In the season 7 finale of The Walking Dead, titled “The First Day of the Rest of Your Life,” Rick and the Alexandrians face down Negan and the Saviors in battle. Things don’t go as planned for either group, but since wars are rarely won after a single battle, both sides will live on to fight another day. Meanwhile, a captive Sasha has a tough choice to make, Dwight makes his case as to why Team Family should believe him, and several members of the group have very close calls during the battle. For those of you hoping for some action in this episode, you will not be disappointed.

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Sasha’s Journey

The season finale begins with a shot of Sasha listening to music in a dark, confined space. Sasha tells herself to wake up, and when she opens her eyes, she’s back in Alexandria with Abraham. The couple shares several kisses, and then Abraham tells Sasha that Maggie’s having a problem with the baby, and Rick is taking her to the Hilltop to get checked out. He also says that he plans on going with Rick, but Sasha tells him not to go.

After this brief flashback, Sasha is back in her cell at the Sanctuary, and Negan has brought her breakfast. Negan compliments her and says no one, including him, is going to want to see her die. Luckily, she doesn’t have to, but someone does — maybe several people. Sasha asks him what he wants from her. There is then a shot of Maggie and Sasha sitting together watching the sunrise like they did during season 5 as they were connecting over their grief.

The episode continues to flash between Sasha alone in the darkness, Sasha with Negan in the cell, and Sasha with Abraham before everything goes wrong. (Sasha’s scenes in this episode are reminiscent of Tyreese’s hallucinations during his final moments back in season 5. In both instances, the episodes jumped around in time before finally revealing what was going on.)

In the flashback, Sasha tells Abraham that she had a dream that he died. This is clearly why she’s having doubts about going with Maggie to the Hilltop. In the cell with Negan, he has apparently told her what he needs from her, albeit off-screen. Sasha is clearly upset about what he told her regarding his plans. Negan goes on to say that she should remain silent when she comes out, her friends will back down, and Lucille will get her three kills. Sasha tells Negan that she’ll do what he wants, but no one has to die. Negan eventually compromises and says that he’ll knock the body count down to one, just for her. Sasha seems much less upset as she agrees that only one person has to die.

Back at the Sanctuary, the group is heading out as Sasha talks to Eugene. He asks if she’s changed her mind about taking her “allergy medication” (Eugene’s code for the suicide pills), and she says that she has. Eugene goes on to say that if people die today, it’s because of choices they made, and Sasha agrees with him. After more flashbacks to Sasha’s time with Abraham and Maggie, Eugene and Sasha continue their conversation. He gives her music to listen to on the journey and says he wishes he’d measured up. Sasha says he still can, and she’s not giving up on him.

At Alexandria, Negan finally reveals that the dark space we’ve been seeing Sasha in all episode is actually a coffin. Before arriving at Alexandria in the coffin, Sasha continues to have memories/flashbacks of Abraham. Their final scene together includes several nice call-backs to some of their earlier moments. The two eventually agree to go on the mission to the Hilltop because Maggie’s baby represents the future, and putting their lives on the line for someone else is what it means to truly be living. (We never got to see much of Sasha and Abraham as a couple, so these scenes between them are lovely. It’s also just nice to see Michael Cudlitz as Abraham again.)

As the Saviors are leaving the Sanctuary, Negan tells Sasha that she doesn’t have to make the trip in the coffin, but Sasha says she could use the rest. She is given a water bottle before climbing into the coffin. Once the coffin is closed, she uses the water to swallow the suicide pills while listening to the music that Eugene gave her. Sasha seems at peace knowing that her death will mean that Negan can’t use her against her friends. (While Sasha’s sacrifice is incredibly tragic, it does feel like a natural end for a character who was constantly risking her life for others.)

Sonequa Martin-Green gives a beautiful, nuanced performance in this episode, and it once again makes me sad that she didn’t get more screen time this season. While there was plenty of foreshadowing that Sasha’s time was coming to an end, I was still in denial before watching this episode. The actress was an excellent addition to the cast back in season 3, and Sasha became one of my favorite characters thanks to her arc in seasons 4 and 5. Her death isn’t as violent as the other major deaths this season, but it’s certainly brutal in its own way.

