"Hearts Still Beating" is the eighth episode and mid-season finale of the seventh season of AMC's The Walking Dead. It is the ninety-first episode of the series overall. It premiered on December 11, 2016. It was written by Matt Negrete & Channing Powell and directed by Michael Satrazemis.
In the early morning, Maggie sits alone by Glenn's grave. She assumes her post at the Hilltop's front gate with Eduardo. Gregory approaches and warns her not to let her popularity with Hilltop residents get to her head. He taunts her by rubbing an apple continuously on his jacket. Eduardo blasts him for this, reminding him that she is pregnant. Gregory reluctantly tosses the apple up to Maggie. She takes a bite as she continues watch duty.
Negan cooks pasta in Rick's kitchen.
Out on the porch, Tara hands Olivia a canister of powdered lemonade and offers to take her place inside. Olivia declines, saying she promised to watch Judith. She steels herself and enters the house. Negan sits at the head of the table and tells Carl to place a setting for Rick. Olivia pours lemonade for Negan.
Negan, Carl, and Olivia eat in silence. Negan says he's tired of waiting for Rick.
A Savior rummages through the goods that Spencer collected and commends his hard work. A female Savior named Laura sidles up to Spencer and offers to show him their compound, if he plays his cards right. She catches Eugene watching them and calls him out.
Carol reads in her cottage. She hears a noise outside and sees Morgan leaving a sack of produce on her porch. She invites Morgan inside and reveals that Ezekiel has also been bringing her produce. Richard stops by to speak with them.
Rick and Aaron paddle the sinking boat; they're surrounded by walkers. As they reach the canoe, a walker pulls Aaron underwater. Aaron escapes and swims to the houseboat. Rick paddles the canoe to the houseboat and docks it.
Daryl sneaks down the hallways of the Saviors' compound. He hears Saviors approaching and ducks into Dwight's apartment. Inside, he devours a jar of peanut butter with his fingers, changes into some of Dwight's clothes, and listens to the Saviors in the hall. He notices Dwight's carved figurines on a table.
Rick and Aaron rummage through supplies on the houseboat. Aaron finds a note with a drawing of a middle finger: "Congrats for winning, but you still lose."
Daryl hears the Saviors leave the hallway. He seizes the moment and flees the apartment, but not before smashing Dwight's carved figurines.
Rick and Aaron get the houseboat to shore and load the cargo truck with supplies. Rick mentions how Michonne feels about their deal with the Saviors — that it isn't living. Aaron says he knows they're doing this to stay alive: "Either your heart is beating or it isn't." They finish loading the truck and prepare to leave. Someone in mismatched boots watches them from across the pond. It is later revealed this is Tamiel from the Scavengers.
Michonne holds the female Savior she's abducted at gunpoint and forces her to drive towards Negan's compound. She asks Isabelle why she was alone in the woods, but she doesn't answer.
In their trailer, Sasha tells Maggie that a resident's daughter thinks Maggie should run for President of Hilltop. Maggie asks after Jesus; she wants him to pick up school supplies for the children. Sasha reveals he left for a supply run that morning. Maggie leaves to get milk. Enid calls Sasha out for lying to Maggie about Jesus and guesses that she's planning to kill Negan. Sasha urges Enid to keep her mission a secret from Maggie; Sasha knows Maggie would want to help.
Richard reveals his fears to Carol and Morgan; he doesn't think the Kingdom can coexist with the Saviors. He believes they will inevitably destroy the Kingdom. Richard asks Carol and Morgan to help him convince Ezekiel to strike first.
In the church, Gabriel urges Rosita to refrain from attacking Negan by herself. He recommends she wait for the right moment so the community can take him down together. Rosita confesses that she believes it would have been better for everyone if she had been the one killed by Negan. Gabriel insists that she is wrong, and that she is a part of their family.
Back at the Saviors' compound, Daryl flees down a hallway and grabs a pipe.
Carol refuses to help Richard and insists on being left alone. Morgan hesitates to disrupt the peace with the Saviors. Richard dejectedly leaves. Carol tells Morgan to leave and forbids him from telling anyone where she is.
At home, Spencer dresses up in nice clothes and rehearses in front of a mirror for his meeting with Negan. He grabs a bottle of liquor and heads outside.
Richard enters a camper trailer hidden in the woods. He hurls an empty milk bottle and cries.
Spencer stops by Rosita's house and reveals that he's planning to get close to Negan so he can strike against him at some point in the future. Rosita agrees to join him for dinner afterwards.
