This Walking Dead review contains spoilers.
The Walking Dead Season 7 Episode 16
The Walking Dead season 7 finale was a satisfying end to a strong string of episodes that fixed many of 7A’s glaring mistakes. While portions of the climactic first battle were directly from the comic and therefore a bit predictable, I couldn’t for the life of me predict the betrayal midway through the episode. It was an excellent twist that saved the episode from being too direct an adaptation – an issue much of the first half of the season suffered from – and carried the rest of “The First Day of the Rest of Your Life” to a powerful conclusion.
It’s unfortunate that the show hasn’t quite learned its lesson when it comes to executing a tight, efficient finale. Like past finales, “The First Day of the Rest of Your Life” is over long and doesn’t quite get anything going for the first 45 minutes beyond the interesting moments with Sasha, who predictably died tonight. It was great to see that the writers followed through on the introduction of Eugene’s poison pill and that it was done in the service of igniting a fire in Alexandria to fight against the worst of odds.
The structure of Sasha’s narrative was interesting. It was nice to see Michael Cudlitz on the show again, reprising his role as the late Abraham for tonight’s flashbacks. I think we could have done without maybe one or two of the flashback moments, as it started to feel like stalling. But when the show finally revealed what Sasha was up to, it all fell into place. I’d call it a fitting end for the character if it didn’t feel just a bit rushed. I’m not sure that the show really drove home that it was Sasha who was destined to die this season. To me, it feels like perhaps it should’ve been Rosita, who spent most of the season on a path of revenge and self-destruction. I think that if it hadn’t been for Sonequa Martin-Green’s real-life casting as the star of Star Trek: Discovery, we’d have Sasha for one more season.
I was pretty pissed about Jadis’ betrayal tonight. The garbage people were a nice surprise in the latter episodes, a faction unlike any other we’ve ever seen on the show. I think the twist was played just right, and it’s the moment that saved the episode for me and gave this showdown real stakes. As shocking as it would have been to see Rosita blow up the cowardly Eugene, this played out so much better.
Despite the stalling in the first hour, the final thirty minutes of the episode finally gave us all the action season 7 had pent up inside of it. Pretty much every player we’ve met this season had a gun in hand and on a side. It was really great to finally see this convergence between all of the different factions, and it’ll be very interesting to see how the show will balance so many sides of the narrative.
7B did a much better job of giving us slices of every settlement while still moving the story forward. There wasn’t the unbearable slow down and hyper focus of the first half of the season, as the show opted for its more traditional storytelling, jumping between storylines in a more efficient way. I can only hope Gimple and friends will continue this trend and give us the fast-paced meaningful episodes this show deserves.
Negan continued to be an uninspiring villain tonight. His scenes were stiff, as the villain continued to prance around like a walking inside joke for fans of the comics that has struggled to come alive on the show. I hope that the writers take a lot of time during the hiatus to really figure out how to deliver a character that’s both captivating and worthy of the charismatic Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s talents.
One thing that did work for me was watching Shiva finally eat a motherfucker. The CGI tiger is still a bit unconvincing on screen, but if you’re willing to suspend disbelief, it was damn cool to watch Shiva chow down on a Savior’s face. Negan’s best moment in the episode was certainly him hiding behind a car and cursing that “goddamn tiger.”
I couldn’t help but pump my fists in excitement when both the Hilltop and the Kingdom flanked Negan’s forces. It was the last minute save that was all but expected from the finale, but it still felt damn good to finally see it happen. Now that everyone’s on the same side and the line is drawn between the good guys and bad guys, we can finally have a bit of fun. I just hope the show sticks to its guns and never ever forgets that it should be as fun as it is powerful.