“Something They Need” brings together some missing pieces as we head towards the season finale of The Walking Dead. There’s a lot of violence against walkers, but only one human casualty in the penultimate episode of Season 7. “Something They Need” was written by Corey Reed (“Forget,” “Now,” and “Service”) and directed by Michael Slovis (“Thank You”).
Gregory tries to make nice with Maggie, though his motivation is not clear. Maggie is showing her natural leadership by teaching the people of Hilltop farming skills. The Hilltop was already growing its own crops well before Maggie arrived, but apparently she can still provide some useful tips. Her fighting lessons have probably been much more useful.
After observing Maggie’s touch with the common folk, Gregory follows her outside to talk as she digs up a blueberry bush. When he makes conciliatory overtures, Maggie tells him, “It’s never too late to change; you know that.” Hmmm, are you sure about that, Maggie? When Maggie asks Gregory to keep an eye out for walkers as she finishes digging, he seems to consider killing her for a moment but quickly shakes it off. He may be a bumbling, fearful leader, but he’s not a killer. At least he’s not willing to do the killing himself.
When a walker threatens, Gregory offers to kill it, saying, “I’m here to protect the pregnant lady, not to have the pregnant lady protect me,” but when he wavers Maggie steps in. While Maggie is indisposed, another walker sneaks up on Gregory and Maggie has to save him as well. Gregory’s screams are heard by a hunting party returning to the Hilltop, When Maggie tells them, “He hasn’t killed one before. He’s learning,” it doesn’t feel like a great moment for Gregory. If she’s intentionally trying to undermine his authority, she’s doing a pretty good job. If it’s not her intention, she might want to think more about how to turn a man like Gregory into an ally.
Whatever Gregory’s original goal was when he went out to talk to Maggie, the shame-inducing walker incident has had an effect. Gregory gets out a map and makes plans to head out, presumably to go and talk to his Savior pal Simon. It’s actually a little surprising he’d be willing to leave the Hilltop after his recent walker incident. Resentment and shame can be powerful motivators.
Tara returns to Oceanside, along with Rick and a lot of others, in order to steal their guns. Aaron has even brought Erik along, making us wonder if one of these two will be dying soon. They even brought Enid! She’s taking this trip seriously, asking Carl if he ever thinks about the people he’s killed. That’s some deep stuff, Enid. The trip to Oceanside is an attempt to get something they need without having to kill people for it. It’s not until the end of the mission that Carl responds to Enid’s question: “It’s not just the people I killed. I think about the ones I didn’t kill too.”
Tara ambushes Oceanside leader Natania and her granddaughter Cyndie. She tries to convince them to join them willingly, telling them, “The world can belong to good people—to fair people—if we’re just brave enough to try.” But Natania’s not interested. Tara wants to avoid killing anyone from Oceanside—so much so that she didn’t load the gun she brought. Natania and Cyndie are able to turn the tables on Tara.
Rick, Daryl, Jesus, Tobin, Carl, Enid, Father Gabriel, and Michonne are able to round everyone up peacefully. Considering how many guns they have, it’s surprising how few seem to be carrying a firearm. Rick tells the group they don’t want to hurt anyone, adding, “This is just about what you have. What we need.” Despite their intentions to not kill anyone, they still appear thuggish as they stand with their guns over the captive group of women and children.
Natania and Cyndie bring the captive Tara in order to bargain, but Rick is not backing down. Some of the Oceansiders, including Beatrice and Francine, are open to joining in the fight against the Saviors, but leader Natania is not willing to lose any more of her people. Tara warns Natania, “You kill me, you die and my people take the guns, and nothing changes.” Michonne warns of approaching walkers, and Cyndie takes the opportunity to knock out her grandmother, saving Tara’s life for the third time. A few Oceansiders and the Alexandrians form a line in front of the unarmed women and children. They attack the soggy and barnacle-encrusted walkers. Even vicious little Rachel gets one.
Despite their heartwarming moment of togetherness, the Alexandrians still take all the guns from Oceanside. Tara claims they’ll give them back after the fight with the Saviors, but it’s not clear how that will happen since they still have to give the garbage heap people a bunch more guns in order to get their help. Despite the fact the Alexandrians are stealing their entire armory, leaving them more vulnerable to walkers and invading groups, some of the women of Oceanside want to help. But apparently, somewhere in their commune charter, it states that they can only go if they all go (same rules for chewing gum). Before they leave, Cyndie thanks Tara for what they’re doing. We assume she means attacking the Saviors, not stealing their guns.
