‘The Walking Dead’: One For All … (RECAP)
This recap contains spoilers from Sunday night’s The Walking Dead episode, “The Other Side.” Read no further if you don’t want to know.
So then … sayonara, Sasha.
OK, it hasn’t happened quite yet. And when it does, it won’t shock anyone—Sasha least of all. But in Sunday night’s episode of The Walking Dead, we learned that only half of our TWD-brand Thelma and Louise would sacrifice themselves without regret. And that you can give Rosita some backstory (mostly involving boinking boys in exchange for their skills sets), but it won’t make her a bit less insufferable.
With just one more episode left before the Nicotero-directed Season 7 finale, “The Other Side” continues to bolster the themes of going it alone or together, and the difference between preparing for life and preparing for death as we all march toward the inevitable war on the Saviors.
The brunt of the action takes place at The Hilltop, where Gregory remains devoted to his Gregory-ness and little else, and Maggie continues to ready the residents for their part in the battle. A nice exchange between Maggie and Jesus reveals that our diminutive longhaired diplomat grew up in a group home, which left him feeling like a lifelong outsider. Making sure Sasha and Maggie were safely integrated into the Hilltoppers finally gives him a sense of belonging. Also, he’d love a boyfriend someday, which is sure to get the attention of folks hung up on the “Daryl is gay” thing, for better or worse.
Afterward, Jesus and Maggie bust Sasha stocking up on bullets for her mission with Rosita. Jesus knows their intentions and knows he can’t stop them, but he hopes they will wait until the collective troops are more prepared. Or at least let Maggie in on the plan. Sasha says Rosita will go with or without her, so she may as well double the chance at whatever success can come of it. This is the first she has mentioned any thought of the aftermath — it’s really what the episode is all about — and I am relieved for that.
Then she takes a moment with Enid. Protect Maggie, Sasha tells her. They are future that she and Rosita hope to secure. She hands Enid a bracelet for Baby Rhee that she didn’t quite finish and Enid looks at her intently. She will protect Maggie. In ten minutes, Enid will reveal the women’s plan because Maggie deserves to know. Well done, Sparrow. Sasha smiles.
Then an unexpected visit from the Saviors sends everyone into a panic. They’re not here for stuff, though. They’re for a person. Maggie and Daryl scramble for cover in a root cellar, but neither is actually the bounty. Simon— Simon loves tequila and Lori loves Simon—and his contingent are here for Dr. Harlon Carson for the purpose of replacing Dr. Emmett Carson, who got himself all burned up. Turns out the docs were siblings. It leads to the best scene of the episode. Dr. Carson The Living wonders why the Sanctuary needs two doctors. Simon uses his “expressive” face to try to convey the message. Then he uses his words. Don’t looked so bummed about it, pal. There’s cardamom gelato where you’re going.
A bearded gent we’ll call Vegetable (use the whole word) Savior picks on a girl, then does a half-assed job of checking out the root cellar. Daryl almost jumps him anyway. Afterward, Daryl confesses his agony to Maggie over his part in Abe’s and Glenn’s deaths. She tells him he’s one of the good things left in this world. Glenn said so, too. There’s a bigger picture than just vengeance and he’s a necessary part. Ya damn right he is.
Meanwhile, Sasha and Rosita have escaped through a secret passage and are trying to score a vehicle to shorten the trip. Take it away, Rosita. Red wire over blue wire. Nope. Blue wire over red wire. Nope. Then she notices the jewelry Sasha wore for the occasion. Nice necklace, Sasha. Never mind that Rosita made it, Sasha. Have it your way, Rosita. They’ll talk about the mission only. So walk the tough talk already, because if they do this right, they can make it out alive. Rosita says an inside job is the only way to go. Sasha wants a clean shot from afar. But they have to get there first. Rosita finally lands a functional ride and Thelma and Louise hit the road.
Back at Hilltop, Gregory would like a private word with Simon before Simon takes his doctor away. See the thing is, if Gregory can’t maintain the trust of his people and care for them accordingly, someone else might take over. Someone else with crazy ideas. No one in particular [meaningful stare]. We’re just talking worst-case scenario [meaningful stare]. Simon says Greggie can come to the Sanctuary any time to vent about his troubles. Free pass at the gate and everything. Try it, Gregory. I triple-cardamom-gelato dare you.
Sasha and Rosita reach the Sanctuary in record time, setting up shop in a giant building that just so happened to have been left outside the confines of the compound. They — and we — get our first look at Eugene’s handiwork for the Sanctuary gate. I got a few quibbles (and, eventually, so does Eugene). The original problem was the walkers’ soft and gooey centers. Dribbling their heads and shoulders with metal does bond them to the fence, but slop will still happen. Plus, they’re now stationary targets who can still take a knife through the ol’ socket by even the clumsiest of interlopers. But enough about that. Since Negan’s nowhere to be found, what say we lady-bond?
Them’s some mighty fine knots you’re tying, there, Rosita. How about sharing the knowledge? Fine. Up, down, over, sideways … knot. Not that it really matters. Sasha keeps up the schmooze job, anyway, telling Rosita how the others need her, because she knows everything about everything. Fine. Rosita will tell her why—which is basically that it’s good to be a sexy little thang in the apocalypse. Johnny, he taught her about bombs and other prepper crap. Marcus was a jerk, but he taught her about cars. Chaser (because his mom really wanted a puppy?) taught her the knots. There were others, too. Guys wanted to protect her, and for a while, she needed it. But not for good. She took the lessons, enjoyed the sex and shouldered up with Abe because he gave her sex and her propers.
But here’s the thing—which we all figured out about Rosita anyway. Abraham adapted to life inside Alexandria. He got…happy. And he didn’t need her for that happiness anymore. Rosita couldn’t figure out how not to be on the run and in the meantime, Abe fell for even-tempered Sasha and the idea of peace. It isn’t Sasha that Rosita hates. It’s the fact she couldn’t accept her own shortcomings in time to let Abe know she was happy for his resilience. She wasted so much time being angry and atop it, Abraham went out in such a pointless, powerless way.
See that right there? That’s regret. That’s a longing for time not wasted. For something other than a fight. That’s worth sticking around for, and Sasha knows it. She tells Rosita she has her back no matter what. It’s true, but it doesn’t mean quite what Rosita thinks it does.
Back at Hilltop, Gregory has summoned Jesus to chastise him about slacking on scavenging and recruiting in favor of all this rallying the troops. Time to move the outsiders into Barrington house and get everyone on the job of keeping Hilltop some prime Savior shoppin’. Jesus calls him on the whole shebang. Gregory says he is merely taking care of his friends — and he knows who they are. Jesus, no. Simon, yes. And here’s some tequila to prove it.
Meanwhile, Simon returns to the Sanctuary with Dr. Carson, which brings Negan out into the open, but it’s too big a crowd for Sasha to get a clean shot. The ladies somehow landed a Savior walkie, too, so they turn it on to learn more about what’s going down. Instead, they hear Eugene getting his Negan and Chief Engineer on with gusto. WTF? Change of plans. Surely poor little Eugie-poogie needs their help. Except he doesn’t.
As darkness falls, Eugene catalogs his issues with the first draft of Operation Metalhead. And while the exchange is vintage Eugene, what comes next is chilling. The girls blow away his companion, make themselves known and tell him that they’re there to rescue him. And any question that a) Eugene is as Negan as he claims and b) he does require not saving—at least not by them—seems obliterated, too. He looks at his former friends with the same terror he once held for Negan and tells them he will not go. They will. And then he turns for the door, thinking aloud that if they are here, the resistance he knows was building must now be action.
Is there a shred of hope that that actually means his ability to aid that plan from the inside—and in a way that doesn’t relegate him to collateral damage—is foreshortened and that is what worries him? Maybe. Part of me hopes so. But part of me loves this Eugene. The one who is clear-eyed about what he wants—to live and to live comfortably—and where that goal is most likely to be achieved. I’ll stew on this one for a good, long while.
But he’s no longer the only Alexandrian on the inside. Sasha tells Rosita to keep watch while she mends the hole they cut in the fence, then slips through it when Rosita turns her back, making sure Rosita cannot follow. It’s what right, she says. They are each where they should be. It’s Sasha’s time to avenge Abraham and maybe go out the way he should have. Rosita has a greater purpose. More time. Time and purpose she should not waste.
But Rosita’s not alone in the darkness. Daryl is there, too.
Couple more things about this episode. At face value, Eugene and Gregory are both sellouts. Both self-serving…to a degree. But Gregory serves only himself. His need to keep the Hilltop afloat is about his comfort and survival alone. His people are just a means to that end—every last one of them. Eugene is still a team player; it’s just for another team. One that sees him as much more than a benchwarmer. One made up mostly of decent folks just trying to get by. The Saviors have a clear set of rules—rules designed to protect and progress a thriving community in an untenable world. Rules that are no longer that hard to understand. What will be hard to understand is what might happen to all those good souls if war does come to the sanctuary. And what then will happen to our idea of good and evil and what a power monger truly looks like.
And finally, though the cast has expanded at a dizzying rate this season, Dead is so much the better for Xander Berkeley (Gregory) and Steven Ogg (Simon), two actors who do so much with their limited screen time, turning bad guys into great TV.
The Walking Dead, Sundays, 9/8c, AMC