In “The Other Side,” The Walking Dead provides an opportunity for fans to mourn Abraham and Glenn, alongside the characters who loved them. When Simon and the Saviors arrive unexpectedly at the Hilltop, Sasha and Rosita head out on their mission to kill Negan, while Daryl and Maggie hide in the root cellar. As the conflict with the Saviors intensifies, “The Other Side” reveals more about how different characters have been affected by recent events.
When the Saviors arrive, led by Simon, Hilltop leader Gregory seems as desperate to appease as ever. After a forced friendly greeting, Gregory offers his guest gin, but Simon is a “man of shifting specifics in taste and transition,” and now prefers tequila. The scenes between Gregory (played by Xander Berkeley) and Simon (played by Steven Ogg) are mesmerizing. Both actors embrace their roles, creating larger-than-life comic characters that somehow still feel real. Gregory reminds us of that annoying boss who takes credit for your work, while Simon’s every movement drips with psychopathy. The Saviors have arrived because they need a new doctor at the Sanctuary. Dr. Harlan Carlson learns of his brother’s death after Simon makes a series of ridiculous faces at him:
“I think my look may have conveyed the information. People say I have an expressive face. But if not, let me repeat your question. Why do we need two doctors? Answer: we don’t.”
Gregory makes a dangerous attempt to convince Simon to let Dr. Carson stay, pointing out that if the people of Hilltop lose faith in him, someone less amenable to the Saviors’ cause could come into power. It’s not clear what motivates Gregory in this tense moment, in which he comes the closest to confronting Simon as we’ve yet seen. Simon makes it clear the doctor’s removal is not up for discussion, but he writes down where Gregory can find him if he ever needs help maintaining power at the Hilltop. Whatever he wrote down is bound to be important later.
The tension isn’t just between the Hilltop and the Saviors. The arrival of the Alexandrians has made the existing internal rifts at the Hilltop more evident to everyone. After the Saviors leave, Gregory tells Jesus he wants the newcomers to move out of his trailer and into Barrington House. He also has job assignments for them. Jesus notes that Gregory must be worried if he’s trying to split everyone up. Simon’s note has bolstered Gregory’s confidence and he tells Jesus, “You shouldn’t talk to me like that. Who knows what might happen with all these Saviors coming around.” Jesus doesn’t take his threat lightly. Divisions within the Hilltop could either create an opening for Maggie to lead them into war or it could threaten their entire plan if Gregory decides to betray them.
Friendship and Forgiveness
Though there may be plotting and scheming going on, life at the Hilltop has continued. They work, eat, grieve, and prepare for the future. Maggie’s doctor visit reminds us that she needs this obstetrician more than most. Maggie, Sasha, and Enid have been staying with Jesus, who is used to having people around because he grew up in a group home. Just in case there were any ideas about Maggie getting over Glenn with Jesus, shippers were put on notice.
Jesus: “For the first time I feel like I belong. Trying to make sure you and Sasha became a part of this made me a part of this. When I was first here, I was never here. I always found it hard getting close to anyone, neighbors, friends, boyfriends.”
Maggie: “You should try it sometime. Even if it doesn’t last.”
You can feel the warmth of this growing friendship between Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Jesus (Tom Payne). Bear McCreary’s quiet score and the sound of the cicadas almost make us forget it’s the apocalypse. It’s the character-driven moments like these that make us love The Walking Dead. We’ve almost forgotten how much we hated much of the first half of Season 7.
Though Daryl (Norman Reedus) is residing at the Hilltop, he’s still too deeply ashamed to talk to Maggie. It’s not until they are trapped together, hiding from the Saviors, that he must face her. When he apologizes, she tells him it wasn’t his fault; it was Negan. Maggie tells Daryl, “You’re one of the good things in this world. That’s what Glenn thought. And he would know, ‘cause he was one of the good things too.” Maggie realizes they need to figure out how they can win against the Saviors, not just act out in anger and vengeance.
