Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Walking Dead S7x14 The Other Side

Walking Dead Review The Other Side
Photo Credit: The Walking Dead / Gene Page
Alexandria is inching its way to a war against the Saviors, but it's not moving fast enough for some. Rosita and Sasha are on a mission to take out Negan, secretly departing from their loved ones and onto their enemy's compounds for the perfect shot. But can they take it? This recap includes spoilers for the latest episode - you've been warned! Hope you enjoy!

The Walking Dead has been making the rounds from different communities this past season, and for this latest stop, we headed to the Hilltop Colony. The Other Side took the time to catch up with characters who have to come to terms with guilt and loss with their friends. The slow pace inevitably felt like it was delaying the profound losses we're going to face in the season finale, but also building them up in heartbreaking ways.

Maggie is making the Hilltop Colony stronger each and every day. Under her leadership, the volunteers who want to take out Negan are learning how to fight with weapons under herself, Enid, Sasha, Jesus. On the back burner, she still has to be safe during her pregnancy and must contend with her and Daryl's emotional misunderstanding about Daryl's death.

It doesn't take long for that opportunity to finally arise when the Saviors make an unexpected visit to their compound, and they have to go into hiding while Gregory sucks up to Simon.

When some of the Saviors veer too close to their hiding place in the cellar, Daryl wanted to kill them all but Maggie held him back. She finally spoke up to him about why he's been avoiding her, to which he apologized for Glenn getting murdered.

But it's not just Glenn's death that Daryl has blamed himself for. We have to consider Herschel and Beth as well, though this conversation, in particular, didn't elude to that.

When we turn back the clock, Daryl has felt responsible for their demise. He stopped looking for the Governor who ended up showing up at the prison and killing Herschel. He couldn't find Beth, and when they tried to make a clean trade, she was shot by Dawn. And then with Glenn's death, even fans thought if Daryl hadn't interfered with Negan's line-up, Glenn would still be alive.  But Maggie never blamed him, and it was right to tell him to stop blaming himself.

In fact, when you look at the crux of this episode, it was all about hitting two-birds-with-one-stone.

Excluding the Hilltop Colony's training session in the opening, nearly all of the character interactions were between two separate characters - not just the partnership of Rosita and Sasha but Simon and Gregory, Enid and the Savior, Maggie and Daryl, Maggie and Jesus, Daryl and Jesus. A lot of the walker kills between Rosita and Sasha were two at the same time, or two in the same shot. Every scene was about two people meeting in the middle to confide or break the news over a misunderstanding, clearing the air, and making an adjustment in their relationship.

As Maggie and Daryl finally had that long-awaiting closure about Glenn's death, Rosita and Sasha bonded over Abe's death.

Rosita and Sasha are a force to be reckoned with on their own, and it was a blessing and a shame that we only ever saw them kick ass together in this episode - considering where it was all heading. Their mission also gave them a chance to reconcile over Abe while scoping out the Savior's compound.

Everyone presumes Sasha is going to face a comic book death (Holly, who is turned into a walker, sent to Alexandria with a bag over her head) either in the season finale or premiere, and The Walking Dead was not so subtle at planting clues of how this was going to happen.

The first clue was obviously her and Rosita settling their issues. They went much further than just talking about their love of the same man, but also Rosita sharing with her how her skills to survive developed over the apocalypse: by sleeping with guys who wanted to protect her, take notes from what they could do and do it better than them. It's pretty bad-ass and kinda ruthless.

Rosita opening up about her past with and without Abraham was rewarding, as we never really knew the full picture of her history. However, it's interesting that if a guy defused a bomb/used weapons, nobody asks where they learned it from.

It wasn't just the fact that they were talking about Abraham calmly, but why she thought she hated Sasha because she figured him out. But when Rosita asked if Sasha was happy, she admitted she was'. Honestly, it did happen in the past, but this could also be a signifier that she is not happy anymore, which makes her distance to Maggie a little more understandable. She'll take on duties at the Hilltop Colony, but there isn't any fulfillment. And seeing Enid move in to help be Maggie's second only makes it clearer that she's lost somethingshe can't get back: a sense of hope or belonging.

Can we blame the girl? She thought she lost Tyrese and even accepted his death until she fell in love with Bob who taught her that surviving was more than just the bare essentials. Then he was mercilessly killed by the Termites. Once she opened herself up to a new self-awareness, Abraham was killed off. She's never really had a moment of pure happiness that didn't last longer than a bowel movement.

