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The Walking Dead: The Other Side

Well, at least we got that out of the way.  Ever since The Walking Dead arbitrarily created the Sasha-Abraham-Rosita love triangle, the show set itself on a path towards an episode in which the two women work through their feelings.  It all feels less urgent since the meat in the Abraham sandwich got his brains splattered all over Negan’s bat in the season premiere (which feels like a lifetime ago) and the truth is this story arc was never that interesting to begin with.  But at least the show’s writers have played it out and we can theoretically all move on to not caring about Enid.

Much of this week’s episode takes place in the Hilltop community.  We haven’t seen much of the Hilltoppers this season, but every time we do the same things seem to be happening over and over again.  Simon, the most Neganesque of Negan’s surrogates, starts dicking around with Gregory.  Gregory is too cowardly and stupid to realize that the arrangement he has made with Simon is untenable in the long run.  This plays out symbolically with a silly bit of business involving booze.

On a previous episode, Simon confiscated crates of gin.  Remembering this, Gregory offers Simon his favorite drink.  But Simon says he is fickle and he’s given up gin for tequila.  Hey, who doesn’t want to throw in their lot with a guy who can’t even stick to one drink for more than a couple of weeks?  Gregory is so desperate to kiss up to Simon that he too switches to tequila.  A smart man would start hoarding tequila in order to win favor with Simon the next time he visits (assuming Simon doesn’t switch drinks again that is).  But Gregory seems to think that sipping tequila when Simon is away will score him points.  What does it matter?  Even money says Gregory is a goner sometime in the next couple of episodes.

The arrival of the Saviors sends Maggie and Daryl into hiding.  When one of the goons starts snooping around the basement where they are hiding, Daryl prepares to kill him.  Putting the ethical question of taking a life aside for a moment, this is a terrible idea.  If Daryl is discovered at the Hilltop, their will be bloody consequences for all involved.  The Saviors are going to notice if one of their men goes missing.  Killing one of the Saviors would bring death and destruction to the entire community.

The point of the entire interlude is to give Maggie and Daryl a scene together.  That’s a fine idea, but something that probably should have happened a lot closer to Daryle’s return from the Savior compound.  Daryl – understandably – feels a great deal of guilt over getting Maggie’s husband killed.  Negan may have wielded the bat, but Daryl provoked the attack through a stupid and pointless act of defiance.  They hug it out, but I think Maggie let Daryl off easy considering he almost did something stupid and pointless that would have resulted in a lot of their friends getting killed.

Meanwhile, Sasha decides to accompany Rosita on her suicide run on the Savior compound.  Ever since Abraham died, Rosita has been hellbent on killing Negan.  I suppose I buy her desire for revenge, but before he died Abraham did Rosita wrong.  So, maybe he’s not worth getting killed over?  Then again, the writers love going to the well of the character with nothing to live for trying to get themselves killed by any means other than actually taking their own life.  They did the same thing with Sasha a few seasons ago after her brother died.

Sasha knows this is a bad idea, but she’s not going to let Rosita go it alone.  Is she motivated by guilt over stealing Rosita’s man?  She shouldn’t be.  She didn’t do anything the encourage Abraham’s affections and they barely established a relationship at all before he died.  But Sasha still sees fir to wear a necklace Abraham gave her on the road trip with his ex.  Ooops.  When Rosita sees it, she points out that she actually made the trinket.

It turns out that Rosita is a woman of hidden talents.  For example, she teaches Sasha to tie knots.  In case the audience missed the point of how useful she is, Sasha point blanks tells Rosita how lucky the community is to have her because she knows how to do everything – something which the audience has only gotten hints of in the last few episodes.  Rosita explains that she has been sleeping her way through the apocalypse learning useful skills from one boyfriend after another.  The Walking Dead has funny ideas about what constitutes a strong female character.

The girls have camped out in the perfect sniper’s nest conveniently left unguarded by the Saviors right next to their compound.  When Negan walks out into the open, they can’t get a clean shot.  Their opportunity is brief as Negan quickly disappears from view.  During his visit, the girls see Eugene giving orders and being rather chummy with the man they are there to kill.  Using a stolen walkie talkie, they overhear Eugene ordering the Saviors to search the surrounding buildings for more zombies he can add to the perimeter – despite the fact that the metal-covered zombies are completely immobile and therefore not a threat to anyone.  The only way these zombies could hurt you would be if you put a body part in their mouths.

