Tonight we caught up with Tara and Heath on their two week run. Yes - (In my best Gilligan's Island voice) a "two week run". They haven't found anything worth bringing home to Alexandria and Heath is of the opinion that two weeks is two weeks; time to go home. Tara on the other hand doesn't want to return empty handed so she'd rather stay on the road, until they find what they need; anything of value to them. While scavenging an old settlement located on a bridge, a herd of 'sandlot walkers' emerge and converge on the duo. Heath, atop a truck bed, holds high ground over the biters but Tara gets wrapped up by several of the undead, tumbling over the bridge into the river below.
She's gets found by two young girls – Cindy, the teenager, chooses to help while Rachel, no more than 7 years old, is set to kill Tara; it's the rules they live by. Rules, schmules; Cindy succeeds in saving Tara in yet another of moral shaking notions this show likes to throw at us. A child so willing to kill is creepy, be they of the corn or not. Yet we all can see the logic in the choices they've made to survive. We can also see that Cindy is growing into her own understanding, questioning their 'rules' boundaries. This becomes very impactful once we hear the story of Oceanside.
Fast forward to a discovered and captured Tara, who learns that this group was found by and put up a resistance to the Saviors, only to lose all of their men (including boys) as consequence for their actions. After, with resistance no longer an option, they chose to leave their home in search of peace. Finding it by the shoreline ('Oceanside'), this determined troop of women of every age survives via a devout trust in one another and one strict edict - they kill outsiders on sight. Simply put, their survival strategy is 'Operation Atlantis', we're a ghost town; we don't really exist. The Saviors can't hassle you if they do not know you exist. When Tara rejects their invitation to stay with them, she soon realizes she signed her death warrant.
To be fair, this is not what the people of Oceanside want to do. They do what they must to survive and their history has taught them that this is what's necessary; a realization the inquisitive Cindy is just coming to. I think they are all disgusted by the thought of choosing self before another but we all have that self-preservation instinct; there's nothing wrong with that. We all need it, even more so in the land of The Walking Dead. In the end, Tara only makes it because of the kindness of a stranger - Cindy, who saves Tara's life on three separate occasions. But this is not an outright repudiation of her community's rules. As Morgan has shown in past episodes – "You have to find your own path and try to live with it." Cindy is doing just that. She is committed to living life in Oceanside her way, by her own understanding. She doesn't like killing outsiders on sight, and so she's done with that. She only asks in return of Tara that she never tells anyone about Oceanside, and that she never returns. And, returning to Alexandria to find out what has happened to her Denise and the violence that ensued in her absence, Tara complies with the vow she made to Cindy, despite the well-stocked armory at Oceanside that would sure come in handy in Alexandria right now.
Thus we almost guaranteed that Tara will be back at Oceanside at some point. Hard to say when, but her back will be to the wall with no other options, I betcha. Wait for it. If we don't see the Oceanside again, I think it will be a missed opportunity. Granted, The Walking Dead has no shortage of strong women in its cast. But these Oceanside gals look like they'd be boss in a fight! Dare I say Amazonian? Any group as organized as they were when their intruder alert sounded - they hit their armory and started looking for and gunning for Tara before she realized that she was the intruder - are real good allies to have in these days and times.
My favorite thing about this episode was that it was very much a Tara episode. We already knew her origin, but this was a retrospective (like when we saw Morgan become a Jedi, of a sort) that reminded us what we liked about Tara and why she has been missed. She is a smart, trustworthy, survivor with a heart of gold and a sprint like Flo-Jo (plus Julia Louis Dreyfuss' comedic timing). When literally covered in walkers, she still makes the effort to get to Heath, with no regard for her own safety. That scene, in and of itself, put this episode in the win column for me. But let's hope these events still come back in to play later.