Daryl escapes the building and runs into Fat Joey. Fat Joey surrenders and pleads for his life, but Daryl bludgeons him to death with the pipe. Jesus finds Daryl in the midst of bashing in Joey's head. Daryl grabs Joey's gun (Rick's Colt Python) and hops on a motorcycle. Daryl and Jesus leave the compound.
Spencer walks to Rick's house. Arat refuses to let him see Negan until Negan tells her to not be an asshole. Spencer introduces himself to Negan.
Isabelle stops the car and the women can see hundreds of Saviors gathered in the distance. Isabelle tells Michonne an attack against Negan would be pointless. "We're all Negan," she says, then tells Michonne to shoot her and get rid of the car. Michonne does.
Rick and Aaron arrive at the Alexandria gate and are surprised to be greeted by Saviors, who inspect the goods that Rick and Aaron brought back.
Negan shares a drink with Spencer on the porch and pines for a pool table. Spencer tells him where to find one. Negan smiles and calls Spencer his "new best friend".
The Saviors unload Rick and Aaron's cargo truck and find the "congrats for winning, but you still lose" note. Enraged at the disrespect, one of the Saviors beats Aaron, believing the note was intended for them. Rick tries to intervene but is stopped by Gary and Laura. Gary joins David and both savagely beat Aaron.
As Negan and Spencer play pool in the middle of the street, residents gather around to watch. Spencer tells Negan that Rick's ego is out of control and proposes that Negan appoint Spencer the new leader of Alexandria. He explains the situation about his parents dying not long after Rick's arrival.
Gary and David finish beating Aaron, then Rick helps him up; "My heart's still beating, right?", he asks Rick.
Negan considers Spencer's betrayal. He points out that Rick is swallowing his hatred to gather goods for Negan so he won't kill anyone else. "That takes guts," he says. Negan wonders aloud why Spencer doesn't just kill Rick himself instead of sneaking around. Negan answers his own question: "It's because… you got no… guts," he says as he plunges a knife into Spencer's abdomen, disemboweling him. "There they are. They were inside you the whole time," Negan jokes as Spencer's guts spill out onto the asphalt, killing him. Negan orders someone to clean up Spencer's remains, before jokingly asking if someone wants to finish the game with him.
Incensed, Rosita whips out her gun and shoots at Negan; however, the bullet hits Lucille instead."SHIT! WHAT THE SHIT?!" Negan yells. Arat, wrestles Rosita to the ground and holds her at knife-point." SHIT! YOU JUST… YOU TRIED TO KILL ME! YOU SHOT LUCILLE!", Negan picks up the bullet casing and realizes it's homemade. He demands to know who made the bullet. Rosita lies and claims she made it herself. Negan doesn't believe her and orders Arat to put the knife to Rosita's face. He then says "Lucille's beautiful smooth surface is never gonna look the same, SO WHY SHOULD YOURS?!" Rosita again claims it was her as she presses her cheek against Arat's knife, cutting her own face. But Negan doesn't fall for it and orders Arat to kill someone; she then shoots Olivia in the head, as Rosita screams "It was me!" Rick arrives at the scene with Aaron and tells Negan to leave upon being explained the situation. Negan agrees to go as soon as he learns who made the bullet. Tara falsely confesses to making the bullet, but as the Saviors turn their guns on her, Eugene steps up and tearfully admits it was him. Negan in his frustration asks Lucille to give him strength then angrily says that Rick's finds are not good enough after today. Negan and his crew leave with Eugene in tow. Upon seeing that Spencer is reanimating, Rick angrily stabs him in the head.
That night, Michonne informs Rick that there are more Saviors than they thought, but that they should still fight, for Judith, for Carl, for Alexandria, and the Hilltop: "For all of us." "I know that now," Rick agrees.
Maggie stands guard at the Hilltop gate. She sees something in the distance and smiles. Rick, Michonne, Carl, Rosita, and Tara enter the Hilltop and reunite with Maggie, Sasha, and Enid. Rick admits that Maggie was right all along — they have to get ready to fight. Daryl and Jesus come out to greet them. Daryl gives Rick the gun he retrieved from Fat Joey. Together, they stride towards the mansion.
Gabriel keeps night watch at the Alexandria gate. Someone watches him through binoculars. A dark figure in mismatched boots lurks in the darkness, then heads towards Alexandria.
- Jordan Woods-Robinson as Eric Raleigh
- Joshua Hoover as Joseph
- Elizabeth Ludlow as Arat
- Mike Seal as Gary
- Martinez as David
- Lindsley Register as Laura
- Peter Zimmerman as Eduardo
- Aerli Austen as Isabelle
- First appearance of Tamiel.
