TV Review: The Walking Dead - Season 7, Episode 14
Season 7, Episode 14: The Other Side
PLOT: Rosita and Sasha move forward with a plan to assassinate Negan while the Saviors make an unexpected visit to the Hilltop.
REVIEW: The build-up continues. While I have expected The Walking Dead to wait until the very last episode of the season to get to the war against Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and his Saviors that this second half has been leading to, I did have some hope that the show would break from the established pattern that causes a spike in viewership for the premieres and finales. Casual viewers know that's when they can tune in to see some action. So I would suggest shaking things up a bit. Get to the battle a little earlier and have it last through the last few episodes. But that's not what the powers that be are doing. The battle with Negan didn't officially start tonight, the preview for next week's episode shows that it will also be a build-up story, and so there we have it - we're not getting that fight until the last episode.
In the meantime, we must judge the episodes on the way to the battle based on how much closer they get us to that point, and on their own merits. It's not giving me war, but what is it giving me?
What The Other Side delivered was some strong interactions between a handful of the characters. There was a conversation between Jesus (Tom Payne) and Maggie (Lauren Cohan) in which we learn some things about Jesus's history and he comes out as being gay while admitting that he has had trouble getting emotionally close to people, including boyfriends. The reveal of Jesus's sexuality is getting some press for some reason, as if having a gay person on The Walking Dead is something new. It's not, and who Jesus is attracted to is irrelevant to me, this was just a nice scene between the two characters, ending with Maggie advising him to try getting close to someone sometime, even if it doesn't last. I can relate to struggling with emotional connections. They are tricky, mysterious things. But I agree with Maggie, making those connections is worth it, even with all the ups and downs that come with them.
Maggie had another dramatic interaction later in the episode, when Daryl (Norman Reedus) apologizes to her for getting her husband and baby daddy Glenn killed back in the season premiere. If Daryl hadn't stood up to Negan, Glenn would still be alive, and he's been carrying that guilt ever since. Maggie lifts that guilt off his shoulders, telling him he's "one of the good things in this world." That scene hit me right in the feels and had me getting choked up along with the characters.
That exchange between Maggie and Daryl occurs while they're hiding from the Saviors, who have made an unexpected stop at the Hilltop because they need to take the community's doctor to replace theirs, who got tossed into a furnace by Negan a few episodes back. The Saviors visiting Hilltop means we get to see more interplay between two guys who I find to be delightful to watch in a "love to hate" sort of way; spineless Hilltop leader Gregory (Xander Berkeley) and Negan's right hand man Simon (Steven Ogg).
Every Savior says they're Negan, but Simon is more of a mini-Negan than any of the others. I could easily see Ogg putting on the leather jacket, picking up Lucille and playing Negan himself. This guy is not one to be trifled with; if he had been in charge of the Kingdom's tribute drops instead of Gavin (Jayson Warner Smith), the Kingdom would have been screwed long ago. Simon is such a douche that I can't help but be entertained by him, and the same goes for Gregory when he's at his most obsequious. The Saviors' visit to the Hilltop should not have taken up so much screen time this close to the finale, but at least I got to watch Simon and Gregory talk to each other some more.
The last of the character interactions that made this episode worth watching was between Rosita (Christian Serratos) and Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green), who were doing their best to hit the accelerator on this war machine. They just can't wait for the finale like the rest of us have to. The women have issues with each other, since Negan victim Abraham left Rosita for Sasha, but each is the other's only ally on an ill-advised, likely suicidal mission to assassinate the leader of the Saviors. While they wait for their chance to take a shot at Negan, they let their guards down, open up to each other, do some bonding. The air is cleared between them by the end of this episode, which surely must mean that one of them will be dying soon.
Given the final moments, I'm placing my bets on Sasha at the moment. She ends up in a very bad situation, partially by choice, taking her opportunity to go out fighting and have her death mean something, and partially due to that cowardly bastard Eugene (Josh McDermitt) continuing to be a cowardly bastard. Whether he's pulling off a con or he has really turned to the dark side, he's still working as a Negan lackey, walking around the Saviors' Sanctuary barking out orders. Rosita and Sasha had Eugene in their rifle crosshairs so many times while they were waiting for Negan and I just wanted them to pull the trigger... After how he acts when Rosita and Sasha get up close to him, Rosita probably wished she had pulled the trigger.
The Other Side wasn't an exciting episode and some of it felt like wasted time, but there were enough good, emotional character scenes to save it from feeling too wasteful, and I'm sure this mess Rosita and Sasha have gotten themselves into will play a major part in getting the battle going. Not in the next episode, but the one after that.
BEST ZOMBIE MOMENT: I couldn't blame someone if they forgot there were any zombies in this episode aside from the ones stuck on the Sanctuary fence, but Rosita and Sasha do get past some on their way to the Sanctuary. At one point they set a car on fire to distract some zombies, so there's your best zombie moment, pretty much by default.
GORY GLORY: Well... a few walkers are nonchalantly stabbed in the head.
FAVORITE SCENE: That moment between Maggie and Daryl. "You're one of the good things in this world." I have something in my eye.