This is a spoiler-free review. Read on below for additional spoilery bits. For information on how to watch it, click here.
Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, or, in this case, two women, and maybe a man too, so Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) best be on high alert. Both Rosita (Christian Serratos) and Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) are desperate to avenge the loss of their red-headed lover, neither afraid to die and neither worried that the consequences of their actions could start the war before Alexandria is ready to fight it. Without much of a plan, or much of a friendship, Rosita and Sasha head out on the road to the Sanctuary, where they may be able to rectify at least one of those things.
The Other Side opens with a ridiculous montage that’s only missing a soundtrack by Matt Stone and Trey Parker – we get it, everyone is preparing to fight. Unfortunately, the episode is unable to recover from its slow start, until the final act where excitement and fear return in spades. It’s a character journey for Rosita and Sasha but that road is very one-directional and very textbook, just as stabbing zombies in the head has become for these survivors. The discord between these two survivors continues, but there isn’t anything new to explore, as the pair begin to limp like they’ve been stabbed in the leg, especially when there’s another couple at the Hilltop with a far more intriguing relationship to explore.
Daryl (Norman Reedus) has returned to Barrington House and when the Saviours come knocking, both he and Maggie (Lauren Cohen) need to hide. These two haven’t interacted much since the season opener, when Daryl’s actions caused Negan to kill Maggie’s husband, Glenn. We have seen some remorse from Daryl when he was a captive at the Sanctuary, but he hasn’t had an opportunity to share those feelings with Maggie. Instead of really exploring this dynamic, the pair sit hidden in silence before a two-minute conversation and then it’s over. The Other Side may have been a more engaging episode had it decided to focus on this couple, rather than Rosita and Sasha learning how to tie new knots.
What makes the opening two acts more entertaining is one of Negan’s right hand men, Simon (Steven Ogg), who really embodies the ruthlessness and apprehension of the Saviours through his swagger, attitude and expressive face. He treads that fine line where you don’t know if he is going to hug you or hurt you, adding tension to any scene he’s in. Most of those scenes are shared with Gregory (Xander Berkeley), and his own unbalanced nature only adds crippling pressure to any chest for fear he might turn on our heroes. Unfortunately, like the scene with Maggie and Daryl, Simon’s time on screen is far too short, again furthering the thought of what might have been.
For Rosita and Sasha, they may be on course to start a fight they cannot win – at least, not alone. Alexandria has been trying to recruit numbers for the impending war, but they are still under powered and under staffed – both Rosita and Sasha know this. While the pair of them may be willing to die to avenge the man they both loved, they must also be willing to accept that their actions will likely cause casualties from any retaliation. Hell may be coming to Alexandria quicker than they would have wanted. For viewers, though, that still may not be quick enough.
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Entrails and innards (spoilers)
– When Rosita and Sasha penetrate the Saviours compound and attempt to rescue “Doctor Eugene Porter, Chief Engineer, also known as Negan, who I am”, we learn that Eugene doesn’t want to leave, he never asked to be rescued and so he runs back into the Sanctuary. Is Eugene’s cowardly side showing again, scared that if he leaves he’ll be found and killed? Is it all just part of his plan to gain Negan’s trust? Or is Eugene actually happy with his new life as part of the Saviours? After all, they have ice cream. What will this mean when Alexandria comes guns blazing? What side will Eugene choose then, and will he do anything to stop them?
– Eugene also throws in a nice little Easter Egg for the comic book fans, when talking on the radio, by changing his abbreviation of “PDQ” (Pretty Damn Quickly) to “PFQ”. Because he is “Negan” he is starting to embrace him a little and the comic book Negan is known for his profanity. (It can be assumed that when off-screen, Negan is throwing in some vulgarity.)
– Sasha decides to take it upon herself to take out Negan, locking Rosita out of the Sanctuary and running inside alone. The whole episode has been leading up to this attack and hinting that one or both of them is going to die. We know that finding redemption and peace with one another only leads to death, but will that be on Rosita or Sasha? By the end of the episode, their issues with one another have been resolved and Rosita has decided she was probably more upset with herself than Sasha. They’re going to do this for him, and seemingly together, until Sasha locks Rosita out and tells her that Alexandria needs her. Tearful, Rosita fleas only to bump into a knight in filthy armour and a crossbow. Is Daryl alone or does he have backup? Is the fight truly about to begin?
– What is Gregory plotting? Still bitter about losing power to Maggie and seeing his Hilltop community begin to turn on him, Gregory wants Negan and the Saviours to know he is on their side and hints about a potential revolt. He tries to please Simon with promises of Gin and obedience but Simon isn’t the sort of man to be trusted – he changes his tastes more than his clothes. But Simon’s actions have given Gregory a kick and he is planning something when he threatens Jesus (Tom Payne): his new friends need to start working or leaving.