Spoiler Alert: The following discusses plot points from Sunday night's The Walking Dead Season 7 episode, "The Other Side."
Overview: We get a look at what's been going on at the Hilltop with Maggie's pregnancy and the citizen training. However, the bulk of the episode is Sasha and Rosita's Thelma and Louise journey to take out Negan at the Savior's compound.
The episode open provides an effective overview of what's been going down in Gregory's (Xander Berkeley) fiefdom since "Hearts Still Beating." From the looks of it, Maggie's found her hope and a devoted companion in Enid (her least annoying appearance!). The formerly roaming gnome known as Jesus has also finally committed to the community because of Maggie, Sasha and Enid. And Gregory's just drinking and remaining the toad that he's always been.
It's certainly nice to see Maggie back in play. Lauren Cohan has been relegated to the sidelines way too much this year. She does so much to humanize the narrative such as when she smiles at the ultrasound of her baby and runs herself ragged trying to coalesce the community via training and a sense of hope. Her most potent emotional beat comes in the later part of the episode when Maggie and Daryl are hiding from a Savior in the storm shelter/larder. Once safe, Maggie confronts her old friend, who has remained silent since he arrived from The Kingdom. She presses and he tearily apologizes for not preventing Glenn's death. When Norman Reedus allows us to witness a Daryl breakdown, it might as well be rocket fuel for our tear ducts. The stoic character is ever the loner, so watching him deal with the loss of one of his best friends all season has given us some of the season's most potent emotional beats. And it's met with Maggie's statement that "Daryl is one of the good things in this world. Glenn would agree because he was too." Whew, the dust in the room!
I'm a big fan of where Sonequa Martin-Green has taken Sasha over the seasons. Her emotional check out and PTSD after the loss of Tyreese and Bob was real and believable. Even her reawakening back to the land of the living via her almost romance with Abraham was played more soulfully than the show actually gave it in terms of screen time to flourish. I bought her grief, and subsequent connection to Maggie and her child at Hilltop, in the wake of Negan's brutal murders at the top of the season. And in this episode, Sonequa did a whole lot with not a lot considering this was really an episode that was about Rosita finally spilling what her real problem has been all season. I'm grateful Christian Serratos was finally given some narrative to get the chance to explain why Rosita's been such a mean cuss all season, but it doesn't line up that not telling Abraham that she was happy he was happy explains her behavior away. Regardless, Martin-Green was still able to sell those confessionals well with her soulful countenance and even her final, hopeful sacrifice in the last minutes.
On the flipside, I'm not buying why Sasha, after Rosita's revelations, felt either of them had to make this a suicide mission. All episode, Sasha was the most hopeful, talking about returning from their mission alive, learning new knots and gaining Rosita's knowledge to better her own independent skill sets. So when the situation at the Savior's fence goes down, and Eugene cowers back into the complex without threatening to out them to his new overlord, Sasha's choice feels more plot driven than organic to the situation. If that moment was blocked with more urgency, or more guards bearing down on them, I would have accepted her choice. Instead, it felt like Sasha had all the time in the world to work her switcheroo on Rosita and then race inside, gun blazing. The Plan B was always going to be the less reliable of their options, so to race in there knowing the likelihood of her success was slim to none, felt weak for a pragmatic strategist who does her best work as a sniper. Letting Rosita live another day to perhaps try again doesn't make any sense, especially when they know Rick is trying to send multitudes into the compound.
Sasha's choice really boils down to her knowing that Rosita is hell-bent to get into that compound. But after their heart-to-heart, I don't know if I buy that Rosita's purpose is the same. In that talk, they both admit regrets about Abraham and that when they die, they want to go out with purpose. Yet of the two, Sasha is the one with more ties to this world. Is Sasha's sacrifice done to force Rosita to reconnect again, like she did via Maggie and Abraham? I hope that kind of subtlety and intent is what's behind the end of the episode, but I'm not sure they show is going for that kind of pathos right now. And I certainly don't think just because she wants Rosita to connect with the world again, that it means she will because they talked real in an attic. Rosita still has a mighty chip, and a suicidal calling, that doesn't just disappear because she got locked outside of a fence and told, "It's not your time." And because of that, it all feels too quick and forced for a duo who have had no love for each other until the last 10 minutes of this episode.
"Oh S--t!" Moment
Eugene, you little weasel. Not even the possibly endearing vision of Grembly-Gunk hanging out of your Matrix-style coat pocket can save you from the boos and hisses of your loyal Mullet Nation. He pulled a Judas on Rosita and Sasha when they arrived under cover of night to free him from Negan's rule. Except he didn't want to go back to a life of being called a coward and bullet making. Nope. He's got the high score for Yar's Revenge to best and a lame position of power to clasp onto. Gross. Now it remains to be seen if, as Rosita posited, that he's working from the inside to eventually assist in Negan's downfall, but in that moment he was a Father Gabriel in Season 5 level of disappointing.
"The Other Side" is very much an episode setting up the final two hours of this season. It's all about getting the players set up on the board, such as Gregory's alliance with Simon and Negan being important as Maggie's ascendance to official leader of Hilltop feels imminent. And Eugene's double-down on Negan puts him in a precarious position with the audience and Rick when the war finally starts. Sasha's charge into the compound sets up the character's likely swan-song (as Sonequa's got a spaceship to deal with come fall). And last but not least, a fleeing Rosita spying Daryl in the outskirts of the Savior zone leaves us wondering with they go back in for Sasha together, or head back to Hilltop and Alexandria to ignite the confrontation that has been inevitable all season?
What did you think of “The Other Side"? Did you buy Rosita and Sasha's soul-bearing or did it not hit the right buttons?