Other clues included Rosita teaching Sasha how to tie knots, which looked like nooses. So they're literally hanging themselves on this mission.

As well, Eugene's instructions to the other Saviors on the walkie talkie included a need to find twelve more walkers for the fence-yard. Will she be one of them or is just a loose easter egg?

All of this finally brought the duo to the Savior's fences where they were going to cross over the side. They tried to persuade Eugene to leave with them, which he refused and am-scrayed back inside. When they started opening the fence with bolt cutters, Sasha literally had Rosita's back by crossing over and then closing the fence behind her.
Sasha running off into the Saviors compound by locking Rosita out could've been read in two ways: Sonequa is running off to the Star Trek set and is happy to be jumping this sinking ship, and also it's a nice full-circle moment of her original introduction.

In season three's Made to Suffer, Sasha urged the group to let Donna die in the woods because she was a bit and going to turn. Rosita wasn't in any harm of becoming a walker, except if she was injured in their attack, but Sasha is making the sacrifice for her because she believes it's not her friends time yet. That's a pretty astounding moment of growth for her.

Sasha's goodbye at the gate was poignant for her as a character but also felt a little cheated, rushed, and forced.

'Cause for the moment, Negan isn't doing anything. He's sitting on his thumbs twiddling around, waiting for Alexandria to get more supplies. Sasha already knows about Rick's deal with Jadis is in the works. Why go back to the Hilltop Colony at all if she didn't think Maggie needed her anymore? Other than Sonequa's casting for Star Trek, this feels like another messy way of handling a character's death with so much foreshadowing and so little emotional relief.

A big issue with this was using Maggie's increased time with Enid as a way to make it seem like Sasha and Maggie had grown apart in the span of a few weeks when they were saying grace over dinner and Sasha was protecting Maggie at all costs.

Sasha telling Enid and Jesus that she wasn't needed anymore and Maggie has other people was a subtle easter egg to Rosita feeling the same way when she was confiding to Father Gabriel, and he assured her that they all need her; she's willing to die to kill Negan. But Jesus and Enid affirming that Sasha is needed in the community didn't feel like enough to replace the feeling that this show thinks that women can only have one friendship with another woman.

It shocks me a little that this episode was written by a woman, Angela Kang, who has penned a lot of great episodes in the past (The Same Boat, for instance in season six). But it's frustrating that the writers approach female characters as if, “Well if they don’t spend 24/7 with each other, they’re not really friends.” Because Maggie needs Sasha. And Enid, and Rosita, and Carol, and Tara, and Michonne. They all need each other.

This escalation of separation between Sasha and Maggie made me worried for the future, if and when her character dies. Much like how Denise's death was overlooked for Glenn and Abraham's deaths, I'm hoping the writers don’t entirely forget Maggie and Sasha have been friends season three. Her death deserves recognition for what she's brought to the group, and Maggie in particular, instead of waiting half a season to bring it up.

The crazy thing is about Sasha's death, if this is how she's going out, is that it fits her arc. Even in season five, when Sasha was suffering from PTSD, she put herself in harm's way with the walkers to deal with Bob and Tyrese's death. While it's kind of hard to believe that in two weeks Abe would be the love of Sasha's life (they were planning on mixing the Bisquick and moved in together), she's trying to honor his death by making hers worth something and giving Rosita another chance at redemption or the self-awareness she achieved. I just hope the show remembers what she's given.

The Other Side wasn't a particularly awful episode. In fact, focusing on the ladies as it did in Go Getters displayed this and last season's greatest strengths: to focus on the women in all of their complexity, especially Maggie and Sasha as leaders, together and separately. Even with Sonequa moving onto another show, it'll be a shame to lose such an important, healthy female dynamic between two main characters.

Additional Thoughts:

  • Eugene isn't truly a Savior. If he had left with Sasha and Rosita, they would have come looking for him. On top of Daryl, Negan would've went on an unbelievable rampage. All the same, if he is a Savior, was Eugene ever essential to our group? He lied his ass all the way to Washington D.C. and bit Dwight's crotch. NEXT.
  • HONESTLY, please JESUS don't take Maggie and Sasha from me. Besides Andrew's hot ass and after losing Glenn, I don't know how long I can stick around anymore.....#sendhelp
  • Jesus maintains his comic book sexuality. CARRY THAT RAINBOW FLAG BROTHER.
  • I didn't really cover Gregory and Simon's storyline 'cause I blacked out. It could be summed up with: Gregory's an ass and Simon looks like Hook from Peter Pan.

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