We Review the Latest Episode of The Walking Dead SN07 EP16-‘The First Day of the Rest of Your Life’
All-out war begins in an emotional and action packed episode!
Well, holy crap was that an amazing episode. After an entire season of watching the group beat into the ground and slowly build themselves back up again, The Walking Dead’s Season 7 finale saw the culmination of all that misery as everyone finally banded together to fight Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and the Saviours, and boy was it worth the wait.
This season of The Walking Dead has been the definition of a slow burn. It hasn’t been to everyone’s taste and it was certainly weak in places, but we had to see this group ground into the dirt (some of them quite literally) to make their comeback as awe-inspiring as it could possibly be. An episode such as this wouldn’t have been nearly as exciting had it come off the back of the group destroying that Saviour outpost in Season 6. No, seeing them finally rise up after being oppressed and terrorised for so long, losing people they love, characters we had grown to love, all of that was a part of why this episode was so satisfying.
Of course, war never has a truly happy ending and the start of this one saw the loss of a long-running and much-beloved character, Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green). Whenever a character starts receiving flashbacks you just know they’re on the chopping block. Luckily though the flashbacks here helped us understand why both Sasha, and in a brilliant surprise return, Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) had to die. At first, it seemed as though the flashbacks were just harkening back to happier times for the pair, but with each subsequent episode, it became clear that they were showing us something much deeper. Sasha and Abraham’s fates were always inevitable. Even if the Saviours had never shown up, the two likely wouldn’t have lived out a long and happy life together, as the flashbacks showed us, everything they did, they did for other people. Had they both just stayed in Alexandria the morning they first met Negan, as Sasha initially wanted to, both might now be alive and well! Yet sitting things out just wasn’t in either of their natures. They both sealed their fates by deciding to help Maggie (Lauren Cohan) that day, but it ensured they both went out with a point, and that’s all either of them ever wanted.
As well as the raw emotion of losing Sasha, this episode had it all. Action, betrayal, Tigers. You couldn’t have asked for any better. The extended runtime of the episode ensured that everyone got their moment in the sun which, given the sheer number of characters in this episode, was no mean feat. Jadis (Polly McIntosh) and the Junkyard crew betraying the group was very much an unexpected twist, yet also one that felt inevitable at the same time. We never had any reason to trust this group, and they made it a point to repeatedly point out that they take what they want, so really this was another case of Rick’s (Andrew Lincoln) overconfidence putting them in danger. This is especially noteworthy as he’s usually never that trustworthy of new people, so it’s very indicative of the tight spot the Saviours had them in. It also explains why he was so quick to trust Dwight (Austin Amelio). At this point they can’t afford to question who their allies are, though seeing everyone rallied together at the end there, they can probably be a bit more choosy from now on.
Where this episode really stood out was in the action. Maybe it’s because we’ve had so little of it this season, but as payoff to a season’s worth of misery, it was spot on. With so many different characters at play, it ran the risk of being very confusing but managed to stay just short of that line. My only criticism would be that we didn’t really get a sense for how damaging that battle was to the Saviours. Alexandria lost one major player and a couple red shirts, but it wasn’t clear how the other side fared. At the very least we know a couple Saviours got mauled by a Tiger, so we can take comfort in that.
Even better than the action sequences though might be the montage that capped off the episode, complete with emotional monologue from Maggie. Through that monologue, it was made clear that everything in the show so far has been building up to this point. Watching Alexandria, Hilltop, and the Kingdom all working together towards a better tomorrow showcased one of the central themes of the show. As Maggie said, all these different people who would’ve never given one another a second thought before the world ended, all working together to build something. In all its misery The Walking Dead rarely has time for moments of reflection like this. If anyone ever asks what the point of the show is, you can just direct them to this episode as the perfect example. It may not be a perfect show, but it is a perfect example of what people can achieve when they just work together. Something that’s more appropriate now than it ever has been before.
Of course in an episode so awesome there’s plenty to discuss, so other notable highlights include:
- Eugene (Josh McDermitt) remains an enigma. I firmly believe he’s on Negan’s side, yet at the same time, it’s clear he wants everyone to live. Hopefully, Sasha’s parting words to him will convince him he can step up and be the person he wants to be.
- It was great that they tied both Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Abraham into this finale in meaningful ways. Abraham may have got the benefit of an actual appearance, but Maggie accurately and emotionally summed up that it was Glenn that brought everyone together. His one decision to be a good person and save Rick set them all down a path to find one another, proving once and for all that he was and will always be the heart of the group.
- I’ve said it already but I’ll say it again. SHIVA. WAS. AWESOME!
- The fake-out deaths are really wearing thin now. This one with Michonne (Danai Gurira) I’m willing to give a pass to as it’s straight out of the comic and proved Rick’s newfound resolve, but please no more.
- Speaking of Rick’s newfound resolve, the scene where Negan once again has him on his knees was a complete parallel to the scene in the season premiere. He’s ready to lose Michonne or Carl (Chandler Riggs) now because he knows that no matter what, everyone will keep fighting, which gives me a lot of hope for how awesome next season will be.
And so another season of The Walking Dead concludes. It was a tough one, that’s for sure, but the pace really picked up in this back half and the beginning of the All Out War arc from the comics promises great things to come. This season will always be marked by the loss of three major characters: Abraham, Sasha and most of all Glenn, however, each went out on a high. Whilst we haven’t yet seen the full effects of Sasha’s demise, Glenn and Abraham’s paved the way for some truly brilliant developments for Maggie, Rosita (Christian Serratos) and the aforementioned Sasha. With the casualty list only set to rise, it’s time to prepare yourself for six months of anticipation. To cap off, it should be mentioned how truly amazing the performances have been all round this year. It can’t be easy to play a broken character, yet somehow just about everyone did so this year for most of the season, so bravo to all. Now, however, the fire is back and The Walking Dead promises to be better than ever!