‘The Walking Dead’ Recap ‘Hearts Still Beating’: No Guts, No Glory

In ‘The Walking Dead’ recap for the mid-season finale, Negan takes retribution against Alexandria, Daryl makes his move and Rick has finally had enough…

By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer

Since season 7 of ‘The Walking Dead’ began, Rick Grimes has been a broken man.

Watching two of his friends getting their heads bashed in by a maniacal dictator before nearly being forced to cut off his own son’s hand will tend to have a damning psychological effect on a person.

So it’s understandable that Rick just wanted to keep the peace between his group and Negan’s Saviors but the mid-season finally pushed him past his breaking point.

Perhaps it was swimming in a sea of walkers that nearly cost Aaron his life or seeing the Saviors viciously beat him to a bloody pulp for no reason or it could have been watching two more of his friends die that make Rick wake up and realize that there was never going to be a compromise with the Saviors.

Things were only going to get worse unless Rick rallied his troops in an effort to fight back. By the end of the 90-minute episode, the splintered group was back together again while plotting a way to bring Negan down once and for all.

With that said, let’s recap ‘The Walking Dead’ mid-season finale titled ‘Hearts Still Beating’….

No Guts, No Glory

With a clean shaven face and a table full of spaghetti, Negan was ready for a nice family dinner complete with powdered lemonade to drink. Following the conclusion of last week’s episode, Negan picks up right where he left off while making himself at home inside Rick’s house at Alexandria.

While the rest of the community was frozen in fear of what might happen next with the Saviors back in town, Negan calmly sat down to dinner with his new pal Carl while waiting for Rick to return from his scavenging mission to gather goods for his new boss.

Elsewhere in town, Rosita had a heart to heart with Father Gabriel after Eugene made her a bullet that had Negan’s name written all over it. In Rosita’s mind, she was willing to give her life in exchange for Negan’s, especially after what he did by killing Glenn and Abraham. Still, Gabriel tried his best to convince her that this course of action may not be what’s best for Alexandria in the long run.

Gabriel agrees that eventually they will have to fight back but it has to happen when they are at full strength and ready to truly strike back at the Saviors and one bullet isn’t going to get the job done even if she manages to kill Negan.

And then there’s Spencer, who has been stewing all season long that Rick has managed to turn Alexandria from a nice, quiet community into a place there a barbed-wire-wrapped-baseball-bat wielding psycho has now taken over and rules them with an iron fist. Spencer has never been a big fan of Rick after he took over as leader of Alexandria while deposing his mother at the same time. His opinion has only gotten worse after Rick tried to go up against the Saviors rather than making a deal with them at the start, which could have saved countless lives including Glenn and Abraham.

So Spencer takes it upon himself to sit down with Negan to convince him that a change in leadership is necessary if he wants to maintain control over Alexandria.

With a bottle of whiskey in hand and a game of pool in the middle of the street, Spencer does his best to explain to Negan that Rick is only going to cause trouble in the long run before eventually turning against him. Negan would be better off killing Rick now and allowing Spencer to step into his role to ensure that the relationship between Alexandria and the Saviors flourishes rather than fails.

Negan hears him out but then counters by asking why Spencer is making such a fuss right now while Rick is out gathering supplies to give to the Saviors. Negan is also curious why Spencer doesn’t just kill Rick and take over rather than come here hat in hand asking for his assistance. In other words, why does Spencer have no guts?

So Negan stabs Spencer in the belly before drawing his knife across his entire body. A moment later, Spencer’s intestines spill out onto the street while everybody from Alexandria gasps in horror as another community member has been butchered.

Negan’s response was to apologize for his mistake — he found Spencer’s guts after all.

Not My War

Back at the Kingdom, Morgan delivers some fresh fruit and vegetables to Carol before trying to quickly retreat but she catches him in the act. Carol has made it clear that she wants to be left alone out here, but Morgan couldn’t just let her starve so he dropped of some food in hopes of escaping before she discovered he was the one who left it.

Carol invites him inside and shows that she’s already stocked up courtesy of King Ezekiel, who has been making regular stops over the past few weeks.

Before they can have much of a conversation, Richard — one of King Ezekiel’s top lieutenants — shows up asking for help. Richard explains to them about the deal with the Saviors and how he’s convinced that this deal will eventually backfire — whether that means a drop comes up short one day or just because somebody gives a wrong look that sets them off — eventually this whole situation will fall apart in disaster.

So rather than sitting back and waiting for the inevitable to happen, Richard wants the Kingdom to mount and attack to take out Negan and the Saviors.

Unfortunately, Carol reminds them both that she just wants to be left alone and she’s finished taking up other people’s causes. While she might be the most capable fighter in three communities, Carol is no longer in the business of killing people. The same can be said for Morgan, who reiterates that he will not take a life unless completely necessary so Richard is going to have to look elsewhere if he wants to start a war with the Saviors.

Richard eventually retires to a trailer he has hidden in the woods where he acts out in anger after his attempt to rally support failed. Something tells me, Richard won’t have to wait long to find somebody willing to fight back against the Saviors.

Doomed

Michonne continues on the road with the random Savior woman she took hostage last week in an attempt to find the location of the Sanctuary so she could get a swipe at Negan with her sword.

Instead of driving Michonne to the front gates, the woman pulls up to a hilltop overlooking another community and tells her the same thing she’s heard over and over again — ‘I am Negan’. The woman is not only fiercely loyal but also pragmatic because she knows leading Michonne to the Sanctuary is essentially as good as suicide. She also reminds Michonne that no matter where she goes, Negan is everywhere.