Reveals and Revenge
Speaking of acting out of anger, Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) and Rosita (Christian Serratos) head towards the Sanctuary to assassinate Negan. Rosita is coming in hot, believing there can only be one outcome in this suicide mission. Sasha suggests they try to take a shot at Negan from one of the buildings outside the Sanctuary:
“We hole up, we wait. We take a shot from there. If we have to get closer there’s weak spots on the perimeter we might still be able to take advantage of, but if we can, I say we stay outside. Do it clean. Maybe we make it out alive.”
It’s icy between these ladies at first, but as they bide their time waiting for Negan to show up, Rosita starts to open up to Sasha. Rosita talks about her life and then they talk about Abraham. Rosita tells Sasha, “It was stupid to waste so much time. I’ll never get to tell Abraham I’m happy he was happy.” Rosita asks Sasha is she was happy, to which Sasha replies, “I was.” It sure feels like The Walking Dead is giving Rosita a send-off here, and we were convinced her death was inevitable at this point, as the indications seem almost heavy-handed. Rosita speaks of Abraham’s death: “It wasn’t his time.” Sasha believes that Abraham would have wanted to go out fighting, just as they all hope to.
Rosita and Sasha run into the additional complication of Eugene’s presence at the Sanctuary. When Rosita sees him giving orders, she assumes he’s working some kind of angle, just as he did when he told Abraham he had a cure for the outbreak. Due to Eugene’s order to the Saviors to search the nearby buildings for more walkers, they alter their plan. Sasha’s plan was a good one. Instead of taking a shot at Negan from a safe distance, they come in at night, telling Eugene they are there to break him out. But Eugene has no intention of being rescued, whispering, “I didn’t ask you to come, so go!” before scampering back inside. He does seem to be working an angle, but not the kind Rosita expected. We can’t help but still have faith in Eugene, hoping he will eventually help his former comrades in some way. Josh McDermitt doesn’t give anything away with his strong performance.
Eugene’s betrayal isn’t the only surprise for Rosita. After Eugene heads back in to blow their cover, they realize they have to take action now. Sasha manages to get on the other side of the fence and lock it back up before Rosita realizes what she has done. Sasha tells Rosita, “It’s not your time. There’s got to be a point to it, right? They need you.” As Sasha heads inside, we hear shots and see men heading towards her location. Rosita, who is on the other side of the fence, can’t get to her and has no choice but to run. The Walking Dead duped us into believing Rosita would be the one to give up her life, when it ended up being Sasha. Nicely done, TWD.
Sasha is in for one last surprise. She runs away, then stops to cry exasperatedly. Who can blame her? Olivia was killed because of her failed attempt to kill Negan.Eugene was only captured because she bullied him into making a bullet. Then Sasha goes off on her own to get herself killed after Rosita convinced her to come on this suicide mission. She looks up to see a shadowy figure wearing a crossbow watching her. Is it Daryl? The frightened look on her face suggests otherwise. Is it Dwight? If it is Dwight, will he hurt or help Rosita? We’re also wondering if Sasha was killed or if she survived her charge. It appears, like Rosita, we’re in store for some surprises as well.
The Other Side Review
“The Other Side” refers to Sasha literally being on the other side of the fence from Rosita, and figuratively to Eugene’s betrayal. It also reminds us that we are on the other side of Season 7 and the deaths of Abraham and Glenn. The first half of the series moved so quickly and so brutally it never felt like there was adequate time to mourn for these two important characters. The Walking Dead finally gives us the chance to feel the impact of their deaths, as Maggie helps Daryl with his guilt over Glenn, and Rosita and Sasha bond over Abraham. There were other moving scenes in the episode as well. The quiet friendship between Maggie and Jesus, Eugene’s betrayal, and Sasha’s sacrifice all helped to make “The Other Side” the most emotionally-driven episode in Season 7 of The Walking Dead.