‘The Walking Dead’ 7.14 Recap: “It’s a Long Life, and Then It Isn’t”

‘The Walking Dead’ goes Rickless this week as we check in to see what’s been going on at the Hilltop. The answer: Not much.

In a lengthy wordless montage, we open with Maggie training Hilltopians (Hilltoppers?) how to throw a knife and Sasha obsessively drawing maps of what Jesus told her about the Saviors’ Sanctuary compound. Then Rosita arrives to talk to Sasha in a repeat of the scene that closed the episode two weeks ago, and we realize that we’ve just spent five minutes not only watching nothing happen, but watching nothing that already happened a while ago and is done with.

Jesus has a talk with Maggie and reveals that he’s gay, which is important why…? When he figures out that Sasha is planning to leave and hunt down Negan, Jesus tries to convince her to stay. She’s already made up her mind and won’t listen to him. This whole conversation is rendered moot when the Saviors pay an unexpected visit to the Hilltop, forcing Sasha and Rosita to sneak out through a secret tunnel anyway.

Daryl and Maggie hide in a cellar. Enid attempts to distract a Savior from searching it. The creep ignores her and goes in, but gets distracted collecting food and doesn’t notice anyone inside.

Simon, the leader of this group of Saviors, tells Gregory that he’s come to collect Dr. Carson and bring him back to the Sanctuary. Wait, wasn’t Dr. Carson the guy who Negan threw in a furnace? No, that was the other Dr. Carson. This one (who’s been acting as Maggie’s OB/GYN) is his brother. He’s not exactly eager to leave, especially not when he learns that his brother is dead. So as not to leave the Hilltop high and dry without any medical solutions, Simon has his men drop off a crate filled with boxes of aspirin. Nice guy.

Gregory asks for a private word with Simon and expresses his concern that taking away the doctor will undermine his position, should someone (he doesn’t specify, but we know he’s talking about Maggie) want to usurp him. It’s a good thing Negan didn’t come on this trip, or he’d disembowel Gregory for being weak the way he did to Spencer. Simon isn’t quite so quick to murder. He tells Gregory to come see him if anyone ever threatens his leadership, and gives him a note which allegedly contains directions to the Sanctuary. Gregory doesn’t look at the note before Simon shoves it in his pocket, so we don’t know what’s really written on it.

The Saviors pack up and head out with Dr. Carson, leaving Daryl and Maggie behind. Before they come out of the cellar, the two of them have a good cry when Daryl apologizes for getting Glenn killed.

Daryl notices that Rosita and Sasha are missing and asks Jesus where they went. This will be important later.

Sasha and Rosita

The rest of the episode follows Sasha and Rosita on their way to the Sanctuary. They have some brief zombie-killing adventures stealing a car from an old used car lot, and some tension over Sasha wearing a necklace that Abraham gave to her (which Rosita had actually made for him). Despite having a common goal, they’re still not exactly friends.

They also disagree on the best way to take down Negan. Sasha wants to be cautious and snipe him from a building near the Sanctuary, but Rosita would rather charge into the place with guns blazing. This is a suicide mission for her, and she doesn’t want to risk a sniper shot missing the target.

Nevertheless, they take up a position in the building Sasha recommended in order to scope out the situation before making a move. While watching the Sanctuary’s courtyard, they see Eugene ordering Saviors around. They assume that he must be playing some kind of con.

For a while, there’s no sign of Negan, so the girls get to talking about old boyfriends and about Abraham. Eventually, they come to terms with their personal issues and agree to have each other’s backs.

When Simon returns to the Sanctuary with Dr. Carson, Negan comes out to the courtyard for a moment, but Sasha can’t get a clear shot. They listen in on a stolen walkie-talkie and hear Eugene not only giving orders regarding the building’s defense, but referring to himself as Chief Engineer and calling himself Negan (as is the Savior way). They decide that they have to go in and rescue him. If they take out Negan from afar, Eugene would surely be killed soon after.

That night, the girls sneak up to an undefended part of the Sanctuary fence that Eugene said he was going to come out to secure. When he and a Savior lackey step out of the building, they shoot the Savior and tell Eugene they’ve come to spring him. He hems and haws for a moment, then refuses their help and runs back inside. Sasha cuts an opening in the fence, but then locks it behind her so that Rosita can’t follow her in. She tells Rosita that she’s too important and Alexandria needs her. As Rosita yells at Sasha to let her in, they hear more Saviors coming. Sasha follows Eugene into the building and Rosita has no choice but to run away.

