True story: Until last night, not only had I completely forgotten this character’s name, I had forgotten that she was still on the show. If you had showed me a picture of her and asked me what happened to her, I would have guessed that she’d been killed in a raid somewhere or other a season or two ago. Turns out she and “Heath,” another character who’s had six lines up to now, had gone off to scavenge after the Grimes gang took out the Saviors’ outpost and the writers felt this was a loose end they were duty bound to tie up. For an entire hour.
I prefer the “random tangent” episodes involving very minor characters to the ones like last week’s involving Maggie because the show takes on an anthology feel in the former case. Maggie is familiar and you know she’s going to be looped back in with Rick and the group at some point, so even a “random tangent” involving her isn’t so random. You’re still stuck in the boring main storyline, you’re just exploring a corner of it. With a character as obscure as Tara, you don’t feel that as much. The show momentarily could go anywhere. She could bump into a colony of rogue scientists working on a cure for the plague, find an abandoned settlement and spend the hour piecing together the mystery of what happened to it — anything. The first half of last night’s hour seemed promising in that regard. She appeared to have discovered a detachment of lesbian amazons, raising vegetables and hell in the forests of rural Georgia. But no, false alarm: They were just the women left over from a group whose men had been murdered by the Saviors, and who had run away to escape further persecution. And although they had adopted a “kill on sight” rule for every intruder they encountered in order to keep the Saviors from finding out where they were, they conveniently found it in their hearts not only to let Tara live but to escort her back to Alexandria, which makes zero sense and is an awfully thin reed on which to rest a full episode of this show. Especially since the amazons knew that the Alexandrians were in the Saviors’ crosshairs.
Then, on the return trip, for reasons known only to her, Tara decided to make a break for it even though her escorts obviously meant her no harm but now would have to kill her due to her suspicious attempt to flee. And that went wrong too and she was seconds from being shot until the compassionate lesbian amazon suddenly appeared in the nick of time to disarm her comrade and save Tara, and then — well, who cares. Who cares, I ask you. I hope to God this hour wasn’t completely wasted on this silly nothing of a story and that the armory at the amazon settlement will factor into the main plot later, justifying the time we spent on it. There’s a hint of that at the end when Tara is asked whether she saw any guns during her scavenging that might be used to attack the Saviors. It would have been a dark but poetic ending if she had said yes and betrayed the women who had saved her life; ambushing them and seizing their weapons would have been a grim demonstration of the treachery that’s required to survive in the zompocalypse. But no, of course she didn’t rat them out. Maybe she will in a future episode when Rick inevitably organizes a rebellion against Negan and needs guns.
Anyway, yes, we “punched the clock” last night, which makes two episodes in a row where that was true. At least we got that silly but fun “zombie avalanche” scene on the bridge.
Speaking of punching the clock, I won’t do spoilers here but … it’s weird that “Westworld,” a show that’s supposed to be a fabulous puzzle for its viewers, had most of its key twists figured out by the Internet after three episodes or so, no? The revelations in last night’s hour had been predicted by various fan sites back before the election. Which is a problem, since there hasn’t been much reason apart from the twists to keep going. We’re down to one compelling character at this point — Maeve — with Ford sort of interesting as the great and powerful Oz. Poor Dolores, who was so appealing over the first few episodes, has spent the last five weeks mostly wandering around aimlessly looking confused. I’ll keep going with it, though. If I can spend hours watching Apocalypse Fonzie beat people with baseball bats on “The Walking Dead,” I can spare a few for an ambitious if flawed show like “Westworld.”