NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “The Walking Dead” are present in this review
The Walking Dead is continuing to move towards next week’s season finale this week, and even did so to slightly better effect than usual. “Something They Need” at least had a better sense of pacing than this show has sadly become used to, even if it’s still falling back on some tired story elements that continue to perpetuate the feeling of The Walking Dead intentionally holding back the excitement, so that it can keep building up to the big confrontation with Negan that will no doubt take place in the season finale.
There were three core storylines in this episode, which gave us a necessary update on Alexandria, the Saviors and The Hilltop. The Kingdom sat out this week’s episode once again, which is a bit of a let-down, but maybe the episode would have become too busy with their presence, so I can let that slide. Of these storylines, two were fairly decent, though the third was more of a slog, especially since it blatantly recycled another story arc from a few weeks ago.
As open war with Negan and the Saviors continues to draw near for Alexandria, Rick’s party prepares to pay a visit to Oceanside, that all-female settlement that Tara encountered earlier in the season. Looks like Tara did break her promise and spill the beans about this settlement off-screen too, which gives Rick’s party a chance to gather more weapons for both the battle and the Scavengers, while also hopefully recruiting more allies at the same time. A tightly-executed plan is put into place to invade the settlement and take the guns, with Tara having the slight chance to warn Cyndie and Natania to stand down, so that they can avoid bloodshed.
As much as it sticks out that Rick is rather carelessly making the aggressive option his A-plan for the umpteenth time, and not even attempting diplomacy or communication with Oceanside beforehand, it is nonetheless cool to have Rick back in fine fighting form again. So much of Season Seven has had Rick beat down and directionless, which I realize is the point, but that has shifted a lot of the storytelling burden to secondary characters in Season Seven, regardless of whether or not they’re interesting or worth following. Rick did manage to take the guns without any bloodshed as well, which is pretty commendable, even if Oceanside suddenly standing behind Rick’s party after they help them fight off some Walkers that Rick attracted with his own needlessly noisy tactics was a tad cheesy. At least Natania more realistically wasn’t happy about it, and at least Oceanside as a whole isn’t blindly following Rick into the fray, even if some still seem to want to join him in the battle against Negan, including Cyndie.
The story material at Oceanside was a little hurried, but ironically, that became a bit of a blessing here, since so much of Season Seven has needlessly dragged its feet across most of its other story elements. With just one episode left in the season now, The Walking Dead no longer has the luxury of doing that, so it’s nice to see the show picking up the pace a bit. Even so, the other two story arcs didn’t have much excitement, and mostly focused on laying the final pieces into place for the season finale next week. Like I said, this worked fairly well with one storyline, but faltered with the other.
Where the slower pace worked to slightly better effect is at The Hilltop, where Maggie is quickly proving herself to be a well-respected and likable leader to the farmers and gatherers. This makes sense, and is a nice way to call back to Maggie’s origins at the Greene Farm from way back in Season Two, while also possibly foreshadowing Maggie taking on a new role in the series, one that is no longer defined by the fallen Glenn. Then again, Gregory continuing to scheme and plot, and be his overall useless, cowardly self, is something that the show has already hammered into the ground by now. His threatening impulse to stab Maggie and kill her while she was harvesting was obviously not going to go anywhere, especially when, mere minutes later, he’s shown to have somehow not even killed a Walker before, let alone a living person! At this point, Gregory just needs to go. I don’t care how. He’s too comically ineffectual to be a realistic leader for The Hilltop anymore, and every time he’s on screen, the show quickly becomes even more boring and irritating than it’s already been for most of Season Seven.
That brings me to the wholly fumbled story arc in this episode, which is the one at Sanctuary. This arc revolves entirely around Sasha being imprisoned at Negan’s base, with Negan saving her from a would-be rapist, and offering her a position in his ranks. This might be kind of interesting, except, the show already did this exact same idea with Eugene a few episodes ago! Maybe the idea is to contrast a brave character with a coward like Eugene, but even so, it doesn’t change the fact that the storyline went through almost the exact same motions with Sasha that it did with Eugene at this point. The only difference is Sasha begging Eugene to let her kill herself, with Eugene slipping her the poison pill he originally made for Negan’s wives. Like I said, I’d be extremely surprised if Sasha survives next week’s season finale, on account of actress, Sonequa Martin-Green being cast as the lead character on CBS’ upcoming Star Trek: Discovery, but come on, this is a bit on-the-nose, even if it is a ploy to get a weapon to use on Negan.
The last piece for the season finale is laid in the episode’s final minutes from here, as Rosita returns to Alexandria, conveniently not explaining what happened to Sasha, and reveals that she has a prisoner. Said prisoner is Dwight, who asks Rick if he can help Alexandria fight Negan, since Dwight wants Negan dead. Looks like I was correct when I theorized that the silhouetted figure who saw Rosita at the end of the previous episode was probably Dwight, and this went exactly in the direction that I predicted it would in that case. So, we have a season finale at the ready, and to that effect, “Something They Need” was a serviceable episode of The Walking Dead. Sasha’s imprisonment and Negan’s recruitment effort with her was a complete waste of time, but at least we had some passable excitement at Oceanside, while we get a glimpse at a potential future for Maggie at The Hilltop. As I said though, I really can’t wait for someone to just put a bullet in Gregory and be done with it. He’s long overdue for it by now.
- Some decent excitement at Oceanside
- Maggie steadily becoming the leader that The Hilltop truly needs
- Dwight finally starting to betray Negan
- Sasha subplot is dull and rehashed
- Gregory is still way too useless to be believable at this point
- Rick isn't even going to try to negotiate with Oceanside first?