TV Review: The Walking Dead Season 7 Episode 14 “The Other Side” hits the right emotional beats

As we near an obvious showdown between Negan and team Rick we continue season 7’s clumsy attempt to atone for a defining sluggish pace and what has been the series’ most inconsistent show of quality since the first half of season 2. Thankfully, like last week’s enjoyable “Bury Me Here”, the show continues in the right direction with “The Other Side”.

As was expected from the ending of “Say Yes”, “The Other Side” brings a lot of overdue focus on the tense dynamic between Sasha and Rosita, both whom have had an awkward relationship following their respective coupling with Abraham. Instead of bonding over their shared loss the two have been distant at best, openly antagonistic at worst. This was mainly due to Rosita’s feelings of resentment, which spilled into self-loathing and a bad temper which has so far gotten people killed and kidnapped. It’s been unfortunately one-note for Christian Serratos but thankfully the time spent opening up to Sasha has proven great character work, giving her some much needed and overdue depth.

Sasha on the other hand has, at least for the past few seasons, been one of the show’s best characters. Sonequa Martin-Green has given a consistently great performance, especially considering how little she is utilised, and this week was far from an exception. The episode belonged to Martin-Green as she wore the conflicting emotions of going on a suicide mission and caring for her friends, effectively conveying the regret on Sasha’s face as soon as she realised that her attempt to assassinate Negan may very well be her last. It was also a nice touch to show her still holding onto hope that they’ll make it out alive though, arguing with Rosita’s reckless plan and maintaining that taking the shot from a distance could be safer.

However, no matter how well executed their road to Negan was it’s hard to overlook the stupidity in the plan to begin with. The writers worked in a barely believable “she doesn’t need me anymore” way for Sasha to justify being so impatient but more time needed to be spent with the character to really drive this way of thinking. Unfortunately, the show’s structure has been it’s major weakness this season and hasn’t allowed for that kind of comprehensive character work.

Furthermore, having Jesus draw Sasha a map (of The Sanctuary) and then convince her not to go weakens his character a lot, throwing in a big inconsistency given his otherwise thoughtful and cunning approach to situations. Enid too; she gives Sasha a window of 10 minutes to march into sure death before she dobs her into Maggie, which makes no sense after trying to convince her not to go through with it.

Either way, we were given a really nice moment with Rosita and Sasha bonding in one of the towers near The Sanctuary before they would then go on to storm the compound come nightfall. The problem here was that the impatience is just a bit too much – they could have easily waited for another long shot on Negan – but it was a necessary contrivance to get them along to this episode’s biggest twist: Eugene. Rejecting an opportunity to be saved is in-line with the powerful and confident Dr. Eugene Porter we hear a scene earlier over the radio, but if the writer’s are plotting a complete Negan-friendly turn to the tech geek (as opposed to an smart undercover angle) then they’re going to ruin years of character work that have supposedly been building towards a more heroic turn for the man defined by cowardice (in a similar fashion to Father Gabriel).

While “The Other Side” did disrupt The Walking Dead’s frustrating faith in bottle episodes, the back and forth between Sasha/Rosita heading to Negan, and Simon’s group of Saviours visiting The Hilltop to snatch their only doctor was a bit too imbalanced. Instead of weighing heavily in favour of the more interesting Sasha/Rosita run, we spent the majority of the episode at The Hilltop, tightening up some loose ends and building to the inevitable moment when someone (hopefully Jesus or Enid) takes out Gregory and puts Maggie in charge, something that could have worked better if it was done a few episodes ago.

While it’s always fun to watch Steven Oog straight up outshine his boss as far as acting goes (Simon is much more dynamic than Negan), it was ultimately just so a brighter spotlight could be focused on Gregory and his sniveling ways. In some ways that felt repetitive and just reinforced what we already knew about the character, although he is now somewhat emboldened by his subservient “friendship” with The Saviours which is another step towards a clash with Maggie.

Though it was stupid writing to have Daryl almost foolishly stab a Saviour in the head (there’s the same Daryl that got Glenn killed) and felt inconsistent with what followed, we were given a brief but emotional moment where he started to tear up and apologise to Maggie, not having been able to look her in the eye out of guilt for what happened to Glenn. Perhaps Daryl’s final moment in this series will be him dying to protect Maggie and Glenn’s baby further down the road, but that’s only if the writers stick with this redemption arc, which is the only way I see their decision to follow the ‘big’ comic death (Glenn’s) making any sense (so far it still doesn’t seem like it was a necessary choice – or maybe I’m just still upset over the death).

Along with Eugene’s apparent betrayal the episode ended with Sasha’s big decision to sacrifice herself and save Rosita, locking up the gate and telling Rosita to run while she ran into The Sanctuary guns blazing. Given Martin-Green’s recent casting as the lead for Star Trek: Discovery it’s quite obvious that this will be her final act and she’ll either die in next week’s episode or be the big finale death.

Review Score: THREE AND A HALF (OUT OF FIVE)

Highlights

  • Sasha and Rosita bond knowing they are on a suicide mission
  • Jesus opening up to Maggie
  • Daryl makes peace with Maggie
  • Simon doing his best affable psycho shctick

Lowlights

  • Jesus and Enid contradicting themselves while convincing Sasha to wait
  • Sasha and Rosita are a bit too impatient
  • Daryl ready to make another foolish move
  • Gregory and Maggie build up seems overdue
  • Not enough time spent with Sasha/Rosita.

The Walking Dead airs in Australia on Foxtel every Monday at 1:30pm and 7:30pm