The seventh season of The Walking Dead has not been without its ups and downs. Let’s face it, the only good episode to air during the first half of the season was the season premiere itself. The second half of the season was far from perfect, but thankfully, some adjustments were made and the show got back to telling stories that the audience could care about. So before we take that trip to Spoiler-town, it should be said that the season finale contained elements that were easily predictable and elements that were not.
As always, SPOILERS for The Walking Dead Season 7 Finale!
The episode opens with Sasha listening to some music in a dark place. We hear the sounds of a vehicle so we assume she’s being transported somewhere just like Darryl was, when he was captured right before the encounter in the woods where Negan killed Glenn and Abraham. The next scene shows Sasha and Abraham talking together in Alexandria before the group hit the road in the RV to get Maggie some help form the Hilltop doctor. This scene plays out over several more flashbacks throughout the episode. What struck a chord about these flashbacks is that it provides some insight as to what Sasha and Abraham were like as a couple. It always felt like they were denied any happiness due to the very short-lived nature of their romance. It was especially nice to see Michael Cudlitz return as a special guest to shoot those scenes with Sasha. The way Abraham was killed in the season opener, it always felt like the character did not get to say a proper goodbye to the series. To be honest, how many characters do get a proper good bye when they die? At least Glenn got to tell Maggie that he would find her.
Moving on to Dwight, we pick up right where we left off last week, with Rick still pointing the Python at Dwight’s head. Darryl requires physical restraint to keep form killing him instantly, but the surprise is Tara. Apparently, she is still quite upset about the death of Denise at Dwight’s hands. Rick starts to question Dwight, who has this crazy plan to attack Negan and the 20 or so goons that will be arriving the next day in Alexandria. The plan involved Dwight blocking the road with trees in order to slow Negan down to give Alexandria time to prepare. After that, they would take Negan’s trucks and Trojan horse the hell out of Sanctuary. From there, Dwight reminded Rick and the audience that there are still outposts to consider. The survivors stupidly let him go! Unbelievable!! After everything this guy did, Darryl just put his knife down, even though Tara was encouraging him to skewer his eyeball. While it jives with what happened in the comics, it feels like this could have been written in a smarter way. Having the survivors trust Dwight seems like a very un-survivor thing to do. For some reason, Dwight keeps his word and knocks down the trees to slow down Negan and his band of not so merry men.
Meanwhile, Negan and Sasha have a little chat about what is going to happen next. Negan asks Sasha to help him “get things back on track”. Sasha tries to tell him that no one needs to die. They haggle a bit over the number and eventually land on only one person has to die from Alexandria as punishment. Uh oh. Who could it possibly be?
In a short little snippet we see a squad from the Kingdom, complete with Ezekiel and the tiger. They run across Morgan, who is wearing the armor of Benjamin (he was the kid learning staff fighting from Morgan who got killed a week or so back). After a rousing speech by Ezekiel, Morgan reluctantly agrees to join with the Kingdom to fight against the Saviors. Carol is also present and thoroughly back to her badass self.
Next up, the Junkyardigans arrive at Alexandria. Everyone gets to setting the defenses and taking up positions. The Junkyardigans leader calmly tells Michonne that she will lay with Rick after it is done. Michonne and Rick just kind of shrug it off, but it was a good laugh for the audience. With everything set, Eugene shows up at the gates of Alexandria and spouts nonsense. Eugene tries to diffuse the situation by attempting to get Rick to surrender, but that goes about as well as can be expected. Rick tries to trigger the explosives where Eugene is in the kill zone. However, none of the explosives go off and the Junkyardigans pull their guns on the survivors. Such betrayal! Negan shows up and it becomes painfully clear that the Junkyardigans have been in cahoots with the Saviors for quite some time. Rick turns to the leader and says that they had a deal. The leader simply told Rick that the Saviors offered a better deal.
When Negan arrives, he taunts Rick from the back of a flatbed truck that is holding a coffin. Sasha had agreed to ride in the coffin before the group left Sanctuary. After some flashbacks, we learn that Sasha wanted to be put in the coffin because she still had the poison pill that Eugene had given her during last weeks episode. So when Negan sands the coffin up on its end and opens it, a turned Sasha jumps out and tries to eat Negan’s face. Negan somehow worms away from zombie Sasha. However, as soon as the survivors saw that Sasha was already dead, they began fighting their captors. Carl, of all people, was among the first to fight back and kill the Junkyardigans who had taken the survivors prisoner.
A brief skirmish ensues where the Saviors thoroughly trounce the survivors. Rick and Carl find themselves on their knees while Negan circles them with his baseball bat, Lucille. Negan tells Rick that it may be time to start form the beginning and that he was going to kill Carl in front of Rick and then take both of Rick’s hands. Things were different this time as Rick told Negan to kill Carl right in front of him and take both hands because he was still going to kill Negan. All hail the return of Badass Rick! It felt downright righteous when Rick told Negan to do his worst. Plus, Negan was right in Rick’s face and it was clear that Rick has much more resolve than Negan does. It would be fun to think that Negan actually looked a little frightened during their stare down.
Just as it looks like Negan is going to kill Carl, Shiva, the tiger, comes racing in to use the Saviors as a chew toy. The Kingdom’s strike team runs in with guns blazing to save the day. Cheers! But then, a group from the Hilltop led by Maggie also shows up to help fight the Saviors. The Saviors and the Junkyardigans realize that they cannot win, so they throw smoke grenades and retreat out of Alexandria.
The episode ends with a montage of things happening. Ezekiel, Rick, and Maggie address people at Alexandria from three equal sized stages. Jesus helps Maggie find zombie-Sasha so they can bury her. Negan and Eugene are seen addressing a very large group of Saviors and rallying them for war.
Overall, the season finale was good, but not great. Sasha’s death was highly predictable. Fans who have been following related news stories knew that if Sonequa Martin Green is going to be headlining the new Star Trek: Discovery TV show, so her time remaining was limited at best.
This week’s surprise definitely cam from the Junkyardigans betrayal. They were not even a suspect due to their willingness to trade. Once the deal was made, it seemed like a cop out to have the Junkyardigans just go back on it. However, it was glorious to watch Shiva mow down on those bad guys.
The episode did a great job of lumping small and unimportant details into a mining bag that we can eat later.
So now that things are in open and all out war, what will happen next season? With any luck, the writers will improve upon the second half of season 7 instead of the first half. Either way, we will be seeing some intense action as the war is finally upon us.