So the woman suggests that Michonne take her to a deserted part of the woods, kill her and dump the truck so that Negan won’t know she was the one who perpetrated an act of war against him. Rather than resist her request, Michonne does exactly what the woman says before returning home to Alexandria with a new mission in mind.

The Great Escape

Back in the Sanctuary, Daryl is hesitant to accept the note that was slipped to him under the door because it feels eerily familiar to what happened when he first arrived in the Sanctuary as Negan tried to test him. Still with an opportunity to escape, Daryl takes his chances and quickly runs out of his holding cell before finding an empty bedroom where he’s able to munch down an entire jar of peanut butter before finding a change of clothes.

Daryl patiently waits while the soldiers hanging out inside the building finally exit before he makes his move.

Daryl quickly runs through the hallways until he reaches outside in the same spot as before, except this time there’s nobody waiting on him to spring a trap. Unfortunately, Fat Joey happens upon Daryl as he’s about to use a key slipped to him to start a motorcycle. Fat Joey offers Daryl a means to escape but after witnessing what happened to Glenn and Abraham, he’s not leaving without a little retribution.

Daryl ends up using a pipe to beat Fat Joey to death — while also using that occasion to let out a lot of pent up aggression and anger. When he finishes, Jesus pops his head out from around the corner and discovers Daryl sitting there over the dead body. There’s no time to contemplate what just happened because this might be the only chance Daryl and Jesus can escape before Negan and his men return home.

Retribution

Rick and Aaron are able to get the supplies from the house boat in the middle of the lake of walkers before returning to Alexandria where they find the Saviors already there to greet them. Inside, Rick receives a message that Negan is at his house waiting on him but first the Saviors have to issue a vicious beat down to Aaron after finding a note inside one of the containers that had a middle finger on it.

The note was written by the man who gathered the supplies as a threat of sorts to anybody who tried to steal his things — Aaron had a laugh at it when he first opened the box back on the boat. Now the Saviors decided to use this as a reason to viciously beat Aaron while Rick could only stand there and watch.

Back at Rick’s house after Spencer was gutted, the community gathered while Negan laughed with glee after his latest kill. Rosita stood in the front of the crowd and that’s when she finally saw her opening — this was the time to end it.

So Rosita reached for her gun, pointed it at Negan and pulled the trigger — and the bullet lodged directly into Lucille. The baseball bat protected Negan and with only one bullet in the chamber, Rosita isn’t going to get a second shot.

Of course, Negan is enraged that somebody came that close to killing him but as much as he wants revenge, he’s more curious about the homemade bullet that shot out of Rosita’s gun. Negan wants to know who made it and he’s willing to kill someone to find out.

With a knife to her face, Rosita tries to take credit, but Negan knows better. Even Tara accepts responsibility, but Negan is no fool. Finally with a cut drawn on Rosita’s cheek, Eugene finally raises his voice to tell Negan that he was the person responsible for making the bullet that nearly killed him.

Now that Negan has answers, it’s time for retribution so he has one of his top soldiers Arat pick somebody to kill — so she points her gun at Olivia and pulls the trigger. That’s two more dead in Alexandria since Negan returned.

When Rick finally makes it to his house, he finds Spencer dead on the ground and Olivia shot on his porch. Rather than raise his voice, Rick suggests that Negan take all the goods he found while scavenging for him and just leave.

Negan isn’t sure why Rick is so upset — he just rid him of a turncoat in Spencer, who was plotting behind his back and then they killed Olivia, who was clearly eating more than her fair share of rations. This is all after Carl stowed away on one of their trucks and gunned down a few more of his men back at the Sanctuary. In other words, Negan believes Rick owes him a debt of gratitude.

For now, Negan will take his spoils of war and go home and that includes a hostage because Eugene is now officially a resident of the Sanctuary because his skills can be put to good use.

Rise Up

Back at the Hilltop, Maggie is enjoying life in her new home while the people in the community are all starting to treat her like the leader they deserve rather than the sniveling cowards they have in Gregory.

While Maggie is gathering support at the Hilltop, Sasha is quietly plotting her own mission to go after Negan just like Rosita has been doing back at Alexandria. Both of them loved Abraham and to see him killed in such brutal fashion deserves revenge and now Sasha and Rosita are looking for payback.

In Alexandria, Michonne returns home after killing the random Savior she stopped on the road before meeting with Rick. She tells him that a single person going after Negan isn’t going to stop him — it’s going to take an army.

And finally after risking his life, watching Aaron nearly killed on two occasions and seeing two more people in Alexandria murdered, Rick finally agrees — it’s time to fight back.

The next day while Maggie is looking over the wall at the Hilltop, she gets a big smile on her face when seeing some friends arrive at the gate. It’s Rick, Michonne, Rosita and several others from Alexandria and they’ve come looking for help.

After entering the gates, Rick is greeted by Jesus and Daryl, who have also made it back to the Hilltop following an escape from the Sanctuary. Rick embraces his old friend before Daryl gives him a present that he stole from the Saviors — it’s the six-shooter that has been with him from the day he woke up from that coma and went on a mission to find his family.

Now with Rick, Daryl, Maggie and the others back together again they’ve started to form the army that they hope will bring Negan down. Prepare for a march to war.

Post Credits

When Rick and Aaron finished loading the supplies taken from the house boat, there was a mysterious onlooker who was watching them the entire time. Following the credits during the mid-season finale, a pair of binoculars looked on Father Gabriel, who was keeping watch from the top of the wall at Alexandria. The person holding the binoculars was the same one who watched Rick and Aaron taking the supplies from the boat house and clearly followed back home again. Who this might be or what it has to do with the future of ‘The Walking Dead’ won’t be revealed until the show returns in 2017.

‘The Walking Dead’ will continues season 7 in February when the show returns to AMC…

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