Monday, March 27, 2017

The Walking Dead, Season Seven, Episode Fifteen: Something They Need

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Something They Need is the penultimate episode of season seven. It basically amounted to putting the pieces together to prepare for the big battle against Negan and the Saviours.  After all the time spent setting this up, this battle had better be epic because it feels as though we have been in one big holding pattern for a very long time. The battle will hopefully be the big pay off. The writers have certainly risked a lot on this. 

As expected, Sasha was captured by the Saviours and put into a cell similar to the one Darryl was held in.  It's not long before David comes in to inquire if Sasha needs anything. Of course, nothing is free and David makes it clear that if Sasha wants water, she's going to have to submit to his sexual advances. Sasha responds by head butting David which for me, amounted to one of the better moments this season.  Because she is handcuffed, David sees her as easy prey and starts to get rapey. Negan intervenes and stabs David in the throat. Apparently, beating people to death with Lucile, throwing people into a fire, ironing faces and forcing women to marry him by removing their choices is fine, but rape in the manner that David attempted is unacceptable to Negan.  It's a bizarre moment indeed and I cannot even begin to understand how Negan rationalises this to himself. 

Negan's impressed by the fact that Sasha stormed in there alone to exact revenge and so instead of killing her, he wants to harness her "beach ball size lady nuts". Yes, Negan actually thinks that he's being complimentary in this moment. Negan hands Sasha a knife and tells her that she can try and kill him, even though she would probably lose because he's standing above her with a baseball bat, she can kill herself or she can kill David before he turns into a walker and agree to become a Saviour.  Negan wants the later, particularly because he's become aware that Nick & Co. are up to no good. 

Enter Eugene, who tries very hard to convince Sasha to just submit.  He explains that the bravest moment of his life was when he drove the RV away as a distraction but that he was scared out of his mind.  Watching Abraham get killed only served to drive home the fact that at his heart, Eugene is a coward and therefore willing to do whatever he has to to survive.  Eugene tells Sasha that if she submits, she will never to be afraid again and that she can survive this.

When Negan returns to check on Sasha, she is standing in her cell, having already taken out zombie David.  Negan is happy to accept this decision as Sasha indicating that she's willing to work with him.  Negan wants Sasha to help him get to the bottom of what is going on in Alexandria, as a test of her loyalty and promises her some creature comforts for the night so that she can think through what she's going to do. 

Once again, Eugene goes to check on Sasha and this time she puts on a pitiful voice and asks Eugene for something to help her end it.  Sasha makes it clear that she cannot allow herself to be used to hurt their people and pleads with Eugene for a knife, a gun, a razor or even a damn piece of glass.  When Eugene agrees to think it over, a smile crosses Sasha's face, clearly indicating that she's not actually thinking of suicide. Unfortunately for Sasha, when Eugene does return, it's to slip her the poison that he made for Negan's wives.  It's the solution that she asked for but not what she really wanted.  A dejected Sasha slides to the floor as Eugene talks about not wanting Sasha to kill herself but how he trusts that she can make her own decisions about what's best for her.

At the Hilltop, Maggie is really starting to run things.  She's instructing people on farming techniques that she clearly learned from Herschel.  Gregory looks on and is not impressed that Maggie is low key usurping his authority with the others and proving herself to be skilled.  When Maggie heads outside to grab a wild blueberry bush to transplant inside the walls of The Hilltop, Gregory decides to follow. They talk briefly about coming to some accord and agree to discuss this more when Maggie's done with the plant.  Working with the blueberries is taking longer than Maggie planned on, so she asks Gregory to stand as a look out. Gregory then pulls out his knife and it's clear that he's thinking about killing Maggie while she is digging in the dirt.  In the end however, Gregory stands down.  

A walker makes it's way out of the bushes and Gregory is quick to call Maggie's attention to it.  Maggie stands to take out the walker but Gregory balks, claiming that he's out there to protect the pregnant lady and not the other way around. Gregory approaches the walker but cannot bring himself to kill it, forcing Maggie to jump into action.  While Maggie is busy with the walker, another approaches Gregory, forcing him to the ground.  Gregory is forced to call out to Maggie for help and after taking out the first walker, Maggie takes out the one attacking Gregory.  People from The Hilltop walk by and witness a shaken up Gregory, so Maggie explains that Gregory has never killed a walker before.  

At this point, in Gregory's mind, Maggie has clearly emasculated him and supplanted him as a leader.  Gregory heads back to his office and starts to hate drink.  It's not long before Gregory pulls out the note that Simon gave him last week.  Gregory pulls out a map and then calls out to Kal that he's going to need a ride somewhere.  Yes, this bastard is going to the Saviours to have them deal with Maggie because he's a coward. 

