The Walking Dead: 7.15 Something They Need

The penultimate episode of The Walking Dead’s season seven really picked up the pace and felt like the sort of episode we should have had a lot more of lately. Something They Need was still slow in places, but featured the kind of group teamwork, building tension, and walker action that we’ve not seen in a while. As predicted, the episode opened with the main group led by Rick making their way to Oceanside. The episode also followed up with the aftermath of Sasha’s apparent suicide run, and saw Maggie and Gregory almost start to get along.

Last week’s episode ended on a cliffhanger as Sasha ran into the Sanctuary alone, and Rosita was surprised by a mysterious figure. The mystery person wasn’t revealed until the very end of this week’s episode but Sasha’s fate was immediately shown to us. She was alive, and being held in the same cell that Daryl spent some time in. Her first visitor was a Saviour that apparently had been a part of her capture the previous night, who proceeded to get all kinds of rapey, positively thrilled by the fact that she was tied up and determined to vocalise his creepy intentions.

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This scene gave me the same uncomfortable, stomach-churning feelings that I’ve previously had when seeing scenes involving Negan and his wives. I know we’re not exactly watching the happiest or most PG of shows, but I still feel like making the characters prone to sexually assaulting people as overt about it as this guy was is something that can really alienate female viewers, many of whom have probably encountered a “rapey Davey” or two in real life. I’m not saying it can’t or shouldn’t be implied in places, but in a show where no holds are barred when it comes to more apocalypse-y stuff like brutally violent deaths, it really doesn’t need to pull out all the dialogue stops for more creepy rape factor.

Fortunately Negan showed up to interrupt his henchman, and proceeded to stab him through the neck as rape is against his rules. He is of course the biggest hypocrite on the planet, as I doubt any of his “wives” really want to be such (I still think that group of women is one of the most underutilised groups of characters, second perhaps only to all the Hilltop people we still haven’t met). Clearly the rule isn’t really that rape isn’t allowed, but that only Negan is allowed to rape women who have ended up “married” to him via extortion. Anyway, we’ve been over this before. The point is that Negan killed his man and then offered Sasha the knife he used to do so, along with the options to either cut her wrists with it, or stab it through the dead guy’s brain and join Team Negan.

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This entire exchange wasn’t boring at all, but I’m utterly incredulous at the fact that we skipped straight to it, and only get to hear that Sasha apparently caused all kinds of havoc and then got caught without getting to see any of it. After this season has dragged so much, are the writers SERIOUSLY going to deprive us of what would’ve been a great and exciting action sequence?! I can think of no excuse for not showing us in full what happened, other than the fact that after spending so many episodes making the characters dither about and not do anything, the writers are now short on time and left themselves no room to incorporate it before the finale.

Right, so Negan then left Sasha alone with only a knife and a corpse for company. Her next visitor a little while later was Eugene, who had come to bring her some creature comforts, and to explain his actions in joining up with Negan and say that he thought she should too. It’s hard to say whether Sasha felt any sympathy for him, or just anger, as he talked about how being there meant he’d never again have to be as afraid as he was the night Negan murdered their friends. The only thing she said to him was “go,” after he pointed out that dead Dave was getting a little twitchy.

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I can’t remember the last time we saw a dead person turn, so rapey Davey’s reanimation reminded me of earlier days on the show and was a nice touch. Sasha obviously wasn’t going to kill herself or allow herself to get killed by a walker, so she stuck that lovely knife in his head and when Negan returned later, said “you win.” But Negan’s right not to fully believe her. When Eugene came to visit again later she pulled a sneaky sneaky ploy, talking to him through the door and sounding like she was completely broken, asking for a weapon to at least kill herself with so she couldn’t be used against Rick and the others. She was utterly convincing but it was all a manipulation. On the other side of the door we could see her sporting a conniving smile, and Eugene agreed, but it was all in vain as instead of bringing her anything she could easily use on Negan, instead he brought his homemade poison pill. It was a bit frustrating to see that this was the way the pill showed up again, but it may kill someone yet. Even a suicide pill that seems useless has to kill someone in the end, after all. That’s just good writing, so I’ve not given up hope on that little death capsule.

