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TV Review: The Walking Dead 7.16 (Season 7 Finale)
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The Walking Dead Episode 7.16 Finale

The Walking Dead
Episode 7.16 “The First Day of the Rest of Your Life” (Season Finale)
Written by Scott M. Gimple, Angela Kang & Matthew Negrete
Directed by Greg Nicotero
Starring Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Lauren Cohan, Chandler Riggs, Danai Gurira, Melissa McBride, Lennie James, Christian Serratos, Sonequa Martin-Green, Josh McDermitt, Khary Payton, Austin Amelio, Tom Payne, Katelyn Nacon, Alanna Masterson
Air Date: Sunday, April 2, 2017

Warning – SPOILERS for AMC’s The Walking Dead…

Season 7 of The Walking Dead began back in October in a most brutal manner: depicting the violent deaths of two main characters, one of whom was much beloved and was with the show from the very beginning. It also thrust Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s villainous Negan to the forefront of the story, showing viewers that no one on the show is safe. With a few swings of his barbed-wire-wrapped baseball bat “Lucille,” Negan ended Rick’s and the Alexandrians’ way of life in an instant, forcing them into subservience and an existence shrouded in fear. Watching our favorite characters, who were always so strong now, living in this new way has been difficult. Thankfully, halfway through the season, Rick finally came to his senses and rallied not only his troops against Negan and the Saviors, but also those from other colonies: The Hilltop, The Kingdom, and The Scavengers, with the possibility of the Oceanside community joining the fray.

Last week’s episode was the fifteenth of the season, and it saw the Alexandrians invade the Oceanside community as non-violently as possible for their guns. At the Hilltop, Maggie was slowly but surely emerging as the new leader, inadvertently pushing aside figurehead Gregory, who we last saw making plans to travel to the Sanctuary to get help with that situation. At the Sanctuary, Negan was holding Sasha captive, trying to get the Alexandrian to join him against Rick. Sasha had no intention of doing that, and instead tried to get Eugene to get her a weapon to kill Negan, tricking her old friend into thinking she was going to use it to end her own life. And at Alexandria, Rosita had returned with a most unexpected companion — Dwight, one of the Saviors from Negan’s close group. While it was dangerous for Dwight to show up there, especially since he had tormented Daryl at Negan’s bidding, the Savior is ready to help Rick and company take down Negan.

Episode 7.16, “The First Day of the Rest of Your Life,” the Season 7 finale, returns us to Alexandria, where Rick is holding Dwight at gunpoint, who says he’s there because he wants to “stop it” and he wants Negan dead. But why can’t he just do that himself? Because they’re all Negan, he explains. That’s when Tara steps in to let him know that the woman he killed had a name, Denise, and she was a doctor who helped people. “I wasn’t aiming for her,” he says, which sets off Daryl, who grabs him and holds a knife to his head. Tara wants Daryl to finish Dwight, and Dwight even says he can go ahead and do it because everything he had done before was for someone else, but that she got away (alluding to his wife Sherry). He says that Daryl is free because of her (Sherry). He also says he’s sorry, and seems to truly mean it. Despite Tara repeatedly saying “Do it!” to killing Dwight, Daryl doesn’t kill him. No one trusts Dwight, but he reveals that Negan has plans to come there the next day and explains his plan to slow down the Saviors.

Outside, Rick and Daryl talk about what’s to come. Daryl says that he plans to kill Dwight when this is all over, but if he’s lying, he’s going to do is slowly. Ricks says if Dwight is lying, this is already over.

Meanwhile, throughout this oversized episode, we are repeatedly returned to a scene of a close-up of Sasha in the dark wearing headphones going back and forth between smiling and crying as she listens to the song “Someday We’ll All Be Free” by Donny Hathaway. Each one of these scenes leads to a flashback of her conversation with Abraham on the day Negan killed him. Abraham had come to tell her that he was going to go with Rick to bring pregnant Maggie to the doctor at Hilltop. Sasha had had a nightmare that Abraham was drowning at the beach, and that she then started to drown too, so she doesn’t want him to go on the mission. But Abraham is a soldier and is prepared to give up his life for another if necessary. She says “Maggie’s gotta take care of Maggie,” but he knows that Sasha isn’t selfish like that, which is why she’s going to go on the mission too.

