It’s taken me a week to write this review, because it was so painfully dull when I first watched ‘The Other Side’, I paid so little attention I wasn’t actually sure if anything happened at all. I finally made myself watch it again, properly, and honestly it’s not as bad as I first thought… If you’re a Walking Dead fan, you’ll want to see this just to be one of the few to make it through the entire series without your brain turning to zombie mush, but honestly, I think you could skip 90% of this series and still understand what’s happening.
Episode 14, ‘The Other Side’, focuses on Hilltop, starting with a montage to show the townspeople making weapons and preparing for battle. Sasha (SONEQUA MARTIN-GREEN) is in mourning, preparing maps to break into the Saviors’ camp, with the help of Jesus (TOM PAYNE) and we have Rosita (CHRISTIAN SERRATOS) appear to bring us back to the end of episode 12 in The Walking Dead timeline. The montages are OK and do show that steps are being taken to prepare themselves, but it’s all so abysmally slow that it’s like the creators watched 24 and loved the real-time aspect, but decided not to bother with action or drama to sustain your interest.
Jesus and Enid (KATELYN NACON) realise Sasha plans to leave imminently, at the same time as the Saviors show up at Hilltop. Sasha and Rosita make their escape, while Daryl (NORMAN REEDUS) and Maggie (LAUREN COHAN) hide away, and are forced to finally interact. The Saviors come to take away Dr Carson (R KIETCH HARRIS), to replace the doctor who Negan (JEFFREY DEAN MORGAN) murdered earlier in the series. Gregory (XANDER BERKELEY) takes this opportunity to suck up to Simon (STEVEN OGG), hinting that they should keep Gregory onside, because if there was a mutiny, the next leader might be more of a threat to them.
Daryl and Maggie finally talk about Glen (STEVEN YEUN), almost an entire season after his death.It is a reasonably emotional moment, and both act well, however it’s a fleeting moment. Considering these are two of the main characters in the show, and the whole series has been built on that moment in the opener where Glen and Abraham (MICHAEL CUDLITZ) were killed, this should have been much bigger and more had impact. There’s been too much time spent with each of the different groups, that when this pivotal moment arrived, I’d forgotten that they hadn’t seen or spoken to each other, or even that Daryl might be feeling guilty. Also, I can’t be the only one finding it distracting how the series has played out at a snails pace, implying that lots of time has passed with each group coming around to the plan and learning to fight etc., and yet Maggie still doesn’t even have a bump! It just makes everything seem even more painfully slow – surely this should have been at least 9 months by now, since it sure feels like I’ve been watching it more than 9 months.
Elsewhere, Rosita and Sasha have tension on their mission over Abraham, and while trying to find a car, we get the one tiny bit of action as they fight off a couple of zombies. Sasha reveals the possibility of taking out Negan from a building adjacent to the Saviors camp, meaning they won’t have to be on a suicide mission. Rosita is of course as miserable and unhelpful as ever, and basically wants to have the suicide mission. She says they can’t risk missing the shot… It’s funny, she seems to have forgotten she had the shot when Negan was only several feet ahead of her and she hit Lucille instead. Why she suddenly is portrayed as a super spy who can do this covert mission, I have no idea.
The pair see Eugene (JOSH MCDERMITT) giving orders to the Saviors, and Rosita assumes he’s ‘playing some angle’. Eugene talks on the walkie-talkie as if he suspects a friend is listening, advising how long Negan will be inside for, and even comments on the possibility of someone being in one of the nearby buildings. The two women decide they have to break in to the base, and try to save Eugene in the process. He’s initially scared by their gunshot (which kills the guy next to him), and tearfully says he didn’t ask them to come. We initially think we must have been wrong about him, and maybe he is a cowardly traitor. But the second time I watched it, there’s something in his eyes that makes me think that Eugene does actually have his own plan. He’s no longer willing to be a cowardly bystander; I think he has his own plans of taking down Negan and the Saviors from the inside, and that’s why he won’t leave.
When he leaves, Sasha tricks Rosita so that she enters the compound and locks Rosita out. She goes in alone as Rosita, unwillingly, runs away. The episode ends with a shadowy figure with a crossbow on his back watching her. This could be Daryl coming to help save the day, or it could be Dwight (AUSTIN AMELIO) who might now be against Negan, or could be there to turn her in. My gut says the former, and we’ll see the betrayal of Negan’s right-hand man.
THE WALKING DEAD SEASON 7 AIRS IN THE UK, MONDAYS AT 9PM ON FOX