The Walking Dead S07E16 “The First Day Of The Rest Of Your Life” REVIEW
Essential Plot Points:
- Sasha dies.
- She’s listening to a piece of music. Her breathing shallows, she slumps sideways.
- Opening credits.
- We see her wake up on a sofa. Next to Abe. They kiss. Long and slow and desperately relieved. Abe explains that Maggie’s in trouble and they’re taking her to Hilltop. And, with a sinking feeling, we realise this is the day Abraham is killed. She begs him not to go and…
- …wakes up in a cell. The door opens and Negan presents her with food on a silver platter.
- Negan explains he doesn’t want to see her die but someone is going to have to. She asks him what he needs from her.
- Sasha’s sitting on a log with Maggie. Maggie looks serene. She looks terrified.
- Dwight is kneeling with a gun to his head. Rick says one thing: “WHY?” Dwight explains that he wants Negan dead and that it can’t just be her. They’re ALL Negan.
- Tara confronts him over Denise’s murder. He gets, “I wasn’t aiming for her,” out before Daryl bounces him off a wall. There’s a knife an inch from Dwight’s eye. Tara wants him dead. Dwight wants Dwight dead. OR they can work together and stop Negan.
- Tara yells to do it. Daryl, every muscle tensed, breathing fast, lets him go.
- Rosita explains that Negan’s people have Sasha.
- Dwight tells him people are coming, tomorrow. He lays out the plan; they kill everyone, he radios back to tell them its fine, they take the trucks back, kill the Saviours, get the workers on their side and end it once and for all.
- No one says anything for a very long time. Then Rick says, “Keep talking.”
- Later, Daryl, Rick, Michonne and Jesus watch Dwight roll out. Daryl says he’ll kill him regardless once this is done. Rick points out if he’s lying it’s already over.
- Back in the truck, Sasha relives her final conversations again. She explains to Abe that she dreamt he died.
- In the cell, Negan lays the plan out. Kill two or three, bring everyone else in line. Sasha weeps and bargains with Negan. She tries to talk him down and he settles on one person having to die. He also clearly doesn’t spot that Sasha has a very good idea on just who that one person is going to be…
- At Hilltop, Maggie has taken over now Gregory’s gone. She has a council with Tom and Enid, and they consider helping out. It’s an impossible call; risk everything and everyone or let their friends fight on their behalf and possibly lose.
- At The Kingdom, Carol, in armour, leads a Knight fire team. Morgan, his staff a spear, also in armour, joins them. Carol realises that the area they’re walking through was set up as an ambush. Carol, clearly very very worried about her friend, manages to ask if he’s okay without once asking if he’s okay. Ezekiel, because Ezekiel is awesome calls Morgan on his bullshit. Ezekiel asks whether Morgan is wearing Ben’s armour to serve him or honour his fallen friend. He delivers this fantastic, utterly sincere Shakespearean monologue and it just… JUST… gets through.
- The Junkers arrive at Alexandria in a variety of dump trucks and on bikes. Jadis, because she is immensely creepy, basically tells Michonne she’s going to have sex with Rick and asks if that will be a problem. The issue is, shall we say, skirted.
- Nearby, Rosita, Aaron and Daryl put together explosive charges.
- En route to Alexandria, Negan, Simon and Eugene find a log barricade across the road.
- Eugene asks for the chance to approach Alexandria and try and calm them down.
- At Alexandria, the town is preparing for war. Michonne and a Junker, are setting up sniping positions. The Junker, who is about as creepy as they always are, smiles and says, “We win.”
- Back in the final seconds of Sasha’s life, she talks to Abe again. He asks how he died. She explains they were at the beach before the apocalypse and Abe got pulled under and never came back up. Then she started to drown. Abe, because he’s adorable, jokes about sand on his nutsack.
- On the way to the trucks, Eugene and Sasha chat about their choices.
- Sasha flashes back to the log. She asks Maggie why they’re here and she says. “For this.”
- At Alexandria the signal goes out and they prepare and… Eugene shows up.
- And does that thing when he talks way too much. The short version is he begs Rick to reconsider. Rick asks where Negan is. Eugene responds, “I’M NEGAN.”
- Rick and Rosita share a look.
- The music builds. Rick gives her the nod. She goes to press the switch, they brace and…
- No explosions.
- And then Jadis pulls a gun on Rick and every Junker does the same on every Alexandrian they’re near.
- And that’s the point the gate is rolled open and Negan gets out of the truck behind Eugene.
- In the sniper’s nest, Michonne has a line on Jadis and no one else. She turns and see that the Junker next to her has her rifle up. Again, she says. “We win.”
- And now it’s time for the Negan Degradation Monologue Power Hour.
- Dwight and Simon unload the “cargo”.
- It’s a coffin.
- And now we start to suspect we know where Sasha is.
- The coffin is stood up. Negan starts in on his spiel. He talks about how everyone likes Sasha, how alive she is and gives Rick a choice…
- Every single gun.
- All the lemonade.