Throughout the episode, we’re also shown what looks like a flashback of Sasha and Maggie sitting side by side outside at the Hilltop looking out at something, smiling.

We then find out that Negan had come to Sasha at her cell at the Sanctuary that morning. “Welcome to the first day of the rest of your life, Sasha,” Negan tells her, all smiles while bringing her a tray of food. He tells her his plan off screen and she says she can accomplish the mission without anyone being killed. But Negan says that someone has to be punished for what Rick is doing. She manages to talk him into only one person dying, instead of the three he wanted. He tells her “You got me wrapped around your little finger,” and not because she’s a woman. “If you had a dick, I’d still have these feelings.” He uncovers the try to reveal smiley-face pancakes, before exiting. They’re rolling out in just 45 minutes.

Later, Eugene is walking out with Sasha, telling her that things will get better and she’ll get used to the way things are there. But she says no, she won’t, not like he has.

At the Hilltop, Maggie says that Rick sent word of what they’re going to do and that she’s to stay there in case something goes wrong. But Rick didn’t know that Gregory left, presumably to go to Negan (which we know he did). She plans on leading their group to Alexandria to help them fight the Saviors.

Over at the Kingdom, King Ezekiel readies his people to go fight the Saviors at Alexandria, and this includes Morgan, who previously believed that every life is precious, so he wasn’t going to take lives. But things have changed now, since the Saviors killed young Benjamin and Morgan strangled Richard to death for his part in it. “Do you want the Saviors dead?,” Ezekiel asks Morgan, who responds, “Yes, I do.” Morgan says he feels “stuck.” “You are not stuck,” Ezekiel tells him, “Join us to create an alliance, fight with us and we shall defeat them so that no one will suffer under their capacious malevolence ever again.” And Morgan does. King Ezekiel then leads his people — now including Carol along with the tiger Shiva — out to fight.

At Alexandria, Jadis and the Scavengers are there to fight the Saviors. In what was the only humorous moment of the finale, Jadis inquiries if Michonne and Rick are together. Michonne says they are, and Jadis responds, “I lay with him after.” I really expected Michonne to go off on her, but she keeps her cool and says they need to get to work. But Rick’s surprised face was priceless.

So now everyone is gearing up for war, with Daryl and Rosita rigging up explosives. Before the Saviors arrive, Eugene shows up telling Rick to stand down because he has zero chance to win this battle. “Where’s Negan?,” Rick asks, and like we all expected, Eugene says, “I’m Negan.” There it is, they know the drill now. Rick and Rosita nod to each other, and she goes to set off the explosives, but they don’t work! That’s when the Scavengers turn on them!!!!!!!!! BETRAYAL!!!!!! Turns out, they brokered a better deal with Negan. “We win,” Jadis tells Rick after shooting him in the side. That’s when the gates open and in rolls Negan and the Saviors.

When Negan arrives, he does his usual monologuing about how Rick is a bitch and how stupid he is and someone has to pay. He wants more heads for Lucille (his killer baseball bat), every last grain of lemonade, the pool table, all the guns they had acquired, and he really wants Daryl back. Can I tell you how sick I am of Negan’s blathering? They then bring out a casket that they say contains Sasha inside alive and well, and if they want to keep her that way, they will comply.

Now we get to see what Sasha was doing inside the casket all that time. In a flashback, we see Eugene give her an iPod and headphones for their journey to Alexandria. She doesn’t have to ride in the casket, but she says she wants to so she can sleep. But what she was really doing was thinking back about that conversation with Abraham while preparing to take the poison pills she got from Eugene, so she could die in the casket and then come out a walker, hopefully to kill Negan. (During the smiley-face pancakes talk, Sasha had said “Ok, only one person has to die,” clearly referring to herself, unbeknownst to Negan). Also, it turns out that the very first scene of thee finale is actually the moment that Sasha dies, but we just didn’t know it at the time.

