Sunday, March 26, 2017

Walking Dead recap: Season 7, Episode 15, "Something They Need"

Aside from the armored walker that Rick (Andrew Lincoln) fought in the junkyard where Jadis's people live, it's been months since roamers posed a credible threat to anyone on The Walking Dead. They're usually just a slightly titillating excuse for some action, and the catalyst for a jolt of camaraderie or tension among the humans they encounter. True to form, the barnacle-festooned skeleton that stumbles into focus at the start of “Something They Need,” and the herd that materializes behind it, lurch obligingly into Oceanside just as Rick's arms raid is teetering on the edge of catastrophe.

The walkers appear just as the Oceanside residents and the invaders from Alexandria and the Hillside are stuck in a Mexican standoff, with Natania (Deborah May) holding a gun to Tara's (Ma Masterson) head. Like villains from a 1980s chop-socky flick, they also approach at just the right time and pace, and in just the right configuration, to be easily defeated—but first the humans must take their guns off one another to train them on their common enemy. Natania remains unmoved by the show of solidarity (not to mention Tara's plea for unity), but enough of her followers, including leader-in-waiting Cyndie (Sydney Park), bond with Rick's people during the fight for the two groups to form a fragile truce.

The walkers that attempt to dine on Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Gregory (Xander Berkeley) while she gardens just outside the Hilltop are the flipside of that coin, illustrating the chasm that separates these two. As he collapses in terror, forcing her to flex her walker-whacking chops to save him, it's clear that Maggie's generous offer of unity with the weasely Gregory could never work. Honorable as always, she defends him to the Hilltop residents who witness his humiliation, assuring them that he's new to this and will learn. But they're not about to forget what they've just seen, or that he lied to them about never having dispatched a walker. Besides, Gregory, who seriously considered killing Maggie moments before she saved his sorry ass, is surely way too insecure to forgive her for showing him up so effortlessly, or so publicly.

There's still a lot of table-setting to be done before next week's season finale, which writer Corey Reed and director Michael Slovis deal with mainly by stacking up thin slivers of information. There's plenty of quick cutting between pairs of significant characters. The most successful of these are the pas de deux between Maggie and Gregory and the reconnection between Tara and Cyndie (could they be a couple in the making?). Those two have a sweetly awkward little moment when Tara says, “Thanks for saving my life before. And the other time. Oh, and then the other time. And maybe today.” Read the rest in Slant Magazine

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