The penultimate episode of season seven splits up between three different storylines as we march toward a confrontation with Negan and the Saviors. We finally saw a return to the Oceanside community, witnessed Sasha's imprisonment at Savior HQ and were reminded that Gregory is a scheming coward at the Hilltop.
At the end of episode 12, Tara finally confessed to Rick her secret. After their recent struggles finding weapons, she reveals that she had found an entire community, isolated and packing tons of weaponry. The all-female group known as Oceanside was introduced in Tara's terrible solo episode. They had fought the Saviors previously and paid a terrible price, and now want nothing more than to be left alone.
That's not good enough for our group, who take on a shockingly aggressive role to take their guns by force. With Tara's intel, Rick, Michonne, Daryl and others plan an impressive assault.
Tara sneaks in to try a more diplomatic approach. She creeps into a house and points a gun at Tanya, the conservative matriarch of the group, and it all goes downhill from there. She pleads their cause but eventually Tara loses her gun. It's empty, but it doesn't matter. She was on a timer, and Rick and the gang are here.
With some carefully placed explosives and sniping positions, the people of Oceanside are herded quite neatly into a clearing outside the village, where they're immediately surrounded by our group. Rick really isn't interested in diplomacy at this point — he wants the weapons and then to leave without anyone getting hurt. The comparisons between how our group treats this community and how the Saviors have treated our group are startling.
The situation gets a bit complicated when Tanya comes out with a gun to Tara, but Rick barely breaks a sweat. Cyndie, Tanya's older grandaughter and Tara's frequent savior, is on board with joining up and fighting the saviors. Tanya wants no part of it. Michonne has a chance to take a risky shot, but then spots some incoming walkers.
A whole horde has come calling after the explosions. Our group stands firm, fans out and fires automatic weapon bursts into encroaching horde. During the attack Cyndie knocks out her own grandmother with a solid punch to the face. A few of the Oceanside folks grab knives and help defend against the barnacle-encrusted walkers. Nothing brings people together like a good ol'-fashioned zombie killin'.
With the horde defeated, our group soon leaves with the guns. Cyndie admits that she and some others want to join up and help fight the Saviors, but not all of them are on board. We probably haven't seen the last of them, but for now Rick and company have put them in a more dangerous position without really trying to make an alliance.
At the Hilltop, Gregory continues to be a quivering waste of a person. He goes to visit Maggie while she's outside the walls digging up a blueberry bush, and he somewhat tries to play nice and agree to work together. But when Maggie asks him to guard her while she works, Gregory gets all creepy while holding a knife and stares at her while her back is turned.
When a walker arrives he attempts to muster up the courage to attack it, then freaks out and backs off, letting the pregnant lady kill two walkers and save him. This is the most obvious way the show can tell you that Maggie is a better leader than Gregory, though we've already known that from their very first meeting. Back in his office Gregory grabs a map and plans a road trip. Maybe he's going to cry to Simon and Negan about his leadership problems?
At Savior HQ, we find Sasha already captured by the Saviors. We don't ever learn how she was captured or how effective her insane one-person front door assault was. It didn't seem to do much good, though Negan is impressed.
“You got some beach ball-sized lady nuts, coming in here,” Negan says.
David, the disgusting rapist, arrives to pay her a visit while she's alone in her cell, and he's got one thing on his mind. This scene plays out exactly as it does in the comics, with Negan showing up and killing David before much happens. Unlike in the comic, however, Negan offers Sasha a place in his crew, just as he did with Eugene. He leaves Sasha the knife he killed David with, giving her the choice to kill herself or kill David when he reanimates.
When Sasha and Rosita planned this assault, both agreed to not be taken alive, and do what is necessary. Here, however, Sasha kills the walker. Negan accepts her into the crew and gives her a place, but no weapon yet. Eugene visits Sasha later, and what follows is a very awkward, poorly-written scene, in which Sasha spills out her guts and despairs all over Eugene through a closed door.
Turns out she was faking it to manipulate Eugene into getting her a weapon. Eugene thinks Sasha plans to kill herself with that weapon, but Sasha's sly smile tells us she has other plans. Ironically, we've learend that Eugene is a pro at assisted suicide. He returns with a poison pill, which is not at all the kind of weapon that Sasha was hoping for.
Things look bleak for Sasha, but I still fully expect her to follow Holly's fate in the comics in the upcoming season finale.
The rest of our group scored a big victory gathering weapons. When they return to Alexandria another gift falls into their lap. That shadowy figure whom Rosita saw after Sasha left her last week? Turns out it was Dwight, finally come to betray Negan.
They find Dwight already in a cell and Daryl flips out, practically barking like a ravenous dog as they hold him back. Rick remains stoic but isn't exactly pleased or trusting, and he then pulls a gun on Dwight. Despite the animosity, Dwight should prove an invaluable asset in the confrontation next week and the war to come.
Cyndie: The woman with the real beach ball-sized lady nuts is Cyndie. I don't care how ornery they are, one does not simply knock out their grandmother. But in this case, she may have well saved her life.
Maggie: Maggie is a natural-born leader and fits perfectly in the Hilltop. She's constantly helping people, teaching people and defending people. And all while pregnant!
Negan: Clean-shaven Negan still wigs me out, but he was decent in this episode. A nice balance of sinister and charismatic. Small doses of Jeffery Dean Morgan work best. Bonus points for the names “Rapey Davey” and “Dead-alive Rapey Davey.”
Oceanside: Maybe we'd forgotten how good our group is, but Oceanside was caught completely flat-footed by the ambush and captured without a whimper. Only Tanya was willing to stand up to them, though she was also willing to get herself killed for no real reason. You all need a new leader. Have you thought about a Ricktatorship? Or maybe a Maggiocracy?
Sasha: Sorry, Sasha. You were solid last week, but you drank too much of the Rosita Kool-Aid, and now here you are. Even though she was faking her outburst to Eugene she did get one thing right: Negan will use her to hurt her friends.
Gregory: You know why.