Tara has now spilled the beans about Oceanside because the Alexandrians are desperate for weapons.  Rick and Co. plant explosives around the Oceanside community to cause a panic, as Tara lies in wait for Natania. Natania is stunned to find an armed Tara waiting for her.  They are quickly joined by Cyndie, who is shocked that Tara broke her promise about not returning.  Tara tries to explain that her people have arrived to take the guns because they are going to go to war against the Saviours.  Natania and Cyndie manage to overpower Tara, forcing her to admit that her gun doesn't have any bullets because they are not there to kill anyone. 

Rick and Co start their plan to take over Oceanside and manage to secure the arsenal and round everyone up. They are calm and assure the women that they don't want to hurt anyone. Natania and Cyndie bring Tara out by gunpoint and insist that Rick leave Oceanside immediately.  Rick makes it clear that they are not leaving without the weapons and tries to encourage the women to join them in their fight against the Saviours.  Even as Natania is resolute, it's clear that the women are interested in what Rick is saying.  When Tara notices that Michonne has lined up a shot to take out Natania, Tara calls out for her to wait.  Natania then decides that she's going to kill Tara even though it means that Rick will kill her because the women need to remember exactly why they are hiding and the threat that the Saviours pose.  Cyndie goes into action and knocks her grandmother to the ground before she can act. 

Michonne notices that a herd of walkers is heading their way.  It's not a surprise given how much noise Rick and Co. made when they set off the explosives.  Rick orders the women and children to get behind them and offers knives to a few of the women for protection.  As the walkers approach, they are either shot by Rick and Co. or stabbed by the Oceanside women. I have to pause to mention that Greg Nicotero did an amazing job with the zombies this week. The barnacles and the seaweed were great and they looked like they just crawled out of the ocean. With all of the zombies dead, Natania goes to lie down as Rick and Co. gather up the guns and prepare to head out.  Cyndie explains that she would like to go and fight and so would some other women but since there's no consensus, she has to stay behind. Cyndie thanks Rick and Co. for doing this and Tara thanks her for saving her life several times.  As Rick and Co head out, Rachel calls out to ask if they are really going to take all of their weapons.  Tara responds yes, and promptly gives Rachel the finger. Yes, I got a lot of pleasure out of that. 

When Rick and Co. return to Alexandria, Tara is waiting for them and she's not alone.  Tara guides the group to their little jail where Dwight has been imprisoned. Whoever said that Tara met with Dwight outside of the Saviour compound last week is right.  At any rate, when Darryl sees Dwight, he moves to beat the shit out of him quite understandably and is stopped by Rick.  Tara explains that Dwight wants to help and when Dwight confirms this, Rick orders Dwight to his knees. 

I'm actually quite thankful that this season is coming to an end.  It's easily been the worst season since white people sitting on a porch, largely because nothing happened.  Before you get yourself tied up in a knot, yes, Negan killing Abraham and Glenn was certainly dramatic, along with Rick going into a submissive mode, but if you exclude these moments from season seven, what did we really get? We got a lot of planning, Michonne and Rick having a post apocalyptic romantic weekend, and a bloody tiger.  

The entire season set the stage for the battle which will obviously come in the last episode.  We aren't even being rewarded with an extra long episode after all of that build up and staging and I personally feel wronged by that. I don't think any battle -- no matter how epic -- is going to be enough pay off for having to sit through interminable episodes of planning and Negan swaggering around waving Lucille for all to see.  Jeffery Dean Morgan being cast as Negan was certainly awesome but it's already worn so very thin because the plot simply didn't move at a reasonable pace.  

Erick made an appearance this week. I actually had to look up the name of this character because he's had so little screen time since he's been introduced.  It really felt tokenizing because just last week, Jesus came out to Maggie.  It feels like The Walking Dead is trying to remind us that they do indeed have LGBT characters and that not all of them have become zombie food; however, it served to remind of just little they've given the LGBT characters to do.

Given that Sonequa Martin-Green is scheduled to be in the new Star Trek, I don't think that this bodes well for Sasha.  It's a real shame because I don't feel as though her character was really well developed.  If she does indeed end up dead, that will make two characters of colour killed off this season and I have no reason to doubt that Sasha is in her last moments of the show.  Whenever The Walking Dead wants to kill off a character of colour they get the treatment that Sasha has been getting in the last few episodes.

On a final note, David attacking Sasha and attempting to rape her served to adress the special threat that women would face in a post apocalyptic world. That we haven't seen more rape is actually quite surprising given that even with the rule of law to act as a deterrent rape happens far too often. I'm certainly not advocating for episodes filled with graphic rape but making a commentary about the vulnerability of women in situations like this.