“Something They Need” wrapped up everything the way you would expect, setting some final pieces in place for the inevitable showdown in next week’s finale. The problem with this is that the absence of anything unexpected, outside of some nice bits of drama over at The Sanctuary, resulted in a clean episode that lacked any sort of dynamism or excitement. I have no doubt that this is largely due to what’s been plaguing this season of The Walking Dead, in that the writers have overindulged in bottle episodes and refused to be more economical with their large cast, which has forced them to speed up certain sequences that need to be longer to at all be believable, like this week’s visit to Oceanside.
The episode juggled Oceanside, Hilltop and The Sanctuary rather well, but that seems more of a default balance since this is the penultimate episode and the writers need a lot of space to supposedly fill the finale with big moments. We’ve already got Morgan and Carol heading back to Alexandria – something that happened a few episodes ago – and now we have other positions where big payoffs are possible, though if this season is any indication, they are also unlikely.
Hilltop was the lightest of the three this week, mainly serving as a few finishing touches on the Maggie-and-Gregory tension before we watch that explode (and hopefully say farewell to Gregory). Him considering stabbing Maggie in the back of the head only to beg for help a few seconds later was just another way to show off Gregory’s cowardice in a post-Negan world, the episode’s major motif that would again reappear in Eugene and Oceanside matriarch Natania with different expressions that reiterated the effect The Saviours have had on people. It’s tautology in a way, and a lot of this could have happened weeks ago if the writer’s paced this season better, but at least it was well-acted.
Oceanside moved up the pace a little bit as Tara led team Rick to Oceanside, breaking her promise to Cindy and showing off a more assertive side that provided depth to her character. It was a nice little scene-stealing moment for Tara, having her try and negotiate with Natania in a somewhat reasonable tone but still managing to get jumped by Cindy. The whole time spent here was oddly rushed and led to a few tacky moments (let’s all bond over killing walkers now, yay!) but there was only ever one way this was going to end: team Rick leaving with a hell of a lot of weapons.
Having Natania so scared of Negan that she’d rather die then send her tribe to war was a nice little shade of Negan’s intimidation, as mentioned above, as was her decision being undercut by others in the group. In some ways it mirrors the dynamic that weighed Alexandria down for the first half of this season, in that Rick became subservient while others in the group wanted to fight (namely Rosita and Sasha).
Speaking of Sasha, this is the second episode in a row where she has shined the brightest as both a character and an actor. Sonequa Martin-Green‘s micro-expressions said it all, and her being simultaneously scared and defiant while locked up in that cell just reinforced how much I’m going to miss her being on the show (let’s be real, she’s a goner). The vague references to Sasha wanting to die only for her to try and trick Eugene into giving her a weapon were beautifully done, exposing just how much of a coward Eugene has become while playing off that dynamic to allow him to explain his cowardice (another “Negan effect” message). Of course, a weapon to kill Negan with wasn’t in the cards with Eugene misreading (or not) and slipping Sasha a suicide pill to which she was visibly frustrated and upset.
And then we had to big ending to the episode, with Dwight (obviously the shadow that appeared to Rosita last week, no surprise there) now back at Alexandria ready to help team Rick, even if they aren’t quite welcoming. Now Dwight is with team Rick, Sasha (reluctantly) and Eugene (willingly) are with team Negan, and there are a hell of a lot of wild cards to play (Oceanside, Garbage Pail Kids, Kingdom, Hilltop). No matter how you feel about this season so far, at least the potential for the finale is huge.
Review Score: THREE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
- Sasha and Negan face off (just not in the way she hoped)
- Eugene explains himself to Sasha
- Sasha tries one last trick
- Tara taking charge
- Negan taking out Rapey David
- Maggie-Gregory dynamic lacking tension
- Oceanside visit a clumsy rush-job
- Build up for waterlogged walkers only to have them mowed down easily and quickly
- Rick trusting the Garbage Pail Kids so easily is perhaps the weakest part of this entire season. It’s so unbelievable that it’s actually quite hilarious to watch them gather guns just because a bunch of weird kids said they’d help.
The Walking Dead screens in Australia on FX every Monday (during the season) at 1:30pm and 7:30pm.