Since the Saviors are going to be doing sweeps of the surround area, Sasha and Rosita decide to leave their sniper’s nest.  The sensible thing would be to camp out at a safe distance and then come back for another shot.  A sniper has to be patient and you’re not going to find a better set up.  All they have to do is wait for the perfect opportunity to present itself and it will be like taking candy from a baby.  But that’s not what they do.  Instead, they decide to try to rescue Eugene who freaks out and tells them he doesn’t wish to be rescued.

We’re obviously supposed to take this as confirmation that Eugene has switched sides.  But I suspect he is really just trying to gain Negan’s trust so he can take him down from the inside.  Since the writers are working so hard to convince us that Eugene has become Negan’s toadie, I’m inclined to believe the opposite is true.  Of course if Eugene were really plotting against the Saviors, he could have just said as much to Rosita and Sasha, but that’s not how The Walking Dead operates.

When their impromptu rescue attempt fails, Rosita and Sasha decide to pull a Butch and Sundance and go out in a blaze of glory.  But Sasha pulls a fast one.  Since Rosita is so skilled at tying knots and things, Sasha closes the gate and tells her she has to get back to the community to help the others.  Then she goes off on the suicide run all by herself for no apparent reason.  For all she knows, Rosita is just going to find another way to enter the gate and get herself killed.  That was Rosita’s plan all along.  But fortunately for her, a Daryl (or possibly Dwight)-shaped shadow shows up to prevent Rosita from doing just that.

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Posted on March 20, 2017, in TV, Walking Dead and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. “Gregory is so desperate to kiss up to Simon that he too switches to tequila.”

    I read that as Gregory preparing to gift Simon with a bottle upon visiting him/sending him a message about what’s up at Hilltop. Hilltop is probably going to be blamed for what Sasha does–that was the point in having Simon tell Gregory where the compound is.

    “But Sasha still sees fir to wear a necklace Abraham gave her on the road trip with his ex. Ooops. When Rosita sees it, she points out that she actually made the trinket.”

    As I recall, Abraham lost or discarded that particular trinket and Hilltop and someone else who fond it gave it to Sasha, telling her it was his.

    “Using a stolen walkie talkie, they overhear Eugene ordering the Saviors to search the surrounding buildings for more zombies he can add to the perimeter”

    I didn’t read his orders that way; as he says it, it sounds as if he’s ordering Saviors who are stationed in the outbuildings to go find and round up some zombies. This morning, three or four people have offered me the same interpretation as you. Eugene’s actual words can be read either way. In any event, if one is going to search for zombies, the third- or fourth-floor of a building isn’t where one is going to look. I actually like your interpretation better–it makes the whole thing even more absurd–but it didn’t occur to me when I was watching the show (I ended up adding an update to my own article on this issue).

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  2. Jim The Hammer

    Have you ever thought how good this show would be with a competent writing staff? Or even mediocre? Hell, even with a sub-passable team, this show would be so much better and actually (possibly) compelling, in a positive way. As it stands, it is an ongoing exercise in incompetency, and will never change for the better. It’s becoming clearer to me all the time why Darabont walked from this joke. He treated it with care and pride, and IMO, it showed in the work. Which brings us to whatever the hell is going on now…

    As has been mentioned before, the portrayal of women in this show is…. completely out-of-touch. I’ll go out on a limb an say there’s not a single female writer with any sort of authority on the staff, if there’s any at all in the first place. As with the attack on the satellite outpost, well them wimmens folk, they shore do have to talk about them feelins instead of, you know, concentrating on the crucial task at hand.

    This time, it’s a suicide mission bent on revenge. Killing Negan is of the utmost importance. The highest priority you can imagine. Nothing must stand in their way. Absolutely nothing. Except their emotions…. FFS, Sniper rifle. Excellent position. Easy path of egress. All you have to do, ALL you have to do, is look through the scope, and keep looking through the scope, until your target appears. But no, it’s time to sit down and learn how to make stupid knots (Because apparently, Sasha is too stupid to pick up on it by watching Rosita make this extremely simple knot countless times already, no she needs her to ‘teach’ her.) and to bond emotionally. Now. After weeks of doing nothing.

