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TV Review: The Walking Dead - Season 7, Episode 16

04.03.2017

Season 7, Episode 16: The First Day of the Rest of Your Life

PLOT: The residents of the Alexandria Safe Zone prepare for war as the Saviors come for a visit.

REVIEW: The Walking Dead has its ups and downs, but even at its lowest points there is still no other scripted show on television that can manipulate my emotions the way this show does from time to time, whether it's being relentlessly depressing or just giving me the good time of watching gruesome zombies getting dispatched en masse. There's no other show I can tune in to and feel the sense of dread I had while watching the season seven finale, worrying that something terrible might happen to a character I like. No other show can keep my heart pounding for the duration of an episode like this one does.

It does all that even while it's frustrating me, as it did during the finale with the number of flashbacks Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) had to the final moments of domesticity she had with Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) before they set out on the excursion that ended with him being killed in the season premiere, murdered by the villainous Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). These flashbacks provided what turned out to be a good, emotional send-off for Sasha, but I felt like there could have been fewer of them, we could have gotten to the point quicker.

Sasha was having these flashbacks while a captive of Negan and his followers the Saviors, being transported to a meeting with the residents of the Alexandria Safe Zone. We knew that the people of Alexandria, led by Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) were waiting for the Saviors with weapons ready, prepared to kick off the multi-community war this season has been building up to, and that build-up has been so long and drawn out, I was desperate to get to the action and bloodshed. 

Eventually we do reach the end of those flashbacks, eventually shots are exchanged between the Saviors and people they've had under their thumbs all season, but nothing goes as expected. I could fully understand if viewers felt that the ensuing battle was an underwhelming pay-off to a season's worth of build-up and emotional baggage, I'm wavering on the edge of that feeling myself, but there were some cheer-worthy moments during the fight and I take further satisfaction from the knowledge that this wasn't really the war we've been waiting for. The war has only just begun. This was the first battle. The fight will continue in season eight - and our heroes have a numbers issue to overcome.

In the end, I came away from this season finale feeling content with the way things went, feeling anticipation for the battles ahead, and feeling vindicated, as my distaste for certain "Are they good or are they bad?" characters has turned out to be well-founded. The members of the junkyard-dwelling Scavengers community, a.k.a. the Garbage Pail Kids, got on my nerves real fast with their odd behavior and way of speaking, and now we know that these annoying people are a bunch of traitorous scumbags. Also confirmed to be a traitorous scumbag is the cowardly Eugene (Josh McDermitt), and if this episode had featured that character's death it would have instantly ranked as one of my favorites in the series. 

I have no use for Eugene or for any Scavengers, although one of the highlights of The First Day of the Rest of Your Life was Scavenger leader Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh) stating her intention to "lay with" Rick.

For a finale, I found this to be surprisingly low-key (compared to my expectations, at least), but it was an entertaining hour. The war got started, and we said farewell to a character who has been around for more than half of the series.

BEST ZOMBIE MOMENT: This was largely a "other humans are the true threat in the zombie apocalypse" episode, but there is a very important zombie moment that marks the official beginning of the war with the Saviors.

GORY GLORY: There were some good moments of throat and face chewing in this episode, committed by both that important zombie and another bitey beast.

FAVORITE SCENE: In a callback to the premiere, Negan has Rick and Carl (Chandler Riggs) down on their knees and is about to bash heads and remove hands. His baseball bat beating reprise is interrupted by the arrival of Shiva, the tiger that belongs to King Ezekiel (Khary Payton) of the Kingdom community. All season long, a friend of mine has been saying that Shiva had to be the one to take down Negan. She very nearly got her wish.

FINAL VERDICT

Source: JoBlo

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