Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Walking Dead S7X16 First Day of the Rest Of Your Life

The Walking Dead First Day review
Photo Credit: The Walking Dead / Gene Page
When the war Rick secretly waged against Negan unexpectedly comes knockin on his front gates, Alexandria discovers unlikely traitors and allies. As one of his latest captives, Sasha must contend with her failed revenge scheme and the best method to save her friends. No one has to die, but in an apocalyptic war, that’s not a guarantee. This recap includes spoilers for the latest episode - you've been warned! Hope you enjoy!

After a middling seventh season filled with tepid motivation to finally fire the first shot at Negan, the season finale dealt a touching, if not still predictable death, for one of its most underrated characters.

As far back as season five, it was hard not to have pegged Sasha as someone who wouldn’t sacrifice herself to protect her family. After Eugene gave her the suicide pills to take her own life, Sasha had nowhere else to turn in taking her last shot at Negan – at least without a knife or gun. Waking up in her cell at the Sanctuary to an exuberant greeting by Negan, he revealed his plans to use her as a bargaining chip against Alexandria. A birdie warned him of the uprising Rick set in motion, and he needed to face punishment. Sasha would ride along with them to Rick’s yard where Negan would make his demands and bring her out at the right time. Left with no other choice but to try to avenge Abraham’s death, Sasha willingly stored herself in a coffin to take the suicide pills and prepared to become the weapon needed to give Alexandria the upper-hand.

Sasha’s time in the coffin was intermixed with events happening back at home as she meditated on her choices and loved ones. Though the moments of her in a coffin were tad overly symbolic, it also hit the nail on the head as a nice call-back to her PTSD storyline where she laid in a pile of walkers. This time around, as she slowly died on her way back home listening to music on an old i-pod ("Someday We'll All Be Free" by Donny Hathaway), she dreamed of her boyfriend Abraham on the morning of his then unknowing death and a moment of serenity with Maggie.

Sasha's moment with Abraham was a flashback to the morning they had to decide to take Maggie to the Hilltop in the premiere. Though Sasha was Maggie's right-hand woman, she wasn't necessarily jumping at the opportunity to take her to the Hilltop Colony. She told him she had a dream where he died, and she urged for them to stay home. In Abraham’s consistent militant mindset to carry out a mission, he reminded her that their future would only succeed if they had a purpose to surviving, even if they were killed in the process; if they died, at least it counted for something. Even though she had her doubts, they were a packaged deal.

For a few weeks, if you knew of the comic books and the hints that Sasha would take up Holly’s death, her send-off was a bit predictable but also absolutely fitting. Even subtle lines like Sasha telling Negan that “No one has to die”, to which he replied, “Just one person has to die”, it was pretty evident where the direction of what was going to happen next.

Perhaps more than most characters, Sasha’s journey wasn’t heavily plagued with contradictions in the writing or manipulated with for attention, such as Glenn’s with Dumpster Gate in season six. Right up to the end, her death gave fans ample opportunity to say good-bye. Mirroring her brother’s final moments in What’s Happening and What’s Going On where Tyrese was bit from a walker and hallucinating seeing his worst enemies and friends, Sasha meditated or focused on those who loved her to carry her mission forward.

Sasha’s dreams of Abraham intermixed with Maggie and her returning to the sunset in season five where they grieved over their losses of Beth and Tyrese. In that moment, Maggie reminded her that they were going to make it and that’s the hard thing, they’ll lose people along the way. Since Maggie in real time became aware of Sasha’s disappearance and her being held captive by Negan, her involvement in Sasha’s dreams managed to not be contrived. Sitting side by side, despite Sasha’s inevitable fate with Maggie by her side, was a reminder of just how much their friendship was one of the most beautiful aspects of the show. As Sasha took the suicide pills and imagined her friend, or when the group searched for her and Maggie had to put her down, they supported each other. Losing Sasha, just as she lost Glenn, moves Maggie’s resilience forward, but with that, there’s another inspiring friendship we’ll have to miss.

The calming nature of Sasha preparing to die was amped up when the war started breaking out.
When Rick and the group returned home from the Oceanside community, Rosita informed them that Dwight was visiting. Locked up in Morgan’s handy cell, Dwight insisted on joining their cause and offered Alexandria his inside knowledge of Negan's community to help them. Daryl wasn’t having it; he wanted to kill Dwight then and there. Surprisingly, the ever compassionate and rational Tara urged Daryl, again and again, to kill Dwight, not holding back on wanting him dead for what he did to Denise. But sensing that they could use him, they kept him alive and followed Dwight’s plans of delaying Negan’s arrival by blocking the streets he was going to use.

Unfortunately, Rick was a pawn in a greater scheme. Jadis and her trash-folk showed up ready to take on Negan, only to reveal themselves as the ones who tipped him off about their deal. But that wasn’t the only betrayal in store. Dwight showed up on Negan’s side amongst his merry band of cohorts. And, Eugene led Negan’s parade up to Alexandria’s gates where he finally revealed his cowardice.

