‘The Walking Dead’: A change is gonna come

The Walking Dead
“Something They Need”
March 26, 2017

At Hilltop, Maggie gives long boring tarp-related farming instructions to some dude who calls her “Boss Lady,” which Gregory the Cowardly overhears.

i heard that key

Maggie then announces that she is going to go harvest a blueberry bush she saw outside the walls because properly tended, blueberry bushes can live for some 40 year and OH MY GOD WHEN DID THIS SHOW BECOME A GODDAMNED FARMER’S ALMANAC?

Anyway, Maggie is busily harvesting her bush which sounds SO MUCH DIRTIER than I intended, when Gregory the Cowardly joins her and wonders why she’s sticking around Hilltop now that Dr. Carson has been taken to the Sanctuary, and Maggie is like, “Yeah, and I heard you tell people you’re going to get him back, so…”

Gregory the Cowardly then proposes that they present a unified front to Hilltop before apologizing that things had “come to this point,” whatever that means. Maggie accepts his apology, noting that it’s never too late to change, and suggests that they talk more later. She then asks him to keep an eye out for trouble while she finishes harvesting the bush, and Gregory the Cowardly agrees, taking out his knife and thinking for a good long time about burying it in her back. But, per his nickname, he can’t go through with it.

i didn't think so sassy.gif

Around this same time, a walker comes shambling out of the woods, and Gregory the Cowardly insists on killing it, only to get close to its stank breath and be like, “I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I’M DOING.” Maggie relieves him, only to have this dumbass be attacked by a second walker that Maggie has to save him from, too. And all of this happens just as some Hilltoppers happen to walk by. “He’s never killed one before, but he’s learning!” Maggie calls out, definitely improving the situation.

Back inside the walls, Gregory the Cowardly takes out the note that one jerky Savior gave him, studies a map and calls to a henchman to prepare the car.

Over at the Sanctuary, Sasha is being held in a cell and harassed by a gross Savior who gets all rapey with her, ripping her perfectly good t-shirt. However, before things get carried away, Negan appears and reminds Rapey that rape is against the Sanctuary rules, before stabbing Rapey through the neck with one very large hunting knife.

Negan then orders a new shirt for Sasha before realizing that he recognizes her from the time he killed her boyfriend by bashing his brains in. Negan notes that Sasha must have “beach ball-sized lady nuts” to commit a kamikaze attack on the Sanctuary, and wonders if Rick put her up to it. “Rick, your bitch?” Sasha snarls back, to Negan’s delight. Negan then offers Sasha a role at the Sanctuary, hands her the knife to protect herself from Reanimated Rapey, and suggests she think things through before locking her back in the cell.

Later, Dr. Mullet brings Sasha a pillow, lamp and blanket and encourages her to take Negan up on his offer. Sasha is all:

the fuck confused pug.gif

When Negan checks in on her again, he finds Reanimated Rapey with the knife stuck in his head, and Sasha agrees to join Team Savior. Negan is all, “COOL! So, the thing is, I know Team Rick is up to something, and that needs to change, so I’ll be needing you to prove yourself tomorrow.”

Sasha, however, has other ideas and through the cell door begs with Dr. Mullet to slip her something that she can use to take her own life rather than be used to hurt Team Rick. Dr Mullet agrees to consider it, and inside the cell Sasha is all “LOL, I JUST PLAYED YOU, DUMMY.”

Later, Dr. Mullet does bring her something to kill herself with: the suicide pills he made for the Wives, which was not exactly the stabby implement that Sasha had in mind.

thanks obama pills.gif

As for Team Rick, as expected, Tara tells them about Oceanside and their pile of lady guns, and the group descends upon the community. Michonne climbs a tree with a sniper rifle, Daryl and Jesus plant explosives, and Tara slips into the house of the lady in charge, Natania, which is not a name.

There, Tara pulls a gun on Natania and her granddaughter Cyndie, and explains that she and her people are there for their guns to use to fight the Saviors. In fact, Natania and the Oceansiders should totally join them! Natania is like, “Nah.” Eventually, Natania and Cyndie manage to take Tara hostage because there are two of them.

Meanwhile, outside Team Rick sets their plan into motion, igniting the explosives, and herding the Oceansiders into a large group. There, he explains that they don’t want to hurt anyone, so BE COOL. Natania and Cyndie walk Tara out as their hostage, and Cyndie explains to her people that Team Rick want them to fight the Saviors, which sounds pretty great to some of the Oceansiders, but not Natania who is still, “Nah.”

Standoff, standoff, standoff, until Michonne notices a shuffle of barnacle-pocked walkers headed in their direction, and Cyndie makes the bold decision to bonk her grandmother Natania on the head. *BONK*

Then everyone turns their attention to killing off the barnacle walkers, which I personally would have had to sit out as the barnacles totally trigger my trypophobia, sorry. But even after all this great teamwork, when all is said and done, Natania continues to veto the Oceansiders joining Team Rick’s fight because, seriously, NAH.

