'The Walking Dead': Here a Traitor, There a Traitor (RECAP)
Spoiler Alert: Read no further if you haven't watched The Walking Dead: "Something They Need." Major plot points are revealed.
Well, I'll be.
It wasn’t Daryl.
That wasn't Daryl in the darkness that set Rosita to running at the end of last week’s episode. It was Dwight. And here’s the kicker: Dwight wants to be a helper!
At least that’s what he says, most likely because Alexandria seems like a kinder, gentler place—relatively speaking—should Sherry materialize. Or maybe we have double agents pretty much everywhere now.
Also regarding the end of last week’s episode—Tara did indeed rat out the ladies of Oceanside, but she asked Rick to pinkie-promise that the gun gathering would go down without bloodshed if possible. He tells her not to feel bad if it does. They don't need friends; they need fighters.
The raid is sort of a three-pronged affair. Michonne is stationed in a tree as a sniper, in case the living or the dead get out of hand. Tara is dispatched inside to try to talk some sense into — and guns out of—Oceanside leader Natanya. And the others—an angsty Enid and Carl, plus Jesus, Gabe, Tobin, Daryl, Aaron and his sweet-faced husband who is seriously starved for couple time—put a backup plan into place, in case Tara's cajoling doesn't do the job.
Meanwhile, Sasha’s intrusion on the Sanctuary went pretty much the way we figured it would. She’s bloodied and cornered in a cell by the guy who did the deed—a leering Savior named David who is now intent on doing another deed, too, whether Sasha likes it or not. She doesn’t—and punctuates that point with a head-butt. Someone else likes it even less: Negan, who rewards the lech with a bowie knife sideways through his throat (style points!) because rape is breaking the rules. That's a little confusing, what with all the drunk and murderous wives he has upstairs, but we'll stick a pin in that right now.
Let the negotiations begin. Negan reiterates that rules are rules and that is that, no matter what side of the Sanctuary you’re on. And on that subject, he remembers her now. Storming the sanctuary solo after what she witnessed? Hoooo-weeeee! “Beach-ball-sized lady nuts” on this girl! So did Rick put her up to it or what? Sasha sneers that Rick is Negan’s bitch ... and I'm pretty sure she means it.
In that case, if she plays her cards right, she has just what it takes to rise to upper management here in no time. But she can think it over, aided by the zombie-apocalypse version of flipping a coin. He’ll just leave the remains of ol’ Rapey Davey right here, give her the knife and let her make the call. Heads, she can suicide by knife or zombie, tails, dispatch a turning Dave and join the cause.
One more thing before he goes. About what she thinks she knows of Negan and this place? It's only ever been about following the rules. Everybody shoulders up and marches to the same drummer, everybody stays safe and cared for. Just that simple. “I know it’s hard to picture, considering what I did, but, Sasha, we all got s--t to get over,” he tells her in the most somber and human exchange I think we’ve ever seen this guy have (and in a way that makes me hope we learn what his s--t is and soon). “I just want you to understand: We are not monsters.”
That's what the back half of this season (well, and kind of, life) is all about: Is killing and stealing and terrorizing justified only when "our" side is doing it? Does barging into another community and demanding one's own way or else default to OK if it's Rick doing the barging? That's becoming increasingly prickly. And this is the first time I've clearly seen the possibility of Negan as something other than a wing nut with a bat.
Next, Eugene appears to help close the deal, bearing water, a pillow and some distinctly Eugene-ly words of wisdom. Yes, it’s a “hold-your-nose situation,” but crossing over to the Sanctuary side is also the “correct select,” he tells Sasha. Then he confirms what we’ve kinda suspected since he turned coat.
When Abraham was alive, Eugene could convince himself that he was brave, too. But the night that Glenn and Abe died, he realized that he was the opposite of brave and always will be and that even brave folks die badly. Under Rick's rule, he is lesser. Perpetually in fear. Here with Negan, he doesn’t have to be. Being a survivor doesn’t also require that he fight. That sort of security can be a good thing, he tells her. She might even like it, too.
Then he cribs Jadis’ catch-phrase: “Please say yes.” And then he blows his pitch, telling her that Abraham would want her to choose safety. Her look tells him just how wrong he already knows he is. She orders him to leave.
