The Walking Dead: 714 “The Other Side” Review
Reviewed by John Hussey.
I think you all know my opinion when it comes to the annoying characters within The Walking Dead this current season. They have certainly been relentless at times, making my enjoyment of the show rather hazy. But, Season Seven has been one of the strongest runs the show has seen since its debut way back in 2010. Sure it’s had its bad episodes but for the most part it has held its head up high and delivered the goods we wanted after the shocking (and brilliantly crafted) introduction from Negan at the end of the last season.
It’s a little unfortunate the show is playing the game of “building-up towards the finale”, because it means we haven’t been getting many outstanding episodes, nor have we had many stand-alone stories that shine on their own right. Each of them have had key scenes, but overall the episode itself is quite devoid of identity, simply meshing into the on-going narrative instead of delivering something unique and personal to its own set-up.
“The Other Side” played out much like last week’s episode, “Bury Me Here”, in which we’re simply seeing elements being set-up and this ultimately made my enjoyment feel a little awkward. I literally can’t tell you whether I would call the episode bad, good, or just devoid of life. Some good stuff happened, but I think the problem lies with the slow burning build-up. Nothing great has occurred for weeks now because everything is still playing around the idea that a big “war” is coming.
But action still needs to happen. Don’t leave us hanging in limbo because we then get bored, and then anticipation rises higher and higher, to the point where if the goods aren’t delivered then the wait feels redundant, and that’s the quickest way you get hate mail (or in the more civilised world “death threats”).
Of course a lot of the episode revolved around my new favourite character that I want to see die a slow and painful death. Yes, I speak of course about Rosita. Her petty attempts to try and kill Negan have certainly pushed my button more times than I can physically count, but as I stated in last week’s review, “Her reasoning is stupid, and simply devoid of any real weight!” I suppose it was nice that we had a little moment this week to develop her reasoning, but even then I wasn’t any wiser to her character, nor did I feel the need to give her empathy. Selfishness isn’t something that is clever, nor is it something that people appreciate, no matter what the reasoning. Rosita is essentially putting everyone around her at risk because she wants to go on a vendetta to get revenge for something that doesn’t fully matter.
Then again, does Sasha have any more right to take up this stupid as quest to kill Negan single-handily? ‘No’ is the correct answer! I don’t recall Abraham actually hooking up with Sasha, so why does she care so much about his death like they were in a long-term relationship. Yes they were close friends, and maybe feelings were being developed, but that doesn’t mean that her feelings outweigh every other on the show.
Like I keep saying, “If anyone should want to take on the Saviors single-handily, it should be Maggie because she watched her husband being beaten to death right in front of her eyes! She is now carrying his child knowing that Glen will never get to see its birth or grow up, along with the fact that the poor child is now without a father. Plus, her and Glen had known each other since Season Two and had happily grown a steady relationship since then. So, yeah, I rest my case and Rosita and Sasha can take their selfish, and petty squabbles round the back and kindly shoot them, and themselves, in the back of the head!”
Luckily some good stuff actually happened. We continued to see Gregory’s decent into his own self-absorbed oblivion. From the get-go I knew he was a troublesome character that needed to be taken out because of his arrogance, and annoying attitudes towards his leadership (along with his obvious sexism). Season Seven has shown his character continue to fall and despite his annoyance it is at least interesting to watch because it’s a new intriguing obstacle for the characters to slowly overcome. Maggie is certainly great at putting him in his place, along with the ever-growing, and loving, Jesus.
I loved how Gregory started to see his control slip as he shamefully degraded himself in order to suck up to Simon in order to stay on Negan’s good side. It’s fair to say in these moments he pretty much highlights how he’s the Savior’s bitch and will happily roll on his back and grovel like the dog that he is.
Also, Simon continues to be a great villain. Like Negan he’s certainly warmed up to me as being a somewhat strangely likeable character and it’s always fun to see how he conveys his emotions and orders, particularly with Gregory who he constantly toys with. But at the same time he’s a somewhat gentlemen-like in which he has a code and that code cements him as a honourable person.
Unfortunately this could cause problems for Rick and his group, as Gregory has been given the opportunity to stamp out any potential threats by going directly to Simon. To be honest this was obvious from the first moment I saw the weasel. He just seemed like one of those characters that would rat out those around him in order to secure his so-called happy existence. Heck, he’s already tried this once before this season and now he’s been given the tool to do it again. But, if the graphic novel is anything to go by (told to me by my fiancée) Gregory is eventually due for a satisfying conclusion, which I really can’t wait to witness.
The highlight of the episode (for me personally) was the depressing confrontation between Maggie and Daryl. From the moment I saw him refusing to look at her when she brought him some food I instantly knew what was going on. And the thought was really tragic. I knew this moment had to eventually happen and I’m really glad it was finally addressed here because it did wonders for the character development, particularly Daryl who has undergone some of the cruellest challenges this current season.
Finally, Maggie (after narrowly hiding from the Saviors search of the Hilltop) confronts Daryl and asks him to look at him. Of course this makes Daryl admit his feelings. This moment is so tear-jerky because we see the tough-guy-badass essentially breakdown in tears. He blames himself for Glen’s death, having gotten angry over Abraham’s death and provoked Negan to choose another victim, sadly being Glen. This ultimately cost Maggie her husband, and her unborn child its father, meaning Daryl couldn’t bare to look at her after such a terrible sense of failure. But of course Maggie comforted Daryl by telling him it wasn’t his fault and that she didn’t blame him, making this emotional moment have more weight and determination, showcasing the powerful character drama at the heart of this depressing series.