There are only three episodes of The Walking Dead left this season, and with various groups finally coming together to battle against the Saviors, Hilltop is really the only complete holdout. Yes, some of the citizens did tell Maggie that they would follow her a few weeks back, but Gregory is still the leader in town, despite exhibiting his complete lack of leadership skills at absolutely every turn. This week’s episode is going to see a return to the Hilltop – scroll down for my analysis of the preview materials for “The Other Side.”
[Spoiler Warning: This Sneak Peek of The Walking Dead Season 7, Episode 14 “The Other Side” includes promotional material from AMC, discusses recent episodes, assumes a knowledge of everything that has happened in the series to date, and will speculate on future events. Read on at your discretion.]
Airdate: March 19, 2017
Directed by: Michael E. Satrazemis
Showrunner: Scott M. Gimple
Written by: Angela Kang (written by); Frank Darabont (creator); Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, Charlie Adlard (series of graphic novels)
As always, let’s begin with IMDB’s episode synopsis: “The Saviors visit the Hilltop unexpectedly, surprising everyone, with plans of taking more than supplies.”
This is actually giving us a lot more information than we usually get, largely because we can connect it to recent events to figure out what The Saviors are up to. The last time we visited the Sanctuary, Eugene was getting his Negan provided lesson in loyalty in the form of the little know French dish Médecin Incendié – or Torched Doctor. At the time, it looked like a pretty stupid move on Negan’s part – flambéing his settlement’s doctor – but he did say that they had a backup. Who, you may ask? Why, none other than his doctor’s brother. There are (or were, rather) two Drs. Carson – Emmett at the Sanctuary, and Harlan at Hilltop. He’s the guy that’s been helping Maggie through her pregnancy. So this makes it quite clear what the “more” is from the synopsis above – they’re coming to Hilltop to forcibly take Dr. Carson with them back to Sanctuary. I doubt Gregory will put up much of a stink – he’s completely owned by the Saviors at this point (convenient how he seems to have forgotten how Negan tried to have him killed a while back). More to the point will be what happens with Maggie – she’s not supposed to be alive, so far as Negan knows (thanks to Father Gabriel’s quick thinking and grave digging early in the season), so she can’t exactly come out and ask for the Obstetrician to stick around through her pregnancy. But this will likely be another nail in the coffin of Gregory’s mandate. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Maggie gets thrust into the leadership role she’s been heading toward for some time.
The first of three videos I’ll discuss this week focuses on another side story – the allies of convenience, Sasha and Rosita (this video appeared on Sunday’s Talking Dead):
The action in this one’s pretty straightforward. Sasha and Rosita are outside a chain link fence, outside what appears to be an outpost. There’s a car up against the inside of the fence. They cut the wires, break open the passenger-side window, and Rosita throws in a plastic bottle filled with gasoline after pouring some on a makeshift torch. As the car becomes engulfed in flame, several walkers in the yard beyond the fence take interest and come over. They watch from a crouched position, and then Rosita says, “Now.” They scale the fence, landing on the other side where a coiled rope (presumably thrown there by them earlier) lies on the ground.
Not a lot to say about this, except to point out the obvious: Sasha and Rosita are going to put their money where their mouths are, and start hitting back at Negan. This is not the Sanctuary, hence my thinking that it’s a Savior outpost. Rosita’s already living on borrowed time, considering her attempt to kill Negan back in 708 (which got Olivia killed in her place). If she’s caught, she’s dead – the stakes for both of them couldn’t be higher. As a viewer, I’m glad that we’re going to get someone striking back at Negan’s people sooner rather than later; but from a strategic viewpoint, this suicide mission is more likely to put Negan and the Saviors on their guard, and will likely lead to more deaths sooner. Their actions are understandable, but selfish.
The next video goes back a bit, to Sasha still at Hilltop talking to Enid:
“Listen,” Sasha begins, every adult’s first mistake when talking to a teenager. Does “listen” ever actually work? “Enid. Maggie trusts you. You have to protect her, no matter what. She’s the future of this place, I know it.” Enid looks distinctly uncomfortable, avoiding eye contact. Sasha reaches out and grips Enid’s upper arm, squeezing it reaffirmingly. “So are you.” It sounds like Sasha is on the verge of crying, and Enid nods, tears welling out of her eyes as well as she looks up at Sasha. Sasha pulls out a mostly completed friendship bracelet, and offers it to Enid. “Hold onto this for me. It’s for the baby.” She pauses, trying not to let herself tear up. “Maybe you can work on it while I’m gone.” Her mouth quirks into a hopeful smile, but her eyes look concerned. “Okay,” Enid says, stroking the bracelet. “Sasha.” “Yeah?” Enid takes a deep breath, and straightens her shoulders. “In two minutes I’m going to tell Maggie what’s going on.” She pauses, and Sasha’s body language looks unsettled. “It’s up to you what you what you wanna do with that.” Beat. “I’m doing what you asked.” She turns and goes out the door.