Negan thought everything was in his favor, but when he opened up the coffin, walker Sasha literally knocked him off his pedestal. She didn't manage to bite him, but she managed to munch on a few Saviors as bullets started flying. The Scavengers and the Saviors fought against Alexandria as they tried to defend their turf. Eventually, Negan had Carl and Rick surrounded only for Shiva to lunge out of nowhere. The Kingdom and Hilltop Colony including Maggie, Enid, Carol, Morgan, and all of their volunteers strolled down the streets taking people down. Their assault only lasted a few minutes, it was fantastic to see Ezekiel declare Alexandria’s eventual victory. It was more special that Negan retreated and was stunned to see Maggie “revived from the dead” guns-blazing.

The fight was quick but pretty entertaining and empowering as usual where Maggie is concerned. The group set in search of Sasha. I won’t lie it was absolutely heartbreaking that Maggie had to be the one to put her down, but it was fitting too. In a very strange way, when a character is turned into a walker or is killed, there’s a lot of closure when their family members or friends are there to take on that responsibility - it reminded me of when Carl told Michonne that if she turned, he would do it for her because it should be family. Maggie and Sasha were definitely family.

Because of Sasha’s sacrifice, it spurs Maggie to be stronger and moves forward with her plans and determination as a leader. Instead of Rick bellowing one of his epic speeches, the torch was passed onto her, where she delivered a heartfelt, humbling tribute to her husband Glenn while holding the pocket watch that Herschel gave to Glenn. I’ll just include it below because obviously, it makes us drown in tears.
Glenn didn't know you, but he helped you. He put himself in danger for you. And that started it all. From Atlanta to my daddy's farm to the prison to here. To this moment now. Not as strangers, as a family. Because Glenn chose to be there for you that day a long time ago, that was the decision that changed everything. It started with both of you, and it just grew. All of this. To sacrifice for each other. To suffer, to stand, to grieve, to give, to love, to live. To fight for each other. Glenn made the decision, Rick. I was just following his lead.
This season finale was entirely different than the past which left our faves in or on the verge of peril. Maggie’s speech was a solid reminder of the compassion and conviction Glenn’s humanity had on himself and others, and that in moving forward, they’ll be able to carry what their loved ones gave to them into the future. ‘Cause – let’s face it, Maggie is the future.

Even as Sasha was a peg in Negan’s cog for power and control over Alexandria, the war between Alexandria and the Saviors almost took a backseat.

First Day of the Rest of Your Life was more or less Hearts Still Beating 2.0. Battle lines were officially drawn between Alexandria, The Hilltop Colony, and the Kingdom against the Saviors and garbage people. The poetic nature of Sasha’s death and a fair bit of surprising action in Rick’s yard reunited the family and reminded them of what they’re fighting for. But underneath the uplifting and touching tribute to one of our fallen heroes, the actual war will probably still be on hold. Alexandria and their allies are going to have to recover from this attack and prepare for the next bigger one. They're gonna need even more numbers now from the Oceanside or somewhere else. Teams must align in one loc ion, or all of the groups will dismantle and focus on their goals individually – which is the likely route for season eight.

Easily, the most assured decisions the show still knows how to do is kill people off. It uses good supporting characters that have room to grow and survive as a means to give surviving characters a revolution. But its challenges with this are making new or familiar characters not come across as red shirts or herrings. So the story ahead still faces the same obstacles: to focus on characters in the midst of war at different locations, and for their battle, physical or internal, to not be simply filler. Characters are interesting to study when they’re not stuck on auto-pilot or their experiences aren’t just cards being held by the producers until the end. Excluding the addition of the Kingdom and Hilltop Colony actually fighting alongside Alexandria, it’s hard not to see that in many ways, we’re back to square one. But at least the family were together one more time!

Ezekiel walking dead gif
Additional Thoughts:
  • Everyone was impressed with Shiva but I just loved Ezekiel coming in guns blazing: ALEXANDRIA WILL NOT FALL TODAY.
  • Lying to the boss isn't as easy as Eugene assumes. Negan must've really liked Sasha in order to question his loyalty so quickly after she died.
  • Carl shot first.
  • Andrew, Melissa, and Steven will never get nominated for an Emmy. Might as well add Lauren to the list too.
  • Rick telling Negan that he’s going to die was a fantastic arc from the premiere; if Carl was going to get Lucilled, at least he’d see his dad not giving up in his final moments.
  • "I'm gonna kill you. All of you. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but nothing is going to change that, nothing. You're all already dead."
  • Dwight didn’t know about the betrayal – so now Rick has an inside man. But can we still trust him?
  • Why is Carol still babysitting Morgan instead of reuniting with Maggie, Daryl, etc.? Her lack of involvement with a family she’s been with for four years is now coming across as an unprovoked hatred or total avoidance towards them. 
  • Here's to another decent run of Walking Dead Wednesdays (sometimes Sunday)! Thanks for tuning in!
    •  Let me know if you guys liked this format more or season six's format more where I broke up the episodes into scenes and easter eggs. Maybe I'll adjust for season eight!
    • I'll be moving this summer, but I hope to continue Walking Dead Wednesday throughout June/July. Hope you stayed tuned!

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