Spoiler Alert: The following discusses plot points from The Walking Dead Season 7 finale, "The First Day of the Rest of Your Life."
Overview: It's a Sasha-centric POV episode as we experience her very non-linear perspective leading into a face-off in Alexandria between Rick and the Heapsters coalition vs. Negan and the Saviors.
Does it get more on the nose than Sasha's playlist selection of "Someday We'll Be Free" as the song that plays her out of this world? While almost the entirety of the episode may have been dialing in her impending death, I do give props to the unexpected alternative narrative of cutting into the battle storylines with the beloved character's last thoughts as she fades away in a drugged fugue of memories and inside an imagined conversation with her almost lover, Abraham. While the progression certainly honored the character, who has been with the show since Season 3, it also created a strange build-up to the confrontation with Negan.
Every act opened with an extreme close up of Sasha's face as she listens to music and mutters things like "Wake up," "I gotta go," or "It felt real." The audience was meant to try to decipher what was happening as her face looked almost pained and euphoric at times, but it was pretty clear pretty quickly that these were a peek into her dying moments due to Eugene's suicide pill. It was nice to see Michael Cudlitz return as her memory Abraham with his earthy humor and, in the end, genuine reminder that "if we kick it, there better be a point." Maggie was Sasha's savior when she was ready to die from utter depression, so it was poignant to see Sasha light up knowing that her plan would give Maggie and Glenn's unborn child a better shot at being the future that she would ultimately not get to see herself.
Surprisingly, the season was not bookended with multiple deaths. Sasha was our big loss. There was certainly a lot of canon fodder amongst the Saviors and Heapsters but no one of note was left for us to mourn.
Seeing Morgan and Carol finding a purpose again by joining the fight against Negan, which does have some honor, felt right. They both went back in to save the people they cared for, old and new, and it was killing that had some sense to it. And it was a plus to see them rally under Ezekiel's community theatre dramatic battle cries. Their quiet repose on the steps together spoke volumes without saying a single thing.
While I appreciate the creative framing for Sasha, it really made the episode less than urgent until the Heapster twist. Not exactly what you want for a season finale, but the show has been going its own peculiar way throughout all of Season 7 when it comes to pacing. They must have decided why change now.
Did I miss what happened with Gregory aside from the fact that he must be on that road trip planned in the last episode? It was very strange to transition to Maggie officially calling the shots so suddenly at the top of this hour and not having him show up with Team Negan.
Chatty Cathy Negan still does nothing for me. His long-winded set up for Sash and then his talky threats to Carl and Rick just weren't scary. They are all bluster, without any vulnerability, not even when he's forced to turn tail and run back to the Sanctuary. There's not even rage in his failure, which in turn makes the character a cipher. I can't care because he doesn't seem to care. The only windows into his humanity happened via his apology to Sasha and when he sized up Eugene's lie about how Sasha must have died. Both moments provided an interesting glimmer of something I might want to see more of, but it's always ruined by that dude's mouth in the end.
"Oh S--t!" Moment
Jadis and her Heapsters truly are dirtbags! Those opportunists double-crossed Rick and Alexandria in an excellent twist that is revealed as Negan arrives at their walls and his secret cohorts suddenly turn their arsenal on everyone inside the walls. It allows Negan to flaunt his swagger and s***-eating grin for an extra act until the next big reveal.
And that was when Pop Goes the Sasha Walker as she jumps out of the coffin to attack Negan! Completely unexpected, and a great ignition stick for the last two acts as the distraction allows Carl to start unloading on the turncoat Heapsters and give the Alexandria faction a chance once more. It was also a quick but powerful moment in the last minutes when Jesus and Maggie discover walker Sasha in the wilds and tearfully allow her to finally rest.
The third excellent surprise, albeit lesser one, was when Shiva came flying into the frame to take out Negan's closest Savior, announcing the arrival of the Kingdom cavalry and Maggie's Hilltop contingent which puts a lid on Lucille's play date with Carl's noggin.
Michonne getting her warrior ass handed to her by the Heapster soldier who was intent on making Richonne a thing of the past. However, hell hath no fury like a shipper fan's romance taken from them, so luckily the katana queen survived, very bloodied but intact for her grateful family of Rick, Carl and Judith.
And so it goes with Negan's end-of-episode pronouncement to his Savior stooges that "We are going to war," meaning the comic book arc of All Out War is officially unleashed. It's a better sign that the episode closes on Rick, Maggie and Ezekiel facing their newly connected people within the walls of Alexandria as Maggie provides the voiceover of why they are fighting. She reminded Rick that Glenn saving him in Atlanta all those years ago started it all -- a stranger taking a chance on another human being -- and that moment built their new family every step along the way to Alexandria. She showed up to fight with Hilltop, in turn saved them, because that's what Glenn would have done.
As she clung to her family's watch, she closed the season by telling Rick, and us, that "Glenn made the decision, Rick. I was just following his lead." It was an ending suffused in history and legacy for the sorely missed character, but also cementing the reasons why a lot of us have stayed with the show for so long.
What did you think of “The First Day of the Rest of Your Life"? Will you come back for All Out War?