"Walking Dead" grumble thread: The Hilltop episodes are never good

The headline says it all. There are only two proper Hilltop storylines anymore: One is the tension between Jesus and Gregory over control of the community, which is played out and wasn’t interesting to begin with, the other is the continuing “will the Saviors find Daryl and Maggie?” fake suspense. The show obviously isn’t going to kill off two fan favorites by having Random Savior Goon Number Five stumble upon them in their hidey hole. And Daryl, certainly, isn’t about to be recaptured after spending most of the season in a Savior dungeon. The only mystery before the final battle is whether Maggie will be reabsorbed into the Grimes gang beforehand or whether she’ll be taken prisoner by the Saviors, free herself just in time for the big fight, and then sabotage Negan from inside Savior HQ once Rick and the gang make their move. The teaser for next week’s episode, showing Gregory approaching Maggie from behind with a knife drawn (more fake suspense), at least raises the possibility that he’ll sell her out to the Saviors, possibly in exchange for the return of Dr Carson. Or maybe she’ll turn around just in time to see what he’s doing and kill him on the spot. He’s the only character who’s a lock to be dead by season’s end, by dint of his sheer weaseliness. If there was any doubt of that, him threatening Jesus last night erased it.

As for last night’s main storyline, the Rosita/Sasha assassination plot, the Times asks a good question. How did Abraham Ford make such an impression on not one but two women that they’re willing to undertake suicide missions to avenge him? Did all of the romance happen offscreen? Nothing we saw onscreen would explain this degree of devotion:

Rosita has always been a marginal character, a throw-in who arrived as part of the Abraham and Eugene group. Christian Serratos does a fine job with what she’s given but it’s never been all that much — this season it’s amounted to: “Be angry and impatient.” The problem is compounded by the fact that Rosita’s relationship with Abraham was never all that moving in the first place.

Sasha’s — which lasted what, three weeks? — was even less so. But that was apparently enough to send her on a “one-way” mission to avenge his death with a surly former romantic rival.

Wouldn’t it have made more sense for the writers to send Maggie on a mission of suicide vengeance? The audience spent years investing in her relationship with Glenn; we’d have no trouble understanding why she would set out to kill Negan, even at the cost of her and her baby’s lives, to make him pay for murdering her husband. It’s the natural conclusion to her story arc, really. And instead she’s stuck at the Hilltop, farting around in the garden, while Sasha and Rosita become the assassins. It reminds me of that episode in which Tara, of all people, was tasked by the producers with discovering the Oceanside colony. That’s a mission for a far more significant character. Why hand it to a no-name? Just to give her something to do?

Kudos to the writers, though, for having Eugene resist Rosita’s plea to rejoin the Alexandrians. The best episode of the season was the one that showed him being seduced by the promise of power as Negan’s new henchman. It was true to his character that, when made to choose, he’d prefer to stick with that than return to being the Grimes gang’s resident comic-relief nerd. Anyway, three exit questions. One: Why didn’t Sasha take a shot at Negan when he was in the crosshairs? Yeah, he was partially obscured by the people around him, but you might never get that opportunity again. It’s a suicide mission. Just start firing. And relatedly, how the hell did Sasha and Rosita get that close to the Saviors’ compound without being detected? There’s a building within sniper range and the Saviors haven’t secured it? What? Two: That wordless opening sequence was nifty (watch it below), but what was up with the weird knife-wielding exercise the group was engaged in? It looked like they were doing tai chi, not seriously training for hand-to-hand combat. Three: Who was the man with the crossbow at the end whom Rosita sees in the dark? It looked to me like Daryl, but the smart money says it’s Dwight, finally ready to betray Negan in the nick of time for the Armageddon showdown with Rick’s crew.