Important note: Negan mentioned to Sasha that “a little birdie told me that Rick and the others are up to no good.” WHO WAS THE LITTLE BIRDIE? One would assume Gregory, but at this point in the episode he hadn’t yet left the Hilltop, so unless the episode was doing some strange timeline-hopping and wasn’t in chronological order, that makes no sense. The second guess would obviously be Eugene, except that it wasn’t until after he was taken that Rick got his spine back. So who clued Negan in? Is there a turncoat in the midst of our faves? Or is this just going to remain an unanswered question? I want to know.

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So that concludes the Sanctuary-set plot of the episode. Meanwhile, back at the Hilltop, Maggie was going full farmer and teaching people to plant things, and going outside the wall to grab some bush or another that she wanted to plant herself. Gregory came out to join her, seemingly acting in an almost friendly manner. They discussed trying to get on better with each other and talk things over, then when Maggie had her back turned he contemplated stabbing her. There was no way in hell he’d actually do it of course, he just has too little conviction to really do anything important, after all. So he stood lookout while she dug up this plant and then a couple of walkers appeared, and Maggie took care of them as Gregory demonstrated that dispatching the dead was yet another thing he was incompetent at. Unfortunately, some of the Hilltop people happened to witness Maggie saving Gregory’s sorry ass, and she explained to them that he’d never killed one before, to which one replied, “that’s not what he told us.” You’d think Maggie might have a little more tact and know it could be wise to help Gregory save face, for the sake of their good relations, but maybe she couldn’t resist. Either way, it seems that was the embarrassment that sent Gregory off to meet his slimy buddy Simon at the Sanctuary, as last we saw he was asking to be driven there.

The third main event of this week was what we’ve been waiting for since Tara first found them: a confrontation between Oceanside and the Alexandrians. They sent Tara in alone to try and talk grouchy grandma into being diplomatic, but that failed and so they flushed everyone out with a series of strategically placed bombs. That was pretty cool. Then when they were trying to explain the situation and get Natania to give back Tara, who she’d taken hostage, they were attacked by a group of walkers that’d been drawn by the bomb noises, and Alexandrians and Oceansiders alike worked together to keep them at bay and kill them all. That was even cooler. The zombies themselves had come from a capsized ship seen at the beginning of the episode, and were adorned with all sorts of lovely stuff like seaweed and barnacles. These gooey, waterlogged walkers were also pretty cool. I’m someone who has a weird aversion to barnacles, so they also made my skin crawl.

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This awesome bit of teamwork demonstrated both group’s abilities, and some of the Oceanside women wanted to fight the Saviours too. For some inexplicable reason, however, it has to be all or nothing with them, so they stayed behind while Rick and co. took their guns. Rick promised they’d give them back after it was all over though (I don’t know how that’s going to go down with Junkyard leader Jadis, because I’m pretty sure we all thought she was getting them), so maybe we’ll see Cyndie and the rest again sometime. What would be really cool would be if they all decided to fight together after all, but you can’t have everything, so I’m not holding my breath.

Finally, the episode concluded with the resolution to last week’s cliffhanger: the strange figure was Dwight, and Rosita says he wants to help them. So, now Rick’s side has enough guns, a potential inside man (or man with inside information), and Negan knows something’s up. He said “tomorrow’s gonna be a big day,” meaning next week’s episode will be a big one. I have my reservations and pretty low expectations, to be honest, but at least we can hopefully expect more excitement than we’ve seen in a looooong time. The entire season has been building up to this finale, that has some serious standards to meet given the excruciating lead up.

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The best parts about this episode have to be the Alexandrians and Oceansiders VS Boat Walkers scene, and Sonequa Martin-Green as Sasha. I’ve not really ever been that fussed about Sasha as a character but the focus on her this episode and Sonqeua’s emotional performances and deliveries have me really liking Sasha now. Other merits of Something They Need are of course the cool walkers, and the fact that despite everything, I genuinely did feel the build up of tension in various places. The worst parts of the episode were completely skipping over Sasha’s Sanctuary antics from the previous night, and the fact that we’re supposedly going to war next episode and we’ve still seen very little coordination between the allied groups. I desperately want to see that and I really really hope that even though the Negan conflict will almost definitely be dragged on into next season, next episode will have at least some satisfying payoff. I predict a Sasha or Eugene death or both; I just hope it’s a good one.