Dwight is Freed

We pick up with Rick and company right where the previous episode left off. Rick is still holding Dwight at gunpoint as Dwight tries to convince the group that he wants Negan dead. A furious Tara brings up Denise before Daryl launches himself at Dwight, slamming him into a wall and pulling a knife on him. Tara tells Daryl to kill him, and Dwight says he knows Daryl wants to. Dwight says he stayed with the Saviors because of someone else (Sherry), but now she’s gone so he’s ready to turn against Negan.

Tara once again tells Daryl to do it, but Dwight says there is another choice. He claims that if they work together, they can defeat Negan. Daryl lowers the knife, and Rosita finally brings up the fact that the Saviors have Sasha as a prisoner, assuming she’s still alive. Jesus is mad that Rosita waited until now to mention something since Dwight might be their only chance to get Sasha back, but Rosita says that she doesn’t trust Dwight. She does, however, trust Daryl.

Dwight tells the group that Negan is coming to Alexandria tomorrow. He claims he can slow Negan and the Saviors down to buy the Alexandrians time to prepare. If they manage to kill Negan and the people he brings with him, Dwight will radio back to the Sanctuary that everything is fine, and Rick’s people can drive right into the compound. Once they finish off the Saviors at the Sanctuary, Dwight thinks they can then go from outpost to outpost wiping out the rest of Negan’s people. Rick tells him to keep talking, but we don’t get to hear the rest of Dwight’s plan.

Later that night, Rick and Daryl watch as Dwight leaves Alexandria, and Daryl says that if Dwight is lying he will kill him “real slow.” Heck, he’ll kill him anyway when this is over.

Allies are Gathering

In other news, the Kingdom group is heading out to join the fight against the Saviors when they come across a roadblock of shopping carts. Apparently, Morgan is using Richard’s tactics to wage his one-man war against the Saviors. Carol tells Morgan that he can’t take them on alone, but Morgan is convinced that he can.

As the Kingdom soldiers start clearing away the shopping carts, Ezekiel takes a moment to talk to Morgan. Ezekiel suggests that if Morgan wants the Saviors dead, he should join them in creating an alliance and preparing for war. Ezekiel notices that Morgan is wearing Benjamin’s armor, and Morgan seems a bit more alert when Ben is mentioned. Ezekiel once again asks Morgan to come with them, and Morgan silently agrees.

Meanwhile, Rick apparently talked to Maggie off-screen and asked the Hilltop to sit this one out so they still had a card to play if things don’t go their way in the battle. Maggie is debating whether she should follow Rick’s orders or take her people into the fight. Jesus is glad she’s the one making the call now that Gregory has disappeared.

Jadis and her crew arrive at Alexandria, ready for the fight. There’s a gross moment when Jadis realizes that Rick and Michonne are a couple, and she asks Michonne if she’d care if “I lay with him after.” Michonne ignores her, and poor Rick just looks freaked-out. Jadis and her people help the Alexandrians prepare for battle. As part of their preparation, Rosita makes quite a few bombs.

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Team Family vs. the Saviors

After the Saviors make it past the roadblock Dwight set up, they arrive at Alexandria. Eugene tries to talk Rick and company into standing down. Rick asks where Negan is, and Eugene responds with, “I’m Negan.” Rick and the others are horrified that Eugene has joined the Saviors now. After Eugene’s speech, Rick gives Rosita a signal to set off the bombs, but nothing happens. Jadis and her crew then turn on the Alexandrians, and Jadis explains that they made a better deal with the Saviors.

Negan launches into yet another of his speeches and then has his men reveal a coffin. Negan says if Rick doesn’t care about Eugene anymore, he knows Rick cares about Sasha. He says Sasha is in the coffin and that she’s alive and well. He brought her so he wouldn’t have to kill all of them. Negan then makes a bunch of demands and says that if Rick doesn’t cooperate, he’ll kill Sasha. Rick wants to see her, so Negan goes to open the coffin and out pops walker-Sasha. As walker-Sasha goes after Negan, Carl uses the opportunity to get the drop on Jadis’ people, and the battle begins.

