Anyone fancy a trip back to Oceanside?
The episode begins with the gang hitting the road as Tara explains that Oceanside has tons of guns and an armory. As for why Tara didn’t say anything, she made a promise. Enid, who is here for some reason, asks Carl if he ever thinks about who he killed, and he does. Tara is confident that this plan won’t go south and Rick tells her that she doesn’t have to do this, but still, the gang continues towards Oceanside.
Over at the Hilltop, Maggie and other members work on gardening and tarping, but the member asks for help. Gregory, from a distance, keeps note as Hilltop members look to Maggie for advice.
Michonne scales a tree and is told to wait for the signal while Jesus and Daryl plant dynamite. Jesus laments not stopping Sasha and Rosita, but Daryl is confident that the two are more than capable of taking care of themselves. Aaron thanks Eric for being out, but Eric doesn’t want to watch Aaron take any more lickings, so of course he’s going to join in the effort.
Sasha’s raid at the Sanctuary didn’t go so well. In fact, she’s being held in a cell and asks a visiting Savior, David, for some water. He asks if she remembers her from last night, but she doesn’t. He gave the rope to the Saviors that tied up Sasha and notes that there are many things you can do with rope.
David isn’t supposed to give Sasha water, but if he does, he’ll want something from her in return- he says while caressing her and ripping her shirt.
Instead of saying how thirsty she is, Sasha headbutts David. Good one, Sasha, but fighting will just make this last longer. Then Negan arrives out of nowhere and doesn’t like that David was about to rape Sasha. No, he doesn’t like that all. That’s unacceptable behavior, as rape is against the rules at the Sanctuary. He’d hate to be at a place where that’s allowed. So Negan pulls out a blade and tells David that he crossed a line.
David apologizes, but he still gets a blade through his neck anyway.
Negan then calls for Sasha to get a new shirt and loosens some of her bonds. He remember that Sasha was there the night he killed Abraham and Glenn. He admires Sasha’s fearlessness, but he needs to know if Rick put her up to this. To that, Sasha says no. Negan tells Sasha that this doesn’t have to be her end. Rather, it could be the beginning.
He sets the knife at Sasha’s feet and beckons her to free herself and try to kill him, but that’s not the smartest move. She could slit her wrists, do nothing, or wait for David to reanimate- that or stop David from coming back. Negan, though, is a man short and would like to put Sasha to work since she’s such a great shot. He knows that’s hard for Sasha to picture, given what he did, but everyone has to get over shit in their life.
Negan allows Sasha time to think about this. He just wants her to understand that the Saviors are not monsters. With that, he leaves. Sometime later, Eugene arrives with a blanket, pillow, and water. He tells Sasha that the Saviors have kept him safe. There was debate as to whether he would be allowed to see Sasha and he knows about Negan’s offer. He wants her to accept, just as he did, even if it wasn’t an easy one.
He believed he could be a survivor like Abraham, but he knows that was just his delusion. He admits that he’s never been as afraid as he was that night in the woods. After what Negan did, being at the Sanctuary means Eugene will never have to face that terror again. He just wants Sasha to say yes.
The two of them can change in the same way things have changed. Sasha, though, just wants Eugene to leave. He does just as David begins to reanimate.
Gregory joins Maggie outside the Hilltop walls to talk since Maggie’s friends are gone without her. He asks why Maggie is still at the Hilltop, but she heard that Gregory was going to bring Carson back home. Gregory wants Maggie to trust him and hopes the two could present a united front, but Maggie knows that the two of them aren’t united. As such, Gregory is open to working together. He apologizes for things getting to this point.
Maggie acknowledges that it’s never too late to change and if Gregory is serious, she’ll come by later so the two can talk. As Maggie continues gardening, Gregory, knife unsheathed, approaches her and has a look on his face, but decides against whatever he had planned. Then a walker approaches from the woods. Maggie offers to take care of it, but Gregory insists that he do it. He’s unable to, though, so Maggie takes care of it.
But then he’s surprised by a walker from behind, so Maggie saves his ass. Other passing Hilltop members remark that Gregory told them different about how many times he’s killed walkers.
At Oceanside, Natania, after speaking with Rachel, enters her home, where she finds Tara waiting for her. She holds Natania at gunpoint, and Natania knows that Tara isn’t alone. Then Cyndie enters, upset that Tara broke her promise, but Tara didn’t have a choice. She tells them that her friends have come to the guns to fight the Saviors. Natania refuses, but Tara points out that the Saviors have killed many people.
Tara and her group are tired of putting up with the Saviors. She’s confident that if they try, they’ll win, but Natania believes that the Saviors would still be victorious. Even still, Tara doesn’t want her group to attack and offers Natania a chance to speak with Rick. Natania notes that neither she nor Tara are brave and good, but Cyndie is. Cyndie, though, wants to at least talk with Tara’s group.
