As the Season Finale of The Walking Dead looms on the horizon, this week’s episode delivers on a key moment in the build up to the imminent showdown with Negan. Almost surprisingly, Sasha returns this week after having magically survived her banzai mission to kill Negan, while Rick and the gang keep making moves to gather enough guns to enlist the Junkyardigans. Read on and prepare for spoilers for The Walking Dead.
Historically speaking, no survivor is truly dead unless the death is fully seen. Even Glenn was previously believed to be eaten by walkers during the incident at the dumpster. Yet, he survived that while many were fooled into thinking that he did not. So when Sasha ran into the Sanctuary guns blazing last week, her fate instantly came into question. The difference here, is that Sonequa Martin Green is slated to star in the upcoming Star Trek: Discovery as one of the main characters. This has many fans believing that her days on The Walking Dead as Sasha are numbered. Few actors have been able to pull double duty on two concurrently running shows. However, Levar Burton was able to do it by starring on both Star Trek: The Next Generation and Reading Rainbow. So, there is that.
Moving on, this episode covered a little bit of everything instead of trying to bludgeon the audience with one singular story that focused on a third tier character. We’re looking at you, Dwight.
After learning of the Oceanside community through Tara, Rick and company head out to take their guns. Remember, Rick still needs to come up with a large number of guns in order to enlist the Junkyardigans to his cause against Negan. We see the survivors preparing for their encounter by placing dynamite and Michonne taking residence in a sniper perch. The mission starts with Tara sneaking in (much more effectively than last time) to Tonya’s house in Oceanside. Tara holds her and the girl she befriended at gunpoint as she makes her case for fighting Negan. Tara is shockingly unable to convince them to join Rick and ends up being taken hostage. Rick and the rest set off some dynamite to heard the Oceansiders towards an ambush where Rick and crew are able to better control the situation. Tara probably should not have tried to convince Tonya to join up at gunpoint, but hey, live and learn. Rick again asks the Oceansiders to join the fight and some of them start to think they should. Naturally, a walker herds approaches so Rick and the rest give pointy weapons to the Oceansiders who they were just holding at gunpoint. The united groups battle thee walker herd and emerge victorious. Rick shakes hands with one of the Oceansiders, but still ends up taking their guns anyway. Rick is the definition of savage. The Oceansiders also have this weird, “Either we all join or none of us join” mentality. So until they can all decide to help, none of them will join the fight against Negan. It seems like a pretty weird and stupid policy to have, but hey, I guess the zombie apocalypse does things to people.
So we see Sasha living it up in Darryl’s old cell at Sanctuary. Her day starts off with some douchey Neganite named David trying to rape her. Negan catches him and promptly stabs him in the neck. He gives Sasha a giant knife and tells her that she can do nothing and let David reanimate and eat her, or she can use the knife to kill zombie David, which would be seen as a sign of her joining Negan. Umm, what?!?!?! How does killing zombie David equate to joining Negan?!?! The closest explanation is that Negan is telling Sasha that if she does not join him, then she can just die? So confusing. And then poor Eugene pays her visit. Eugene admits that he is back to being a coward and that he hopes that Sasha joins up with Negan. Eugene leaves and then comes back later. Sasha pleads with him to give her a weapon so that she can kill herself so that she will not have to hurt any of their friends. Those with a sharp ear could hear the fakeness in her voice before her smirking face was even shown. No doubt, she wanted to get a weapon she could use on Negan. Of course, Eugene brings back the damn poison pills the wives wanted him to make. This is useless for Sasha to attack Negan with but perfect for her to take her own life-like she told Eugene she would.
Sprinkled in between the Sasha and Oceanside stories, Maggie and Gregory had a nice back and forth going on at Hilltop. Maggie is first seen teaching other Hilltopiaries the finer points of farming. On a seemingly solo expedition to the outside of the wall, Maggie ends up having a conversation with Gregory. Gregory appears to be trying to form an alliance with Maggie, however, all of that is quickly dashed when they hear a noise. Maggie asks Gregory to stand watch as she digs up a blueberry plant, so he pulls out his knife. Gregory then proceeds to start having thoughts about killing Maggie with it. Luckily, a walker shows up and Gregory insists on getting it, but eventually yields to Maggie. While Maggie is dealing with the walker, Gregory is promptly attacked by another one. Never have I rooted so hard for a walker to kill someone. Naturally, he calls for help from pregnant Maggie and is saved. A returning patrol sees the two of them and Maggie explains that Gregory hasn’t killed a zombie before and that he’s learning. The patrol quips back, “That’s not what he told us.” How did Gregory become the leader of Hilltop anyway? Through lies, apparently.
So at the end of the episode, Rick and company return to Alexandria and find Rosita waiting for the at the gate. She leads them to the cell that Morgan built, where we discover that Dwight himself is interested in defecting. Rick appropriately pulls a gun on him and tells him to get on his knees. Roll credits.
Fans of the comics knew that Dwight would eventually cross lines and join Rick’s group to turn on Negan. However the difference is that in the comics, Dwight turns up at the Kingdom when Rick first meets with Ezekiel. On the TV show, Dwight shows up at Alexandria. Other notable differences are that Darryl does not exist in the comics, so the whole back history between Dwight and Darryl never happened. It will definitely be an interesting dynamic to see how Rick and Darryl will deal with Dwight’s supposed defection. Darryl was ready to throttle him but Rick wanted to hear him out. Could this be an issue that puts Darryl and Rick at odds? Also, the TV show has not always followed the comics. What if Dwight ends up being a double agent and is spying on the Alexandrians in order to gain favor with Negan? That would be wickedly delicious.
Overall, this episode did a great job of following the characters that we care about and showing the audience what they are up to. The scenes with Maggie and Gregory could have easily been left out, but thankfully, they were left in to show the dynamic between those characters. It appears that the show runners have taken to heart some of the complaints made during the first half of the season and applied the appropriate adjustments to the second half. The season finale will hopefully continue the trend of entertaining episodes.