The Walking Dead” has spent lots of time with the group that met Negan in the season premiere, taking the audience back to Alexandria after the fact and allowing us to see the duo that split off to go to the Hilltop. This week, “Swear” allows the audience to play catch up with another duo -- Tara and Heath -- who left before Negan took his bat to their friends.

Who remembers that two week supply run?

In audience time, its been several months (and nine episodes), but in show time, it’s only been two weeks. Tara and Heath left, saying they would return to Alexandria in two weeks, on a search for supplies to bring back. The duo know nothing about what’s gone on since they left -- not that Denise died on her own supply run or that a group of their friends were targeted by Negan for revenge.

Heath and Tara do, however, spend quite a bit of time debating about the new world order. Neither of them like that the Alexandrians had to kill everyone at Negan’s outpost, but they still did it, and it sounds like they would both be willing to do it again to protect their own. That idea of whether they really had to do it, or they chose to, comes up repeatedly in the episode as Tara meets a new group.

Tara makes a series of missteps

As Tara makes a mistake on a bridge that leads to a whole mess of walkers emerging from a dump truck of sand, she and Heath end up separated. She falls off the bridge and washes up on the shore of an island while Heath leaves her behind. That’s just the first in a series of missteps she makes as she makes her way into this new community, revealing herself to them, nearly getting herself shot multiple times, and repeatedly getting caught in lies.

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While Tara has a history of making mistakes on the show (she did previously work for the Governor, after all), she’s learned a great deal during her time with Rick and his people, and you would think she wouldn’t be making the amateur apocalypse mistakes anymore.

Tara’s new friends aren’t exactly friendly

Other than Cindy, who appears to be a teenager, no one in the island settlement is particularly pleasant to Tara. Primarily, they try to kill her, then decide to force her stay, then try to kill her again. Of course, they do have their reasons.

As it turns out, this group of islanders, which is almost entirely women, though there are young kids running around, has had their own run-in with the Saviors. They were forced to work for them, and when they tried to fight back, all the males over the age of 10 were killed by Negan’s people. Brutal, but kind of predictable. It would have been more interesting to find that these women had ostracized men for a reason, even if this does allow Tara’s story to link up with the others a bit.

But what about Heath?

When we first see Tara and Heath on a bridge full of walkers, the writers give us a nice fake out, making it look like Heath just turned and left as Tara was overcome, but that’s not the case. Instead, as the two are surrounded, he urges her to get away, but she falls off the bridge as walkers come for her. Where is he now?

Tara discovers that their vehicle is gone and so is Heath, so she hopes, much like the audience, that he’s on his way back to Alexandria. So far though, we haven’t seen him at Alexandria, so what did happen to him?

The verdict

Despite my love for Tara as a character, and the extra ten minutes of content, this episode moves incredibly slowly. In fact, all of the supersized episodes have so far this season. Tara also doesn’t mention her discovery of Oceanside to anyone, which is understandable given her promise to keep Cindy safe, but if we don’t get to see this community again, it will feel like a waste of an episode.

2 out of 5 stars

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