The Walking Dead: 7.14 The Other Side

With only a couple of episodes left until the season finale, things are finally falling into place in The Walking Dead for the big battle with archvillain Negan to start any time now. The Hilltop people have been undergoing training and now even Gregory is harbouring more resentment towards the Saviours than ever before. This week’s episode also saw Sasha and Rosita head towards the Sanctuary and we finally caught up with Daryl and Maggie, who’s been AWOL for most of the season.

To open the episode that was mainly set at the Hilltop, we saw what I’ve been hoping we’d get since the people there said they wanted to fight: a training and preparation montage. We also got to see some great character interactions between Maggie and Jesus, Sasha and Jesus, and later on, Maggie and Daryl. All the character stuff this episode was really good I think, even if some real action is overdue. Jesus and Maggie are both personal favourites of mine, so to have them get more screen time via a cute little conversation warmed my heart. In said conversation, Jesus officially was confirmed as gay (like he is in the comics) with a line about having boyfriends. Maggie’s little smile in response pretty much represented a toned-down version of my own feelings on this. I was worried that the showrunners would decide to keep Jesus’ orientation ambiguous, so I’m positively thrilled to know that LGBT fans of the show aren’t being denied this wonderful bit of representation in a character that’s arguably more loved than Aaron and Tara.

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While everyone else had been training, the opening montage included shots of Sasha tending to Abraham’s grave and pining for him. I still feel like it’s difficult to feel much about their relationship as we never really saw much of them together, but maybe that’s the point. Maybe the fact that they never got to properly be a thing as a couple is part of what Sasha is mourning, but at least she finally found an ally in her grief in Rosita when she came to ask for her help.

A cry of “Saviours coming!” alerted the Hilltop that indeed some Saviours were on their way for a surprise visit. Rosita and Sasha quickly escaped via a secret tunnel and Maggie and Daryl went to hide in the food storeroom at Enid’s suggestion. While in there the two finally had a heart to heart about the fact that Daryl’s actions are what led to Glenn’s death. I’m really pleased that this scene was included as it really would’ve been one big-ass elephant in the room if not. Daryl’s guilt and Maggie’s forgiveness and their brokenhearted hug after Maggie said Daryl was one of the good things in life, and Glenn was right about that because he was one of the good things too, was probably one of the best character moments to come out of the aftermath of the gore-fest that was the season premiere.

The awkwardly, over-jovial “hello!” between Gregory and Simon, two of the show’s most intensely dislikeable characters ever, was hilarious. They slipped into their usual roles of moustached skeeze-bag and subservient worm, and long story short, the Saviours rode off with with Hilltop’s doctor. Gregory has now been given a free entry pass into the Sanctuary, and is in a bit of a shaky situation it seems. I can’t tell whether he’s likely to tell all to the Saviours, or finally grow some guts and decide taking the doctor was the last straw.

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So anyway, Sasha and Rosita ran off to try and gun down Negan, only instead of doing that they had a bonding session while Rosita shared some stuff about knots and we finally heard a little of her backstory (about time). The two finally, properly, reconciled and became friends and having Rosita finally calm down and open up a bit was fantastic. I’m really hoping she won’t get killed off now she’s turning into a real well-rounded character at last.

While peering through the sniper scope, my new favourite team spied Eugene ordering people around. Rosita said what a lot of people have been thinking - that he must be playing some angle - but when they tried to break him out, he refused to leave. It seems like that answers that question, then. That means we probably won’t be seeing a lot more of what he’s getting up to (although there are still those pills he made). Is he going to have a real side-choosing moment in the finale? Maybe die in a moment of bravery or really turn his back on his friends and help Negan with some tactical thinking? We can only wait and see.

At this point Rosita and Sasha decided to enter the Sanctuary and “go in” to kill Negan. Rosita has been the suicidal one all along, but Sasha tricked her into staying behind while she went in alone. “They need you,” is what Sasha said, and while it does seem like Rosita is very resourceful and has a lot of handy skills, I don't recall us seeing much of them prior to this garbage heap of a season. That being said, the scene did get to me as I'm a sucker for any scenario involving self-sacrifice to save the originally suicidal person.

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As Rosita walked away after being locked out of the Sanctuary while Rosita ran inside, she was startled by a mysterious shrouded, long-haired figure endowed with a crossbow. The identity of this person has been one of the main talking points of this week’s episode. Most people seem to think it’s either Daryl or Dwight. Daryl is a good bet, as shortly prior to this scene, he was seen urgently asking where Sasha and Rosita were. On the other hand, it would also be interesting if it was Dwight, as I feel his character arc must be drawing towards a conclusion, and it would be cool to see whether he would let Rosita go or turn her in. Even more intriguing would be if it was a new character altogether, which is a possibility. Either way, the cliffhanger did its job of convincing me that something exciting will happen next, no matter who the person was. It’s a shame we’ll probably be cutting away to the Oceanside community next episode. There’s very little flow to the show these days, which leads me to believe we’ll have to awkwardly wait to find out who the figure was, instead of picking up next time right where we left off. I could be wrong, of course, and I’ll be pleasantly surprised if I am, but even though second half of the season has been better at this, it still feels like overall we’re bouncing all over the place in terms of plot continuity.

I’m struggling to see how the writers will be able to fit a good conclusion to this season’s plot into just the two episodes that we have left. Last time I checked, Rick and co. still didn’t have enough guns for the Junkyard crew, we haven’t seen any co-ordination or strategy planning, and they haven’t even met the Oceanside lot yet. It’s therefore hard not to imagine the season finale being as underwhelming and frustrating as the last one. At this rate, things will drag on into the start of season 8, unless next week the pace gets seriously upped. I can see Sasha going in rogue and something happening with Rosita and the mystery man being the trigger that starts the war, but I really just expected things to feel more calculated and like they were falling into place by now.

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To sum up, The Other Side was a bit of a slow episode that’s main redeeming features were the emotional character interactions. Rosita and Sasha were at their best, and the Maggie and Daryl moment was something really bittersweet and special. I also have to note that I felt real suspense in places too, and that’s worth a few approval points. On the whole, however, it just gave me ants in my pants. I’m too eager to see everyone go to war, and while it feels we’re inching closer, two episodes from the end of the season is a ridiculous time to STILL only be teasing it, therefore my qualms with this episode aren’t with the content but its timing. I would’ve liked to have seen a good chunk of what happened this episode instead happen earlier in the season, in place of some of the time-wasting, and I really hope that next week we see the start of some real excitement.