The Walking Dead S7.14 review: "It’s kind of awe-inspiring how aggressively mediocre this show insists on being"

GamesRadar+ Verdict

Faux friendship and manufactured motivations; where’s the CGI deer when you need it?

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Spoilers lie ahead. Like, directly ahead. Proceed with caution.

Once Sonequa Martin-Green was cast in upcoming TV series Star Trek: Discovery, it seemed likely that Sasha would be exiting the world of The Walking Dead one way or another. Given how many noble, shocking, or just plain tragic ways there are to depart a world filled with the shambling undead, it seemed nearly impossible for the writers to screw it up. And yet. Here we are, with another opportunity squandered. It’s kind of awe-inspiring how aggressively mediocre this show insists on being. 

The folks of Hilltop are training for the upcoming fight with the Saviors, which is making Gregory nervous. Then again, what doesn’t make Gregory nervous? Maybe if he laid off the sauce for more than five minutes he wouldn’t sweat so much, but hey, if the apocalypse isn’t a reason to drink, what is? Sasha, Rosita, Enid, and Maggie (remember her?) are all doing their part to train the residents how to fight, and are even forging their own spears and knives to do it. Daryl is sulking off in a corner, overwhelmed with guilt that he let Glenn die. Why isn’t Daryl being given more to do? Is he paid by the word, or something? He has the potential to be one of the most interesting characters in the entire cast, and he’s relegated to sitting sullenly with his bangs in his face. Remember what he was like when we first met him? All piss and vinegar and eff the world and now he actually cares about people and takes his role in the community very much to heart. It’s like he’s too nuanced a personality for the writers to handle, so they’re ignoring him until he’s needed to advance the Negan plot.

The Saviors come to Hilltop to search for Daryl, and while the camp is distracted, Sasha and Rosita slip away with the intent of assassinating Negan. Quick reminder: Rosita was with Abraham originally, but he left her for Sasha. They’re not exactly pals as they take this road trip; they can barely manage to maintain a civil conversation. And you know, that’s fine. They don’t have to be gal pals, because in this moment they’re soldiers on a mission. They understand the chances of survival are slim, but the end goal is worth the risk, and though Sasha favors a long-distance approach, Rosita would rather go in guns blazing. They agree on the necessity of taking out their target, and that’s all they really have to do… which is of course why they have a girls heart-to-heart instead.

Look, fair enough that they’d end up talking about Abraham as they stake out the Saviors’ camp, waiting for the moment to snipe Negan in the melon. He meant a great deal to both of them, and he’s the ginger elephant in the room. They talk it out, Rosita admits she was a jerk for being such a bitch to Sasha all this time and regrets not having the chance to tell Abraham she was happy for him. That’s all the conversation had to be, and indeed, should’ve been. But instead it goes into eye-rolling warm fuzzy territory, with each woman declaring that they have the other’s back. These women don’t need to be friends to complete their task. Respect each other, yes - that’s utterly appropriate given the situation - but, the problem is, if they’re not buddy-buddy, Sasha’s next move - the one that presumably gets her off the show - doesn’t make any sense, so sure, let’s have them paint each other’s nails. (That doesn’t actually happen, but spiritually it’s where they were going.) 

Rousted from their hiding spot and unable to pull off the long-distance headshot, Rosita and Sasha decide to infiltrate the compound and take Negan out up close. They even make an attempt to rescue Eugene, only to discover that he’s not the least bit interested in being rescued. (I maintain that Eugene is still one of the most interesting characters left in the show.) Sasha pulls a fast one on Rosita and sneaks into the compound alone, essentially sacrificing herself to save the other woman. The flimsy pretext for this move is that Rosita has loads of skills that the people of Alexandria still need, whereas there are others left who can cover what would be lost were Sasha not to return. It’s not bad reasoning, but it’s given the barest hint of development before Sasha runs off to inevitable capture and/or execution. A thing needed to happen on the show, so we get a few lines of dialog and some rushed exposition so that the thing can happen. We get the end result needed to get things where they need to be for the big war that’s coming, but once again we’ve been robbed of any chance to feel anything meaningful for these people. 

The show’s writers are actively working towards making each character as disposable as possible, perhaps to give themselves greater freedom to tell lots of different stories, as opposed to focusing on just a handful of people. Or maybe the actors are just getting too expensive, I don’t know. Whatever’s going on behind the scenes, it’s turning The Walking Dead from the show that makes you turn off Twitter to avoid spoilers into one that you can miss for a few weeks and drop back into without feeling shortchanged. 

Susan Arendt

Susan was once Managing Editor US at GamesRadar, but has since gone on to become a skilled freelance journalist, editor, producer, and content manager. She is now 1/3 of @Continuepod, 1/2 of @BeastiesLl, co-founder of @TakeThisOrg, and Apex Editor, Fluid Group.