However, time is up as explosions go off, forcing the women to go running. The others approach just in time to stop them, as well as keeping Beatrice and Kathy from entering the armory. Back inside, Natanie and Cyndie get the drop on Tara, but it turns out that Tara’s gun is apparently not loaded.
The others corner the rest of the Oceanside group. Rick addresses the women and stresses to them that no one needs to get hurt since this is just about the guns, but then Natania enters with Tara, who yells for Michonne to stand down and not fire. Cyndie tells the women about Tara’s plan, but Natania won’t let her group lose more. Even still, Tara and company will win with or without Oceanside- just their guns.
Beatrice at least wants to try, but Natania reminds the women what the Saviors have already taken from them. She’s ready to die, and gets close enough when Cyndie knocks her down just as walkers approach from the woods. The combined forces of Rick’s group and the Oceanside women manage to eliminate them all. Despite this, Natania still refuses to help, but Rick and the others are still allowed to take the guns.
It just occurred to me that Rick and company were never known for their negotiation skills.
Back at the Sanctuary, Negan finds that Sasha put that blade in David’s skull. She won’t get to keep the knife, as Negan doesn’t believe that she’s on board. It’s not personal, and he knows that Sasha wouldn’t believe him if the situation was reversed. But Sasha surrendering is a good start. Negan will try to make her stay fun, as Sasha is going to help him stop Rick’s upcoming plans. Tomorrow is a big day for Sasha.
Gregory looks at his blood stained face in the mirror and pours himself a drink as he looks over a map. He asks a member to get ready because they’re going on a trip.
Eugene then tells Sasha from the other side of the door that she made the right choice. Sasha admits that she was wrong- she’s been trying to figure out what to do while the others are getting hurt, but she said yes to Negan and is still trapped. Eugene will help her get used to life here. Sasha asks Eugene to get her a weapon because she knows Negan will use her against the others. She’d rather die than let that happen.
So Sasha pleads for Eugene to find anything to allow her to kill herself. Eugene decides to consider that.
So Rick and company load up the guns from Oceanside. Gabriel asks Rick if they need all of this, and Rick insists that they do. Carl tells Enid that he thinks about the people he hasn’t killed, too. Tara tells the women that they’ll return the guns. Cyndie and a few others want to join Tara, who thanks Cyndie for saving her ass several times. Tara finally agrees with what Rick said- she doesn’t have to feel bad.
Eugene returns to Sasha’s cell and has agreed to grant her request. He gives her one of the poison pills that the wives asked him to make for Negan and explains that it will kill her in 20 minutes. He admits that he doesn’t want her to leave, but to him, it sounds like she’s already gone.
The others return to Alexandria, where they find Rosita waiting for them. She brings them to the cell that Morgan built, and inside is Dwight. Turns out that he wants to help them. Of course, everyone is skeptical, so Rick takes out his gun and orders Dwight to get on his knees.
So we’re coming up on the season finale as the show has been building up the various communities to war with the Saviors. Sometimes that buildup has worked, and other times it hasn’t. There were threads of self-sacrifice and cowardice strewn throughout as we checked in on the different communities and I’m certain that there’s indeed going to be a sacrifice by season’s end.
The bit on cowardice comes through Gregory, as we’ve seen before, but we see here that he’s painted himself as a capable fighter against walkers. But what he told his followers differs from what we saw when confronted by a walker. He couldn’t even handle one and had to fall back on the pregnant woman he doesn’t want encroaching on his territory.
While it’s clear that Gregory wants the Saviors on his side, we see that he’s also focused on presenting the facade of a united front with Maggie. As we see early on, Hilltop residents are looking to Maggie for guidance and advice. She’s growing as a competent and capable leader that isn’t afraid of confrontation, as is the case with Gregory.
But even though Gregory might hate Maggie for slowly taking the reins of Hilltop leadership away from him, there’s still some semblance of good in him. He could’ve stabbed and killed Maggie outside the Hilltop and made up a story about her death, but he decides against it. Still a slimy leader, this Gregory is, but not to the point of trying to kill someone vying for his position. Not yet, anyway…
Oh, and I’m only bringing this up because she was at the Hilltop in the previous episode, but what the hell was Enid doing here? Besides asking Carl a question that could’ve been saved for any episode, she doesn’t do anything. And Sasha told Enid in the previous episode to stay at the Hilltop and support Maggie. So here, she just throws that out the window to be an extra pair of hands at Oceanside? Feels pointless.
I have a few issues with the Oceanside sequence, but I’ll get the positives out of the way first. To begin with, it’s a quick operation that’s handled in the span of one episode. Rather than have Tara second guess her decision to break her promise, she decides ‘Fuck it’ and just gives up the location for the sake of the greater mission. So at least the show kept that to a minimum.
Yeah, a positive is that a story arc was light on bullshit. Rick and company just wanted the guns- that’s it. If no one got hurt, that’d be great. If so, that would suck, but no way in hell were the survivors walking out empty handed. It wasn’t a clean operation, but it was as direct and successful as I’d expect, which is a surprise, given that this group knows next to nothing about negotiating.