    Of course, there were countless things that were just as weak and pathetic as this example, and you guys fleshed them out well, but this one, the whole POINT of the episode, I am still shaking my head over…

    Serious question here: which example displays poorer writing- this show or Ed Wood movies? I know Wood didn’t have a writing staff, or a budget for that matter, but that shouldn’t factor into any answer…. on the merits of the story itself…. which one?

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    • “I’ll go out on a limb an say there’s not a single female writer with any sort of authority on the staff, if there’s any at all in the first place.”

      You’re going to love this: the writer of record on this very ep is a woman, Angela Kang, who has been with the show since season 2. Another, Channing Powell, has been with the show since season 4. In past seasons, Nichole Beattie and Heather Bellson have written eps. All the other writers, unless I’m missing any, were guys.

      Angela Kang is notorious in the fan community as the worst writer on TWD. I tend not to assign blame to the individual writers-of-record in my own criticism because if TWD works the way most shows do, the entire plot and every major beat in an ep is worked out by the full staff or a combination of several of them before any teleplays are written. The individual writers don’t have a lot of discretion to change things. Kang suddenly had her name on some very good eps in season 4 and I speculated that perhaps in the previous seasons, she was just being assigned the lousy, thankless eps. But after that year, the scripts bearing her name went back to being terrible. Like this one. Who knows? Among other trophies in her case, she’s the writer of record of Beth’s bizarre death, Glenn’s dumpster dive, the ep with Daryl locked in a closet for an hour. She wrote “Say the Word” in season 3! AWFUL! There’s no question she’s lent her name to some of the worst work on TWD.

      The show’s misogyny problem was horrible through its 2nd and 3rd seasons–the first article I ever wrote about the show mentioned it and the second one was devoted entirely to it. When he took over as showrunner, Scott Gimple seemed to want to reform this for a time–maybe the ladies he hired for various seasons helped smooth it out–but as with everything else, the bad old habits crept back into it. The writing staff, even the women (Powell and Kang are the only ones at present), seem to know their audience.

      “Serious question here: which example displays poorer writing- this show or Ed Wood movies?”

      Wood was an artist. Even a very bad artist–he was that as well–is better than this rubbish. Definitely more interesting.

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      • Jim The Hammer

        ” The individual writers don’t have a lot of discretion to change things. ”

        That’s what I meant about having(or lacking) authority on the staff. With the idiotic storyline already fleshed out in advance, I don’t lay much blame on the person who ends up writing the screenplay for it, they just got stuck with the check. I just can’t envision female writers with some pull on said staff as they’re putting another masterful episode together saying: “Oh no, let’s not have the female characters do that, that’s too logical, have them play more to negative stereotype instead!” Just don’t see it…

        And that’s 1 vote for Ed Wood. Some people may laugh at that, but to quote the great Criswell:

        “We once laughed at the horseless carriage, the aeroplane, the telephone, the electric light, vitamins, radio, and even television. And now some of us laugh at outer space. God help us in the future.”

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  3. You’ve talked a lot about filler before and I could sort of see it, but it was never as clear to me as in this episode. All the important points of this episode could have been condensed down to about 10 minutes and squeezed into another episode in place of the usual filler.

    The Rosita thing has bugged me from the start. It is one thing to be obsessed with taking out Negan on your own when no one is showing any real interest in fighting back. But we’ve reached a point where it would be obvious that the pieces are rapidly falling into place for a coordinated attack on the Saviors. I would guess in show time (as nebulous as it is) that we would be a few weeks to a month at most before an attack.

    Between this and Iron Fist (which I’m also watching at the moment) I’m being hit with shows that have great potential being dragged into the ground by surprisingly bad writing. I’m so happy Better Call Saul and Fargo are coming out soon!

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  4. I would concur that the Sasha/Rosita thing seems unnecessary, since nothing actually happened between Sasha and Abraham and Sasha was non committal about whether or not she returned his feelings, and there wasn’t really evidence of a strong mutual attraction. Considering the very pressing matters surrounding these women, they’d just let the whole thing go.

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