This week, the Alexandrians attack the Oceanside community after learning of their weapons cache from Tara, and Sasha finds herself in captivity in the Sanctuary after failing in her attempt to kill Negan.
Maggie has quietly begun to assume a leadership role at the Hilltop, teaching the people there gardening tricks such as using a tarp to force weeds to sprout prematurely so they can be killed off by frost. Eduardo is impressed by her knowledge and asks her to show him her kung-fu tarping ways, but Maggie has other things to do. She’s spotted a blueberry bush outside the walls and wants to dig it up for replanting. She tells Eduardo a good blueberry bush will provide for up to 40 years. She’s trying to shift the thinking of the community away from mere to survival to planning for a new kind of existence. Gregory witnesses this and he does not like it. Without even trying, Maggie is gunning for his job.
The Alexandrians prepare to invade Oceanside. Michonne is stationed in a tree with a sniper rifle. Daryl and Jesus are laying down what look like explosive charges. Surprisingly, Aaron’s boyfriend Eric has accompanied them on this mission. He tells Aaron that he gets why they need to fight the Saviors and that being there with him is what matters. Naturally, I assume this means he will die in the upcoming battle.
Sasha lies bound in a darkened cell at the Sanctuary. The door opens and a creepy Savior named David enters (he’s the one who threw Enid’s veggies on the ground back at the Hilltop). Sasha, determined not to show fear, asks for a drink of water. This is when David gets all rapey, right up in her personal space, doing some gross shoulder caressing, ripping her shirt and insinuating all kinds of terrible things. Like why he likes to have rope handy all the time. WTF, dude. He offers to get Sasha some water if she’ll “do something” for him. She responds by telling him to go tell and then headbutting him. This does not deter David, who says, “Fighting will only make it last longer.” We now pause for a full body shudder. EW. Before David can do anything, however, Negan arrives. We’re conflicted because it’s Negan but he just saved Sasha from rape. David is now pissing himself scared. Negan lectures him on the necessity of rules and when David tries to apologize, Negan sticks a knife in his neck. Sasha watches, speechless.
Negan considerately asks one of his flunkies to get Sasha a new shirt (she has to remind him of her name). Then, he remembers Sasha and why she would want to kill him. He asks if Rick put her up to this and Sasha scornfully responds, “Rick? Your bitch? No.” Negan isn’t quite convinced, though. Either way, he knows that Sasha intended this to be a suicide mission, and nothing impresses him like crazy. He says she has “beachball-sized lady-nuts.” (Incidentally, this will be the name of my punk rock band should I decide to start one.) He hands her his knife and says she has a choice. She can try to kill him, but he’s standing there holding Lucille, so that probably won’t go well. She can kill herself. Or she can kill “Rapey Davey” in order to prevent him from becoming undead Rapey Davey and join up with Negan. You have to hand it to Negan. He’s evil and insane, but he sure can turn a phrase.
A short while later, Eugene shows up with what he calls some creature comforts for Sasha. All Sasha wants is to know why he’s with the Saviors. I did not expect to feel empathy for the traitorous Eugene, but when he recounts how terrified he was seeing Abraham and then Glenn killed, knowing they were survivors which he definitely is not, I felt for him. Eugene says that being with the Saviors means he never has to be that scared again. It’s as simple as that. He pleads with Sasha to make the same choice. He says Abraham would want her to, but then, catching sight of Sasha’s expression, he corrects himself. “No, he wouldn’t.” It’s what Eugene wants, though. He thinks they can survive this way. A look like grief flits across Sasha’s face and she whispers for him to go. She’s maybe thinking about using the knife on him.
Maggie is digging up the blueberry bush when Gregory joins her outside the walls. He tells her he thinks they should present a united front of leadership for the Hilltoppers and Maggie exasperatedly replies that it would be easier if they were a united front. Gregory smarmily promises to be better about compromise and Maggie, taking him at face value, says she’ll come by later to talk if he’s serious. She tells him, “It’s never too late to change.” And Gregory regards her curiously. As he turns to go, Maggie hears a sound. She asks if Gregory will stay and stand guard while she finishes. He agrees, drawing his knife with a flourish. While she works, he appears to have a moment of temptation to kill her, but then he shakes his head and snaps out of it. Gregory is a weasel, but not up for outright murder, it seems.