- One Lucille victim.
- All the pool table stuff.
- Or Sasha dies then everyone else. Probably.
- Rick asks to see her. Negan obliges. Opens the coffin and…
- We’re back with Sasha and Abe. She explains the dream felt real. Abe kisses her, they stand and he wraps his arms around her. Abe gently, and firmly and with tremendous love calls her on her bullshit. They saddle up, and as they do, we realise just how bright the light is outside. They smile and walk off into Valhalla and we are JUST IN PIECES.
- Sasha and Eugene walks out to the trucks. Eugene gives her an iPod to listen to in the coffin and apologises, in his way. Sasha reassures Negan she’s happy going in the coffin and “she just wants to go to sleep”. She asks for a bottle of water, is closed up, puts the iPod on.
- “Someday We’ll All Be Free” by Donny Hathaway.
- And then she takes the pill Eugene gave her last episode and begins to die…
- Back at Alexandria the coffin opens, dead Sasha comes out and attacks Negan.
- Carl breaks first, taking out the Junker nearest him. A firefight breaks out. Rosita is hit and rescued by Tara. On the roof, Michonne and the Junker sniper go toe-to-toe. Rick, still under Jadis’s gun, is desperate to help.
- Nearby, Negan fights for his life against Walker Sasha and is clearly sad to see her dead. He’s rescued by one of his men who is immediately rewarded by getting his face chewed half off.
- Rick tries to negotiate. Jadis shoots him in the leg and kicks him off the platform.
- Alexandria is losing.
- On the roof, Michonne is in the process of being beaten to death.
- On the ground, Jadis walks a badly injured Rick through his town, now littered with even more dead citizens.
- To Negan. And Simon.
- And Carl.
- On the roof, Michonne uses a pottery shard to slice her opponent’s head open.
- Rick is forced to kneel next to his son as the second monologue of the week begins.
- On the roof, Michonne is about to die. Choking, seconds from being thrown to her death she gurgles, “WE’RE THE ONES… WHO LIVE.”
- On the ground, there’s a scream.
- Rick recognises it as Michonne. Negan uses it, prepares to kill Carl.
- Then, in a moment in which he basically winks to camera, he says he’s going to take Rick’s hands.
- And Rick pushes back. He tells him to kill Carl, to take his hands. It doesn’t matter. They’re all already dead.
- Negan smiles. Gets ready to do it and…
- The Kingdom literally rides to the rescue.
- Ezekiel actually screams, “ALEXANDRIA WILL NOT FALL! NOT ON THIS DAY!”
- And then Maggie and Hilltop roll up and it’s a straight up rout. The Saviours are butchered, Negan and Simon making a run for it.
- Ezekiel and Carol, Daryl and Gabriel, Morgan and Rick; everyone, back to back goes inch by inch, foot by foot through Alexandria. It’s about as savage as urban warfare can get and the Junkers see they’re on the losing side. They pop improvised smoke grenades and run for it.
Negan rides out in one of the trucks, giving everyone the finger as he goes. Which you have to admire. The remaining Saviours and Junkers run for it.
- It’s done.
- For now.
- Then Rick finds the Junker sniper, broken from her fall.
- He runs up to the nest with Carl where they find Michonne, unconscious and beaten within an inch of her life… BUT alive. She tries to get, “We’re the ones who live,” out and Rick, on the verge of tears, finishes it for her. The Grimes family, bloodied and terrified and alive, embrace.
- Over Maggie and Rick talking about Sasha’s sacrifice, we see the united Kingdom, Hilltop and Alexandrian forces scouring the woods and the perimeter.
- We see Maggie and Jesus find Sasha. Maggie bursts into tears. Jesus does what needs to be done.
- There’s a funeral for the fallen and we see the newly united forces of the three towns together. Aaron handing Jerry some fruit makes us unbelievably happy. Morgan and Carol, gone but not gone, alone but not alone on the steps together, does too.
- At the gates, Daryl finds the wooden soldier from Dwight. He’s written DIDN’T KNOW on the back.
- In bed, Rosita heals (and has a baby, congratulations Christian!) while Tara watches over her. In a nearby bed, Rick does the same with Tara.
- We see Maggie and Sasha watching the sunrise. They smile at one another.
- We see Rick, Maggie and Ezekiel deliver a speech to their towns. Cleverly, we don’t hear it, we just see the effect. As Maggie talks about how everything started with Glen and Rick and we see Maggie’s been talking the whole time holding the watch.
- And then, back at Sanctuary, Negan, Dwight, Eugene and Simon talk about going to war. It is notable that two of them are way less happy about this than the other two. This is especially true when Eugene suggests Sasha suffocated. Negan isn’t quite buying it.
- The camera swings out to reveal the very large Saviour force as Negan declares they’re going to war.
At its best this is a show about not just death, but life. This week, Sasha’s final story was about how one can be used to glue the other together.
