The, somewhat, calm before the storm. We are finally here, one week from the season finale. The groups are mostly united in the upcoming war against the saviors and the first shot, it seems, is only moments away. To summarize this episode, Oceanside is pulled in to the mix, Gregory’s still a dick, and Sasha’s been captured. For those who’ve forgotten Oceanside is the all-female community we met during that Tara-centric episode. It’s taken a while but Tara has really begun to grow on me. After she went against her better judgement and told Rick about the hidden group who had all the men murdered by Negan and co. but are still armed to the teeth. Rick and the survivors head to Oceanside with a plan, appeal to their senses or take it by force. Tara infiltrates the camp and attempts to make their leader understand. Obviously they don’t go for it so when the allotted time is up the Survivors put their plan into action, setting of detonations around the perimeter of the camp and rounding up all of the Oceanside members for a peaceful heist of their guns. The main thing I took away from this segment of the episode is that the Oceanside group would definitely be an asset in the fight. One of the things I like about this show is the lack of sexism for the most part. It’s very rare to see a woman as the damsel in distress, you don’t really have men saying “stay behind me sweetcheeks” while killing walkers. Oceanside is no different, as the explosions that were set off draw a small herd of walkers members of the Themyscira like crew stand up with the Alexandrian’s and fight off the undead with extreme skill. This scene was obviously to show that these women don’t require protecting. For a show that’s not exactly fair to it’s African American male actors (seriously, are they only allowed to have one at a time?) it goes a long way to girl power with it’s treatment of women. In the end Oceanside relents and gives up their guns leaving the group divided between those that want to join the fight and those that want to stay hidden. I feel a real setup for this group playing calvary when Alexandria is pinned down by the saviors at some point. The last thing to note on Oceanside is how much I want to see more walker hunts there. The waterlogged and sometimes barnacled walkers that exist around that camp are some of the nastiest and most awesome we've seen anywhere in the show, I feel like I have to praise the makeup and FX guys at least once a week.
Back at Hilltop, where that ominous scene of Gregory holding a knife behind a kneeling Maggie plays out, we see that things are going pretty smoothly no hint of a coming war in the air. Maggie’s sway over the group is apparent and growing putting Gregory in a position of losing his job at the head of the table. After helping a member of the group with planting some seeds Maggie heads out beyond the wall to dig up a blueberry bush she saw to transplant it within their gardens. Yeah, riveting stuff. The whole point of this is to show that Gregory is thinking of taking action against Maggie and that he’s losing the respect of his people. After suggesting that they work things out Maggie asks Gregory to watch her back while she finishes digging up the bush. Enter two walkers. Gregory, trying to be a man, goes to kill one but can’t do it, Maggie takes over as Gregory backs into another and in true Gregory fashion goes full wuss and falls on the ground screaming for help which Maggie provides. Not a big deal except for the fact that 4 or 5 members of the community walk by at that moment seeing their “Fearless” leader in a situation quite the opposite of that. Trying to help but making matters worse Maggie yells “He’s never killed one, he’s learning” their response “That’s not what he told us”. It’s damn obvious at this point that running parallel to the main war will be a smaller battle for control of Hilltop between Maggie and the epitome of an ineffective politician in Gregory. My only concern here is that they may dedicate time during the finale to this boring but necessary side-plot. You may need to slow down the flow of the finale, should the war actually begin, but I just feel like this story pulls the show to a stop since Gregory is unlikable and uninteresting and, God love her, Maggie is boring as hell by herself.
Lastly we have Sasha. I’ve let known my theory that Sasha = Holly (if you want to look this up Holly was a character from the comics but be warned it will ruin a big plot point in the next episode). Sasha’s initial capture after entering the Saviors warehouse isn’t shown, we catch up with her in a cell like Daryl, but with more clothes. A savior comes into the cell and tries to rape her, enter Negan. Apparently, there is some law and order as the offender gets a knife through his throat for even trying to rape someone. Negan really does seem like a misunderstood guy, he thinks he’s doing the right thing to keep people safe. Though they do say that no villain every thinks he’s the villain so I guess he fits here. He gives Sasha a choice and a knife. Kill him (Negan), kill herself, or kill the rapist when he comes back to life. The whole scene is just a showcase for how much Jeffery Dean Morgan loves playing Negan, chewing up scenery like Pac-Man after a power pill and spouting of terms like “You got some big round lady nuts” that you just can’t help but to snicker at. After he leaves Eugene visits, and it seems there is no long game for Eugene, he confesses that he really is in with the Saviors because he never wants to be scared again and with them he won’t be. Sasha only asks for one thing, a blade of some sort to kill herself with as she can’t join and can’t go on. She swears that she’s not going to try and kill Negan with it so Eugene abides her request. From her reaction when Eugene slips her the poison pills he made for Negan’s wives in an earlier episode, she was most certainly going to kill Negan with what he brought her. She just looks at the pills defeated since there’s no way she can get him to take them. Sasha’s run is at an end, and it’s a sad end. I hope I’m wrong about her fate and she goes out in a blaze of glory that would fit the character we’ve all come to know but it’s not really looking that way.
After collecting all of the guns the Alexandrian’s return home to find Rosita, who says she has someone with her. The group head to the jail and find Dwight waiting for them, the episode ends with Rick pointing a gun at him while doing his best Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry and Dwight saying “I want Negan dead”. Looks like they’re sticking pretty close to the books on this one. Join us next week deadites for the extended season finale of, The Walking Dead