A walker does emerge from the woods and Maggie, seeing Gregory’s skittishness, offers to deal with it, but Gregory insists. Maggie asks if he’s killed one before and from the way Gregory answers, we can tell he’s lying. Predictably, he fails and Maggie ends up dispatching the walker with her spade. While Gregory watches, he is set upon by another walker and ends up shrieking for Maggie to help him. She does. Afterwards, he retches and Maggie kindly pats him on the arm. A group of Hilltoppers witnesses this tableau and Maggie tells them Gregory has never killed a walker before but he’s learning. One of the Hilltoppers shoots back, “That’s not what he told us.” Gregory’s position as Hilltop leader is shakier than a walker on stilts.
Tara infiltrates the home of Natania, the Oceanside leader. Natania’s granddaughter, Cyndie, who spared Tara’s life, enters and Tara holds them both at gunpoint. She explains that the Alexandrians are there for their guns because they plan to fight the Saviors. It doesn’t have to get violent, though, if the Oceansiders will join them. Natania is not having it. Cyndie thinks maybe they should consider it, but while they are arguing, time runs out. Explosions are heard in the distance. Tara tells Natania to get up and Natania stumbles toward her, claiming to have trouble with her legs. It’s a trick, and while she distracts Tara, Cyndie grabs a gun. Now the tables are turned. Tara hands over her gun to them and reveals that it isn’t loaded. She tells them the Alexandrians did not come here to hurt anyone.
The explosions, meanwhile are herding the Oceansiders toward a specific clearing where Gabriel and Carl are waiting. They order the Oceansiders to kneel (kind of Savior-esque behavior if you ask me). Rick and the rest of the crew show up. He tells the Oceansiders no one has to get hurt. It’s just about what they (the Oceansiders have) that the Alexandrians need. You guys, he sounds a LOT like a sane, non-homicidal Negan here. Using force to take what they need because they need it. Natania appears holding a gun to Tara’s head. She would like them to kindly fuck off or else she will kill Tara. Rick explains to her that they WILL kill her if they have to, but they hope they don’t have to. Natania says she knows if she kills Tara she’s dead, but she’s prepared to do that if it reminds the Oceansiders of how dangerous it would be to fight.
Just then, a big herd of barnacle-covered walkers appears. Cyndie seizes the opportunity to knock her grandma out. Rick orders the children behind the adults and gives the Oceansiders knives. He tells the Alexandrians to fire within 10 feet and they efficiently dispatch the walkers. When it’s all over, Natania tells them to take the guns but that the Oceansiders will not fight with them.
Sasha ends up choosing option number 3. When Negan returns to her cell, he sees that she has killed undead Rapey Davey. He’s delighted. He’s heard that Rick is planning something and he wants to use Sasha to stop it. Sasha looks shaken and defeated. Later, Eugene stands outside the cell door telling Sasha she made the right choice. Sasha, broken and crying, begs Eugene to bring her a weapon, a gun or a knife or piece of glass. She tells him she knows she can’t stop Negan but she can’t let him use her to hurt Rick and their friends. She needs to die. Eugene is taken aback but agrees to think about it. Sasha thanks him. We see that her face is calm and composed and she is smiling slightly.
Gregory clearly knows he is losing the Hilltop to Maggie’s influence. He slugs down some tequila and pulls out the note Simon gave him which he was to use if he ever had trouble maintaining control.
At Oceanside, the Alexandrians pack up all the guns. All of them. Tara says they’ll bring them back afterwards. Cyndie tells Tara that some of them wish they could go with them, but a decision like that would have to be unanimous. Instead, she thanks Tara for what they are going to do.
Instead of a weapon, Eugene slips Sasha the poison pill he made for Negan’s wives. Sasha’s face crumples in disappointment when she sees it.
Rick and the Alexandrians return home with the guns. Rosita opens the gate for them. Jesus, who knew about their mission, asks where Sasha is, but Rosita does not reply. Instead, she tells them someone is waiting. She leads them to a cell where Dwight is waiting. Daryl snarls and lunges, but the others hold him back. Rosita tells the group that Dwight wants to help them. Rick says ok. Then, he orders Dwight to kneel. (More Savior symbolism, y’all.)
Next week is the season finale, which is sure to be gut-wrenching in more ways than one. Stay tuned!