Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Walking Dead Season 7, Episode 14: The Other Side

This week on The Walking Dead, we get something that literally no one who watches the show has ever asked for— an episode devoted almost entirely to Sasha and Rosita, the two least interesting characters on the entire series!

Sasha sort of had a storyline in Season 6 I think, when she developed a death wish after her brother Tyreese was killed. But much like Carol's odd personality change, it was abrupt, felt unearned and seemingly cropped up out of nowhere. And she got over it just as quickly, and inexplicably!

Rosita's fared even worse. She first appeared way back in Season 4, and we've learned literally nothing about her in all that time, except that she was Abraham's woman. That was pretty much it!

It's as if the writer's can't think of anything to do with the two of them, other than to have them both mourn Abraham. They finally decide to flesh them out a bit in this episode, especially Rosita. After four long seasons, we finally learn a bit more about her, other than her name. She opens up to Sasha, as she tells her where she learned to be a demolition expert (a skill that only manifested itself a couple of episodes ago). It's most likely a case of too little, too late though, because we all know what happens to characters on this show who suddenly infodump their backstories.


Even though Rosita seems to have a death wish, I think she's probably going to survive a bit longer. Sasha's the one who's going to die by the end of the season. As I've said several times now, she's signed on to play the lead in the new Star Trek: Discovery series, which doesn't bode well for her continued existence on The Walking Dead.

Showrunner Scott Gimple knows we all know this, and keeps desperately trying to convince us she's not leaving, saying he's willing to work around her Star Trek schedule. I don't buy it for a second. That's exactly what I'd say if I didn't want the internet to know one of my actors was leaving my show. Sasha's toast, guys. I'm 99% positive.

My prediction for Sasha? She's going to take the place of Holly from the comic. 

See, Sasha doesn't exist in the comic. However, she's very similar to a comic character named Holly, who lived in Alexandria (she actually popped up on the show last season, but was quickly killed off). Holly fell in love with Abraham, and ended up stealing him away from Rosita. Sound familiar? 

In the comic, Holly was captured by the Saviors and taken to Negan. He assures her he'll take her back to Alexandria, but only after he tortures her first. True to his word, he shows up at Alexandria's gate, and makes a big show of returning Holly to Rick. She's wearing a bag over her head, and the Saviors shove her toward the gate. Dr. Cloyd (who was still alive in the comic at that point) rushes forward to grab Holly. She removes the bag from her head, and we see Negan's apparently killed her and she's turned. She then bites the surprised Dr. Cloyd on the arm before Rick shoots her in the head.

I'm betting this is how Sasha's gonna go out. She'll get captured inside the Sanctuary, Negan'll torture her, he'll return her with a bag on her head, everyone will gasp in horror and she'll bite someone. The only question left is who'll she'll bite.

Speaking of predictions, a few weeks ago I outlined how I thought the remainder of the season would play out. I said we'd get an entire episode of Rick talking the Oceansiders into joining his fight. We'd get another in which something bad would happen between the Saviors and Ezekiel, which would cause him to side with Rick. And we'd get an episode in which Sasha and Rosita try and fail to kill Negan, causing him to attack Alexandria.

So far my predictions are all fairly on the nose. Something bad did happen between the Saviors and the Kingdom, and which indeed convinced Ezekiel to fight. And this week we got the Sasha and Rosita plot, although it's not quite played itself out yet. 

There're only two episodes left in the season, so I'm betting next week we'll get the Oceanside visit, maybe with a bit of Sasha's fate mixed in as well. I still think the season will end with Negan and his army rolling up to the gates of Alexandria.

There were a few nice character moments in this episode. It was touching to see that Daryl feels so guilty about causing Glenn's death that he can't even bring himself to look at Maggie. Gregory is still as wonderfully slimy as ever, and Simon continues to out-Negan Negan.

This episode would also like us to believe that Eugene isn't cooking up some elaborate escape plan, but has permanently turned to the Dark Side. Eh... I don't believe it. I still think he's working on some sort of long con. To do otherwise would be a HUGE departure from Comic Book Eugene, which would probably be a big mistake on the part of the show.


The Plot:
Through the power of a montage, we see the Hilltopian blacksmith making knives, spears and pitchforks for the community. Maggie & Sasha train various Hilltop citizens how to fight in the coming battle with the Sanctuary. Dr. Carson gives Maggie a sonogram, as against all logic and reason, she's somehow still pregnant. With every passing day, Maggie becomes more and more the defacto leader of the Hilltop, as the seat of power subtly shifts from Gregory to her.

Jesus draws a map of the Sanctuary and gives it to Sasha. She studies it intently, trying to memorize the layout. Later she visits Abraham's grave, as she appears to do daily. Maggie cooks steaks on a grill, and offers some to Daryl, who's still hiding out from Negan at the Hilltop. He still feels guilty about causing Glenn's death at Negan's hand, and can't bring himself to look at Maggie.

Sasha visits Abraham's grave again. Rosita arrives and says she needs Sasha's help, and we realize this entire opening sequence was a flashback to the end of Say Yes.