And her plan almost worked! When Negan opens the casket, an undead Sasha lunges at him, but doesn’t make her kill (although, she does get some others).

Can I just say, those motherfucking heapster Scavenger bastards, I hope they meet a horrible end. I mean, I know this is the apocalypse and it’s basically every man for himself, but damn!!!!!!! I’m so pissed!!!!!!

Anyhow, once Sasha comes out biting, all beats are off. The Alexandrians start a shoot-out, while up in the tower, Michonne fights against one of the Scavengers and is losing. Eventually, as usual, asshole Negan comes out on top. The Alexandrians are rounded up again and Negan monologues, promising to kill Carl and then chop off Rick’s hands. Carl tells Negan, “You’re not going to win,” while Rick reiterates his previous promise to one day somehow kill Negan. As Negan readies to bash Carl’s head in with Lucille, Shiva the tiger jumps on him, saving Carl!! King Ezekiel and the Kingdom have arrived, with Maggie and the Hilltop people right behind them. The fight is back on!!!

Negan gets away and runs for cover. “A goddamn tiger,” he says in disbelief. He also notes that “that widow is alive, guns blazing,” referring to Maggie, who he had been told had died. The Saviors and the Scavengers retreat from the battle, including Dwight. Thankfully, we see that Dwight did NOT betray the Alexandrians, as in the end, Daryl finds one of Dwight’s carved figures near the gate with the words “Didn’t know” written on it. Rick and Carl find Michonne alive, but badly hurt. Michonne struggles to tell Rick their mantra, so he says the truncated version of “We can make it. We can win. We’re the ones who live.”

Back at the Sanctuary, Negan wonders to Eugene HOW Sasha could have died. Eugene, knowing that it had to be the pills he gave her, says it was likely from suffocating inside the tightly closed casket. “Maybe,” Negan says, before turning to the crowd of his people to make a declaration: “We are going to war.”

The episode ends with a voiceover of Rick and Maggie talking, while we see the Alexandrians recovering (Rosita and Michonne are in sick beds), regrouping after the battle, and having a burial for their fallen. We also see Maggie and Jesus come upon the wandering undead Sasha, and Maggie tearfully puts her down. Maggie tells Rick she knows that somehow Sasha killed herself to try to save them. Rick says that Maggie made the right choice in coming to Alexandria to fight, and Maggie talks about how they are family and that she was following the course that Glenn set for them on the day he first met Rick trapped in the tank. Glenn risked his life to save Rick, who was a stranger to him. The last scene is Rick, Ezekiel, and Maggie, who’s holding the pocketwatch her father gave to Glenn, standing together talking to their people. They are united!

Even though things went south for the Alexandrians, at least Season 7 didn’t end with all of them on their knees at Negan’s mercy with an imminent death like Season 6 ended. And even though Sasha died, it felt like her life was over long ago and we were just waiting for her sacrifice to come. And while she didn’t kill Negan as planned, Sasha did end up sacrificing her life to help others, as her actions led to Rick and most of the Alexandrians living to fight another day. Her one-woman raid on the Sanctuary had been a suicide mission to begin with, so really, she was following through with her plan, even though it turned out much different.

But what will happen in Season 8? We know Negan plans to go to war, and even with the alliance of the Alexandrians, the Kingdom, and the Hilltop, will that be enough to fight the Saviors and their new allies, the Scavengers? It doesn’t seem so, even if they manage to recruit the Oceanside people. And it seems like Negan and his army would show up the very next day, too. I think we know that Michonne is going to end up killing Jadis in a really satisfying way, and hopefully accompanied by a nice quip.

As if the finale wasn’t emotional enough, it turns out the episode was dedicated to Bernie Wrightson, the comic book artist who co-created Swamp Thing who passed away on March 19, 2017 after a long battle with cancer. (RIP Bernie Wrightson).


The Walking Dead: Next on: ‘The First Day of the Rest of Your Life’ Season Finale

The Walking Dead: ‘Fight With Us’ Sneak Peek Season 7 Finale

Ezekiel reminds Morgan what he’s fighting for.

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