After she gets far enough away from the compound, Rosita stops to take a breath, furious at Sasha and disappointed that she doesn’t get to go out in a blaze of glory like she wanted. The episode ends as she looks up and sees a shadowy figure carrying a crossbow. Our first assumption is that this must be Daryl, who came out to find her and Sasha. However, let’s not forget that Dwight also carries a crossbow these days.

Episode Verdict

I don’t buy the idea that Eugene has really gone full Savior. I think he’s still playing an angle and will redeem himself later.

We’re getting close to the season finale, and I understand the necessity of having an episode that’s mostly set-up with no payoff. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make it any less frustrating, especially given how uneven this whole season has been.

3 comments

  1. Josh,

    Just finished reading your review of The Walking Dead episode 7.14 and felt compelled to comment. I have a lot of respect for your reviews and agree with many of your opinions – though we’ve parted ways a bit during season seven as I’ve found it to be a bit more satisfying overall than you have.

    In regards to your comment, “Jesus has a talk with Maggie and reveals that he’s gay, which is important why…?” This might have been meant as a rhetorical question but I think it actually is important for several reasons.

    First, as a gay man who came of age in the early 90s, I remember watching many of my favorite shows and movies longing to see someone “like me” on screen. Where was the boy who thought the other boy was cute? Where was the teacher, police officer, accountant, scientist or soldier who lived a full life but also happened to be gay? I would have given anything to see life as I knew it reflected on the screen. Seeing our stories told, our lives valued, in the larger context of fiction, arts and entertainment is very empowering. It can reassure and comfort LGBTQ youth who may be rejected, undervalued or even in real danger from their family, neighbors or schoolmates. Having a character like Jesus – who is funny, smart and a fairly badass fighter … and gay? Well, there’s something quite vindicating and liberating in that. I think back to how thrilled (and grateful) my 15 or 16 year old self would have been watching that episode and hearing those words.

    Secondly, from a dramatic and narrative purpose, I think it serves a purpose. Ever since the character debuted, Jesus has been part of Hilltop but also “outside” of it as well. He didn’t seem to have close friends or integrate tightly with the other community members, as he discussed with Maggie in this episode. Being gay and his past experiences of possible rejection could very well explain his hesitation to form those bonds. Furthermore, the fact that he did open up to her demonstrates both a level of comfort with her and a genuine trust. If Maggie is going to step into a leadership role as her character arc seems to be pointing towards, gaining the trust and respect of people like Jesus will be paramount.

    And finally, it’s important in that it should NOT be important. Just the fact that Jesus mentioned his past boyfriends instead of his past girlfriends shouldn’t matter. But the fact that you felt compelled to ask the question, suggests it does. Had he said girlfriends instead, I very much doubt that your review would have included the sentence, “Jesus has a talk with Maggie and reveals that he’s straight, which is important why…?” That’s not to suggest you are homophobic or had any such intentions; please understand that’s not what I’m saying. I’m simply making the case that because a male character mentioned his boyfriends instead of his girlfriends and we are now having this conversation suggests that it is still important, though you and I probably both wish that it was not.

    Just my thoughts – hope I articulated them with the respect in which they were intended. Thanks for reading!

    • Josh Zyber
      Author

      I can respect all that. However, I still feel that the scene in this episode was clunky, and the exposition served no actual narrative purpose. I felt similarly about Rosita talking about her old boyfriends, but at least that conversation had some relevance to the characters’ discussion of their shared feelings for Abraham and how that affects their relationship with each other. Jesus blurting out his sexuality to Maggie felt like an awkward, “Oh, by the way, didja know that I’m gay?” I think there are better ways to reveal that piece of information.

      • All fair points. And while I maintain that his reveal to Maggie did serve the narrative purpose of building trust and rapport between the two of them, I absolutely agree with you that the scene was clunky and could have been handled better. Moving forward, I hope they build on the foundation of Jesus and his reveal in a more eloquent and articulate fashion. Here’s hoping the writers do something interesting with a compelling character from the comics and the more than capable actor who is portraying him.

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