Spoiler Alert: The following discusses plot points from this week's The Walking Dead Season 7 episode, "Something They Need."
Overview: For the first time in quite some time, several storylines intersect, including a return to the remote Oceanside community. Tara leads Rick, Michonne, Daryl, Aaron and Eric, Jesus, Gabriel, Enid and Carl to the all female compound with a plan to take their guns for the fight against Negan. At The Hilltop, Gregory continues to fall in esteem with his community in comparison to Maggie. And at the Savior's compound, Sasha has been taken and thrown into solitary by Negan. Impressed by her initiative, he offers her a deal.
With so much of Season 7's overall narrative isolated to area-oriented stories, it was a positive to see concurrent storylines unfold this week, which harkens back to the show's storytelling of old. The Walking Dead's audience has become well-versed in following the show's large ensemble over the years, so it's been odd this year having to live with very compartmentalized episodes that create emotional barriers between stories and characters.
Case in point: Glenn and Abraham were murdered in the season premiere, but it took until episodes 13 and 14 for major characters to find out 1) that it happened and 2) get the opportunity to respond to it organically. However, the audience has five months and more than 10 hours of storytelling separation from those character deaths. If there had been more concurrent storytelling all season, those character moments could have felt much more in the moment, which is the least the writers could have done to honor the fallen characters and the invested audience members. So, I'm glad they are back to the old way of splitting plots in one hour, and I hope it sticks into Season 8.
On a more micro level, the wandering extras from Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest added a new twist to the walker dynamic. I appreciated the opening teaser close-ups of KNB's cool barnacle and seaweed version of the zombies. I can't say they upped the fear ante though, considering how quickly Rick's team and the Oceanside women wiped out the mini horde with some impressive moves. But I did appreciate the creativity and something different coming at them.
And speaking of Oceanside, I liked how the acquisition of the arsenal went down. With their desperation, I was concerned that the Alexandria contingent was going to feel compelled to be more murderous, so I was relieved that oath-breaker Tara and Rick were compassionate in their actions. Aside from Natana's deserved pistol-whipping by her granddaughter, Cindy, no one was hurt. They were invited to help bring down Negan and shown that not all communities are the Saviors. A lot of the women were swayed, except Natana who remembers all too clearly what Negan can do and wants no part of the fight. Can't say that I don't get where she's coming from, but their peace is surely fleeting as resources get more scare and the Saviors travel farther for goods.
Are we supposed to be impressed that Negan has a "No Rape" clause under his roof? Every single one of the vermin who follow him have been irredeemable (Dwight pending) because of their thug mentality or mindless killing. They clearly follow their ruler and Lucille's marching orders to the T, but rape is over the line for Negan? Okay, sure. He's all heart. What a gentleman. I don't believe for a minute that rapey Davey and his kind aren't doing that outside Negan's walls with his consent, or at least a blind eye. So Negan's justice of knifing David after he got threatening and handsy with Sasha in the cell did nothing to humanize Negan, or his sense of justice. Yes, you are monsters and long-winded boors, to boot.
Meanwhile, in Hilltop, even if I wasn't aware of what happens in the comic books regarding Maggie and Gregory, the show is working overtime forecasting that a stand-off between the two is imminent. Maggie has an almost angelic standing in Hilltop as the resourceful, pregnant widow with patience and compassion for everyone. Thus, it's clear Gregory has no chance of maintaining his power base within the community as he hides in the mansion, drinking hoarded booze and looking jealously out the window at the tireless Mrs. Rhee. But hasn't that been clear all season long?
Gregory's further humiliation of being outed tonight as a virgin walker killer to his people just adds more salt to a wound we already know is burning within the lazy misogynist. There's no big surprise that he's going to freak out with the fear of losing his place of distinction. I just wish they either played that storyline out with more tension or more quickly in general. Hopefully, the future leadership of Hilltop is wrapped up by the season finale.
"Oh S--t!" Moment
I guess I'll go with Dwight showing up with his "beach-ball-sized man-nuts" in the Alexandria prison. I was fooled into thinking the silhouette Tara sees at the end of 7.14 is Daryl, but thankfully, it's far more surprising to finally have Dwight do something other than dither with his conscience all season long. The reveal also allows for an interesting parallel between Negan's easy-ish acceptance of Sasha into his fold and then Rick's goofy "Okay" in regards to Dwight's offer to help that quickly turns into the sinister, Zod-like command of, "Get on your knees!" Interesting what hubris and power has done to Negan's instincts and, in comparison, what it's done to the recently subjugated Rick.
I'll give a slight tip of the hat to Sasha's Cheshire cat smile upon hearing that Eugene would ponder fulfilling her request of providing her with some kind of weapon to take herself out instead of being forced to betray the Alexandria and Hilltop communities for Negan. However, the better twist is when Eugene gives her a poison pill instead, effectively defeating whatever alternate violent plan she was concocting to use against Negan. And for the record, I never bought that she was going to commit suicide as she pleaded with Eugene. She could have done that before when she laid in that grave but she didn't, and that was arguably a far bleaker place than she is now.
Tara giving little mean girl Rachel the finger when she reiterates they're not leaving them any guns.
"Something They Need" sets the table for the start of All Out War. Rick has the guns, and likely some Oceanside defectors, to add to his army of Alexandria, Hilltop, The Kingdom and the Heapsters. Negan is going to be super-pissed to likely not get what he wants from Sasha and Eugene and find out he's lost Dwight too. A trip back to Rick's looks imminent and timely for a season finale that will likely be combustible but not provide any definitive end to the Negan story.
What did you think of “Something They Need"?