One of the Saviors pulls walker-Sasha off of Negan, and she ends up killing that Savior instead. Negan decides it is time for plan B just as Jadis shoots Rick in the side and pushes him to the ground.

Michonne has taken up position on the roof of one of the houses. She is paired up with one of Jadis’ people, and the two women end up getting into a brutal, bloody fight after Jadis’ crew turns on the Alexandrians. Michonne eventually gets the upper hand and manages to throw the woman off the roof, though poor Rick mistakes the falling body for Michonne’s from a distance.

While Rick’s people are fighting back, Negan puts Carl and Rick into a mini-lineup and tells Rick that he is going to kill Carl and take Rick’s hands. Rick tells him that even if he does that, it won’t change anything. Rick still intends to kill Negan and all the Saviors. This Rick is a far cry from the broken-down man we saw in the season premiere, and Negan knows it. Negan goes to take a swing at Carl when Shiva comes out of nowhere and pounces on a random Savior!

Yes, the Kingdom forces have arrived, but they aren’t alone. Maggie and the Hilltop crew have also come to join the fight. As Negan and the Saviors run for cover, the other three groups begin working together to win the day. This is an amazing action sequence and a nice preview of the future battles sure to come next season as we really get into the war.

In the chaos, Jadis’ group manages to escape. Negan also gets away with his remaining Saviors.

Back at the Sanctuary, Negan asks Eugene how Sasha died in the coffin, and Eugene says maybe she just ran out of air. Negan doesn’t seem to believe him, but then he addresses a huge group of Saviors and tells them that they are going to war. The Saviors are very excited about this.

Later, Daryl finds a chess piece with the message “didn’t know” written on the back. One can assume it’s a message from Dwight saying that he didn’t know Negan had made a deal with Jadis’ crew.

A Fitting Tribute

Once the fighting is over, Rick and Carl run to check on Michonne. They realize that she managed to kill the woman she was fighting, but she’s been badly injured and is pretty out of it when they find her. Rick and Carl stay with her, assuring her that they’re all okay. After all, as she tries to tell them, “We’re the ones who live.” (Did anyone else tear up at this scene? Andrew Lincoln and Danai Gurira are wonderful here.)

Rosita is shot during the battle, but she’s later seen recovering in the infirmary with Tara by her side. Rick has also taken Michonne to get looked at, and this gives us another nice moment between the couple. We also see Maggie and Jesus track down walker-Sasha, and a tearful Maggie puts her down. (I teared up again thanks to Lauren Cohan and her ability to portray Maggie’s quiet grief. There’s also a beautiful flashback of Maggie and Sasha smiling at each other that is such a nice beat to end on for that friendship.)

As the episode comes to an end, there is an excellent montage of everyone cleaning up after that battle that ends with Rick, Maggie and Ezekiel talking to their people as a united front. The alliance is in full swing, it seems.

There is also a lovely voice-over involving Rick and Maggie. Rick says Sasha gave them a chance, and so did Maggie. He says she made the right choice in ignoring his orders, and Maggie says the decision was made a long time ago by Glenn. Maggie says that Glenn started it all by helping Rick when they first met and that led to Rick’s group arriving at Hershel’s farm and everything that followed. Glenn chose to help Rick, and it just grew from there until they all became one big family willing to fight for each other. Maggie says Glenn made the decision, and she was just following his lead. The episode ends with the camera panning down to reveal that Maggie is holding Glenn’s watch.

What did you think of the season 7 finale of The Walking Dead? Are you upset about Sasha’s death? Were you surprised by those Sasha-Abraham flashbacks? Did you expect Jadis and her people to turn on Team Family or did that shock you? What do you think of the group making a deal with Dwight, and Daryl vowing to kill him even if he’s on their side now? Will Sasha’s death be the catalyst for Eugene turning against Negan or will it be because Negan is starting to doubt him? How excited were you that we finally got to see Shiva in action? What did you think about the show’s moving tribute to Glenn? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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(Image courtesy of AMC)

Megan Cole

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV