Review: The Walking Dead Mid-Season Finale – Two Deaths & A Glimmer of Hope

The Walking Dead Mid-Season Finale “Heart Still Beating” Plot Summary:

Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Aaron (Ross Marquand) must scavenge and it may just cost them their lives. Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) continues to terrorize Carl (Chandler Riggs). Spencer (Austin Nichols) wants to instigate a hostile takeover of Alexandria through Negan. Carol (Melissa McBride) listens to pleas from one of the The Kingdom’s top men.

That was predictable.

The first half of The Walking Dead’s seventh season ended with a mixed bag of big, explosive, dramatic moments, a few jump scares, and a promise that the second half of this season will be so much better. #RiseUp.

But let’s be honest with ourselves, this is how they end every half season. And stupidly, I sit here and think, “You know maybe the next half season WILL be better.” I should know better. I know the formula, hell I’ve complained about in this review series! The Spring 2017 season will go like this: great opener, interesting next episode or two, then things trudge by painfully until we end with a mixed bag of big, explosive, dramatic moments, a few jump scares, and a promise that next season will be so much better.

It’s a vicious cycle, and for this series’ future, they really need to break it, because viewers are leaving in droves.

Now let’s look at the actual episode, and what worked — because there was a lot that did.

Walkers were scary again! This series works best when walkers are still seen as a threat. For the past few seasons, and even in this one, walkers have been played off as mere nuisances instead of real threats. However, the whole lake sequence with Rick and Aaron and floating walkers was excellent, and pretty tense.

The mystery character is interesting. It gives viewers something to ponder and debate about, which is another thing the series excels at. While this won’t be as important as “Who did Negan kill?” This will at least have us speculating for the next few months. Hopefully the reveal will be impactful, because if it’s someone lame as hell, or a new character we have to get into, it’ll be disappointing.

Alexandria is being thinned out — thankfully. One of the most annoying things about the series is the never-ending supply of disposable red shirts of Alexandria. Somehow these people keep coming out of the woodwork, and no matter who you kill off (like Denise) someone pops up in their place. I know some people were really upset when Olivia (Ann Mahoney) got senselessly killed off, but I was thankful. She was a pretty inconsequential character — what did she really add to this series? How many great scenes did she have outside of her cringing in front of Negan? Also, if you’re adding a “mystery character” you need to make room.

Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

I was so happy that Spencer got offed. He’s been one of the most annoying characters in the past few seasons. He’s yo-yoed into the show at random times — often not on screen for weeks at a time. Then when he comes back into focus we’re supposed to care. Stop it. I thought this was probably the most effective use of his character, and his death was glorious.

Let’s also rejoice in the fact we’re getting out of the “ugly cry face” season of the series. I’m so tired of seeing everyone cry. I’m glad they’re arming up, and fighting back. The season has been full of harrow and sadness and morbidity, and frustrating episode that’s it’s good to see the characters gearing up for war. Yes, I understand that going through all this torture was the impetus for this, but it should not be torture for the viewer week in and week out. We go through enough heaviness in the world, we don’t need 90 minute episodes of boring awkwardness.

Were there things that stunk about the episode? Of course. The whole Carol doesn’t want to fight thing is boring as hell. Anything with Gregory is clunky. Alpha female Maggie is pretty one note right now. Enid scenes make me want to self-immolate.

However in the end, the mid-season finale was pretty solid. I am hopefully for next half-season, but am preparing myself for a whole bunch of boredom.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Bill Bodkin is the gray bearded owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, he is lucky husband, and proud father to a beautiful daughter named Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site’s podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites