by Billie Doux
Sasha: "Yeah. It is."
This season began with a defeat so crushing that I nearly quit watching this show. So I really needed this season finale to be a victory, and I mean me, personally.
And it was. It was awesome. Yes, it would have been even better if they'd taken Negan down instead of defeating him temporarily, but I get why the producers didn't go there. As far as villains go, Negan far surpasses any they've had before. He's too important a character to take out in one season.
But this was really Sasha's episode and it was a triumph, a celebration of Sasha's journey as a character. She deliberately gave her life for her friends and simultaneously removed herself from the playing field as Negan's hostage. Quite seriously, I think Sasha got the coolest death of any main character that has died on this show, and there have certainly been a lot of them. (It was also almost certainly the least painful.)
The episode itself and each segment began with Sasha in that coffin with earbuds, listening to "Someday We'll All Be Free" as she was flashing back to her last private conversation with Abraham before the two of them got in the RV and rode to his death. Those flashbacks were absolutely lovely and kept making me go "Awww." She told him she'd had a prophetic dream that they were both going to die and he told her something she already knew — that laying down your life for your friends was the right way to go. We also got some sweet kisses and a few more dearly missed Abrahamisms. It was a lovely and effective way to salute both of their sacrifices and to say goodbye to them as a couple. I miss him. I'm going to miss her.
Everything that led up to the opening of that coffin was perfect: the smiley face on her pancakes, which were her last meal; the way she bargained with Negan for her friends' lives (he wanted Lucille to have three, and she got him down to one). She even coolly asked for some water to take into the coffin with her so that she could wash that poison pill down. Negan's shock as walker Sasha came out of that coffin and attacked him was delicious. She had probably hoped that she'd give her friends the element of surprise, and did she ever.
It was so satisfying that even when Negan had control of Alexandria, he was frightened by Rick telling him he'd kill him. Rick kept his composure during that scene when it must have seemed like all was lost, when he believed Michonne was dead and Carl was about to be beaten to death in front of him. And the battle that followed made me cheer: the Kingdom's soldiers riding in on their horses like the cavalry, and especially Shiva coming out of nowhere and jumping a Savior, saving Carl. The second time that Shiva leapt in out of nowhere and took another Savior down, I laughed out loud. While I was pretty sure the producers weren't going to kill off Carl (honestly, I think they'd kill off Rick before Carl), I was starting to freak that we were gonna lose Michonne. I'm so glad they didn't go there. It would have ruined the episode for me.
So now what? Negan said it was all out war, and the Saviors and the garbage people still outnumber Alexandria, the Kingdom and the Hilltop. But there is now an ace in the hole, and possibly two: Dwight and Eugene.
After setting up the fallen trees in the road and leaving that toy soldier message for Daryl, I totally believe Dwight is on Rick's side now. While Negan had control in Alexandria, Dwight was expressionless, not reacting to anything. I kept wondering if he would do something, but if he had, he would probably have been killed, too. It was smart of him to stay quiet. What they've done with Dwight this season makes me certain that he might be an exceptional double agent.
Sasha told Eugene that she hadn't given up on him. In fact, those were her last words. Eugene may be a coward, but he is such a smart guy and he thinks on his feet. He managed to talk himself out of a date with Lucille by speculating that Sasha had died because she ran out of air. Even though the Alexandrians would have blown up Eugene along with the Saviors, I still can't believe that Eugene's heart isn't with Alexandria. So that's two possible allies in Negan's camp.
There were some other lovely moments in this episode: Carol leading the Kingdom's soldiers, Morgan wearing young Benjamin's "armor," Jesus taking out the Sasha walker so that Maggie wouldn't have to do it. Rick holding the injured Michonne in his arms. Carol and Morgan sitting together on the steps, finally on the same emotional page.
I also loved that last scene with our three leaders, Rick, Maggie and Ezekiel, standing together literally and figuratively, as Maggie's voiceover said that Glenn had shown her the way. The last shot was Glenn's watch in her hand. Since they brought back Abraham, I had been hoping throughout that we'd get one more moment with Glenn, and I'm sorry we didn't. But he really was there in spirit.
-- The episode title, "Today is the First Day of the Rest of Your Life," felt a bit like a bookend to the premiere's title, "The Day Will Come When You Won't Be."
-- Why the flashbacks to Sasha and Maggie sitting side by side in a field? Just a reminder of how close they'd recently become? I kept expecting something to happen there, but it didn't.
-- Too bad the "garbage people" turned out to be garbage. Especially after that adorable comic moment when Jadis asked Michonne for her permission to have sex with Rick. His face as he looked at Michonne for her reaction was priceless. This show is so serious all the time that I love moments like this.
-- No Gregory. Is he on his way to the Sanctuary? If he is, could he just stay there?
-- Rick's hand is still bandaged from the junkyard battle, and Jadis shot him. Has Rick ever spent a moment on this series clean and uninjured?
-- The Walking Dead returns in October with their 100th episode. (This was number 99.)
-- Fear the Walking Dead returns in June.
Quotes, and isn't it nice to have Abraham back?
Negan: "Welcome to the first day of the rest of your life, Sasha."
Ezekiel: "Do you seek to extinguish everything of who you were?"
Morgan: "I don't seek it, but... I'm stuck."
Abraham: "You know what's gonna happen, how this is gonna end. We're gonna walk out that door together. We kick shit and eat snakes. That's us."
Abraham: "I hate the beach. End of the day in a wet suit? It's like you're sandblasting your nutsack every single step you take back to the car."
What is the correct spelling of "nutsack"? I don't know, and Google doesn't seem to know, either.
Abraham: "We lay our big meaties across the chopping block ahead of someone else's. It's always for someone else. Both of us know that if we're gonna kick, there sure as hell better be a point to it. So maybe we feel there was a point to all of this. Alpha to omega."
Negan: (shocked) "It's a goddamn tiger!"
Laugh out loud. I'm so glad we didn't lose Shiva. Although I'm sure we will eventually.
Maggie: "Glenn made the decision. I was just following his lead."
Loved it. Four out of four blueberry pancakes,
Billie Doux loves science fiction but hates horror, and is confused about why she loves The Walking Dead so much.