The Walking Dead S07E15 “Something They Need” REVIEW
Essential Plot Points:
- Aaaaand we’re back. A group sets out to Oceanside, including Daryl, Enid, Carl, Aaron, Eric, Tara and a lot of the others. We hear Tara explain what she found and Rick reassure her.
- Meanwhile, a bunch of seaweed-covered Walkers emerge from the ocean.
- At Hilltop, Maggie is being awesome and helping out in the garden while Gregory is BEING VERY USEFUL NEARBY WHILE NOT ACTUALLY DOING ANYTHING USEFUL AT ALL BUT BEING VERY VISIBLE.
- As the Alexandrians prepare to approach Oceanside, Rick helps Michonne up into a tree where she’ll provide cover. Nearby, Jesus and Daryl are laying a booby trap using the dynamite they recovered from the road a few episodes ago. Eric and Aaron are standing watch and Aaron apologises to his fella for getting him into this. Eric, because almost two full seasons of not saying much has got him good and riled up, points out he knows what’s at stake and he is just fine with this now.
- Meanwhile at the Saviour Degradation Power Hour, the good news is Sasha is still alive. The bad news is David, the Saviour who opens the door to her cell, tears her shirt and offers her water in return for him raping her. She headbutts him, he gets ready to assault her and she’s saved…
- By the arrival of Negan.
- Negan points out to David, using a knife, that rape is NOT what they do and he can’t let that slide. David apologises. Negan stabs him through the neck.
- Negan apologises to Sasha, then recognises her and asks if Rick put her up to it. Sasha, referring to Rick as Negan’s bitch, says she came in on her own. Negan, clearly impressed, leaves her his knife and points out her options:
• Try and kill him. Which won’t work. He has Lucille.
• Open her wrists. Which would be a shame.
• Wait for David to go zombie and kill her. Which would be a DAMN shame.
• Put David down a second time, cut the ropes around her wrists and join up.
- He leaves her alone in the dark to consider it.
- Eugene arrives not long after with some bedding. In a very roundabout way, he apologises. In an unusually direct way, he admits that he’s with Negan because that keep him safe. He also admits that the night Abe and Glenn were murdered broke him. He can’t be brave. He can’t be a survivor. He pleads with her to join up too.
- She says one word: “GO.”
- Eugene leaves. David starts to wake up…
- Gregory finds Maggie gardening outside the walls and tries to get information out of her. She shuts him down, hard, and he apologises for being so duplicitous. He promises to be more open in the future and Maggie asks him to stand guard as she finishes up. He very clearly considers killing her but doesn’t.
- Then a Walker appears and Gregory leaps… well… sort of trots into action. He gallantly insists he should protect Maggie, immediately realises he can’t, asks her to do it and then they’re both attacked. Maggie, because never forget Maggie is awesome, takes out both Walkers. A horrified Gregory retches, and Maggie tells a polite white lie to a passing group of gardeners about him killing one for the first time. They point out that’s not what he told them first off. Awkwardness ensues.
- Back at Oceanside, Natania returns home to find Tara waiting for her. She holds the older woman at gunpoint. Cindy arrives, sees Tara and is furious that she broke her promise. Tara searches her, tells her to sit down and informs them that her friends are prepared to take Oceanside, if possible without firing a shot. She tells them the Saviours still exist, that they’re preparing for war. They DO NOT want to take over but they need the help. Tara begs them to agree to help and when they argue points out that it’s too late.
- In the woods, explosions begin to go off. The Oceansiders flee and Jesus, Daryl, Aaron and Eric take Beatrice and several others hostage. Nearby, Natania and Cindy storm and disarm Tara. Tara reveals her gun is empty.
- A stand-off ensues between Rick and Natania. Rick isn’t interested in hurting anyone.
- Natania, holding Tara at gunpoint, wants them to leave. Cindy tells the assembled group the Alexandrians want their help in fighting the Saviours.
- They listen.
- Tara backs her up. Tara points out it’s a zero sum: either they give the Alexandrians the guns and they maybe win; or Natania kills Tara, then the Alexandrians kill Natania and the Alexandrians take the guns anyway.
- Natania is DESPERATE to keep her people safe, prepares to die and…
- Michonne spots a Walker.
- In fact, a HERD.
- Cindy knocks out Natania and in an instant, the Alexandrians and Oceanside are working together. Beatrice joins Rick, Call, Gabriel and Cindy on the line and the fight starts. Everyone gets their hands dirty, including the youngster Rachel, and then… it’s done. Beatrice gives Rick her knife, Rick shakes her hand and that’s it. Natania storms off, telling them to take the guns and leave.
- At the Saviour compound, Negan opens the door to find Sasha alive and the Walker dead. He is very, very happy. He reveals that he knows Rick is planning something and something BIG is going down the next day. He leaves Sasha alone in the cell, shaking with horror.
- At Hilltop, still covered in blood from the Walker, a shaking Gregory starts drinking. He pulls out a map and asks his assistant to pack a bag and he needs to be driven somewhere. Gregory, it seems, is coming home…
- Eugene visits Sasha and congratulates/commiserates with her. Sasha, in tears, asks Eugene for a weapon. Not for killing Negan…
- For her to kill herself.
- Sasha knows she’s being used as an asset by Negan. She tearfully begs Eugene for a weapon to help end her life and wins him over. And then, we see her and she is not tearful at all… Sasha has a plan.
- At Oceanside, the Alexandrians finish pillaging the guns. It is… awkward. Cindy wants to go with them but not enough of the Oceansiders want to follow her for it to work.
- Tara thanks her for saving her life… a number of times, and they leave. And Tara, because Tara is awesome, gives Rachel the finger again on her way out.
