Review: ‘The Walking Dead’ Takes a Sasha-Rosita Road Trip to ‘The Other Side’
Warning – FULL SPOILERS for Tonight’s “The Other Side”:
The Walking Dead generally isn’t great with the whole “less is more” thing. An episode like tonight’s “The Other Side” should be setting the stage for the final two hours of the season, but it’s become increasingly difficult to visualize what that endgame actually is. I’d guess we’re in for some sort of dramatic official declaration of war between Rick’s people and The Saviors, and my only hope is that Season 7 offers some sense of what that “All Out War” actually looks like, rather than kick the can down the road to Season 8.
That said, “The Other Side” does some of its best work with a “less is more” approach to character interaction. I’d doubt if anyone was particularly clamoring for a Sasha-Rosita road trip episode, and The Walking Dead definitely doesn’t need to linger on two women sniping at one another over their dead lover, but I will say that their later moments of bonding in the warehouse* were particularly effective, beyond the usual “one of you is about to die, so let’s share life stories” way. “The Other Side” gets to linger in some of these dramatic scenes in a way The Walking Dead doesn’t usually make time for, and Norman Reedus too put in some fine work admitting to Maggie that he blamed himself for Glenn’s death. It’s been several months since the premiere (for us), enough that you’d be forgiven not to remember some of the smaller Abraham and Glenn details, but having Sonequa Martin-Green or Lauren Cohan there to imbue smaller items like the tail-light necklace with meaning works well with longer scenes.
*Sure, seeing Eugene in captivity lends a bit of urgency, but is there any reason Sasha and Rosita couldn’t set up in that warehouse for a few days, to wait for another shot? Why immediately turn to the very suicidal Plan B?
The bigger problem with The Walking Dead’s current overabundance of characters is that very little of what “The Other Side” hints at with Gregory’s paranoia feels memorable or well-defined, considering it’s been some time since we’ve had any emphasis on the character anyway. Gregory has never been presented as anything more than an obstacle in characters’ way, or someone who’d sell out the Hilltop’s only doctor to appease the Saviors, so we’re only left to wonder how he’ll inevitably betray Jesus or Maggie, and what his comeuppance might be. As it is, a power struggle at the Hilltop is pretty far down on the list of conflicts that need addressing before we break for a summer hiatus.
Having Sasha essentially sacrifice herself to spare Rosita adds an interesting wrinkle in the final minutes, as does Eugene firmly committing to the Savior lifestyle and declining a chance to escape from his semi-captivity. I imagine “The Other Side” would have had a bit more punch as a goodbye episode for Sasha, since her ambiguous fate is bound to end with another failure to kill Negan, just as Sasha’s previous attempt in Alexandria. The only real X-factor to Sasha’s likely capture is Eugene (or perhaps what I presume was Dwight’s silhouette at the end), and Sonequa Martin-Green deserves better than to go out with some gruesome, tortured end at Negan’s hands.
We’ve still a return trip to Oceanside before Season 7 can truly start the final conflict with Negan, and I imagine these final two episodes are going to feel pretty cramped, if the finale is to leave us with any sense of the series’ next major phase.
AND ANOTHER THING …
- That opening montage of various scenes around the Hilltop felt oddly serene, and sad for Daryl. Incidentally, exactly how long has Maggie been pregnant, now?
- Enid’s still around, everybody! A Savior took her knife this week.
- I do not remember why Maggie would have to hide from the Saviors. Something about them telling Negan she died?
- Certainly no news for fans of the comic, but it’s worth appreciating “The Other Side” actually taking the time to identify Jesus as gay.
- Steven Ogg is so great, and yes, “expressive” as Simon. Remind me why he couldn’t be Negan?
The Walking Dead Season 7 will return Sunday, March 26 with “Something They Need,” airing at 9:00 P.M. on AMC.
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