- First (and last) appearance of Leslie William Stanton. (Corpse)
- First appearance of The Scavengers.
- Last appearance of Spencer Monroe.
- With his death, there are no known surviving members of the Monroe family.
- This is the second mid-season finale to feature the death of a member whose family lost another member in the previous mid-season finale; the first being Hershel Greene in Season 4's "Too Far Gone", later followed by Beth Greene in Season 5's "Coda", and the second being Deanna Monroe in Season 6's "Start to Finish", later followed by Spencer.
- Austin Nichols is the fifth main cast member to be written off while credited under "Also Starring".
- This is the fourth consecutive mid-season finale to feature the death of a main character.
- Last appearance of Joseph. (Alive)
- Last appearance of Isabelle.
- Last appearance of Olivia.
- Rick reclaims his Colt Python revolver in this episode; it had been stolen since "Last Day on Earth".
- Negan shaves his beard for the first time in this episode, looking more like his comic counterpart.
- The title of the episode, "Hearts Still Beating", comes from the conversation between Rick and Aaron about giving the Saviors what they want for people not to die.
- It also comes when Aaron asks Rick, "My heart's still beating, right?", after nearly getting beaten to death.
- This episode was 86 minutes long (with commercials), making it the sixth extended episode this season and the twelfth extended episode overall.
- This marks the first mid-season finale episode to be extended.
- Michonne tells Rick, "We're the ones who live," a callback to when Rick said the same to the Alexandrians after his fight with Pete in "Try".
- The song featured in this episode is "The Program" by Ben Wise, which plays in the Saviors' poker game room during Daryl's escape from the Sanctuary.
- Fat Joey's death was originally filmed to be more brutal than it was shown in this episode.
- This is the fifth episode to contain a post-credit scene, after "No Sanctuary", "Coda", "Conquer" and "Start to Finish".
- Arat trying to stop Spencer from talking to Negan is adapted from a similar scene in Issue 111, where Spencer is intimidated by Seth instead.
- Spencer talking to Negan about Rick's leadership and how they would be better if he was dead is adapted from Issue 111.
- Spencer and Negan playing pool is a slight nod to Spencer inviting Negan to play pool at his house in Issue 111.
- Negan disemboweling Spencer in front of everyone after accusing him of not having guts is adapted from a similar scene in Issue 111, where he kills Spencer while they are walking alone instead.
- Negan claiming in amusement to everyone how he was wrong about Spencer's guts is adapted from a similar scene in Issue 111, where he claims this to himself instead.
- Rosita shooting Lucille in an attempt to kill Negan is adapted from a similar scene in Issue 114, where Carl shoots Lucille instead.
- Rosita getting an scar on her face after being cut by a knife is a slight nod to Andrea getting an scar on her face starting in Issue 17.
- Negan asking Lucille to give him strength after she is shot is adapted from a similar scene in Issue 112, where he asks for strenght after Rick yells at him instead.
- Rick returning to Alexandria to discover all the chaos is adapted from Issue 112.
- Negan telling Rick of Carl's mission and how he didn't hurt him is adapted from Issue 112.
- Rick demanding Negan to take his tribute and leave is adapted from Issue 112.
- Tamiel using binoculars to spy on Alexandria is adapted from a similar scene in Issue 91, where Jesus spies on Alexandria instead.
- After Negan stabbed Spencer and pulled the knife out, there was no blood on his shirt and face, but after some scenes, there was.
- Before starting his speech about Spencer's betrayal, culminating in the latter's death, Negan sinks the cue ball. After Spencer's death, the cue ball is back on the table.
- Bob Miller and two female residents can be seen as a part of the crowd but are missing after Olivia is killed, possibly a filming error or for some reason these extras were removed from the scene between takes.
- After Daryl bludgeoned Fat Joey to death, there was blood on his shirt, but after he took Rick's gun, the blood had disappeared.
- In some scenes when Arat holds her knife towards Rosita's face, her jacket is to the upper part of her body and in other scenes her jacket is pulled down.
- After Arat shot Olivia, a nearby member of the Saviors was seen stopping Tobin and threatening him with his gun when he was about to run to Olivia. But after Rick and Aaron arrived, that same Savior could be seen picking up Rosita's empty gun and threatening Tobin again.
- Beth Shiller. (February 19, 2017). The Walking Dead: Mystery Boots Revealed. Fanfest.com.