It’s apparent that Enid does not approve of Sasha’s choice to take on the Saviors herself, and she’s not intimidated by Sasha in the least. Telling Maggie would, presumably, cause her to try to stop Sasha and Rosita – expect that in the immediate moments after this video, we’ll see Sasha getting ready to leave in a real rush. Maggie definitely has pull at Hilltop – Sasha recognizes her as the future of the settlement – and if she asks the guards to close the gates to Sasha and Rosita’s departure, I don’t doubt that they’d listen to her. And Enid is clearly the wisest of the women in this scene. Sasha allowed her emotions to get the better of her following Bob’s and Tyreese’s deaths, and it appeared that she’d learned from these experiences; however, she’s clearly allowing emotion to overrule intelligence here, and I’m really concerned about what this will mean for the future uprising against Negan.
The last video we’ll look at focuses once again on Sasha and Rosita:
We begin on a flashback as Rosita walks into Hilltop and meets Sasha at Abraham’s grave. We see Sasha’s hand as she pulls a 5.56mm round out of a hollowed out book with a few other rounds inside it (used book – $10.00 – must have been a good book!). Cut to Jesus confronting Sasha. “You’re both going after Negan.” “I’m not going to change my mind.” Cut to Sasha hurriedly filling a camouflaged backpack (likely immediately after the Enid video above), and she turns and rushes to the door. Cut to one of the Hilltop’s guards atop a watchtower: “The Saviors are coming!” he yells. We get a brief glimpse of Daryl looking up from whittling a new bolt, and then cut to a shot of a couple of pickup trucks full of armed men coming through the Hilltop’s gates. Segue to the compound we see in the Sasha/Rosita video from Talking Dead above, pre-fire, and a voice-over of Simon, Negan’s point man both at Hilltop and Alexandria, saying, “You have a certain somebody;” we see Sasha and Rosita briefly staring into the middle distance, then climbing the chain link fence from earlier; “so what you can do for me;” we cut to Gregory’s foyer in Hilltop, Simon and his armed men filling out the room as he talks to Gregory, “is…” Cut to Daryl peeking from behind a door as he closes it; “point me in the right direction.” Cut to Gregory in voice-over. We see Jesus talking to people in the courtyard, from Gregory’s POV through a partially shuttered window; “We don’t know who might take over;” Gregory pulls away from the window, looking perturbed (is it me, or is this his default look?). Cut to Maggie and Daryl running (see what they did there? Juxtaposing “who might take over” with an immediate shot of Maggie…). “They might have crazy ideas,” this, as the two pickups seen earlier and a cube van come through the gate, this time an interior shot. Cut to a shot of the burning car from a couple of different angles as Gregory’s voice fades out. Then Rosita in close-up as she backs a car into a group of walkers; a man wearing a toque in silhouette coming through a door (he looks strikingly like Tyreese, but is likely one of the Saviors – though it might be Jesus?), with Daryl and Maggie watching, Daryl clutching a knife. Cut to a narrow lane between a building and the fence, Simon looming over a cringing Gregory. “Who?” he asks, and we jump to a determined looking Sasha in a window, setting up with the sniper rifle Rosita brought her, then sighting down at a group of men, Negan in the rear.
Loads of info in this preview – this is much better than last week’s rather meager offering. The key takeaways here are that the Saviors led by Negan-surrogate Simon arrive at Hilltop, and proceed to intimidate the ever-loving crap out of Gregory (granted, this is not exactly a difficult task). They’re on the lookout for someone being hidden at the Hilltop – this is guaranteed to be Daryl, as the Saviors believe Maggie is dead at this point. Gregory simply cannot be trusted – he’s already tried to give Maggie up (losing his Scotch collection as a kind of karmic comeuppance) – so don’t doubt for a second that he’s going to cave. He might hold back that Maggie’s there, as the fact he hasn’t said something earlier might be hard to explain away, but he’ll give Daryl up in a second. He has no loyalty to anything but his own hide.
More interesting was the fact that it looks as though Sasha’s at least going to get a shot at Negan. She won’t kill him – she can’t, as it would be narrative suicide with all the build-up Gimple has been banking on – but the fallout of her attempt should be pretty serious. I hope she gets away – frankly, I’ve kind of lost interest in Rosita at this point, as she’s been such an ass, but I still have sympathy for Sasha.
I don’t think any of the main characters will die this week. I do, however, feel that Gregory may finally lose his modicum of authority over the Hilltoppers, with Maggie likely replacing him. The Saviors won’t find Daryl – they’ll get out of that situation somehow. Sasha and Rosita won’t be successful in their attack, but they may foment increased vigilance on the part of Negan and the Saviors, thus making everyone’s job just a little bit harder. And it’ll be nice to see a bit more of Maggie, as she’s been largely absent this whole season.