This Walking Dead review contains spoilers.
The Walking Dead Season 7 Episode 14
These last few episodes have really felt like a course correction for The Walking Dead, and for the most part I think the writers are really bringing this baby home. I don’t think anything they do will ever be able to erase the bizarre and dreary first half of the season, but I can’t deny the show is once again moving in the right direction.
Plot progression has been key to the show’s success in the second half of the season. Things are happening, pieces are moving around the chessboard, and I get the sense that we’re headed towards a big confrontation in the season 7 finale. Already, we can almost taste the blood of the finale’s biggest victim. It’s no secret that Sonequa Martin-Green is boarding the USS Discovery for CBS later this year, which means that it’s almost a certainty that the writers have already written Sasha’s exit from the show.
Sasha’s inevitable demise is nothing if not written in stone this week. I’ve thought it a beautiful twist of fate that Sasha and Rosita would have to team up to take down Negan in the finale, these two resilient women out for revenge even if it costs them their lives. I love that the characters are so at odds in the beginning of the episode, and moments like when Rosita sees Sasha wearing the necklace she made for Abraham really help illustrate the pain and determination both of these women feel. It makes their camaraderie by the end of the episode all the more powerful, both in the sense that there’s a joy in the breaking of chains – Rosita’s story about silently picking up survivalist skills from the men of her past and using them to become powerful, independent, self-sufficient is particularly great – and in sharing the memory of the man they both loved.
I love that brief moment of what I could almost call poetry – I can’t really fathom using that word here with a straight face – when Sasha and Rosita are discussing how Abraham deserved to go down in a blaze of glory, fighting, resisting, taking his enemies with him. These women who have had to carry a great pain around with them all season are determined to do just that. Sasha and Rosita are ready to die if it means a bad man won’t live.
I have to admit that, while in retrospect it’s an obvious twist, I didn’t really see Sasha’s sacrifice coming. The episode does a great job of suggesting one thing – that these two women have created a bond and that they’ll go down together – only to take a sharp left turn in the final moments. Sasha telling Rosita that it’s not her time to go is certainly a heartwarming moment, although I’m not sure, in terms of story logic at least, that it’s really Sasha’s time either. I could have easily seen it happen the other way around, where Rosita realizes that she shouldn’t drag Sasha down with her and makes sure she can’t get into the Sanctuary. It’s undoubtedly the real-life circumstance that’s put Sasha on the wrong side of the fence. (Oh damn, I’ve just realized the significance of the episode’s title. Good one, guys!)
Yes, it’s too early to sound the death knell for Sasha, but I just want to quickly say what a delight it’s been to watch Martin-Green this season. I feel like I’ve never quite given Sasha her due in writing about this show, but then I also believe that the show hasn’t given her so much time in front of the cameras before. There have been a lot of things wrong with this season, but Sasha is definitely not one of them. Watching empowered women like Sasha, Maggie, Rosita, Tara, Michonne, and Carol constantly kick ass on this show continues to be a high point for The Walking Dead. I hope that with Sasha’s exit, we get two more great female characters in return.
To speak briefly of Maggie, I feel like her highly anticipated moment with Daryl was a bit rushed. Certainly this chat deserved a bit more time, a bit more consideration? I feel like a lot of feelings wash up at the moment when Maggie finally addresses the bloodied elephant in the room, yet her one-note bit of compassion towards Daryl somehow feels too convenient to me, like the episode was trying to rush through it. I’d’ve liked at least a little hint of contempt from Maggie, maybe even a moment where she considers that perhaps it truly is Daryl’s fault that Glenn is dead. But instead, Maggie is ready to forgive Daryl almost immediately, and that feels a bit underwhelming to me. There’s no arguing that Glenn’s death is one of the big moments of the season, but it’s all but clear that the fallout from Abraham’s demise has turned out to be a lot more interesting.
All that said, I can’t blame the writers for wanting to get past the controversial season premiere once and for all. Moving the plot forward and addressing all of the fallout head on is certainly the best way to do that. “The Other Side” is successful in not only giving us a powerful hour about forgiveness but also setting up a pretty exciting season finale in two weeks. I really, really want The Walking Dead to keep the pace up and not fall into old traps. Only two episodes left. Bring it home!