Later Jesus and Maggie chat, and he says that 
having her here's finally made him feel like he belongs at the Hilltop (?). He enters his trailer and sees Sasha packing, and realizes she's leaving to kill Negan. He asks her not to go, but she says she has to, and not to let Maggie know what she's doing. Sasha gives Enid a bracelet she made for Maggie's baby, if it's ever born some day (Plot Point!). Enid tells Sasha she'll give her ten minutes, and then she's going to tell Maggie what's happening. Sasha says that's fair, and leaves.

Suddenly the Hilltopians sound an alarm, signifying the Saviors are coming. Daryl grabs Maggie (because for reasons I forget, the Saviors aren't supposed to know she's alive) and they hide in the basement of Barrington House. Sasha finds Rosita, and the two of them slip out of the Hilltop through a secret exit.

Simon and a huge group of Saviors enter Barrington House and confront Gregory. Simon says (heh) he's looking for a certain somebody (aka Daryl), and suspects he's hiding out at the Hilltop. Gregory plays dumb, and the Saviors begin searching the place for him.

Meanwhile, Rosita and Sasha make their way to the Sanctuary, with a very half-baked plan to assassinate Negan. 
Rosita's plan is to enter the Sanctuary, find Negan among the thousands of people there and kill him at point blank range, which seems like the stupidest idea ever. Sasha would rather hole up inside an empty building outside the Sanctuary's gates and use a sniper rifle on Negan when he comes out, which seems like a much better plan. Rosita says if Sasha misses, their one chance will be gone. Sasha assures her she won't miss. The problem is that both plans will probably result in their deaths. One would think they'd try to plan out their attack a little better, but this is The Walking Dead, so...

Along the way, Rosita notices the necklace Sasha's wearing. She mentions that she made it for Abraham when they were hooking up, and sarcastically asks Sasha how she likes it. AWK-ward!

Later Sasha asks Rosita where she learned to disarm bombs and such (something the audience would like to know as well, since she acquired this skill seemingly out of the blue a couple episodes back). She curtly tells her learned it from someone she knew, and says she doesn't want to talk to Sasha unless it's about the mission.

Back at the Hilltop, Simon says he'll also be taking Dr. Carson with him, since Negan recently fired (GET IT?) the other Dr. Carson. Naturally this Dr. Carson doesn't want to go, but he has no choice, and Gregory offers no resistance. Simon leaves them a case of aspiring in exchange for the doc (!).

One of the Saviors enters the cellar, despite Enid's attempts to distract him. He searches around for a while, coming close to Maggie and Daryl's hiding place. Daryl moves to kill him, but Maggie hold him back, knowing this would cause them all to be Lucilled. The Savior picks up a few things and leaves.

Maggie asks Daryl why he was willing to risk everything to kill one Savior. Daryl, who has more cause than most to hate the Saviors, says it's because he deserved to die. Maggie decides she's had enough and orders Daryl to look at her. He can barely manage to do so through his guilt. She hugs him and tells him that Glenn's death wasn't his fault (even though it was) and that he's "one of the good things in this world."

Gregory has a private word with Simon, saying he's worried that taking the doctor away might make him look week in front of the Hilltopians, and that "someone else" could step in and seize power from him. Surprisingly he doesn't blurt out Maggie's name here, although I'm not sure why he doesn't. Simon tells him if he's having a problem with authority, to come see him anytime. He then draws a map to the Sanctuary (!) and gives it to Gregory (if you don't recognize this as a HUGE Plot Point, then you've never seen a TV show or movie before).

Cut to Sasha and Rosita, who apparently set up their sniper nest outside the Sanctuary while we weren't looking. Sasha looks through her powerful rifle scope and sees Eugene ordering people around at the fence. Rosita says he's no doubt playing some angle, and has an escape plan. Rosita finally decides to open up to Sasha, and tells her how she hooked up with a series of guys who taught her survival skills and demolition. Uh-oh, Rosita! You know what happens to characters on this show right after they reveal their backstories!

They both discuss Abraham, and Rosita says it wasn't his time, as he would have wanted to go out fighting. Sasha agrees, saying "That asshole with the bat took that away too." Sasha looks through the scope again and sees Negan walking around. Unfortunately she can't get a clean shot at him. For some reason, she immediately decides Rosita's right, and the only thing left to do is sneak into the Sanctuary.

Back at the Hilltop, Gregory tells Jesus that he's assigning new jobs to people, which will split up certain little groups (in an attempt to weaken Maggie's position). Later Daryl, crossbow in hand, asks Jesus where Sasha and Rosita are.

That night at the Sanctuary, Eugene's giving orders to a guard. Suddenly the guard's shot in the head, as Sasha and Rosita approach the fence and begin cutting through it. They tell Eugene they're rescuing him, but he doesn't move. He yells, "I didn't ask you to come, so go!" and runs back inside. The two women are gobsmacked. Sasha tells Rosita to keep watch while she cuts the fence. When Rosita turns around, she sees that Sasha's slipped through the fence and somehow sealed it up behind her, planning to infiltrate the Sanctuary alone. She says that Rosita's more valuable to Alexandria than she is and runs into the building.

