It’s easy to dump on this week’s episode of The Walking Dead, entitled “Swear”. The episode ties up one of the few loose ends left from last season, showing us what Tara has been up to while the main group has been dealing with Negan. While on the surface this might seem like yet another week of filler before getting back to our main characters, it actually succeeds at being some valuable world building that could pay off down the line.
The tagline for last season was “A Larger World” but this season is doing a much better job at showing us that world than last season. We’re slowly learning about the different groups of survivors that all deal with the walkers and the Saviors in different ways. While this could easily be filler, I see it as the show setting us up for all of these communities to come together to fight the Saviors. If this is the case, this storyline begins to flesh out the world of The Walking Dead beyond simply surviving. There are rivaling factions who all have different levels of trust with each other and one ruling faction that desperately needs to be taken out. You can see how this is beginning to feel a lot more like a show with actual character development and world-building. A larger world, some might say.
Where the show could falter is in how quick this coming together of communities occurs. Negan and the Saviors need to be a multiple season problem. The show can’t afford to have another foe rise and fall within one season’s arc. If they can pull it off, the climax could be phenomenal. I just don’t see the show getting to that point without something going horrible wrong.