Sunday night’s episode of The Walking Dead, “The Other Side,” kicked off the war against the Saviors a little bit earlier than many of us — Rick Grimes definitely included — were expecting. It also served as a swan song of sorts for Sasha, and how much it worked for you probably depends on how invested you were in the Sasha-Rosita-Abraham love triangle that existed for a couple of Season 6B episodes to begin with.
Though even if you did have strong feelings about Sasha deciding that other lives in Hilltop and Alexandria were more important than her own, or about Rosita getting over her (understandable) feelings of rejection and anger, it’s impossible to deny that Sasha’s end-of-the-hour sacrifice was reckless, impulsive, and — if it plays out the way we should all assume it’s going to — ultimately very unnecessary.
As someone who follows TV casting news for a living, it’s easy to forget that many Walking Dead viewers don’t know that Sonequa Martin-Green landed the lead on the new CBS All Access Star Trek series. It won’t be filming in Atlanta, which is why Green and Walking Dead showrunner Scott Gimple have been fielding questions about her future on this show since her casting was announced last December.
“The Other Side” made it crystal clear for spoiler-hounds and casual viewers alike that Sasha isn’t long for this world, and it’s a shame that she’ll likely go out in a suicide mission that yields no real positive result. The Walking Dead won’t let a B-character like Sasha kill Negan before Rick Grimes gets a solid swing at him; not when we’ve spent an entire half-season building up to an epic clash of titans.
But even if Sasha was doomed to die trying, there were far better ways to write her off that would have actually seemed right for the happier, more mentally sound Sasha of Seasons 6 and 7. For example, many fans — myself included — assumed that Sasha would take on the death of a different character from Robert Kirkman’s comic books, Holly. Holly was book-Abraham’s girlfriend before his murder, and she essentially died saving Rick during their group’s attack on the Sanctuary. I say “essentially” because Negan intervened, but I won’t spoil that here in case the show decides to use that element of the plot line.
Either way, it would have been a way less stupid death than the one they just set up for Sasha. It would suck to see such a tough, noble character die while acting on a foolish whim — like Beth, instead of like Deanna — but that seems to be what’s happening, so it’s probably best to prepare.
The reason Sasha and Rosita rushed Negan’s assassination attempt in the first place was, of course, the fault of the Saviors. At the beginning of the hour, we were treated to a peaceful montage of life at Hilltop, where Maggie’s flat-bellied pregnancy was going swimmingly thanks to Dr. Carson’s treatment and emotional support from Enid, Jesus (who told Maggie that he’s gay, but $50 says this will never come up again), and Sasha. Even as the Alexandria expats readied Hilltop for war, life for Mrs. Rhee and her friends seemed remarkably calm.
But then the Saviors showed up unannounced to steal Dr. Carson, and the resulting chaos — Maggie and Daryl cram into a cellar every time they’re in town — gave Sasha and Rosita the perfect opportunity to sneak off. It turns out the other Dr. Carson, the one burned alive by Negan three weeks ago, was not only this Dr. Carson’s brother, but also the only person in the entire Sanctuary with legitimate medical training. So they gathered Hilltop Dr. Carson despite Gregory’s weak-willed objections, gravely crippling the colony.
(ASIDE: Of course Gregory continued to brown-nose the Saviors, going so far as to threaten Jesus and the Alexandrians at the end of the episode, but who cares. Dude is first to die come season finale, and virtually zero people will miss him.)
In the moments before all of this went down, Jesus and Enid caught Sasha sniffing around their bullets. They quickly figured out what she was planning to do, and obviously didn’t agree with it, but they promised not to stop her. Instead, they encouraged her to share her plans with Maggie.
“You owe her that much,” Jesus explained.
But Sasha was never going to talk to Maggie. She’d already convinced herself that Maggie and her baby’s survival was the Most Important Thing, which makes sense, and that her friends at Hilltop wouldn’t need her in the future, which does not. Maggie is the kind of person who could have talked some sense into Sasha, so Sasha ran under the fence with Rosita instead.
Once on the road to Sanctuary, Sasha and Rosita immediately proved how unprepared for this they truly were, by bickering over the right method to kill Negan. Sasha, a proven sharpshooter, felt that sniping Negan from a building outside the Sanctuary was a superior option that might actually let them escape with their lives. Rosita, of course, wanted to enter the Sanctuary guns blazing.
They eventually, wisely, chose Sasha’s plan. And while they waited for Negan to come outside to his doom, Rosita revealed to Sasha why she’s been acting like such a spoilsport all season long. Turns out that, after a life of being underestimated by weak men, Abraham was the first to actually fully notice and appreciate her. When he left her she was heartbroken, but that’s not why she’s taking his death so hard — it’s because she regrets that he entered the grave not knowing she was happy for him, and she wanted him to go out fighting.
I get this sentiment, and so did Sasha. I also get why both of them want to avenge the man they loved, and why they’re frustrated by how long it’s taking for Rick to assemble his army. (Though it can’t be too long, really, since Maggie still isn’t showing.)
What I don’t get is why they did that they did next, which was abandon their sensible plan to clip Negan from afar and go with the whole guns blazing thing. While listening in on Eugene — now “Chief Engineer” for the Saviors — barking orders over the Saviors’ walkie-talkies, the women learned that Negan’s men would be spending their night gathering more walkers to guard the perimeter, meaning their cover would soon be blown. They also learned that Negan would be “indisposed in the boudoir” for the night, which gave them the idea to go with Plan B.
Problem is, Plan B is still the plan that puts them in the middle of enemy territory, and the plan that will expose Alexandria no matter which way it goes. Sasha and Rosita could have easily retreated from the building, returned the next day, waited for Negan to walk outside, and killed him from afar without anybody knowing any better. Instead, they chose to enter the Sanctuary with little preparation and no knowledge of how many people would be inside, putting themselves — and by proxy, their entire community — at risk for retaliation.
And by “they” I mean just Sasha, because once the women got to the gate and failed to recruit Eugene to their cause, Sasha decided to lock Rosita out and march towards death alone. Apparently, the stuff Rosita said about the boyfriends and the sadness and the feeling underestimated was enough to convince Sasha that it wasn’t Rosita’s time to die.
“There’s got to be a point to it, right?” Sasha told a stunned Rosita. “They need you.”
Hopefully, there will be a point to it. I would bet my 401k on Sasha dying in the season finale. But if she manages to, say, shoot off Negan’s penis in the boudoir in the process I guess I’ll consider it a wash. And it looks like she still might gain some help, as when Rosita ran away, she noticed Daryl and his crossbow standing outside the Sanctuary waiting for her.
Daryl was the only one who noticed Sasha and Rosita’s absence after the Saviors’ latest raid (it was all he really did in the episode, besides tearfully apologize to Maggie for his role in Glenn’s murder), and it will be interesting to see whether he’s there to join in on the madness or stop it. The former would certainly be more interesting, as Rick might see it as a massive betrayal from his most trusted lieutenant.
Either way, we’ll almost definitely have to wait two whole weeks to find out, since Rick still has to recruit the Oceanside ladies before the final showdown can truly begin. I just hope that Sasha is still around to see it.
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