Finally, after almost an entire series of The Walking Dead with no action, drama or excitement, we get an episode that starts propelling us in the right direction – shame it took the best part of an entire series to get here.
‘Something They Need’ is an episode that doesn’t stay focused on one location, and instantly we get an increase in the pace and tension. We open with the group from Alexandria making their way towards Oceanside, while the conversation between Rick (ANDREW LINCOLN) and TARA (ALANNA MASTERSON) that got them here plays over the top. This is what we’ve needed from the show for so long – movement and pace. We don’t need to see every boring conversation – being more creative with presenting us with essential plot info is so much better, particularly after seven series. We also get a glimpse of some nasty-looking, barnacle-ridden zombies from the coastal town, adding a new creepy dimension to the walkers, which you would expect to be difficult to achieve by this point in the show!
Meanwhile, Sasha (SONEQUA MARTIN-GREEN) isn’t dead… yet. After breaking into the Saviors base at the end of the last episode, it sounds like she made quite an impression before being captured and locked in a cell. David (MARTINEZ) enters and is about to rape her when Negan (JEFFREY DEAN MORGAN) arrives, and for once actually seems to do something decent. Unfortunately for David, Negan’s justice is much more immediate and brutal than serving time, and he stabs him through the neck. He recognises Sasha as one of Rick’s people, and impressed with her ‘lady-nuts’, makes her an offer to join him. He leaves the knife for her to make a choice: kill herself, kill David when he turns to a walker, or do nothing and let walker-David attack her. It’s kind of like a metaphor for the overall situation the groups are in: they can choose to do nothing (like Oceanside) and most likely end up being killed anyway; choose to actively do something about it and potentially die whilst trying; or (like Eugene [JOSH MCDERMITT] apparently) join team Negan. The man himself is as engaging and full of personality as ever, even if he is deranged and dangerous. He adds a much needed new dynamic to a show that’s, understandably, predominantly people who are quiet and quite miserable, trying to survive a zombie apocalypse.
Eugene brings Sasha some bedding and supplies, and she confronts him on why he’s switched sides. As usual, he’s again a fresh personality with his off-beat, unintentional comedy – “Full disclosure: the pillow is not hypoallergenic”. He attempts to convince her to take up Negan’s offer, explaining how much that night Negan killed Glen (STEVEN YEUN) and Abraham (MICHAEL CUDLITZ) affected him. I’m really hoping there is a bigger plan with Eugene here, because while it’s understandable that he would react this way, it would be nice to actually see some character development and a twist in the tale.
Gregory’s (XANDER BERKELEY) keeping a close eye on Maggie (LAUREN COHAN), but we can’t quite tell if he’s warming to her, or realising what a threat she is to his position as leader. I’d assume with a sniveling weasel like Gregory, it’s more likely to be the latter, particularly as he calls one of his minions into his office to ‘drive him somewhere’, whilst drinking Simon’s (STEVEN OGG) tequila. He proves that he’s unable to defend himself, let alone others, against the walkers, and is losing the respect of his people. He knows it, and is the sort of man who needs to feel power even if he has never truly earned it. He even contemplates killing Maggi, in a moment that shows just what a weak man he is.
The events at Oceanside provide us with that much needed action we’ve been craving: Rick’s group set up bombs outside the camp to direct the inhabitants away, intending to keep them contained without anyone getting harmed, while they take their guns. Things don’t go to plan when their leader, Natania (DEBORAH MAY) threatens to kill Tara. The Oceanside residents seem to start agreeing with Rick when they hear his plans to attack the Saviours, and all of them (minus Natania) have to join forces when a herd of water-walkers arrives. We get shooting, stabbing, plenty of drama and finally some actual high stakes. This is the first time for a long time when the threat of the walkers actually seems genuine, and someone could get hurt or worse.
Back with the Saviors, we find out that Sasha did kill the walker and lets Negan know she will join him. Her resolution appears to falter when, shortly afterwards, she convinces Eugene that she made a mistake and needs him to get something for her to kill herself. It’s both an emotional and intelligent scene, with Eugene believing her and feeling truly heartbroken and torn by her request. From this side of the door, she’s easy to believe with her breaking voice, but when she knows she’s convinced him, the camera flips and we see the look of satisfaction on her face. Her plans to kill Negan from the inside are still very much alive, and I have to say, Sasha’s character has flourished in the past few episodes. Since the writers have given her a purpose, a mission, she’s shown herself to be intelligent, compassionate, strong and loyal. I do hope that she makes it out of the Saviour’s base alive now, but if she goes down by taking out Negan, at least she’s going down swinging. It’ll be a truly well-deserved, memorable and emotional exit.
Eugene pulls through for her, but her hopes are dashed when he provides her with the poison pill he made himself. We know that this was created to be strong enough to kill Negan anyway, so hope is not yet lost, even if Sasha doesn’t know it.
Rick’s group now have their weapons, and while they have the support of a lot of Oceanside, the lack of belief from Natania means they don’t have any extra bodies. They make their way back to Alexandria, and are greeted at the gates by slapped-with-a-dead-fish-in-the-face Rosita (CHRISTIAN SERRATOS). She leads them to the jail, where we find out it was Dwight (AUSTIN AMELIO) watching her from the shadows. He claims he wants to help, and from our inside audience perspective, we could see this coming. But Rick and the gang are naturally more dubious. Rick tells him to get on his knees, pointing a gun straight in his face.
This episode is one of the few worth watching this series. I honestly think you could skip the majority and you’d not only still understand the plot (since it moved at a glacial pace), but you’d get some of the best bits the Walking Dead has to offer. We get the charisma of the maniacal Negan, the tension and action of Rick’s gang taking on a massive herd of walkers, the emotional games between Sasha and Eugene, and the subplot of betrayal from Gregory. Here’s hoping the writers give us the finale episode we all deserve for sticking with this for 16 episodes though.
THE WALKING DEAD SEASON 7 FINALE AIRS ON FOX IN THE UK, NEXT MONDAY AT 9PM