There are two methods of getting someone to comply with your wishes – the carrot and the stick. The carrot is the lure of attaining something coveted. The stick is punishment for non-compliance. Both were on display in this week’s episode of The Walking Dead.

Negan uses a combination of the two, ruling mostly with fear and intimidation, but also (surprisingly) using psychology to woo those who he thinks will buy-in to his way of thinking.

Rick, on the other hand, seems to be almost strictly a stick man. When he needs someone to comply, it usually ends badly for those who don’t get on board with his desires. While he’s not as overt as Negan, there’s a long trail of bodies to attest to Rick’s ultimately ruthless ways.

The answer to which man has the better way will ultimately be answered when the dust settles from the forthcoming Saviors war.  This week, we saw the final bits of possibilities put into place, as the Oceanside crew’s guns joined the fray and Sasha’s fate became clear.

This week’s recap:

*** Tara has decided to reveal the existence of Oceanside. She previously vowed she would keep it a secret, but with the stakes so high in the forthcoming war, silence = death. So Team Alexandria pays a visit to the Oceanside camp. They will try to intimidate them into joining the forthcoming battle, or else relieve them of the much-needed weapons.

*** Sasha’s ill-fated solo foray into the Saviors compound has ended with her capture. She’s in the same dark holding cell that Daryl once occupied. Her jailer arrives, a creepy man name David, who proceeds to molest her under cover of authority. Then, a hero arrives — Negan, who can’t abide anyone who breaks the rules, and one of the rules is “no rape.”  Davey is dispatched in the cell with a long knife through his neck. Negan then offers Sasha a choice – join the Saviors and betray her former comrades, or suffer some consequences. He leaves her to make up her mind with Davey’s body still in the room. He tosses her the knife and tells her to make up her mind – either kill him, surrender yourself to him when he turns, or defend yourself and join me, quite a leap considering she watched as Negan dispatched her lover, Abraham, with a baseball bat. “I know it’s hard to picture, considering what I did,” coos Negan. “But we all got shit to get over. I just want you to understand. We are not monsters.”

** Back at the Hilltop, the ongoing battle for control between Maggie and Gregory is still simmering. When Maggie ventures outside the fence to tend to a wild blueberry bush, Gregory approaches. He wants to talk about their bad situation, and Maggie agrees. She asks him to stand guard while she finishes her task with the bush. Gregory is tempted to use the long knife he has while her back is turned, but he is soon distracted by an arriving walker. After some hemming and hawing over who will kill it, Gregory finally acquiesces and lets Maggie handle it. Then, he’s jumped by another walker he didn’t see, and must beg Maggie for help. She jumps in and rescues him, much to his chagrin. It’s evidence yet again of who is the real Alpha leader of the Hilltop. Gregory will undoubtedly remember this moment, and not in a good way.

*** Back in Sasha’s cell, Eugene arrives with some bedding. He begs her to join the Saviors as a way to save herself.  Eugene explains why he turned. “They’re keeping me safe,” and that being with the Saviors means he’ll never have to experience that sort of fear again. “And neither will you if you just say yes.” Sasha tells him to go as she stares at Davey’s slowly re-animating body. She has a decision to make.

*** At the Oceanside camp, Team Alexandria sets off some explosions, causing all sorts of frantic running by the women of the camp. It’s a way to create chaos that will allow everyone from Team Alexandria to infiltrate. They quickly seize control, and Tara — who previously sneaked in and pulled a gun on Natania, the grandmotherly leader of the camp — now emerges as Natania’s captive, with a gun to her head. Rick threatens her with death from Michonne’s sniper rifle, and tries to get her to release Tara and talk, but Natania shuts it down, vowing to kill Tara if they don’t leave. Rick lays out the deal: Join them in the coming war or not, but they are taking their guns regardless. There are some in the camp who wish to join, but the old lady is having none of it, and it’s only when her granddaughter cold cocks her that the situation is defused.

*** Natania doesn’t want to fight. “We tried that and lost,” she notes. Realizing that the guns are gone, she implores her people to just stay put. “Take your guns and go,” she tells Rick. “We’re not fighting them with you.”

*** Back at the Saviors compound, Negan enters the room where Sasha is held captive. A small smile spreads across his face as he sees the body of Davey with a knife stuck in it. “You win,” says Sasha. “You win,” he counters. But Negan is not totally buying her conversion just yet. “We got to work on some things,” he says. “People have told me Rick and your people are up to no good.”  Negan wants to know what she knows, but he will give her the night in better accommodations to think it over.

*** That night, Eugene appears outside her door for a visit. Sasha, despite what she said to Negan, has had a change of heart. “I can’t. I won’t,” she tells him. She begs Eugene to give her something to kill herself. “It’s the only way,” she says. Eugene thinks it over, then returns with the poison pill that the Negan wives had asked him to create during their plot to kill Negan. What Sasha really wanted was a weapon. Her disappointment clearly shows on her face.

*** There’s one last twist to this week’s episode. Rosita returns to Alexandria, and she has an interesting guest in tow. The silhouette she saw last week during her escape was Dwight, who served as Daryl’s jailer and was one of Negan’s right-hand men. Now, he claims, he wants to help in the coming battle against his former boss. Rick is skeptical. “You want to help?  Okay. Get on your knees.”

Next week: an extended season finale will tie up this seventh season’s loose ends – or will it?  Who will triumph in the coming Saviors war?  Will Sasha kill herself or turn?  What will Eugene do in the coming war?  Will Dwight really help Team Rick in the coming battle, or is it a ruse? Does Negan know that there’s a war brewing?  Lots of action to come!

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+