THE WALKING DEAD Season 7 Episode 16
Episode Title: “The First Day of the Rest of Your Life”
Writer: Scott M. Gimple, Angela Kang & Matthew Negrete
Director: Greg Nicotero
Previously on The Walking Dead:
Episode 7.15: “Something They Need“
There are spoilers ahead for last night’s episode of The Walking Dead, but don’t pretend that you didn’t know that!
If you ever want to know who’s going to die on The Walking Dead and you haven’t read the comics, there’s an easy way to tell. If a secondary character is getting a ridiculous amount of screentime then that’s usually the kiss of death. Leading characters like Rick, Carl, and Michonne are usually exempt from that rule, although the season finale had a few tense moments for all three. But this was the end of the line for Sasha, which means that all of the characters introduced the midseason finale from the third season have now been killed off.
Who would have ever expected Sasha to outlive Tyreese? For one thing, Sasha didn’t have a direct counterpart in the comic. She was created for the show, and she outlived many of the established characters. And yet as soon as Sonequa Martin-Green was cast on Star Trek: Discovery, Sasha’s fate was sealed. Here’s another primer for Walking Dead fans: whenever a TV casting announcement claims that a star will be able to appear on both The Walking Dead and their new project, it is almost always a lie.
“The First Day of the Rest of Your Life” gave Sasha a memorable send off…and then it just kept on giving it to her. The intercutting between Sasha’s dream reunion with Abe, her time with Negan and Eugene, and her final moments in the coffin was an interesting way to chronicle the last hours of her life. But it went on for far too long. This was another extended episode of the series that seemed like it was only longer so AMC could put more commercials into it. The story simply didn’t call for this padding. As much fun as it was to see Michael Cudlitz one last time, it didn’t really serve a purpose.
It was far more intriguing that Negan really seemed to like Sasha, as he actually compromised on the number of people that he was going to kill. That affection was definitely one-sided, but it was there. Likewise, Eugene’s friendship with Sasha was one of the few redeeming aspects of his character in this episode. Now, Eugene’s betrayal of his friends is complete, and everyone in Alexandria knows that Eugene is Negan, so to speak. That was another great moment in the finale, when Rick ordered the improvised bomb to go off even though he knew it would kill Eugene.
Of course, the bomb didn’t go off, and that led to the unsurprising twist that Jadis and her Scavengers had betrayed Rick’s group to the Saviors. Really? You mean it wasn’t a good idea to hunt down guns and give them to these cartoon psychos that they barely knew? There are times when the TV show improves upon the comic book’s storyline, but this was not one of those occasions. From the start, the Scavengers have felt out of place on this series, and it would have been refreshing to see all of them end up as tiger food.
At least Jadis had a very funny moment in which she propositioned Rick right in front of Michonne and basically asked if Michonne had a problem with that. The facial expressions of Danai Gurira and Andrew Lincoln were really priceless. That take on Jadis could have had more potential, if all of her followers didn’t also have the same strange way of speaking. There was simply nothing more to Jadis or the Scavengers other than their bizarre trash motif. Hopefully the show won’t focus on them next season. They had their chance to be interesting and they blew it.
The final twenty minutes of the episode did a lot to give the finale a high note to go out on. Because of the choices to show the Hilltop and the Kingdom’s forces heading to Alexandria, it left out the tension of whether they would arrive in time for the big battle. But those scenes were necessary to firmly establish Maggie as the new Hilltop leader and to bring Morgan back into the fold with Ezekiel after his last appearance on the show. At this point, Ezekiel doesn’t really need to do his king act, but he can’t seem to give up the theatricality of his performance.
As a callback to the season premiere, both Carl and Rick ended up once again kneeling in front of Negan. After sixteen episodes, Rick’s finally got his full swagger back. It’s just unfortunate that the show never seemed to be in a hurry to get to this point. There really were far too many filler episodes this season and it robbed the series of its urgency. In theory, the “All Out War” storyline could and should be more intense, but this show’s recent history suggests that its approach isn’t going to change. Eventually, the audience’s willingness to put up with the sluggish pace will catch up with this series. Given the declining ratings, it’s possible that it’s already started to happen. The Walking Dead has pulled off some amazing feats over the last seven seasons, but even this show can’t last forever.