walking Dead think it can chew off?  Does Gimple really think that adding another community to the mix is going to work?  I mean, I could be proven wrong, and Oceanside could be a fascinating take that is a great addition to the overall story, but as of right now, nothing has coalesced at all.  Everything is so separate from each other that it’s going to take a whole lot of heavy lifting to bring it all together.

Source: AMC

Source: AMC

That isn’t to say that I don’t like the concept around the Oceanside community.  Like I said in my previous review, it’s important to get female perspectives in a show that has focused so heavily on male perspective.  I have my own issues with the female perspective presented, but we’ll get to that in a bit.  The Oceanside community is entirely filled with women because the men were all killed by the Saviors (presumably because they believed that a group of women wouldn’t put up a fight), and it’s an interesting foil to The Saviors.  The Oceanside community, as all women, has a policy where they shoot on sight, where they only take in women and children, and where they sustain themselves without the help of other communities.  That isolationist mentality is interesting, and I’m curious to see if it’s expanded upon at all, but as of right now, those details about the community are really all we get.

Source: AMC

Source: AMC

One of my criticisms of the Oceanside community, however, is that it has a mentality that is still awfully masculine.  Clearly, they have to protect themselves, so they have to arm themselves and act “tough”, but compare this to the female community in Mad Max: Fury Road.  That community has an ideology that has to do with the continuity of civilization, with the idea of creation rather than destruction.  That was a fascinating way to contrast female leadership and male leadership, or, rather, female leadership outside of the context of a male-dominated world.  And in The Walking Dead, where communities can live in relative isolation, it would be fascinating to see how a group of women internally combat the notions of creation and destruction, how this impacts the way that they raise their children.  This isn’t to say that women are inherently nurturing and men are inherently destructive, but The Walking Dead doesn’t really blur the notion of gender roles in the Oceanside society.  Oceanside is essentially a group of women who act much like the men in the show, which makes sense, as The Walking Dead has never really known how to write women all that well.

Source: AMC

Source: AMC

“Swear” isn’t particularly interesting either.  For an episode as long as it is (49 minutes), it REALLY drags along, not offering up any fascinating new characters to empathize and root for.  The women at Oceanside don’t really have distinct personalities and really just stand in for roles within the community, parts that when added up compose the whole.  It’s disappointing that this new community is so bland outside of the original idea presented, and that nobody really stands out as having a real personality.  Maybe Oceanside will become something more interesting as it meshes with the bigger picture (if it meshes with the bigger picture), but as of right now, there’s nothing to really note outside from the fact that such a community exists.  The most noteworthy concept presented in the episode is this notion of trust between communities, how it’s possible for people from different backgrounds to come together and care for each other.  Tara, in the end, doesn’t give away the Oceanside community to Rosita.  It’s possible for good intentions to be validated.  The world isn’t just an awful place.

However.  At this point, it’s time for The Walking Dead to begin to coalesce around these different communities and the spirit of rebellion that is present throughout most of them.  At some point, the show needs to begin taking down Negan’s regime, as it’s clear that Negan won’t be this unstoppable menace forever, and drawing out Negan’s reign is going to keep the show and its characters from evolving past their current position as the oppressed.  The show has two episodes left in the first half of the season to make a strong point and to hit an inflection point in the fight against Negan’s rule.  With all the set up thus far, it’s more than possible to stick the landing.

What did you think of “Swear”?  Did you find the Oceanside community interesting, but the episode a little boring?  Let me know in the comments!

Michael St. Charles

is just a Michigan State University grad who loves a good story. If he’s not off teaching the young ones how to solve quadratic functions or to write an expository essay, he’s watching old-school HBO shows, indie horror movies, or he’s playing Resident Evil 4.

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  • Gui

    I want to start of by saying one thing: I’m probably very biased because
    I genuinely really like Tara and had been wanting to see her get the
    spotlight for a while now, but this has probably been my favorite of the
    season to date. Alanna killed it, and when it comes to representation,
    this episode was a real surprise. A whole, slightly extended episode
    focused on the show’s canon lesbian character who’s billed as main cast
    in the credits now? That’s something alright.

    Tara was great for this episode, she added some much needed levity and at the same time managed to have some really heartwrenching moments (that final scene with Rosita I felt was greatly done). She’s taken in all these horrible news at once and even so, she still keeps her promise to not talk about Oceanside.

    One very, VERY important thing here is that the show’s diverged from the comics here noticeably. Without spoiling much, Oceanside has been mentioned in the comics but not shown. I have a few theories thanks to this as to how 7B and the entirety of 8 will play out, but since a lot of it’s comic spoiler territory, I’ll keep it to myself for now. I’ll say, though, that Gimple is definitely aiming to make the adaptation of upcoming comic volumes larger in scale. How much Oceanside will create comic divergences will be something interesting to watch, I have to admit.

    Right now, one of the bigger issues is that the series is trying to expand the theme of volume 18 into half a season, the idea of “life under Negan”, and that’s in the comics pretty much just Alexandria and the Sanctuary, and the Kingdom and Hilltop don’t get any insight until later on. And as mentioned, Oceanside in the comics isn’t quite a thing yet. So it’s both working and not. While knowing what’s coming from later volumes and how it’ll play out makes this buildup more exciting, it’s also dragging out a bit and it can get tedious at times. And even with all the good here, Negan is still Kirkman’s Negan and he’ll keep being a problem for the show, but hey, maybe Gimple can get some leeway with some upcoming moments to at least add more depth to him. We’ll see.

    Other important things to note: Heath’s fate being left up in the air (likely because of Corey Hawkins’ scheduling conflicts because of 24: Legacy). They could’ve killed him here, but they’ve left him open to return and I wonder what they’ll do with him.

    Again, I love how the charge against Negan is pretty much led by women. He chronically underestimates them, and he’s no doubt ignoring how huge of a threat they’ll be to him.

    The pieces are falling into place, slowly but surely.

    • Michael St. Charles

      Hey! Just saw your comments after I uploaded my (shorter) critiques for the last two episodes. I’ll be sure to check to see if you comment on 7 or 8. Anyway, I really enjoyed that final scene as well. It was the centerpiece of the entire episode, to be sure. Aside from that though, I just wasn’t particularly impressed by the depiction of the Oceanside community. It’s interesting to see gender dynamics play out in this post-apocalyptic world, and it’s great to have a not-super-skinny lesbian character in the show (though I wish they wouldn’t have killed off the other lesbian character), but I just didn’t think there was a whole lot of nuance to the way the Oceanside community’s social structure was portrayed. That might just be me being picky though, haha. I also didn’t know that they were mentioned in the comics (my memory of the comics can be a bit hazy).

      Anyway, hopefully I’ll see a comment on the last two episodes!