The Walking Dead S7E16 Review: “The First Day of the Rest of Your Life”
Warning: Spoiler Alert!
Turn back now if you haven’t seen this week’s episode, if you have, let’s go to war.
A Real Ending
Before getting into this week’s exciting and emotional season finale, we should contrast briefly with its Season 6 sister. As you may recall, this time last year fans of TWD were howling in rage as Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Negan was beautifully introduced and then the show didn’t just drop the ball, it kicked it straight down the gutter into Pennywise’s lair and dared us to go get it. In other words, he savagely beat one of our heroes to death in the final moments via first-person you’ll-have-to-wait-six-months-to-see-who-this-is cam. Blessedly, this mistake was not repeated.
The final of Season 7 was exciting and action-packed. Every major character (literally every single one) was in Alexandria to launch a glorious war of liberation on Negan and the Saviors. Everyone had a memorable moment, and all of that action drove towards a single climactic showdown.
The Trashy Trash Cult
The Alexandrians’ ambush, of course, went down in flames as the trash cult betrayed Rick at the cost of 10 people(?). Seriously, what the hell is wrong with these people? At least Janna, their leader, got to be creepy and kind of badass, making for an interesting villain. Those trash people don’t talk a lot, but when they do Rick and co. really should listen. She says “get down” and Rick hesitates, so she shoots him in the thigh and kicks him off the tower. “Get down,” she repeats, exasperated. Alright, trash lady, not bad.
Hilltop and the Kingdom also arrived just in time to save Carl from Lucille’s wrath. It was awesome watching Shiva tear people to shreds. It was also awesome watching little Carol leading the Kingdom’s large burly troops and knowing she was more than cup to the task. Maggie also seems to have stepped into the vacuum at Hilltop with Gregory having slipped away (to who cares where, everyone seems to agree!).
I was also a bit perplexed at why Negan would want to kill Carl and not Rick. Rick, down on his knees, shot, and nearly defeated once again, still swore that Negan and all of the Saviors were dead in his eyes. Can a working relationship really be reforged from that? Negan has a bad habit of letting the strong ones live to carry out a scheme. Speaking of which…
The framing for the episode, including the opening moments and the final shot as the sun set, were for Sasha. When a big episode focuses on a character like this in an emotional way, you can bet their ticket is about to be punched. It was great that a) her ride in the coffin turned out to be completely voluntary and b) Eugene’s suicide pill finally came into play! Her big reveal as a self-created zombie trap for the drama-loving Negan was heartbreaking and great. It didn’t work out exactly as planned, but it was a good distraction that gave Rick and co. the chance to turn the tables on the trash cult.
For Sasha, the episode played out in flashback and dream. It opened on her wearing earbuds and music playing, tears streaming down her face. She was locked in the coffin during transport and recalling a conversation that she had with Abraham (or wished she’d had with him) on the last day of his life. It was a melancholic reunion. Two characters who loved each other and who would both die for their “family.”
This was the theme of the episode, and Glenn’s sacrifice was also highlighted. Maggie got to give the excellent closing speech after the Saviors fled with their tail between their legs and middle-finger flying high: the new standard TWD farewell! Her speech was a beautiful homage to the series, reflecting on the avalanche of events that had happened since S1E1, when Glenn made the decision to save Rick in downtown Atlanta. It was this initial decision, Maggie says, that set everything in motion. Glenn’s sacrifice for a stranger was the seed that became their commitment to each other. He was the reason they were family. This is what makes them different than the Saviors. Our heroes are a family, willing to live and die for each other. The Saviors are slaves, cowed and bent to Negan’s will.
As the episode closed, the camera pans to Glenn’s watch, held firmly in Maggie’s hand. Then the final shot: Maggie and Sasha sitting on a log watching the sunset on a peaceful field. This is the end of Season 7, the end of submission and the beginning of our heroes’ war for independence. It was a beautiful way to frame the series from seasons 1 to 7 and still keep us wanting more. TWD once again proves it is still worth watching and has more story to tell. Until Season 8.