(SPOILERS, OF COURSE)
I will be the first admit that I’ve been very critical of season 7 of The Walking Dead. I’ve spent weeks complaining about the pace of the story and episodes that didn’t seem to go anywhere. I have been very open about my frustration with the one-dimensional villainy of Negan and my feeling that Rick Grimes is an incredibly overrated hero. I don’t take any of that back.
But you know what?
The seventh season finale of The Walking Dead was pretty damn good. Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t great. There were still pacing problems. There was still way too much time spent on Negan chuckling before launching into one of his marathon monologues. I would have preferred that, instead of ending with Negan announcing, “We are going to war!,” that the episode had ended with the war already over and Negan vanquished.
But, even with all that in mind, The First Day Of The Rest Of Your Life was a well-executed finale and it went a long way towards making up for some season seven’s weaker moments.
At first, it didn’t seem like that would be the case. When the show started with Sasha in what appeared to be a cell, I will admit to rolling my eyes a little. “Please, God, no more cell monologues,” I thought as Negan popped into her cell and proceeded to give a monologue. Now that I know that Sasha was in the process of committing suicide, her scenes with Abraham and Maggie are undeniably poignant. But, at the time that I was first watching them, I have to admit that my first thought was that Abraham was getting more dialogue now that he was dead than he ever did while he was alive. When Abraham said that Maggie was carrying the future in her, I thought to myself, “She’s been carrying the future for two years. Is that baby ever going to be born?”
And, when Dwight told Rick that he had a plan and Rick asked to hear it, the only thing that kept me from throwing a shoe at the TV was that I wasn’t wearing any. “Rick doesn’t have a plan!?” I snapped, “All this time and he hasn’t come up with a plan!? No wonder Carl’s always looking for a new father figure!”
And then, finally, when the Scavengers revealed that they had been working with the Saviors all the time, I chalked it up to another case of Rick not being the strategic genius that everyone always seems to assume that he is. As Rick stood there with guns pointed at him, I mentally prepared myself for the task of having to sit through yet another Negan monologue.
At the time, I didn’t realize how skillfully The Walking Dead was toying with me and my expectations. In retrospect, I can see how perfectly the show played me. Of course, I would be frustrated with Rick. And, of course, I would be dreading the idea of another Negan speech. And, just when I was on the verge of giving up, the show gave us…
The moment that Zombie Sasha burst out of that coffin is destined to be remembered as the 2nd greatest moment in the history of season 7. This was the only time that I can think of that anyone on the show made a deliberate decision to use zombiefication to turn themselves into a weapon. I’m going to assume that Eugene secretly slipped her some poison before she got in the coffin. It was too bad that Sasha had to die but, if you have to die, die with style. At least this is one death that Rick wasn’t indirectly responsible for. The blame for this one can be put on Rosita.
You may have noticed that Zombie Sasha was my choice for the 2nd greatest moment of season 7. What was the first?
After the disruption of Zombie Sasha, the Saviors thought they had regained control of the situation. Carl and Rick were on their knees. Negan was starting another monologue. I was starting to get frustrated again. And suddenly, out of nowhere, a tiger pounced! Ezekiel and the Kingdom showed up and basically kicked a lot of Savior ass. Negan fled. He may have extended his middle finger as he drove out of there but there’s no way to deny that the bully finally get his ass kicked. After all that has happened over the course of this season, it was nice to see Negan not only twice fail to complete a monologue but also get his ass kicked by a bunch of Renaissance Faire actors. It was pure chaos and it was beautiful.
As for the rest of the show, Rick somehow quickly recovered from being shot in the stomach and Michonne survived getting beaten half-to-death. Carl still has his one good eye and Father Gabriel showed up long enough to let us know that he’s still alive.
The Saviors lost a battle and, when Season 8 begins in October, it’s going to be time for war.
I’ll be watching.