Blending more communities than we have all season, we also make a little trip to the Hilltop, where Gregory looks on as Maggie coaches the others (including a hunky man-bunned flirt) in the ways of the garden. When she leaves the compound in pursuit of a blueberry bush, Greg spots an opportunity for more than just 40 years' worth of a superfood. He sidles up to her, hollers at her for stepping outside the gate all by her pregnant lonely and assures her he’s there to protect her now. And since they've got some alone time, what say he knifes a pregnant woman in the back unwitnessed they put their differences aside and figure out a way to, you know, like, work together or whatever, blah, blah, blah?
Maggie knows what’s up, but she goes along with it anyway. If he’s truly interested in détente, why sure, she’ll talk. Later. Right now, be a peach and watch her back while she finishes the last of the blueberry excavation, because sounds like something wicked this way comes. And here it is.
Gregory informs Maggie he wouldn't still be here if he didn't know how to dispatch a walker then embarrasses the living daylights out of himself in front of her and a smattering of other Hilltoppers, who now know for sure that their emperor has no guts. He charges the walker with authority that quickly gives way to an epic case of the yuckies. Maggie uses her hand spade to handle walker No. 1 and then his buddy who is this<—>close to turning a wailing Geoffrey into lunch. I'll fess up right now that I hoped she'd let it happen.
Back at Oceanside, Tara goes for the element of surprise, popping out of a corner with a pistol when Natanya enters her house (her house that is somehow still more Pinterest-y than my own. Not that that bothers me). Cyndie interrupts the proceedings and is a little ticked that Tara broke her promise, but she’s in favor of joining the cause anyway. Grandma not so much. Tara says she didn’t have a choice to return here, but they do have choices now. So here’s the deal, one that can let the world belong to good people. Take it. Or at least talk about it, because the clock is ticking.
Natanya calls Tara's bluff, aided by Cyndie, who knocks Tara on her ass and grabs her gun — which, it turns out, isn't loaded. No matter. Time's up.
Time’s-up is signaled by a succession for fiery but harmless explosions announcing the arrival of the rest of the contingent. Some of the ladies, like Cyndie, want to join the fight. Natanya forbids it, bellowing about everything they've already endured. Cyndie shuts her down with a knock-out punch just as that herd of shipwrecked barnacle walkers shows up. Just like that, Oceanside and Alexandria fall in together and demonstrate just what a fine army they might actually make. No matter. Natanya tells Rick they can take the guns, but it's all or none where Oceanside fighters are concerned, and as long as she has a breath in her, that means none. For now, her ladies comply.
Back at the other set of negotiations, turns out Sasha did dispatch Rapey Davey, but who won this particular battle, she or Negan, is up for debate. Negan says he will set her up in cushier digs, but she still has to declare herself him with the same verve Eugene did to earn her knife back. Nothing personal. It's just that a little birdie told him that Rick and the others are planning something and she's going to prove terrifically handy in thwarting their efforts. In what capacity is up to her.
Little birdie No. 1 is sipping tequila at Hilltop, checking the map and telling his driver to pack a bag for the trip.
Little birdie No. 2 is honoring Sasha's request for what she hopes he'll believe is a means to commit suicide so she can't be used as a tool against Rick and the others. Except it's not the gun or blade she hoped for. He slips the capsules he made for Negan's wives under her door and tells her he's giving her the poison because it "sounds to me like you're already gone." She looks ruined, but I suspect she'll find a way to use the more subtle tool.
Speaking of gone, Rosita's waiting at the gate when the Alexandrians return with the Oceanside arsenal (that Tara swears they'll return, complete with a fond middle-finger salute to foul-mouthed Rachel as they leave). Rosie tells them Sasha is a goner, but someone else is here.
Kneel to your new Negan.
So now what, TWD fans? Every time we head into a season finale, I think there is no way Kirkman and company can stitch together all the threads — and this time there are doozies. The Hilltop. The Kingdom. The Garbage Dwellers. The Oceansiders. (Anyone else wondering what become of The Wolves?) And every time they do in a way that makes the march to October sweet, sweet agony. Especially since I'm getting really fuzzy in spots about who's a good guy and who's a bad guy — and that I think the TWD "All Out War" is at least a portion of Season 8 away.
What do you think will go down in next week's Season 7 ender? A march to the Sanctuary gates with whomever is aboard seems unlikely. The rank and file has yet to be formed. A march from the Sanctuary to the other encampments seem far more likely to me. Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
The Walking Dead, Sundays, 9/8c, AMC