[Warning: This story contains spoilers for the Walking Deadmidseason seven finale.]
Everyone always knew that surviving in the land of the undead required guts ... and in the case of one unlucky Alexandrian, we're talking literal guts.
As expected, The Walking Dead closed out the first half of its seventh season in violent fashion, thanks in large part to Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), the brutish bad guy who has been physically and psychologically mutilating Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and his allies all season long. Although Negan typically prefers to use exaggerated instruments like a hot iron or his trusty vampire bat Lucille to make examples out of people, the man certainly knows how to improvise on the fly, as he proved in the midseason finale, called "Hearts Still Beating." The title of the episode does not apply to everyone, of course, as the finale claims multiple lives, endangers others and even manages to galvanize the troops at long last.
Here's the highlight reel from the finale, broken down into its seven biggest moments.
No Guts, So Gory
And just like that, the Monroe family is no more. After losing his mother, father and brother across the past two seasons, Spencer (Austin Nichols) has finally lost himself. The selfish and gutless Spencer becomes literally gutless after trying to pitch himself to Negan as the new leader of Alexandria, eviscerated in front of virtually the entire community. It goes to show that even without Lucille, Negan is more than capable of killing whoever he wishes. For those curious about how Spencer dies in the comics, look no further.
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Throwing Away the Shot
Clearly, The Walking Dead takes place in a world where Hamilton doesn't exist, or else Rosita (Christian Serratos) would not have wasted her shot. After watching Spencer die, Rosita uses the one bullet that Eugene created for her to take a shot at the big bad Negan man, but instead strikes his precious baseball bat, Lucille. As a result, someone must pay the price. And that person is...
Ann Mahoney's affable supply manager is no more, randomly selected by Negan's sidekick Arat (Elizabeth Ludlow) to die as a result of Rosita's actions. It's a brutal development for a character that many fans were fond of from the comics, and one who already suffered her fair share of psychological torture at Negan's hands this season. If you didn't hate the Saviors already, this should help you along that road. Or maybe not; if you don't already hate the Saviors after what they did to Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Abraham (Michael Cudlitz), then there's probably not much helping you at all.
New Pair of Genes
After the botched assassination attempt, Negan becomes obsessed with finding the man who made the bullet. Eugene (Josh McDermitt) finally fesses up to prevent further bloodshed. "I'm gonna be relieving you of your bulletmaker, Rick," Negan says as he snatches up Eugene, bringing him (and all of Rick's newfound supplies) back to the Sanctuary, mullet and all. It's only fair that Negan scores a new Alexandrian, considering...
It wasn't easy street, but at least Daryl is officially out of captivity. The current frontrunner for 2016's ugliest sweater finally breaks free thanks to an assist from Jesus (Tom Payne) with enough time for a quick costume change and even a new kill under his belt: Fat Joey (Joshua Hoover), aka Fat Joseph, aka just Joseph, aka one of the few Saviors with a glimmer of personality. Still, a worthy sacrifice to get Daryl away from the "shit sandwich" routine.
How Rick Got his Groove Back
It's a brutal episode all told, between the Olivia and Spencer deaths, Eugene's abduction, and that's not even mentioning Rick and Aaron (Ross Marquand) fighting through a swamp filled with walkers, only to return to Alexandria and have the Saviors beat Aaron down. But by the end of the episode, the Rick of old has started to emerge. He agrees to fight back against Negan after the violence in Alexandria, reinforced by a pep talk with Michonne (Danai Gurira). "We're the ones who get things done," she reminds him, leading to a passionate kiss that seals their commitment to stand against Negan. Soon after, they take a trip to the Hilltop and reunite with Maggie (Lauren Cohan), Daryl and the rest, finally ready to break free from Negan's oppressive rule. How are they going to pull that off? Perhaps with the help of Sir Richard (Karl Makinen), who wants the Kingdom to fight back as well. For now, at least, they have each other.
Negan's the latest and greatest threat in Rick's life, but he's not the only strange force making moves, either. Earlier in the episode, as Rick and Aaron are attempting to find supplies, a mysterious someone with gigantic boots watches them from a distance. That same someone is on the outskirts of Alexandria by the end of the episode, in a post-credits scene, the identity and intentions unknown. Is it a friend? Is it a foe? Someone from the comics? Someone invented purely for the show? Consider this one of the most baffling questions worth chewing on over the next few weeks, as Walking Dead gears up for the second act of its seventh season.
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