By: Casey Johnston (@DarthHockey)
WARNING: There are spoilers ahead for the season 7 finale of The Walking Dead.
A Plot: The War is Finally Here
After a season of build-up, war finally came to Alexandria. Since this is The Walking Dead, the episode was not without its twists and turns. The Heapsters betrayed Rick and that was a bit of a surprise for me. I knew it would happen eventually, but that was a twist I wasn’t looking for until next season. It added to the drama of the episode and it allowed for the writers to create one more one-on-one moment between Rick and Negan, so it served the story well. Having the Alexandrians fight the Heapsters and the Saviors also allowed for an appropriate amount of chaos in the action. Having Rick get betrayed from within saved this moment from being just an Alexandria vs. Saviors fight that could have gotten monotonous as the episode dragged on.
As awesome as the fight was, the build-up was also fantastic. It’s been a while since we’ve gotten to see Andrew Lincoln in full Rick Grimes mode. He spent this episode in charge and ready for a fight. Watching him manage all these moving parts harkened back to the days of season three and four and his battles with the Governor. This episode really managed to recapture the spirit of The Walking Dead that had been lost for so many years.
How amazing was that entrance for the Kingdom and the Hilltop? There had been rumors earlier this season that Chandler Riggs was leaving the series to attend college full-time, so the real world added some suspense to that scene with Carl, Negan, and Rick. I really thought for a moment that Carl was going to get it there. Having Shiva the tiger jump in and save the day got my heart pounding. This was a great episode and that part alone was a top-five moment for the series.
Finally, this episode ended on a perfect note. As the Alexandria alliance said farewell to their fallen comrades Negan has readied his people for war. This makes me sad that season eight isn’t starting next week. I have high hopes for The Walking Dead again. I can’t imagine next season being slow-paced at all. As Negan said to his people, “We are going to war.”
B Plot: Sasha’s Predicament
After weeks of trashing Rosita and Sasha’s storyline, it finally came to an ending that no one, especially me, saw coming. Sasha was backed so far into a corner that there was no real way for her to get out of this alive. In taking her own life and doing it in a way that would allow her to turn, Sasha created the kind of distraction that allowed her people to fight for their very existence. While it doesn’t excuse the ridiculous premise this arc started on, I have to credit the writers for bringing it to a logical conclusion that both served the story and gave Sasha a meaningful death. Well done.
C Plot: The Hilltop Drama
The biggest surprise of this episode, other than walker-Sasha jumping out of that coffin at Negan, was the fact that Gregory’s storyline wasn’t concluded. I know plenty of things happened in this episode and cutting away to the Hilltop drama could have killed the pacing, but the writers did a good job of setting his demise up the last couple weeks, so I was expecting some payoff tonight. I’m guessing he’ll show up at the Sanctuary next season and Negan will kill him for not letting the Saviors know sooner what Rick was up to. If so, that will be an unsatisfying end for him. In the comic, Maggie has him killed after he attempts to poison her. It was a defining moment for her as she took over leadership of the Hilltop. I suppose Negan can send Gregory back to carry out that plot much the same way he sent men back to kill Gregory in season six. I hoping that’s the case because it’s a big moment that Maggie shouldn’t be robbed of.
After last season’s rage-inducing finale, the writers needed to hit a home run with this episode. In my estimation, they accomplished that many times over. Tonight had the perfect amount of action beats and the pacing was perfect. Even the Sasha and Abraham scenes, which I initially thought were strange and went against the grain of the episode, paid off big time in the end. After losing a large chunk of their viewership this year, the writers needed something to draw people back and I think this will do it.
Thanks for reading!