The Walking Dead 7.14: The Other Side
Michael E. Satrazemis
After a solid installment at the Kingdom, matters reduce to a crawl once again as the story turns back to Hilltop. It doesn’t have to be this way, but someone apparently thought that two minor bullet points on an index card would be enough to sustain an entire episode’s worth of plot. Take the plot thread with Rosita and Sasha, which takes the better part of an episode to arrive at something remotely interesting. And it’s essentially a conversation that could have happened in the space of two minutes.
There’s something to the notion of two unpopular characters engaging in a suicide mission based on the fact they both loved the same man who was victimized by the Saviors, but it takes forever to get to the point. And that point eventually seems to be discovering Eugene’s apparent betrayal. It’s really hard to care about what happened before, since it’s designed to make us care about characters that have long since stopped being interesting.
Meanwhile, Hilltop is visited by the Saviors, who have come to replace their now-dead Dr. Carson with his brother. Gregory’s inability to stop it from happening is yet another step in his eventual removal from power, even if he couldn’t actually do anything in any practical terms. Simon is easily the most effective of Negan’s footsoldiers, and might even be more terrifying in some respects.
The biggest issue with the episode is the sheer amount of wasted, empty space in the storytelling. At first, this serves to build a sense of dread, but that quickly devolves into sitting around waiting for something to actually happen while people stare at each other while mournful music plays in the background. There’s plenty to work with in terms of the cast and the tensions of the situation, but it’s spread far too thin.
One oddity is Daryl and his temptation to kill one of the Saviors. He may still be dealing with the aftermath of his involvement in Glenn’s death (from his point of view), and he was just reminded of it, but surely that would only underscore the sheer idiocy of attacking or killing one of the Saviors at that particular moment. Thankfully the writers didn’t make Daryl that mind-numbingly foolish just for the sake of adding more fuel to the fire.
In the end, Sasha decides to go it alone in her bid to assassinate Negan, which is likely to culminate in severe consequences that will come either in the finale or (more likely) get hinted at right before the credits roll. The war has to start somehow, after all, and it is a lot more interesting if that war begins before Rick’s alliance is fully formed. For that matter, it may be that an assassination attempt means a general tightening of the screws, which would be the thing that could tip the balance once and for all.
- At least the ending ought to mean something in the long run
- Way too little plot and meaningful character moments to carry a full episode