But Team Rick don’t care, and proceed to take all of the Oceansiders’ guns and leave.

rupaul-byeeee-drag-race

When Team Rick arrives back at Alexandria, they are greeted by Rosita, who informs them that they have a visitor. With that, Rosita leads the group to the cellar prison where she has left Dwight. Daryl is all, “OH HELL NO,” but Rick and Michonne manage to keep him from ripping Dwight’s throat out with his bare hands. Rosita informs the group that Dwight wants to help them against the Saviors. “Cool, cool, cool,” says Rick as he pulls out his gun and levels it at Dwight before ordering him to kneel.

Hey! Good news, kids! I actually enjoyed this episode! In particular, I thought Sonequa Martin-Green’s performance as Sasha was great, specifically when she is manipulating Dr. Mullet through the door, using only her voice. It’s a shame Sasha is definitely going to die in the next episode (the only question, really, is how) because Martin-Green deserved a chance to do more with her character than just brood and hold a gun.

As for the rest of Sasha’s story, specifically the threat of sexual violence against her, I have to say that The Walking Dead took what could have been a problematic scene and made it quite complicated — particularly where it comes to Negan. We have come to a place where the depiction of sexual violence in movies or TV, and whether such scenes are necessary at all, is now a topic of our cultural conversation. As a feminist, I often push against some of my fellow feminists who tend to recoil at any such scene: the Game of Thrones Sansa rape controversy, in particular, stands out. For me, such scenes serve as a reminder that sexual violence is a fundamental problem of any patriarchal system. When there is no real equality, women don’t just suffer a lack of power in some theoretical sense, they suffer a lack of power over their own physical bodies, their selves. And Negan’s Savior system is a classic patriarchal society.

Now, where it gets interesting is how the show depicts Negan. Negan has made some passing comments before about how he respects the concept of consent, but this is the first time that he has laid out his zero-tolerance policy on rape. The irony is that Negan doesn’t actually understand or respect consent: not one of his “wives” chose freely to be in a relationship with him, they all appear to be in his harem under threat of harm to someone else they care about. As such, Negan is a sexual predator who seems to be completely unaware that he is a sexual predator.

And here’s where I am going to give the show and the comic book probably entirely too much credit, but in his lie to himself that he is giving his wives a free choice, Negan represents rape culture as a whole and our own misogynistic society in general. Of course rape isn’t allowed in Negan’s community! He would never advocate or allow sexual violence against a woman! However, he would unconsciously through his actions suggest that women are property, that they are objects to be collected and hoarded.

The problem with this, however, is that while the writers may be thinking about Negan’s character in this way, the nuance might be lost on some fans who regard Negan as a chivalrous charmer instead of the rapey monster that he is, because they don’t understand the concept of rape culture. Which, of course, is why we have rape culture in the first place.

All of this conversation goes hand-in-hand with the other big story in this episode: Team Rick taking the Oceansiders’ guns, leaving them defenseless. Oceanside is, of course, made up entirely of women and children, the most vulnerable in a violent world, so the decision to take all of their weapons is a morally questionable one. I understand that in a dangerous world, these issues of the “greater good” become more complicated. And in the end, I suspect Team Rick will be the “good guys” again and return at least some of the weapons once they’ve neutralized the Saviors. But personally I found the whole exchange a little confusing: why couldn’t they leave the Oceansiders one or two weapons just to defend themselves until the deed was done, and, for that matter, why did the Oceansiders act like they ALL had to go fight with Team Rick or NONE of them could? Why is it all or nothing with them? The point is, I get that Team Rick is supposed to be rising up, changing into a more combative group after having been psychologically crushed, but in a lot of ways it feels like they are just reverting to old habits, using their superior power to subdue others.

But speaking of “change,” if this was Pee Wee’s Playhouse, change would have been the secret word of the episode, having been uttered some 7 or 8 times. Maggie tells Gregory it’s never too late to change; Rick tells the Oceansiders that they are going to change things with the Saviors; and Negan tells Sasha he’s going to use her to change the impending situation with Rick. A change is gonna come, and thanks to Dwight’s betrayal, it most likely won’t be a good one for Negan.

The Walking Dead airs at 8/9 p.m. on Sundays on AMC and would is still traumatized by those barnacle walkers.

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2 thoughts on “‘The Walking Dead’: A change is gonna come

  1. Episodes like this one always throw the question of, “what would TWD look like if it had been told from Negan and the Saviors POV for 6 seasons and then Rick’s group was introduced.” Take out the misogynistic rapey attitude of Negan (which I don’t think Rick’s group has ever subscribed to) and … how far away are the Saviors from Team Rick? Think back to when Rick and the Gang first came to Alexandria – lots of dominance and bloodlust. I don’t think they are so far apart in attitude and actions. Its an interesting thought experiment while waiting for the body count to start to rise in next week’s finale.

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