That said, I’m of two minds about the operation. Rick and company aren’t heroes in the traditional sense, nor do they pretend to be, but they are going in and robbing this community of their weapons. Yes, the Oceanside women are reluctant and unwilling to fight, but this tactic just leaves them defenseless against any sort of future invasion- even if Rick and company decide to return some guns later, which I doubt.
And yet they did threaten to kill the women if they didn’t comply and hand over their weapons without a fight. Granted, they didn’t hurt anyone and you could see it in the faces of people like Gabriel and Jesus that they weren’t altogether comfortable with this operation, but hey, they’re desperate at this point. Not only do they need guns and numbers, but they still need to appease Jadis and the Junkyard Gang.
So it’s a strategic as well as desperation tactic because their options are limited. But I feel there should’ve been more intra-conflict between the Oceanside women. Only Natania is dead set against helping Rick, and her community has every reason to refuse lending assistance, so I would think others might be more vocal in their possible opposition.
But no, aside from the characters that have been named or identified, we don’t get that much sense of what the Oceanside women think or feel about these strangers coming into their territory to take their guns. And like some of the Hilltop residents, I wager most of them would be cannon fodder if they decided to join Rick’s effort.
In the end, the group gets a lot of guns and Tara doesn’t have to feel bad about breaking her promise and leaving Oceanside defenseless. It’s a victorious operation, but feels hollow because these tactics don’t feel different than what the Saviors have done.
I’m also wondering why almost everyone under the sun- or at least characters who have been named- went on this operation. I mean, Francine, Tobin, and Eric? The hell were they doing there and who the hell was keeping watch in Alexandria?
All in all, I think Oceanside could’ve been dropped altogether for now in favor of a different tactic- going back to the Kingdom. Richard said that the Kingdom has weapons and he even showed Daryl his trailer full of weapons. Rick and the others could go there, but in the process also learn what’s happened at the Kingdom since they were last there. In turn, they’d find Carol, Morgan, and the Kingdom now ready to fight.
I’m not a writer, but I find that situation a hell of a lot more interesting than this visit to Oceanside. Oh, by the way, Oceanside has some shitty security. The first time Tara tried to sneak in during “Swear,” she got spotted. Yeah, the women had shitty aim, but they were at least aware that someone tried to sneak into their territory. But here, Tara managed to get in undetected and enter a building without anyone noticing?
Anyway, we’re not given any indication how Sasha got captured at the Sanctuary, which makes her going in guns blazing last time feel pointless if we don’t even see how she ended up in a cell. Granted, it was a suicidal move in the first place, but at least let us see how her plan fell apart.
But going back to that bit about self-sacrifice, Sasha already locked Rosita out to prevent her from dying, but now she looks ready to die if it means putting even the smallest dent in Negan’s plan. In addition to Negan hearing from a little birdie that Rick is making plans, he wants to use Sasha’s abilities to his advantage, and Sasha would rather die than allow that.
Though I doubt she would’ve gone as far as committing suicide. Not at all. Negan deprived her of the blade she used to kill David. If Eugene had given her something sharp, chances are she would’ve used it to try and kill Negan instead of herself, but Eugene saw through that. She would have died in the process, but as a sacrifice in order to help with the greater mission of bringing down the Saviors.
However, Eugene would rather she just conform and stick to what the Saviors demand, even though he knows that she’s much stronger than that. There’s still time for Eugene to make a redemption move and I’m still certain that he has a longer game plan up his sleeve.
Meanwhile, we get another great comic to screen translation with Negan scolding and killing David attempting to break one of the cardinal rules at the Sanctuary: they don’t rape. This has been hinted at before and while some still find Negan to be a tyrant- and he is- he does at least have some standards. After all, he says that he wouldn’t want to live under someone who allowed rape, so for all he’s done, even he knows where to draw the lines.
And while Negan trying to tempt someone to join him is something we’ve seen before, Jeffrey Dean Morgan shows that Negan can be just as intimidating when he’s calm and collected, as if waiting to strike, in addition to when he’s angry and ranting.
Another missed opportunity is not showing us the confrontation between Dwight and Rosita. Given how on edge the lady has been, I’m surprised Dwight is still breathing or doesn’t have any sort of bruises. But anyway, looks like he’s ready and willing to turn on Negan. With Sherry gone, he’s got nothing to lose. While the others have every right to be suspicious, I’m excited for Dwight playing a double agent.
So “Something They Need” was decent. Not good, but not great, as the Oceanside stuff, while quick and to the point, felt muddled, while the situations at the Hilltop and Sanctuary were well-executed. With Dwight’s supposed turn, the survivors having more guns than ever and ready to fight, and Negan still in possession of Sasha and Eugene, we’re headed towards what looks to be an explosive finale as we continue the march to war.