- Back at the Saviour’s compound, instead of bringing a knife Eugene gives Sasha the poison the Wives had him make. In his roundabout way, he begs her to live and tells her how much she means to him. A crushed Sasha slumps against the door.
- The Oceansider team arrives back at Alexandria to find the door being opened by Rosita.
- We’re sure this is fine…
- She takes them to the cell in the basement.
- Dwight’s in there.
- It takes three people to hold Daryl back.
- Dwight says he wants to help. Rick says okay, pulls a gun on him and tells him to kneel.
Well, we’re officially in the house-cleaning phase. Next week is the finale, so this week, we get a whole lot of scenery changes and lots of people get ready to do things. Weirdly, though, while little is actually achieved, a lot does happen and it’s all pleasingly untidy and morally complicated. We especially liked the way the Oceanside situation is not even a little resolved and carefully paints the Alexandrians in a pretty bad light. And they KNOW it too. Plus Tara flipping off Rachel again is the best thing this episode.
Aside from the way this episode pulls the rug out from under everyone who still thought it was there. Gregory is faced not only with the reality that Maggie runs his settlement now, but that he is actually functionally useless. Xander Berkeley is one of the greatest character actors of his generation and he excels at this kind of work. We actually feel sorry for him; we actually worry about him when he decides to go to the Saviours even though we know just how awful the consequences of it will be. Likewise Natania and Beatrice at Oceanside. Neither are especially sympathetic but neither are cardboard cut-outs either and now, neither can stay on the side lines. Everyone’s in it and the ones who will survive are the ones that know that.
That’s one of the many reasons why the best part of this episode is, in essence, a three-person play. Sasha, very much alive after storming the castle, is imprisoned. A Saviour attempts to rape her and Negan stops, and kills him. She’s then left alone in a room with an imminent Walker and a choice: live and serve Negan, or die.
There’s a lot to unpack here. The laziest grimdark stereotype of the rapist Saviour is a terrible moment that the show really shouldn’t have gone near but it’s handled in pretty much the best way this trope can be. It’s still never a place you want your writers’ room to go, but it’s at least used here rather than simply being lazy spectacle.
And it also opens the door to the most interesting place Sasha has been in a long time; out of her depth. The endlessly competent survivor formulates not one but two plans this week that come to nothing through no fault of her own. She’s out of options and, coupled with Eugene’s unusually direct honesty, left with no choice but to stand with Negan. Martin-Green has always been one of the powerhouses on this show and this episode really gives her a chance to show off. No one can hold the screen with a single word quite like her and if this is Sasha’s victory lap, she’s going out in a manner we haven’t seen since the barnstorming Tyreese bow out episode.
Negan and Eugene orbit around Sasha and in both cases; the actors involved turn in their best work this season. Negan appears to be completely honest with her here and Jeffrey Dean Morgan plays the oddly courteous, respectful approach he has to her to perfection. And, especially after the episode-killing monologue last week, Eugene’s admission of guilt and admiration is successful, poignant and very necessary. Josh McDermitt has been handed some of the absolute worst material the show has at times in the past and here he’s handed some of the best and nails it.
A warlord. A coward. A survivor. Three people locked together in a private war of manipulation and control as the public war comes knocking for them. A war itself defined by the cowardice of one leader, the compassion of another and the determination of a third. Yes, nothing much is resolved this episode but SO MUCH happens and it’s all heading in a really good direction. It’s going to be a long wait for the season finale.
- ERIC! OUTSIDE THE GROUNDS! DOING THINGS! BEING ALLOWED TO SPEAK!
- Another constellation of stellar performances this week. Alanna Masterson, Andrew Lincoln, Jeffrey Dean-Morgan, Josh McDermitt and especially Sonequa Martin-Green are fantastically good.
- The context for Eugene’s betrayal actually makes perfect sense. It’s also interesting that in a non-Eugene POV episode we get a much better idea of what’s going on in his head.
- Gregory! Continuing to not quite be an awful human!
- Maggie! Continuing to be a badASS human!
- The Oceanside/Alexandria team standoff with the Ocean Herd was pretty cool
- Some GREAT direction this week. Especially on the Sasha/Negan scenes.
- The Dwight!Face!Turn!Starts!HERE! Maybe.
- “Besides, being with you makes abject terror tolerable.” And Eric gets one of the best lines of the episode straight out of the gate!
- “You know what? I DO NOT accept your apology.” THIS is how you do threatening.
- “Sasha, we ALL got shit to get over.” This is, we’d argue, the most important Negan moment so far. Because, yes, he’s a preening, Southern pseudo-dandy here, but underneath all that? Is honesty. This sucks. The world’s ended. Everything is horrible. Negan isn’t blind to that and seeing that, at LAST, makes him the rounded corridor he’s needed to be for an entire half season.
- “Please say yes. He would want you to… He wouldn’t. I do. Things have changed we can change with them we HAVE to.” And this pretty much erases that awful Eugene moment from last episode.
- “You win.”
“No… YOU win.” And he MEANS it. And that’s what makes it terrifying. Negan is wired wrong. He really thinks what he does helps. Of course, he also enjoys it but this episode cements the feeling that Negan really does feel like he’s the hero of his own story.
- David the wannabe rapist is pretty much the nadir of the show’s approach to the Saviours. But at least he gets punished for it.
- What in the blue Hell was Maggie doing to that plant? And why did it take so long?
And The Random:
- Michael Slovis has directed episodes of Ed, CSI: Rubicon, Breaking Bad and Hell On Wheels as well as little known indie cable show Game Of Thrones. He won an Emmy in 2006 for his work on CSI.
- Corey Reed wrote “Forget” and “Now” in season five as well as co-writing “Four Walls And A Roof” with Angela Kang and “Consumed” with Matt Negrete. He’s also written for Medium and Da Vinci’s Demons.
Review by Alasdair Stuart