|"Hearts Still Beating"|
|The Walking Dead episode|
Reunited, Rick and Daryl embrace.
|Directed by||Michael E. Satrazemis|
|Original air date||December 11, 2016|
|Running time||60 minutes|
"Hearts Still Beating" is the eighth episode and mid-season finale of the seventh season of the post-apocalyptic horror television series The Walking Dead, which aired on AMC on December 11, 2016. The episode was written by Matthew Negrate and Channing Powell, and directed by Michael E. Satrazemis.
The episode focuses on Negan's (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) unwelcome and unexpected visit to Alexandria as other members scavenge for supplies; with tensions high, things quickly spin out of control. It also features the final appearances of Olivia (Ann Mahoney) and Spencer Monroe (Austin Nichols). His death was adapted from Issue #111 of the comic book series.
At the Hilltop, Gregory (Xander Berkeley) warns Maggie (Lauren Cohan) not to let her growing popularity with the Hilltop residents go to her head. Maggie cannot locate Jesus (Tom Payne) and Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) lies about his whereabouts, knowing he is looking for the Saviors' home, the Sanctuary.
At the Kingdom, Richard (Karl Makinen), a member of the Kingdom's military, pays Carol (Melissa McBride) a visit inside her cottage, though Morgan (Lennie James) is also there. Richard tries to persuade them both to have King Ezekiel (Khary Payton) consider fighting the Saviors, as he fears they may in fact kill them even if they continue to obey their demands. They debate and both staunchly refuse; Richard dejectedly leaves.
At the Sanctuary, with help from an anonymous source, Daryl (Norman Reedus) is able to sneak out of his cell to a waiting motorcycle to escape. He encounters Fat Joey (Joshua Hoover) and bludgeons him to death with a pipe. Jesus finds Daryl and, together, they leave the compound, with Daryl recovering Rick's (Andrew Lincoln) signature .357 Colt Python revolver from Joey's corpse. Nearby, Michonne (Danai Gurira) has abducted a Savior woman (Aerli Austen) and demands she show her the Sanctuary. The woman directs her to a nearby hill where Michonne sees that there are vast numbers of Saviors, more than they initially thought. The woman states it would be pointless to fight them and it would be better to just leave. After a moment, Michonne kills her, dumps the body, and drives back to Alexandria.
At Alexandria, Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) tries to bond with Rick's son Carl (Chandler Riggs) while Rick and Aaron (Ross Marquand) retrieve supplies from an abandoned houseboat floating in the middle of a walker-infested river, as part of their offering to the Saviors. Among the supplies are numerous guns, but no ammo, along with a vulgar note left by the previous owner sardonically congratulating them on their prize. They return to Alexandria, unaware they were watched by a man with mismatched boots. The Saviors check over the supplies and discover the vulgar note, believing it was written by Rick and Aaron for them. Aaron attempts to apologize, but the Saviors beat him up and Rick is unable to intervene.
Spencer (Austin Nichols), who has a vendetta against Rick, approaches Negan and proposes to talk. A pool table is set up outside and a crowd gathers, and as Negan plays, Spencer explains that Negan should name him as leader of Alexandria over Rick, since he will readily acquiesce to Negan's demands. Negan considers this, approaches Spencer and explains that unlike Rick, he has no guts and proceeds to disembowel him. Enraged, Rosita (Christian Serratos) fires the single bullet that Eugene (Josh McDermitt) had made at Negan, but it strikes "Lucille", his bat. Savior Arat (Elizabeth Ludlow) subdues Rosita while Negan demands to know who made the bullet. When Rosita lies and claims she did, Negan tells Arat to kill someone. Arat chooses and kills Olivia (Ann Mahoney). By then, the gunfire has drawn Rick to the scene and he tries to calm Negan down. Negan reminds him of his deal that no Alexandrian can have a firearm and Olivia's death was the penalty for disobedience. Eugene steps forward to admit he made the bullet. Negan and the Saviors take their leave, taking Eugene with them. That night, Michonne convinces Rick that they must fight back against the Saviors and Rick finally accepts.
The next day, Rick, Michonne, Carl, Rosita and Tara (Alanna Masterson) show up at the Hilltop, reuniting with Maggie, Sasha, and Enid (Katelyn Nacon). As they plan, Daryl and Jesus return to everyone's surprise. Rick and Daryl embrace, and Daryl returns his gun. The group makes plans to go to war with the Saviors.
"Hearts Still Beating" received generally positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, it holds a 78% with an average rating of 7.44 out of 10, based on 32 reviews. The site's consensus reads: "Hearts Still Beating" corrects course after a frustrating first half to The Walking Dead's seventh season, using an improved pace and some welcome narrative jolts to set up a hopeful, rousing conclusion.
The episode received a 5.1 rating in the key 18-49 demographic with 10.58 million total viewers.
- Acuna, Kirsten (December 12, 2016). "The mid-season finale of 'The Walking Dead' recreates another big moment from the comics". Comic Book. http://www.businessinsider.com/walking-dead-midseason-finale-spencer-2016-12. Retrieved May 12, 2017.
- "Hearts Still Beating". Rotten Tomatoes. https://www.rottentomatoes.com/tv/the_walking_dead/s07/e08. Retrieved December 14, 2017.
- Porter, Rick (December 13, 2016). "Sunday cable ratings: ‘Walking Dead’ fall finale ticks up, trails prior seasons". TV by the Numbers. http://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com/daily-ratings/sunday-cable-ratings-dec-11-2016/. Retrieved December 13, 2016.
- "Hearts Still Beating" at AMC
- "Hearts Still Beating" at the Internet Movie Database
- "Hearts Still Beating" at TV.com