If you’re going to have a big, bloody mess of a season finale, you can’t really do that without getting all of the pieces together. For The Walking Dead, it means making sure that all of the characters are starting to gather together into their different factions, and that those factions are properly armed. That was exactly what was being set up with this week’s episode, as we got to see Rick and his group take a visit towards the beach, getting the guns they desperately need to fight back against Negan. We also had a couple of side trips to the Hilltop community, to remind us all that there’s still a lot of angst between Gregory and Maggie. Oh, and the big reveal about who found Rosita at the end of the last episode? It was clearly meant to be more shocking, except it’s been telegraphed ever since Dwight took Daryl’s stuff the first time.
So how does the episode stand up, overall? Well, it was just another episode moving us towards SOMETHING happening. Sure, we got to see the Alexandrians and the Oceansiders team up to take out the threat of the water-logged walkers, and we did get to hear Negan drop the line “beach ball-sized lady nuts” a few times (because someone had to take over for Abraham’s strange turns of phrase), but it was just place-setting. After much of this season moving at a relatively slow pace, partially because of the limitations of having so many different set pieces, we should be in for an action-packed finale. Now, that doesn’t mean that it’s what we’re going to get, but it’s clearly Something They Need to do, to hopefully avoid the frustrations within the fanbase they had last season.
Alright, clearly the big boss man behind the Saviors has a plan, and it’s actually worked in his favor with regards to Eugene. But man, there’s just something that seems extremely foolish about not only taking Sasha captive, but also giving her a weapon, no matter how short of a time. This is a man who doesn’t take kindly to offenses against him, and trying to storm his stronghold completely alone, while displaying those “lady nuts”, is also a pretty big affront.
Our little Romeo-wannabe got asked by Enid if he’s ever thinks about the people he’s killed. Much later, Carl replies that he also thinks about the people he didn’t. I know the kid is messed up thanks to everything he’s seen and done, but at some point, we would have hoped he’d picked up a little bit of the skill of how to small talk with a love interest from his dad. I mean, there’s awkward teenager, and then there’s Carl. This is why he should’ve stayed in the house all those years ago.
You’ve got a knife, thanks to Negan. You’ve learned that, no matter how evil Negan might be, there are certain acts that even he cannot tolerate. Because of that bit of knowledge, you’re also locked in a darkened room, with a body that is bound to reanimate unless you do something. Knowing that Sasha is not the type to roll over without a fight, why did she let David start to reanimate in the slightest? Heck, if she is planning on getting closer to Negan to later try and take him out, wouldn’t dropping the knife into David’s skull right away have been a better course of action? But no, take the risk that you end up not being able to find his head in the complete dark. Good plan.
First, Rick attempts to absolve Tara of her guilt about revealing the Oceansiders existence by taking the “greater good” route, only really successfully making it clear that the greater good is whatever serves Rick and his whims. Even that can be excusable, though, as Rick truly does believe that his plan to fight back against the Saviors will make the entire area, and the world by extension, a safer place. It’s his plan with regards to the Oceansiders that rings hollow. No, he doesn’t want to hurt them, but he certainly isn’t above scaring them, and possibly allowing some collateral damage to occur. The explosions are definitely the type to draw attention to the community that has successfully remained hidden, as was evidenced by the barnacle-encrusted walkers. But maybe give Tara more than five minutes to try and convince Natania that Rick’s group is in the right. Nobody from Alexandria is THAT convincing.
Truth be told, this spot almost went to David, because he made a point of attempting to break one of Negan’s rules, without taking any precaution to keep Negan from finding out. But no, this belongs entirely to the current leader of the Hilltop. After all, this is a man who is so concerned with losing his power, he’s willing to sell out his community at the drop of a hat. In this episode, seeing Maggie outside of the walls, Gregory even made it clear that a large part of him really wanted to eliminate the woman he views, rightly so, as competition. When the walkers came upon the two of them, that was a great chance for Gregory to at least try to let that particular loose end get tied up, without having to get his hands dirty. Instead, it only served to prove just how much more capable Maggie is, and the fact that it was witnessed by members of the Hilltop just made it that much worse for him. Clearly the only thing he truly did right was to rope Kal into his planned voyage to the Savior compound.
Next week is an extra-long season finale. It needs to be extra long to tie up as many loose ends from this season as possible. It also could be the time where we say goodbye to a few of our friends from the past few seasons. Oh, and Gregory. But we can’t call him a friend. He’s just a jerk that we’ve put up with.