Rosita hears Saviors approaching and runs off. She stops as she sees a shadowy figure (Dwight) with a crossbow (Dwight) barring her way (Dwight), that we're obviously supposed to think is Daryl (Dwight).

• This episode begins with a montage at the Hilltop, that's a goldmine of "What The Hell?" moments.

First of all, I guess it's a good thing that Maggie and Sasha are training the Hilltopians how to fight and all, but... realistically, their throwing knives and homemade pitchforks ain't gonna be much use against the Saviors and their arsenal of automatic weapons.

Secondly, we see Sasha brooding as she sharpens a small hunting knife. Oddly enough, she pushes the cutting edge of the blade against the sharpening stone instead of pulling it toward her (in the photo above, she's moving it toward the right). 

OK, I'm no outdoor expert, but isn't that backwards? Aren't you supposed to move the knife edge away from the stone? The way she's doing it seems like it's going to make the blade duller instead of sharper!

Lastly, we see Dr Carson giving Maggie a sonogram. Jesus H. Monkey Fraking Christ, Maggie's STILL pregnant! Holy Crap! How the hell is this possible?

She first announced she was pregnant way back in the SEASON 5 episode Now, which aired on November 8, 2015! She's now well into her sixteenth month of pregnancy, and amazingly she's STILL not showing!

• I honestly don't remember why Maggie has to hide from Negan and his men. I think I remember Negan barging into Alexandria a few months back, and asking about "the pregnant girl," and for some reason Rick lied and said she died.

Not sure why it would matter if Negan saw her walking around. Is everyone afraid Negan would be mad if he found out they lied and Lucille her?

• At least we didn't get any wonky blue screen shots or circa 1997 CGI deer in this episode. In fact there were few if any special effects at all, other than in a few zombie-filled scenes.

• Now that Negan killed Dr. Carson in Hostiles And Calamities, he sends Simon to the Hilltop to retrieve the other Dr. Carson.

I want to hear the story of how two brothers who're both doctors (and look absolutely nothing alike) survived the zombie outbreak and ended up in two different communities. 
I feel like there's an interesting tale there.

I also don't understand why Negan let one of the Carsons live at the Hilltop in the first place. He obviously knows he's there, since he sends Simon for him. Seems like someone like Negan, who wants all the stuff, would want both Doctors Carson with him at the Sanctuary.

• The writers finally decide to give Rosita a bit of a backstory in this episode. While killing time in their sniper's nest, she tells Sasha that after the Zombie Apocalypse started, she hooked up with a wide array of men. She stayed with each one just long enough to soak up their knowledge and expertise before moving on to the next.

That's very similar to the way Sarah Connor learned her survival skills in Terminator 2: Judgement Day. Wait, did I say very similar? I meant exactly.

• So Sasha wants to kill Negan from a distance, while Rosita wants to barge into the Sanctuary and murder him up close and personal. 

Sasha's plan apparently wins, as she and Rosita camp out in a sniper's nest outside the Sanctuary. Sasha sees Negan milling around outside, but unfortunately she can't get a clean shot at him. She then IMMEDIATELY abandons her plan in favor of Rosita's!

Wha...? Seriously? She's discarding the sniper plan after trying and failing one time? 
What the hell? Why not wait another day or two for another opportunity? What's the rush?

Answer: Because there are only two episodes left in the season, and the writers need things to finally start happening.

• One thing about Sasha and Rosita's assassination plan that one seems to be addressing: they both seem to think that if they kill Negan, the Savior threat is immediately over. Apparently they think the Sanctuary's like an ant colony. If they can only take out Negan, then every single one of the other Saviors will instantly lay down their arms, hold hands and start singing Kumbaya.

There's no way in hell that would ever happen. If Negan was assassinated, there are probably twenty other Saviors who'd be more than happy to take his place, and the first thing they'd do is strike back at Alexandria and the other communities hard.

• Sasha cuts the chain link fence around the Sanctuary, slips through, and then while Rosita's not looking, she somehow seals it back up so she can't follow.

How exactly do you close up a chain link fence after cutting it open?

• Can I just say again how much I like Steven Ogg as Simon? And how I think he'd make a much better Negan than Jeffrey Dean Morgan?

The highlight of this episode was when he was using his "expressive face" to clue in Dr. Carson to the fact that his brother had expired.

• It may not seem like it right now, but Simon giving Gregory his address is a HUGE plot point. There's no doubt in my mind that Gregory's gonna get fed up with Maggie usurping his power, and run to the Sanctuary to ask Simon for help. Simon will then take Gregory to see Negan, who'll listen to his case and say he'll be glad to help. And then Negan will gut Gregory like a fish for being such a little bitch, just like he did when Spencer tattled to him in Hearts Still Beating.

I'm betting this'll all happen in the season finale.

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