This may be the best death any character has had on this show. Sasha goes out on her terms, for her reasons and arm-in-arm with her sweetie. She does so to give her friends a chance to live and to get a decent shot at the show’s biggest ever villain. She also does so because it’s, as she views it, her time.
She’s right too. And that’s why it doesn’t matter that Negan lives. Because in the end this is a show about life and what we do with it. And this episode shows Negan is doing the wrong things with his life.
We’re not just talking about his fondness for baseball bats and murder either. Look at the closing scene. Look at the difference between Alexandria, The Kingdom and Hilltop sharing what they have (and we hope putting together a Hell of a muffin basket for Oceanside) and coming together.
Compare that to Negan’s army, all hanging on his word.
They’re not just two different things, they’re not even on the screen at the same time by this point.
This episode changes the plot up a gear but thematically resets the show and it’s necessary. In our cast interviews a lot of the conversations (see here) were about how hard it was being separated so much this season. We see that here and we see it, interestingly, as a good thing. Carol and Morgan have found homes with the Kingdom. Maggie and Jesus run Hilltop. Rick and Michonne have Alexandria. Three towns, three cultures all united by the shared love and respect of their leaders.
Like Maggie says at the end, this is the ultimate goal of what Glen started when he saved Rick’s life. Keep people together, Keep them safe. Rebuild.
Become a family again.
That’s why Sasha chooses to die. Because she loves her family and she knows that if she dies, Maggie and Glen’s child might not. It’s an act of impossible bravery depicted in a stunning performance from Sonequa Martin-Green and a welcome cameo from Michael Cudlitz. Fans will debate, with good reason, whether there’s any supernatural element to those scenes. We have our theories and we’re sure you do too. We also know that Sasha and Abe, the happy warriors, going off to their glorious rest is one of the most touching moments this show has produced to date.
This has been a deeply weird, often confounding season. However, it’s very deliberately one that ends on the exact opposite note it began. The fog that Rick is literally and metaphorically trapped in is replaced by a new day. One Sasha gets to see and know that she’s responsible for. One that brings all-out war, the biggest challenge any of them have faced and the chance that very few of them will live.
But they get to try, and try as a family. And if this episode tells us anything it’s that like Tim Bisley once said, friends are the family you choose. And Sasha chose very, very well.
- Sonequa Martin-Green. God help anyone who tries to go toe-to-toe with her on Star Trek: Discovery because has charisma and authority for MILES.
- CUDLITZ! We missed you, big guy!
- The Valhalla sequences. The show has flirted with this before, specifically with Tyreese, but it’s very clearly implied that those conversations with Abe aren’t about going to Hilltop, they’re about moving on. The lighting, the way it’s shot, the sense of peace and calm. It’s not going to work for everyone but it hit like a train for us.
- ACTUAL SHIVA-ON-BAD-GUY VIOLENCE
- Jerry and Aaron, the two most avuncular people left alive, hanging out makes us so happy.
- The closing monologue, circling back around to Glenn just like Sasha’s visions did to Abe. Touching and fitting and absolutely the glue these people need to stick together.
- The fact that we don’t see the Sasha Walker go down fully and that Jesus does it as Maggie watches is almost unbearably sad.
- The new day metaphor. Again, there’s strong evidence that isn’t Maggie Sasha’s talking to but the personification of the idea of hope. Or God. Or Maggie. Pick what works.
- “Morgan… YOU ARE NOT STUCK.” Ezekiel is so fundamentally GOOD. He’s a perfect balance to the Junkers and Negan in particular.
- “You are smart, dignified as hell, hot as shit and you don’t suffer ONE GODDAMN FOOL.” Sasha goes out right. And we love that Negan is genuinely sorry she’s dead too.
- “PUNISHMENT is how we built everything we have.” This is everything you need to know about this man in one line.
- “It’s a very tough decision.”
“So why are you smilin’?”
“Because I’m glad you’re the one making it for us.” The Maggie/Jesus relationship is already making us happy. Tom Payne talked about how he sees Jesus as a good follower and this episode shows he’s already a great number two for Maggie.
- “I truly wish I measured up.”
“You still can, Eugene.” As parting gifts go, this is the best.
- “We lay our big meaties across the chopping block ahead of someone else’s. It’s always for someone else. Both of us feel if we’re gonna kick then there’s gotta be a point to it. That maybe there’s a point to all of this, alpha to omega. Whether on the battlefield, the beach, or somewhere out there today, Maggie? She’s carrying the future.” Only Michael Cudlitz could make us weep like a baby while using the term “meaties”.
- “I come hard with two barrels of the truth.” Eugene just because you dress like Johnny Cash now doesn’t mean you can talk like him.
- Oh great. Another TWO Negan monologues.
- It’s probably just the angle but that Saviour covering Rosita is so wide of the mark if she fires it wouldn’t even muss Rosita’s hair.
- Sasha’s exit music was “Some Day We’ll All Be Free” by Donny Hathaway. It’s about exactly what this episode is about; bearing up under the struggle of impossible odds and carrying on with your life in the best way possible.
Review by Alasdair Stuart