Technically, the episode is a mid-season finale, but for all intents and purposes we’re just gonna call it a season finale.
Ah, The Walking Dead. Just like one of its many walkers, it’s a show that just won’t seem to die. And with the introduction of one of TV’s most anticipated villains, for once it has good reason not to. Happily, we get to see quite a bit of our fucked-up friend in season seven’s mid-season finale, Hearts Still Beating.
Couple o’ pros:
Any time Jeffery Dean Morgan‘s grinning, oft blood-soaked visage graces the screen you’re know you’re in for a treat. Clean-shaven and ostensibly softened by suburban comforts, it initially seems as if the ol’ psychopath might have changed his ways. After all, he spared kill Carl after he broke into the Saviors’ compound and gunned down two of his men, and even brought him back to Alexandria – how nice. But thankfully, we finally get another strong dose of the foul-mouthed, bat-swinging nutter we all know and love. Negan really is what the doctor ordered.
2. Getting the gang back together
It was going to happen eventually: reuniting the ol’ gang. Yeah, Carol’s still MIA, and Glenn is… well, y’know; but the eventual reunion was a much needed moment for the episode and the season. Also, Rick gets his mojo back – and about bloody well time.
Couple o’ cons:
1. Slow start
The first half of this mid-season finale drags. There were times when I found my attention wandering, leaving me to wonder if the episode was actually supposed to be a mid-season finale. In retrospect it’s easy to see why things were initially a little slow, as much of it was setting up the back half of the episode; but that still doesn’t mean it was especially enjoyable to see things initially trudge along at the speed of a walker with one leg. Thankfully, the second half successfully shifts things into high gear.
2. Poor writing
Yeah, we all know The Walking Dead doesn’t have the best writing on TV. But for a mid-season finale, the script didn’t feel as tight as it should’ve been. There were some scenes early on that just seemed out of place or even contrived – most notably the pictorial ‘fuck you’ that Rick and Aaron come across, only for it later to be misinterpreted by the Saviours. Again, the second half was thankfully a lot more cohesive.
Finding out that Spencer did have guts after all.
In a few words…
For an end of season finale, Hearts Still Beating wouldn’t have quite scratched the itch. For a mid-season finale, it just about satisfies.