Surprisingly, the prison cell scenes were the highlight of the episode for me, mostly because of Sonequa Martin-Green's outstanding performance and how well she played off Jeffrey Dean Morgan. I particularly liked how the photography reflected the power dynamic of the situation, with Sasha below, looking up at Negan looming above her, his body appearing unnaturally twisted, a reflection of his devious little mind.
Because even though it wasn't stated outright, it was obvious that Negan set up the situation with Rapey Davey because he wanted to recruit Sasha. He was trying to appear to be Sasha's savior, pun intended, while hey hey and by the way testing her to make certain she wasn't actually suicidal. I mean, come on. Why on earth would Negan put a man he knew was a rapist in charge of an attractive female prisoner? Negan absolutely gets off, and possibly not a pun there, on turning someone into his willing slave after killing or torturing someone that person loves. He was actively lusting after Maggie after beating Glenn to death, too. Does that sort of twisted personal triumph taste better to him somehow?
He did something similar with Dwight, constantly rubbing in the fact that he was having sex with Sherry, making Dwight heat up the iron that maimed him. Negan loves this, and you know, I bet it's going to be his downfall. Dwight just ran to Rick. He could be a double agent, but he's suffered way too much and Negan doesn't have Sherry as a hostage anymore, so I just don't think so.
Sonequa Martin-Green totally sold that "Rick? Your bitch?" thing, as well as her whole speech to Eugene asking for a gun or a knife to kill herself, followed by that smile when she thought she'd succeeded. It's really too bad that Eugene took her literally and brought her one of his suicide pills. It's also too bad that Eugene did give up the ship, that the night in the woods when he watched Abraham and Glenn die was simply too terrifying for him to hang on to his bravery. I hope that doesn't mean that he'd betray Rick in the inevitable upcoming battle. Eugene did knowingly risk the possibility of Sasha taking him hostage, and he must have known she might do it, so maybe he's not totally gone.
Negan told Sasha that a little birdie told him that Rick is up to no good. Instinct, a good guess, or has someone really talked? Who would that be?
Road trip to Oceanside
I enjoyed the Oceanside scenes a lot, particularly the as-nonviolent-as-possible way that Rick and the Alexandrians took them down, and the way they made a circle around the children in order to eliminate the extremely gross seaweed-and-barnacle walkers. In fact, the person who got the closest to dying during the Oceanside raid was Tara. And she tried so hard to get Natania to listen to Rick. Maybe Natania will reconsider if the Alexandrians win and Tara actually does bring the guns back to Oceanside.
It's a shame the Alexandrians didn't take Cyndie and Beatrice (and possibly little Rachel) to help with the fighting, especially Cyndie, who was badass enough to knock out her freaking grandmother. But I understand why it was everybody or nobody. If they had Oceanside residents in the fight and Negan got one of them, the entire hidden colony would be endangered. (That was why, wasn't it?)
Leadership struggle at the Hilltop
So Gregory is cowardly, incompetent and a liar, a triple threat. Was he seriously considering murdering Maggie? (I noticed that Maggie on the ground, Gregory above her and actively lying to her while he had a weapon in his hand, mimicked the scenes in the cell with Sasha and Negan.)
Without making a big deal of it, Maggie was leading by example, showing people how to grow crops and digging up a blueberry bush to transplant inside the walls because she was thinking about the future, while Gregory showed what leadership is not. He actually had his wicked-looking knife in his hand, inches from the walker's brain, and he was incapable of plunging it in. And now some of his people have witnessed him lying under a walker screaming for a pregnant woman to save him. Not good for Gregory.
What's his next move? He pulled out that map of Virginia that Simon gave him, and told his driver to prepare his car. Is he on his way to the Savior Sanctuary to give Maggie up? I don't think that will go well for him.
Next week's finale
There was a lot of talk in this episode about winning, bravery, and the inevitability of change. I hope that's a sign that we're heading into a great big win. After losing two of my favorite characters in the premiere and hanging on all season when I was honestly tempted to drop The Walking Dead like a rock, they'd better make me happy. I want Negan to go down, and I don't want to lose another character I care about. And I most certainly don't want to be stuck with another stupid, deadly cliffhanger.
Of course, we also got the deliberate contrast between the living Alexandrians and the particularly hideous barnacled and seaweeded walkers walking ashore, probably intended to convey the possibility of failure. Most certainly, the producers and writers want us to worry that Negan is unbeatable, even with the Alexandrians allied with the Hilltop, the Kingdom and the Scavengers, and armed with a shit ton of Oceanside's guns.
What do you guys think we're going to get next week? Failure or success? The death of another major character? I'm certain we're going to lose somebody.
-- I'm sorry we never saw Sasha's actual assault on the Sanctuary, but I can imagine that it was awesome.
-- Eugene made two suicide pills. One is still unaccounted for.
-- Eric is now going on missions with Aaron. The attention that has been paid to their relationship this season makes me worried that one of them is going to die.
-- Rosita took Dwight to Alexandria and put him in the cell Morgan made. In the final scene, Rick made Dwight get down on his knees. Again, mimicking Negan and Sasha, Gregory and Maggie.
Eric: (to Aaron) "Being with you... well, it makes abject terror tolerable."
Negan: "I gotta hand it to you. You got some beach ball sized lady nuts on you. Big question here, and I need the truth on this one. Did Rick put you up to this? Comin' in all kamikaze like that?"
Sasha: "Rick? Your bitch? No."
Eugene: "I brought you some creature comforts. Full disclosure, the pillow is not hypoallergenic."
Eugene: "You know, I believed I could be brave, that I could be a survivor like Abraham was. Riding that RV into the sunset was some of the greatest 37 minutes of my existence. But I know now I was full-tilt delusional."
Gregory: "I built these walls to use them. If I want greenery, I eat a salad."
Gregory: "Everybody'd be a helluva lot better if we could present a united front."
Maggie: "It would be a lot easier if we actually were a united front."
Tara: "The world can belong to good people, to fair people, if we're all just brave enough to try."
Carl: "It's not just the ones I killed. I think about the people I didn't kill, too."
Tara: (to Cyndie) "Thanks for saving my life before. And the other time. Oh, and then the other time. Maybe today. Thanks."
Adorable. Seriously, the two of them should be dating. I also loved the way Tara gave little Rachel the finger again.
Loved it. Four out of four beach ball sized lady nuts, which is probably my favorite Neganism ever,
Billie Doux loves science fiction but hates horror, and is confused about why she loves The Walking Dead so much.
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