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.
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.
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.
“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!