[This article contains spoilers for The Walking Dead season 7 episode 6]
As season 7 of The Walking Dead continues, the show is drawing from multiple aspects of the show's comic source material. Some aspects of the show have been pretty faithful to the comics, while others use a liberal amount of creative license. It's always been the intention to separate the plots of the comics and the show, of course, so that fans of one won't necessarily have advanced knowledge of what's going down in the other.
One of the biggest cases of the show differing from the comics in season 7 comes with the recent discovery of the Oceanside community. The version of Oceanside that appears in the show is wildly different than the comics, so much so that the two are essentially related in name only. So what exactly is Oceanside, anyway? And why is The Walking Dead introducing the community now instead of waiting to show it like the comics have?
As we saw in The Walking Dead's recent episode 'Swear', Oceanside is made up of women and children who survived the Saviors taking over their community. The residents tried to rebel against Negan and his group, but that rebellion failed; as a result, Negan had every male over the age of 10 lined up and shot in the head. The women and young children escaped, establishing the Oceanside community and vowing to protect it at all costs.
The inhabitants of Oceanside are extreme isolationists, living by the rule that outsiders are to be killed on sight. This isn't just the adults who live by this code, either; on the show we saw a young girl flat out demanding that they kill Tara not only because it's what they're supposed to do but also because it's what she wanted to do. Tara's experiences at Oceanside further drive home just how xenophobic the community is, with her barely escaping with her life. She was sworn to secrecy about Oceanside's location, and there's no doubt that even Cyndie (the girl who saved her from being killed) would finish her off if she thought that Tara was going to bring trouble to the community.
Oceanside in the Comics
The Oceanside of the comics isn't nearly as xenophobic as the community is on TV. It actively trades with other communities in the Virginia region, providing seafood and other goods in exchange for what it can't easily produce. Residents of Oceanside don't routinely kill strangers on sight in the comics, and the community isn't made up of only women and children who survived one of Negan's lessons. In fact, some of the main Oceanside characters that we've been introduced to have been male.
In the comics, Rick and the others are first introduced to Oceanside through Siddiq, a survivor who was originally from Miami and who found Oceanside by making his way up the coast after the outbreak started. Another man from Oceanside named Pete was a fisherman who originally hailed from Chesapeake Bay, and he ended up leaving that community to join the core group in Alexandria; he and Siddiq were friends, with the latter serving as first mate on Pete's boat.
Michonne also visited Oceanside at one point, working with the fishermen there for a while after leaving the other communities. This occurred during the lost time in a two-year jump forward in the comics timeline, though, so readers didn't actually get to see her time in Oceanside. The Telltale Games series The Walking Dead: Michonne takes place during this lost time and features references to Oceanside as well, though the community still isn't seen.
As mentioned, Oceanside hasn't actually been properly introduced in the comics. It's been mentioned several times, so long-time readers are no doubt familiar with it and have a pretty decent idea of what the community is like. The introduction of Oceanside to Rick and company occurred during the time jump, so it's unclear just how much time the main cast has spent in the community (though Michonne has almost certainly spent the most time there). It's quite possible that the community will be shown in the comics at some point, but other ongoing events seem to be more of a priority than showing off a community of fishermen.
This is in pretty sharp contrast to the AMC version, where Oceanside was introduced without a time jump and most likely was revealed well before it will be relevant to the larger storyline. The introduction of the TV version of Oceanside seems to primarily be to set up later contact with the community, though it's not clear at this point whether the survivors there will be allies or adversaries to the core group. If there is any other purpose to introducing Oceanside at this point, it's likely to be as a reminder of just how ruthless and dangerous Negan and the Saviors are. The losses that Rick and the group have suffered at his hands have been great, but they still pale in comparison to what Oceanside suffered.
What's Next for Oceanside?
The introduction of Oceanside on The Walking Dead fits in with the show's ongoing mission to expand the in-show universe in a number of different directions. It's unlikely that fans will go right back to the setting within the next few episodes, and we may not see it again until well into the second half of season 7. If the show continues following more or less along the "March to War" arc in the comics, then it's possible that Oceanside could return as an ally against Negan when the communities unite to try and take on the Saviors. If some other threat (such as the Whisperers) comes along, though, then we might see Rick and the rest of the main cast stumbling into Oceanside while trying to escape... leading them into a conflict with Negan, the Whisperers, and the xenophobic residents of Oceanside all at the same time.
The Walking Dead returns on Sunday, December 4 with 'Sing Me a Song' @9pm on AMC.