After missing last week’s episode, I was eager to catch up and see how the penultimate chapter of season seven would set us up for the grand finale.

Unfortunately, this episode does not feature Morgan, who is probably off somewhere muttering the word “CLEAR” over and over again while knocking down random mailboxes. It did, however, pick up quite a few plotlines from the last few weeks and begin tying them together.

Because I’m a simple man, I’ll recap each one individually rather than jumping around like the episode did.

Hilltop Blues

Despite losing the town doctor during her pregnancy, Maggie is still in full-on leader mode—which the show reminds us by her schooling some dude on gardening (?).

Later, she ventures outside the city walls to dig up a bush (?). Gregory follows her and proceeds to act like the bumbling doofus that he is. After asking why she was still there after Carson was taken, she reminds him that he promised to get Carson back (HA!).

After a bit of posturing between the two about being a “united front,” Maggie makes the impossibly dumb decision to have Gregory keep a lookout for her while she continued digging up the bush…by handing him a literal knife at her back.

Okay, first of all, just how strong is this plant? Second, why would Maggie need anyone to watch her back out in the open—especially an idiot and all-around shifty guy like Greg?

As expected, Big G begins steeling himself up to stab a pregnant woman. Before that can happen, though, a walker shows up. Gregory tries to take care of it himself, but completely fails. As Maggie steps in to do the job he couldn’t, a ninja zombie (who somehow makes absolutely no noise at all) sneaks up and attacks Gregory.

Maggie saves him just as a group of Hilltoppers walk by, embarrassing Gregory even more. He retreats inside, begins pouring himself scotch, and requests that his manservant to get their bags ready for a long trip—presumably into the waiting arms of Negan and The Saviors.

Sasha’s Sanctuary

Back at the The Sanctuary, Sasha is visited in her cell by a man named David. He offers to give her water if she allows him to have his way with her. As you might imagine, she doesn’t take too kindly to the offer.

Just when it looks like David’s about to go ahead with it anyway, Negan shows up and proceeds to chew him out for being a piece of human garbage. To drive the point home even further, Negan stabs Mr. Rapey McRaperton through the neck with a knife.

This is a great scene for a couple of reasons:

– Not only does it play out almost exactly like it does in the comics (with Holly in place of Sasha), but it’s the first time we’ve seen anything resembling humanity or nobility from Negan—something the comics did a much better job than the show has to this point.

– Credit where credit is due: Jeffrey Dean Morgan is somehow able to pull off being a guy completely opposed to sexual violence while still being creepy/intimidating as hell.

It’s not too long before Negan recognizes Sasha from the season opener. Instead of killing her, however, he praises the size of her “lady nuts” for trying to kill him on a solo mission. He then hands her a knife, which she is told can be used to kill him, kill herself, or kill Dave before he turns.

Later, Eugene shows up with bedding and tells Sasha she should join the Saviors. Like most of us at home, Sasha is not impressed with the size of Eugene’s man nuts.

The next morning, Negan comes in to find the knife shoved into Dave’s head, which for some reason he takes as a sign that she’s officially switched to his side—instead of, you know, TRYING TO KEEP A ZOMBIE FROM KILLING HER.

“As you can probably tell, my concept of loyalty isn’t well developed…”

Ahem…anyway, Sasha plays along, although Negan rightfully doesn’t trust her to keep the knife. Instead, he tells her that he needs her to help sabotage Rick & Co.’s plans to fight him (which I guess he learned from Gregory already). Faced with an impossible position, Sasha asks Eugene for a weapon to kill herself with (NUDGE NUDGE WINK WINK). Unfortunately for her, Eugene comes back with some of his homemade poison pills. Sasha is screwed. (And Sonequa Martin is one heck of a good actress).

River Gambit

Tara waltzes back into the Oceanside Community and starts negotiations off with a bang, holding the leader (Natania) and the one person who actually liked her (Cyndie) at gunpoint. She pleads with Natania to negotiate with Rick while apologizing for breaking her promise to keep Oceanside a secret…which is odd since they tried to kill her when she left them. I figure that makes any prior commitments null and void, but what do I know?

Anyway, Rick & Co. begin setting off explosives in the heavily wooded area, which somehow fails to start a massive forest fire, but does get everyone running. Michonne pins the community down with sniper fire while the rest of Rick’s strike force surrounds and disarms them. Rick then demands that the Oceansiders hand over all their guns. Natania responds by holding Tara at gunpoint.

Do it! DO IT!

Before that particular conflict can come to a head, however, both groups are set upon by a swarm of barnacle-clad walkers. Rick & Co. cut the Oceansiders looose to help fend off the swarm. They do so handily…which I’ll admit was a cool scene. What wasn’t cool was watching the previously menaced Oceansiders, who have no doubt fought off walkers on their own before, suddenly decide that this skirmish was enough to make them start liking/respecting the people who were just shooting at them.

Natania wasn’t having it, though. Even after some impassioned pleas about getting revenge on The Saviors, she refused to lend her community’s aid—but did totally roll over and let them take what they wanted.

Rick & Co. gather up all of Oceanside’s guns. As they leave, Tara flips off a little girl. Yes, it was the same girl who tried to kill her before, but still, not exactly a good look when you’re leaving a community defenseless.

Back in Alexandria, Rosita shows up with a surprise gift: Dwight, who has defected and is now ready to iron things out.

The Verdict

Aside from Sasha and Negan’s scenes, this was another episode riddled with inconsistencies in both the characters’ actions and reality. Yes, I understand that reality is a flexible concept in a show about zombies, but massive explosions in a wooded area that don’t cause any sort of fire is a step too far (for me, at least).

Also, who in their right mind would give Gregory a knife and turn their back to him? That is the literal transpiring of a metaphor for everything that man does. Maggie is way too smart for that.

Thankfully, the episode is somewhat saved by great acting and a cool reveal at the end (and I have to admit that the barnacle zombies looked pretty cool). I also like that the show seems to be diverting from the comics version of Eugene in an organic manner while also bringing TV show Negan closer to his superior comic counterpart.

Don’t think you’re about to start liking the guy, though. If The Walking Dead follows the comic’s narrative path at all for next week’s season finale, then Negan’s about to do something on par with his season opening batting practice.

The Walking Dead S7E15 "Something They Need"
Is It Good?
Another flawed episode filled with technical mistakes and plot holes is (mostly) saved by some great performances and a cool reveal at the end.
Even when the script isn't good, Sonequa Martin (Sasha) and Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Negan) can do some truly exceptional work.
Dwight finally decides to iron things out (I will never grow tried of that pun).
Who in their right mind would give Gregory a knife and turn their back to him? That is the literal transpiring of a metaphor for everything that man does. Maggie is way too smart for that.
Fire proof trees, guilt over not keeping promises to people who tried to kill you, suddenly deciding you like people who almost killed you because they killed some zombies, etc.
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