“The Walking Dead” finally gives Tara a love interest

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Warning: Spoilers ahead if you haven’t watched the last night’s episode of The Walking Dead.

If you’re just tuning in because you’re strictly Team Tara, I urge you to rewind a few episodes to get properly caught up on what is arguably the most riveting season of The Walking Dead we’ve seen in a long time. Then again, it’d be hard not to notice the big elephant in the room—the thing we’ve been laboring over since it happened in Episode 4, “Thank You”—though no one feels thankful, because fan-favorite Glenn is very possibly dead. While it’s maybe one of the toughest pills for us to swallow, we are left no other choice but to wait out the next few episodes until his storyline is “completed,” according to recent comments from Executive Producer Scott Gimple.

So, to give us something to really talk about, it appears the writers felt it was time to reestablish some roots we had all but given up on. Tara Chamblers (Alanna Masterson) was introduced in Season 4 when she still had a girlfriend that was alive and didn’t yet know how tight she’d become with Rick’s crew. We feared like most lesbian characters on TV, she’d be dead in the water (or undead), but so far Tara’s not only stuck around to see the light of post-apocalypse day, she’s finally received a B-story we hope there’s way more of.

The self-identifying lesbian character, who nearly died once, is getting some onscreen action, and it all went down on the front porch of the town hospital in last night’s TWD. What’s happening right now in Alexandria is relief effort—relief after “the Wolves” savaged the town, leaving a lot of OG Alexandrians dead, and relief in the emotional act it’ll take for characters to go from letting their fear claim them to fighting to live this new way of life.

One of those people is Denise (Merritt Wever)—the psychiatrist turned surgeon who, despite her limited knowledge of medicine, must get past her self-doubt and try her hardest to move into this new role. When the Wolves broke through the gates a few episodes back, Denise was unable to save a life and Tara reminded her that she is a doctor because she tried. Now, there’s a man on the hospital bed with a bad infection Denise doesn’t know how to control.

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She’s about to throw in the towel, but Tara won’t let her. That’s because throughout Tara’s quiet journey—first with the Governor, then Abraham, Eugene and Rosita, and ultimately Glenn and Rick—she’s listened, and she’s learned how to talk people through things. It’s basically this torch you get to walk with when you clique up with Rick. A long time ago when no one was watching, Tara put her fears to the side to survive. 

6WalkingDead5.1You won’t find what you’re looking for in that textbook, Doc.

She tells Denise, “I know it sucks to be afraid.” Denise hits the medical books again, this time determined. Sure, she doesn’t want to be in this situation—to have to try so hard, to have someone’s life in your hands. Denise would rather buckle and slip back over to her apartment, but Tara won’t let her. Suddenly, Denise knows exactly what to do—how to fight the infection and save this man’s life, or try to.

“Hot damn,” she repeats to herself once she realizes her work paid off. Many of Rick’s crew still goes missing beyond the town’s gates, but he survived the RV incident and his hand seems to be on the mend. A giant mass of walkers broke out of a quarry, and by now half of them are here just outside the gates of Alexandria. Also, there’s suddenly a random sewer that Aaron takes Maggie down through in an attempt to search for Glenn. It doesn’t work, but Maggie accepts that dead or alive, there’s nothing she can do right now for him.

Several people take turns keeping watch over the gates. And despite Rick’s instructions to remain as quiet as possible—to keep their lights out, lower their blinds, and act like a “graveyard”—everyone seems to have all their important conversations while standing guard around the gates, and literally no one is turning their lights off. Way to go, guys. Deanna, (who has no clue how to kill a walker) lets out some mild steam on the fence, punching it a few times, feeling proud that she’s not going to let this new world consume her, and perhaps she will set up those crops and establish that education center. She asks Rick if her dreams about Alexandria have really just been “pie in the sky.” “Yeah, I hear you,” Rick’s thinking—but if Glenn fired his flare gun, to signal a sign he’s alive, that sure would be pie in the sky!

Rations are low in the town pantry, thanks to a bunch of selfish OG Alexandrians who’ve never been covered in their blood, or their friend’s blood, or walkers. Carl gets into a fight with Enid’s ex boyfriend because Enid’s still out there. Rick lays a giant smackeroo on Jessie, which is perfectly fine now that her abusive husband is dead and her kid is busy upstairs eating chocolate chip cookies (not baked by Carol). Obviously, that’s a relationship we figured would “go there” eventually—ever since that drunken party everyone went to—the same one where Abraham and Rosita did the wild thing. Don’t worry, Maggie. Glenn will be back soon.

Tara is sitting outside on the porch when Denise approaches her to tell her that her pep talk worked. It worked so well that she saved the damn day, this man might live, and she just might be able to finish reading War and Peace. But instead of saying any of those things, she just kisses Tara sweetly, holding her face as she does it.

6WalkingDead5.2Tara and Denise make the world go round again. (Photo by Gene Page/AMC)

Tara’s seen some shit, but this is a pleasant surprise. What’s up, Doc? They sit next to each other, Denise signaling to Tara that it’s “the end of the world.” It isn’t though. Tara tells her so. It’s just a new way to live, and everyone must face that now.

Maggie wipes Glenn’s name off the gate where a memorial has been painted on for those who remain out there and missing. On that list is Daryl, Sasha and Michonne—and by the look of it, next week’s episode is Daryl-centric. We may not know whether Glenn survived the dumpster dive or not for a while longer, so linger on the simple things—simple things happen in this small town, where walkers are hungrily vying to get through the gates. Just steps away on the front porch of a freshly-painted house, Tara and Denise share something real, a kiss, a connection—the stuff that makes TWD’s world go round—people treating life preciously.

Tune in next Sunday for an all-new episode of The Walking Dead on AMC and follow me on Twitter @the_hoff to discuss all things #TeamTara and yes, Glenn, too.

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