After a messy first eight episodes, followed by eight more building to the war with the Saviors, season seven felt like it really lost its way. Sure, the first episode was explosive (sorry) and last night’s finale was good fun, but they were like book ends on a season that had too many episodes that were familiar and not in a good way. I will say The Walking Dead did a great job of setting up next season with “The First Day of the Rest of Your Life” but again, we’ve been here before. In any event, let’s talk about what happened last night and what we have to look forward to in season eight.
So it became pretty clear over the last few episodes that Sasha was not going to survive this season, what with her kamikaze methods and thirst for revenge at any cost. The fact that actress Sonequa Martin had signed on as a regular with another show pretty much sealed her fate as well. The question then became how she was going to die and if she was going to be able to take Negan out when she did.
The flashbacks with Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) were strange but a nice tie-in for Sasha in terms of her saying goodbye. Coming to peace with the fact that you are going to die is not an easy thing and she handled it with class and style. My only problem was there were far too many of these flashbacks that took up some valuable time that could have been well served elsewhere. This goes hand in hand with the long and drawn out build up over the season that just took too damn long.
Eventually, the chess pieces begin to move. Rick and company prepare for the arrival of the Saviors as told to them by the rat of the hour Dwight, the garbage cult arrives for backup, the Hilltop and the Kingdom begin their march to help and oh yes, Negan and the Saviors set out with a little surprise in store for everyone. Actually a few surprises but hey, that’s a good thing.
Negan uses Sasha as a bargaining chip, letting her know that she could help stop the violence this day by playing along. Well, Negan has to punish someone so they negotiate and how many have to die. Transporting her on a truck in a coffin was the point where we all knew she wasn’t coming back. But seeing her die, as the result of taking Eugene’s poison and pop out as a zombie to literally save the day was very cool and fun to watch.
It came as no surprise that the garbage dump people turned on Rick and friends, making a better deal with Negan. I enjoyed this as well, not so much for the act itself but they are so annoying, it was good to make them the bad guys and have people shoot them down. This is the moment where everything goes to hell and zombie Sasha makes her appearance, setting guns ablaze and bodies begin dropping like flies.
The good guys are overwhelmed however, and after another face to face exchange between Rick and Negan, a shout out to the very first episode, our bat wielding psycho tries to kill Carl to teach Rick a lesson, only to be interrupted by a roaring tiger and the friends riding to the rescue. It is a chaotic time, guns firing, smoke bombs, and emotionally the viewer doesn’t really know who is going to live or die, which is a great thing.
However, the fun ends and reality comes crashing down when we get to the end and realize literally, we are right back where we started when this season began. Sure, the battle lines are now drawn for everyone to see, no more screwing around, but is this the point to the whole season?
The problem for The Walking Dead is it has back itself into an uncomfortable corner. Zombies have been literally taken out of the equation and it is a fight of wills now, between Negan and his way of life and Rick and what he wants to accomplish. But for all of Rick’s talk about wanting to rebuild and get on with their lives, they have constantly reverted back to a violent state of mind to get what they want, kind of like a reflection of the Saviors but without the cult-like mentality and psychotic leader.
The show spent almost the whole season building up to a war that lasted only maybe twenty minutes before leaving us to wait to continue on in season eight. As interest begins to wane and storylines begin to blend into one giant mess, the writers must bring the show back to a place where the characters and plot arcs don’t feel like they are slowing sinking in a giant pit of quicksand, with nowhere to go.
Three stars out of five
- Nice bit of action in this episode that really got the heart pumping
- There were some emotional ups and downs that were done very well
- Again, far too much time taken to build up to the 'final' face-off
- There should have been fewer flashbacks, leaving some extra time for the chaos at the end