The Walking Dead season 7 episode 14 review: A thrilling descent into doom

*Spoilers for The Walking Dead season 7 episode 14 follow*

Click to follow

It’s episodes such as the latest instalment of The Walking Dead that makes you grateful for sticking around when your recent thoughts while watching the series may have been more focused on the location of your remote control.

Much has been spoken about how this season has languished in specific locations placing the microscope upon certain characters for whole outings at a time (it’s all in service of the future war to come) but, with just two episodes to go until another season finale arrives, ‘The Other Side’ does what The Walking Dead once did best: puts its money where its mouth is.

Yes, the familiar season seven formula is - for the most part - upheld in this outing; location wise, events are based at the Hilltop Colony, but unlike previous occasions we’ve been treated to a (fleeting) hangout with Maggie (Lauren Cohan), insufferable Gregory (Xander Berkeley) et al., this week’s visit has a purpose. In fact, the opening shot - at first blurry before snapping into focus -seems to exemplify the Hilltop’s entire storyline this season. Following this is a dialogue-free montage sequence showing Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green), Enid (Katelyn Nacon) and Daryl (Norman Reedus) - who made it there safely after leaving the Kingdom - training up the Hilltop crew for the oncoming war.

The Walking Dead Season 7 Episode 14 trailer

All of this is a side attraction to the main event - Rosita (Christian Serratos) and Sasha’s revenge mission teased at the climax of ‘Say Yes. Using the arrival of The Saviours as an opportunity to make a dash for it, this episode sees the duo hit the road, arrive at the Sanctuary and enact their plan to assassinate Negan in the space of 43 short minutes. In fact, what makes this episode work on a wavelength most episodes this season have failed to is through the weaving in of the very plot points the writers have taken time to flesh out; viewer’s patience continues to be rewarded. Take, for instance, both Sasha and Rosita - they’re both seeking to avenge the death of the man they both loved and, while this has made them more adversary than ally previously, we see them learn to find respect for each other with inevitable death approaching (more on that below).

Consequently, their interactions as they sit and ponder their past, a sniper rifle perched on laps, are far more moving and believable than it would have been if merely compressed into a few episodes; it’s moments such as these where you realise you care for these characters more than you initially realised. Then there’s the moment they jump into action to rescue Eugene (Josh McDermitt), still pulling rank as Negan’s new right-hand man at the Sanctuary. As expected, however, the “lying sack of shit” refuses to be rescued, and instead scurries back towards the very man they’re trying to kill. It’s hard not to see him get caught in the crossfire of the gunfire Rosita hears ring out as Sasha goes it alone in The saviours compound (again, more on that below).

Back at the Hilltop, we learn that Daryl is carrying so much guilt over the death of Glenn that he can’t even bear to look at Maggie. The pair are later thrust together when forced to face his grief while hiding from The Saviours. The moment is written so simply by Angela Kang and played tenderly by Cohan and Reedus that your wobbly chin can be excused. It’s just one of ‘The Other Side's many scenes that evoke the sense that - hey, wheels are in motion.  

The episode’s climax sets things up so breathlessly that you’ll be left staring at the screen lamenting the week wait ahead of you. Sasha decides to go it alone - she nobly locks Rosita out of the Sanctuary as she sprints into Negan's compound, fully armed, prepared to die while avenging Abraham (Michael Cudlitz). In a series where the moustachioed soldier's death was - somewhat understandably - overshadowed by original character Glenn (Steven Yeun), this moment feels like the Abe tribute he's deserved for some time now.

It's the final shot that brings chills; Rosita is seen staring at an unknown long-haired crossbow-wielding figure stood in the shadows, leaving viewers with the sense that Daryl has come to help. Perhaps not - lest we forget, Negan’s once-loyal aide Dwight (Austin Amelio) also has a crossbow. Maybe this is his time to shine. we’ll find out next week, an episode which you’ll be tuning in for perhaps a lot more readily than you have been this season.

The Walking Dead airs tonight (20 March) in the UK at 9pm on FOX.