Thoughtful & Abstract: The Walking Dead: “The First Day of the Rest of Your Life”

In which Shawn and Kim react to the Season 7 finale.

Shawn: A season full of ups and downs finally came to an end this week and it kinda ended back in the middle. A success if you consider where we were a few weeks ago. The problem with writing 16 times a season is that we’ve usually covered most of the themes. This finale doesn’t leave the Internet aflame with theories about what just happened or what’s about to happen. In many ways, I prefer the natural break to end the season but I also see this as the end to a very mediocre season that might provide just enough closure to let less diehard fans leave the show in the Fall.

Best musical choice of the season – Donny Hathaway’s “Someday We’ll All Be Free” would also have been a better title for the episode. Someday we’ll all be free from this painfully slow storytelling. For all of the promise of an action-packed finale we didn’t get much happening until halfway through the episode. That beautiful song was a nice soundtrack to Sasha’s death and dream of Abraham and Maggie. But was it much of a surprise? She had the suicide pill and we’ve talked earlier about how her story was over. If anyone was going to die this episode, I had her penciled in for a violent one. As it turns out, I was much more satisfied with Zombie Sasha jumping out of the coffin looking like a vampire almost. It was a nice change of pace from the more bloody deaths of the recent seasons.

This is Dwight’s Arc??? We’ve spent the season learning about Dwight and counting on him to turn on Negan. And just in time, we catch a break, and Dwight is on the scene to give us some valuable insight on the Saviors and let us know the in-depth plan he has to betray his boss. What is his brilliant plan? Put some freaking trees in the road? Thanks, General Patton, for the awesome plan. I hope we haven’t had all of this screen time to have Dwight tell us to put some trees in the road. That was the exact moment that I knew nothing was going to be settled at the end of this episode.

The Eye of the Tiger. I knew the tiger was going to get into the action at some point this season but I didn’t know he’d come flying in from offscreen. There need to be more CGI animals on this show. I want a full Jurassic Park crossover and have a Velociraptor swoop in to eat all the Garbage Pail Kids. I like the way they treated the tiger as just another combatant and that kept the CGI needs to a more budget-friendly amount. Negan was actually surprised by this development. I’m trying to remember but at some point he has to know that there’s a tiger roaming around. He wants the pool table and all the pool sticks but doesn’t want the tiger? Hoping for the trained giraffe and elephant army next season.

The End of Violence? This season was full of people considering how they could solve problems without violence. The over-the-top violence of Negan caused some characters to struggle with how to live morally in the world. Morgan has been the biggest pacifist and we saw what it took to bring him back to being a cold-blooded stick killer. As an aside, what is the freaking deal with the post-modern catcher’s outfit as armor? Carol tried retirement. Rosita and Sasha both wondered if there was a solution that didn’t involve killing everyone. Tara tried to find a way out of the violence. Even Eugene took an interesting path towards avoiding conflict by becoming a Negan. When it all ended this season, what did we get? A big “It’s always going to be violent” answer. Everyone has turned and Rick has even found his guts to fight back. There’s no finding a peaceful future – it’s war.

One thing never changes. I’m always more happy after an episode gives me some Maggie, Jesus, and a little Daryl. Maggie is a more natural leader than even Rick. I hope that next season sees more of a focus on her journey. I’ll keep taking her firing automatic weapons though.

“I’m going to kill you. In fact, you’re already dead” – Rick spoiling the Season Eight finale.

Speaking of foreshadowing, Daryl tells us clearly that he will get to kill Dwight probably before Rick kills Negan. So everyone has a partner for next season. More violence will ensue.

So after all of this season we are back to where we started. We tramped around the countryside and collected some guns and met some new friends (aka canon fodder). After all of that, we lost a secondary major character in Sasha and have just told the audience that it’s going to be another long buildup to more conflict. This show was working at its best for me when we were struggling not to get eaten by zombies and trying to find a safe place to take up residence. The decisions to use violence to survive were settled for me on the rooftops of Atlanta or outside the Prison years ago. I like moral dilemmas as much as the next person but c’mon. Free the Dead.

Kim: Well, Season 7 is over and I am happy to report that I got to see everything I was hoping for during this 85 minutes. There was anticipation. There was excitement. There was wonder and curiosity over how things were going to turn out. Some questions were answered and there are all new ones to look forward to hearing about.

I’m really looking forward to its return. I’m hoping that I get some fill-in to the big bad’s back story that goes into detail about what he was like before we got to this point. I’m hoping that some things that have been left hanging in the balance are straightened out.

I got to see all of the attractive people, sometimes in one shot, and they were looking mighty attractive. All three of our favorites had prominent roles, and that’s something you just don’t overlook. I certainly didn’t. The best part is that they’re all alive and no matter how awful the music might be from time to time, they’re together – all of them in the same place.

I am most interested in seeing how–

(Wait. What? This isn’t about that 30-second promo for the new season of Preacher? Are you sure? Because that was the best damn thing going for this 85 minute stretch.)

I suppose I can comment on the finale. It wasn’t horrible. It wasn’t what I hoped. We got to see the predictable Sasha death and the not surprising heel-turn by the garbage people (see my write-up last week where I predicted that).

We let Daryl get up close and personal with Dwight. We learned that Tara is a vindictive woman who just wants revenge for her love.

We got Shiva showing up for her little snacks. We finally have the Kingdom doing the right thing, even if it did come with flags and ridiculous speeches. Maggie, who doesn’t look pregnant at all, and Hilltop show up and we have a moment where we can actually get to kill–

Wait. Nope. Not gonna happen. Everyone is running away. We’re going to war. Here is what’s bothering me. This entire season was a build up to, well, war. The one we were supposed to get at the end of the season. The fight that was going to make the hours invested all pay off. Instead, we got more lead up to, maybe, a war-type atmosphere starting next October. Are you serious??

Look, I understand that we can’t always be about fighting the walking dead. I mean, it’s not like that’s the name of the…oh wait. My bad. Again.

Here’s the bottom line. What they did in that finale could have been done in 30 minutes, with commercials. I get why we had the flashbacks to Abraham – it was his last conversation with Sasha and she’s thinking about all he said as she’s dying. A death, by the way, that I knew was coming after the first five seconds of the show. I not only knew it was coming, but how it would happen. I didn’t know about the coffin, so at least that was a surprise.

The screaming woman in the distance signaling death was not a surprise, especially once Negan poured the speech on thick about losing someone he loved. I knew Carl was not a goner. I knew Negan wouldn’t have his way. The CGI was a pleasant surprise.

So basically, everything that happened was, to me, incredibly predictable except the coffin and the tiger. I was disappointed that Carol and Maggie weren’t the focal points of those two groups coming together with Alexandria in the fight. They should have been. They deserved to be.

The ending also irritated me. On the one hand, we’ve got the very realistic Negan telling his gang, “we’re going to war!” On the other, we’ve got Maggie’s voiceover calling back memories of kinder, gentler days. When we still cared about each other. I think Sasha had the right idea. Get out of the misery now, before it’s too late.

Oh hush, you know I’ll be back in December.

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Shawn Bourdo

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