Warning: Spoilers ahead if you have not watched last night’s mid-season finale of The Walking Dead.
Three weeks ago we were introduced to The Walking Dead‘s first ever lesbian character, Tara Chambler (Alanna Masterson) when her family allowed the Governor into their home. In the episode “Live Bait,” we learned Tara was into women when she mentioned a straight girl she used to have feelings for to her sister, Lilly (Audrey Marie Anderson).
The following episode (“Dead Weight”) had Tara meeting Alisha (Juliana Harkavy), a former Marine. The two women hit it off instantly over a shared interest in guns, and are instantly coupled, as living in the zombie apocalypse tends to put relationships on the fast track. Their being a couple is never discussed, as it’s a non-issue. Homosexuality is moot in the world these characters live in, and we’re finally getting to see that play out after four seasons of The Walking Dead, the number one show on cable television.
Tara and Alisha are affectionate and stick close to one another. They work well together, too, saving Tara’s niece when a zombie attacks her. But in last night’s “Too Far Gone,” things change for the couple. The Governor talks their camp into heading to the prison and forcing the pre-existing group out. When he asks who is in for the fight, Tara is the first to volunteer. She’s a tough talker, someone who aspired to be a cop before the zombie invasion. But when the gunfire starts flying from both sides, Tara is the first one to duck and cover. She’s paralyzed with fear and Alisha tells her she has to fight. Alisha brandishes a machine gun and has no qualms about killing anyone on the other side. She meets an untimely end when she hesitates to shoot the children of the prison and they shoot her instead.
Juliana Harkavay joked about Alisha and Tara in an interview:
Alanna Masterson once told an interviewer her character was ballsy “and not some sort of scared thing.” It’s not that Tara was scared of being a part of the shootout; it was that she didn’t believe in it. “He cut a man’s head off!” she says to Alisha. When Rick asks her if this is what she wants, her face says it all: No, she doesn’t want anyone hurt. Tara is a good person who is not interested in murdering people to achieve her own perceived safety.
There’s no predicting what happens with Tara because she’s not based on anyone from the actual comic book. (Another Tara exists but she’s a completely different character.) Lilly is still alive, but her daughter was killed by a zombie. The sisters will likely find one another and become part of the main group, which has gone through a major shift as several of their people were killed and they’ve also been forced to head out and find a new home.
It’s great to see that The Walking Dead has finally created an LGBT character and that she wasn’t instantly killed off, as has proven to be the case with some of their minorities in the past, as well as what has happened to out characters on other shows. When Season 4B airs, Tara will have a lot of things to reconcile within herself and her surroundings, whatever they may be. But she’s a good person with a moral compass that so many other characters lack. That could be her downfall, but hopefully not too soon.