To say that Season 7 of The Walking Dead went out with a bang would be an understatement. It went out with a boom and was feature film epic.
The finale episode, “The First Day of the Rest of Your Life”, pulled together the entire season and gave a satisfying send off for a fan favourite character. So with a SPOILER ALERT, here is the review in four bites:
#1 Memories of a Sasha
From the time Sasha went all kamikaze in the Saviours’ Sanctuary two episodes ago I knew that her days were numbered. And the actress, Sonequa Martin-Green, had been cast in the new Star Trek TV series so she was the obvious choice to be killed off. But I did not expect how should we die and I praise the writers/producers for the twist.
Martin-Green gave a fantastic performance this episode. I loved her scenes with Negan (the always superb Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Eugene (that Kool-Aid drinking coward) and, surprise surprise, Abraham (Michael Cudlitz). It was so great having Cudlitz back and I enjoyed his Abrahamisms (going to the beach is like sandblasting your nutsack) and the tender moments with Sasha. The opening with her fading to black, the shocking walker reveal – I thought her body would have fallen out – and the sunrise moment with Maggie all combined to give a fitting goodbye to our brave warrior, Sasha Williams.
#2 Stinking scavengers
The Scavengers were both a source of laughter: I smirked when I saw a Scavenger carrying an umbrella for no apparent reason, chuckled when they rode in on bikes like some apocalyptic hipsters and I burst out laughing when the Scavenger leader told Michonne “I lay with him after.” But when the group walked into Alexandria I had a niggling worry in the back of my mind. Our survivors barely knew these weirdos and they did force Rick to battle a spiky walker.
Still when those greedy, double crossing bastards double crossed our heroes because of a “better deal” I really did not see that coming. And poor Michonne got the crap beaten out of her but I was not worried that she would have died. Like Daryl, if she dies we riot. The Scavenger leader and many of her followers escaped so they will likely return as antagonists for Season 8.
#3 This means war
After watching Glenn and Abraham get physically beaten to death and Rick figuratively beaten into submission, Season 7 started off very gloomy. And we were reminded of that scene as Negan threatened to kill Carl/Coral. For a moment I was worried that he might actually get the bat. But this is not Season 7 Premiere Rick any more. This is War Rick who tells Negan “you’re already dead.” And this is Negan’s second surprise of the episode – the first being the Sasha walker attack – and then he immediately gets his third – Shiva jumps in and bites a guy’s face off. And then it is all out war!
King Ezekiel runs in and utters a Lord of the Rings-esque line “Alexandria will not fall. No not this day.” Carol is shooting people, Morgan is killing folk, Maggie and Jesus and the Hilltop run in and it is a movie scale battle scene. It was like a love letter to the fans and I loved every minute of it.
#4 Going back to the start
After the bullets stopped flying things got all mellow and mournful. Continuing the Lord of the Rings theme it felt like multiple endings but just like Return of the King I did not mind because I did not want it to end. It could have closed on Negan in the Sanctuary riling up his troops like Saruman standing before an army of Orcs. But this was an ending of hope and not fear. So we see Rick, Ezekiel and Maggie standing together – three leaders ready to fight together. We get the bittersweet moments of the sunset and Maggie putting down Walker Sasha.
And with all the callbacks to the start of the season we even get a callback all the way to Season 1 Episode 1 when Glenn saved Rick who was in a tank surrounded by walkers; Maggie holding her father/Glenn’s watch was a fine touch. The survivors have become family and will fight for each other to their last breath. People who don’t watch the show may think it is about killing zombies and gore but it is a really a drama about people, about family, about hope versus despair. And of course sweet, sweet zombie killing. This finale exemplifies the message of the show, has fantastic emotion and action, leaves you excited for Season 8 (all out war is coming, we still have all the stuff with Dwight and where the heck is Heath?) and delivers the best finale in the show’s long history.
Rating: “The First Day of the Rest of Your Life” gets 4.5/5 tiger Saviour treats.