As the Alexandrians leave, that little jerk Rachel asks, “You’re not leaving us any?” Tara tells her, “Nope. See you later, Rachel,” and gives her the finger. Tara tells Rick, “You’re right. I don’t need to feel bad.” Uh … maybe she should feel a little bad. Then again, she did accomplish the mission without any bloodshed … assuming Oceanside isn’t wiped out in a few weeks.
Sasha is still alive and being held by the Saviors. It seems like nothing in Rosita and Sasha’s plan went right. Did they manage to kill anyone besides the guard at the fence? Sasha tricked Rosita, who then ran off. And what happened to the idea that you can’t allow yourself to get caught, Sasha? This might be the worst suicide mission ever.
Sasha is being held in the same closet where Darryl and then Dwight were imprisoned. When she wakes, Sasha finds herself being threatened by one of her Savior captors. Negan puts a stop to it, reminding the man that rape is against the rules, then stabbing him through the neck. Negan creates a show for Sasha, though it’s clear that he believes that his rules are based in some kind of moral code. Negan is impressed by Sasha and her “beach ball-size lady nuts.” He wants her to join the Saviors. When Negan recognizes Sasha and asks if her assassination attempt was directed by Rick, Sasha shows nothing but contempt for Rick.
Eugene shows up with some luxury items for Sasha’s cell. When Sasha asks, “What did they do to you?” Eugene admits, “They kept me safe.” He tells her that be believed that he could be brave, be a survivor like Abraham, but now he knows he was “full-tilt delusional.” Eugene believes that staying at the Sanctuary means he’ll never again have to be scared like he was that night in the woods when Abraham and Glenn were killed. It may seem cowardly, but it’s easy to understand Eugene’s desire to feel safe. Not everyone can be Gryffindor all the time.
When Negan comes back Sasha tells him she’s ready to join. We’re not convinced and neither is Negan. He tells Sasha, “Cards on the table. A little birdy told me Rick and the rest of your people are up to no good.” Before Negan leaves, he adds that tomorrow is going to be a big day. That can’t be good for Alexandria. We wonder who that little bird could be?
Eugene returns to tell Sasha he believes she did the right thing. Sasha claims to be having second thoughts. She begs Eugene to get a gun, knife, or razor so she can kill herself and Negan won’t use her to hurt their friends. Her ruse fails when Eugene brings her the poison pills, not a weapon she can use against the Saviors. He tells Sasha, “For the record I absolutely do not want you to go, but it sounds to me like you’re already gone.” Was Eugene really taken in by her act, or is he trying to keep Sasha alive? It’s hard to know what’s going through Eugene’s head right now.
They return to Alexandria, where Rosita opens the gate. She has returned with Dwight, who claims he wants to help them. Though we don’t know where Eugene stands, we believe Dwight. With Sherry gone, he has nothing to lose and he already tried to run away from Negan. The question is whether of not Rick and the others can stomach working with someone who has been directly involved in the deaths of their friends. He may have been standing by when Negan killed Abraham and Glenn, but it was his order that killed Tara’s girlfriend Dr. Denise.
“Something They Need” Review
“Something They Need” is an episode full of moral complexities, with very little time to explore them. The moment between Maggie and Gregory, rather than bonding them, seems to have driven a wedge further between them, even though Maggie may not yet realize it. The scene at the Hillside was slow, but actor Xander Berkeley plays Gregory with such bluster he is fascinating to watch alongside Lauren Cohan (Maggie), who plays one of the most grounded, self-aware characters in the series.
Regardless of the quicksand of shifting morality, the raid on Oceanside gave us something new and interesting. The Alexandrians try to figure out how to get what they need without murdering everyone, as they did last season. It helped that the raid was led by Tara, who remains one of the stronger characters in terms of moral integrity now that Glenn is gone. The Oceanside incursion was certainly the most interesting aspect of the episode, and not just because the seaweed-covered walkers were so amazing.
It was a surprise that Sasha survived. The Walking Dead makes strange choices about who lives and dies in this series. Unless something significant comes of Sasha’s presence at the Sanctuary, it leaves the Sasha/Rosita storyline feeling very unsatisfying. At least if they had killed Sasha, it would reinforce the rallying call to attack the Saviors. In fact, The Walking Dead keeps showing us the Saviors’ reluctance to kill people, though they aren’t afraid to punish those that break their rules.
“Something They Need” has added more pieces of the puzzle—Rick will need more time gather his forces for battle. As The Walking Dead heads into conflict between the Saviors and these other groups, we’re not sure what to expect. It’s not clear if the series will bring everything together in the finale, or create a set-up for Season 8. Let’s hope that both Rick and The Walking Dead have learned the lessons of previous failures and make some good choices.