‘The Walking Dead’ Season 7, Episode 8 Analysis: ‘Hearts Still Beating’ Sets The Scene For February Excitement

You can be excused for being wildly excited over February’s next installment of The Walking Dead, especially after Sunday night’s Season 7, Episode 8 midseason finale, “Hearts Still Beating.”

In the finale of Season 6, we saw Negan go ballistic with his prized weapon of choice, Lucille. Battering his way through brave victim Abraham, Lucille came back with a vengeance in the first episode of Season 7, when we saw Glenn kneeling before Negan. Two characters died in one fell swoop after the encounter with Negan, the fiercely ferocious leader of The Saviors.

We sadly watched Maggie, heartbroken and angry, and recalled how Glenn had just barely survived after being attacked by a mad mob of zombies in a previous episode, only to meet his end with a baseball bat covered in barbed wire. We flinched at the violent ease with which Negan dispatched Glenn directly to oblivion and felt anger when Daryl was whisked away to the headquarters of the Saviors as yet another “lesson” to Rick and his group.

AMC's Season 7 premiere of 'The Walking Dead' at Hollywood Forever in Los Angeles on October 23, 1016.

All of this served to make Season 7, Episode 8 of The Walking Dead even sweeter, as Rick’s group finally decided to enact a future revenge when they meet at the Hilltop. Sunday night’s “Hearts Still Beating” showed us that there is indeed still hope and fire in the hearts of those who have been spared the sadistic wrath of Negan.

On Sunday night, we saw Daryl finally escape from the clutches of his prison. We also may have actually sided with Negan for once when we saw Spencer try to finagle his way into Negan’s heart and mind by suggesting that he should really be in control of the group, claiming that wherever Rick traveled, devastation and death soon followed. Negan, of course, would have been aware of Spencer’s game immediately, and when Negan suggested that Spencer had “no guts,” he used a knife instead of Lucille to show that Spencer did indeed actually have guts in yet another gruesome scene.

Of course, the law of averages with Negan shows that there are normally two deaths per episode, and in The Walking Dead Season 7, Episode 8 midseason finale, this is no different. When he demands to know who made the bullet that Rosita fired at him, he shouts out to one of his lieutenants to “kill somebody.” This time, it’s the unsuspecting Olivia, who gets shot directly in the face on the porch where she is lurking.

We know that Eugene had cleverly crafted the one lone and solitary bullet that Rosita used when she fired her gun straight into Lucille, narrow missing Negan, and when Eugene admits to being the person responsible for its creation in order to save Rosita, he finds himself taken prisoner and hauled back to the headquarters of the Saviors. In this Season 7, Episode 8 adventure of The Walking Dead, we are left to assume that Eugene is murdered there, but he could also have been taken prisoner like Daryl, left to be broken in the same manner.

After the Saviors leave Rick and his crew, the fearless Michonne has a deep conversation with Rick. It is clear what needs to be done. We witnessed Rick stupefied and in tears, standing alone when Negan departed towards the end of the show. The look in his eyes showed heartbreak but also a quiet and grim determination. With Michonne, this determination comes to fruition in their conversation.

The cast and crew of 'The Walking Dead' at New York Comic Con on October 8, 2016.

At the end of The Walking Dead Season 7, Episode 8, it is with much happiness that we see Rick’s group meeting up with everyone else at the Hilltop. They all hug each other here, full of deep emotion, and it is an especially welcome sight when Rick spies that Daryl has finally broken free and is here too. Forbes reports that one of the issues with this episode is just how much ground it had to cover after focusing mainly on a couple of characters over previous episodes, yet Episode 8 wrapped up all of the loose ends nicely.

In the last scene of this midseason finale, the group eye each other with fierce determination and have begun to hatch their plan to finally break free from Negan and The Saviors. And if this episode was anything to go by, February of 2017 will see those at the Hilltop waging a full-on war against Negan and his group of followers.

What did you think of Sunday night’s episode? Would you have done anything differently in The Walking Dead, Season 7, Episode 8 midseason finale? Will Rick’s group rise again?

[Featured Image by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images]