“Alexandria will not fall! Not on this day!”
Now that’s a finale! Any concerns that people may have had, over whether the showrunners had forgotten what made a good season finale after that cliffhanger, were put to rest. A season of bad luck for our heroes finally meant something worthwhile, and the planning and negotiating by Rick and the gang was put to the test. And apart from a betrayal and a few gunshot wounds, it was a success! On top of this we got a lot of very good Negan moments. Seeing him run away in fear was perhaps the most satisfying thing in the world after the horrors he’s put our heroes through. There were so many excellent moments in this episode, I’ll try my best mention them all.
The episode opens on Sasha, trapped somewhere mysterious. She’s listening to sad songs on an iPod in the dark. Before we have chance to figure it out we’re in a flashback. Cue a surprise appearance from Michael Culditz as the late Abraham Ford. These flashbacks peppered throughout the episode do a great job of informing the choice Sasha makes in the present day story. Abraham says says that they have to help Maggie, that it doesn’t matter how dangerous it is. They risk everything for the ones they love. That is their job. That’s perhaps my favourite thing about the episode, how it ties up Abraham’s death. It wasn’t pointless, it’s always worth the risk to protect your friends and family. Abraham knew this and was willing to die for his friends every time he went outside. It makes his death just that bit more easy to handle. Plus his death was overshadowed by Glenn’s so it’s nice that he gets this closure.
“Sasha and Negan” was never going to happen. She made the most difficult choice in the world; killing and turning herself to destroy Negan’s leverage over the group. Negan’s theatrics (bringing Sasha in a coffin) just makes the moment all the more perfect. Up until now Negan has always got his way, but the moment he opened that coffin his plan went up in flames. And it was all down to Sasha, who went out like a badass. She’s always been a complicated character but this worked perfectly for her. It was also quite sad. She’s not had a lot of luck, with everyone she was close to dying (Tyrese, Bob, Abe etc). She was a bit of a loner, constantly putting on a tough exterior. Over the past few episodes she’s not seen eye to eye with the way Rick has been doing things either. But in the end she went out with a purpose – saving her friends. Abraham would be proud.
Poor Rick! I really thought he’d gone and done it this week, and that the deal with the trash people would be legit. Ok, so there was a lot of doubt when it came to those guys, they’re so weird. But it was still a surprise to see them pull guns on the gang. I guess you could argue Jadis was only looking out for her people and what was best for them, but she did that by deceiving our very own Sheriff Rick Grimes. That won’t fly. They have some instant karma in this episode as a huge chunk of their guys are wiped out in the firefight. It’s actually Carl who draws on them first, taking advantage of the confusion Sasha created. This is a great moment for him, taking matters into his own hands successfully, and it seems like something comic Carl would do. The moment he turns around a double taps one of the trash people is excellent. It’s like watching a mini John Wick.
The Saviors get the upper hand and soon we have Negan’s lineup 2.0, made up entirely of the Grimes family. Ok so we know deep down that Negan won’t kill Carl, but it’s not knowing how they will get out of it. Negan tells Rick he’ll kill Carl and then smash his hands with Lucille. But that snivelling, crying Rick from the season premiere is gone! He’s seen too much of Negan’s threats and isn’t taking any of it. Rick reminds him about his promise to kill him, telling him he’s “already dead”. Negan’s reaction is at first extreme anger. But that disappears and he laughs. This is my favourite scene the show has perhaps ever done. We get threatening Rick and insane Negan, and Andrew Lincoln and Jeffrey Dean Morgan are note perfect in their roles.
Negan takes off Carl’s hat, lines up for one good swing and, in what it perhaps the most audience pleasing moment in the show’s history, Shiva rushes on and pounces a Savior. Behind her the two allied factions run in, The Kingdom led by Ezekiel and The Hilltop led by Maggie. It’s over the top sure but it’s so satisfying. To see Negan’s Lucille execution being subverted is amazing. It’s things like this that make the past season so important. Things people didn’t like the first time round are coming into play now. The gruesome lineup and subsequent head bashing? Well would the Shiva scene had been as satisfying if we hadn’t seen that? The horrible things that the group went through just make this finale feel so much more deserved. I’ve never wanted to cheer for a group of characters so much in my life.
The fight for Alexandria is so cool, with a cool John Carpenter-esque synth beat accompanying the gunfight. It reminds you that the show is often at it’s best when it’s doing a big, schlocky action scene. You don’t tend to see huge gunfights like this on TV and it felt very well done.
So the new alliance of Alexandria, The Kingdom, and The Hilltop win this battle. The Saviors run back home with their tails between their legs. We see that Negan still has an army and he’s priming them for war. He’s also awfully suspicious of Eugene, who I’m convinced is still playing the long con. The episode closes over Maggie’s speech, and it’s a hopeful end to what started as the most depressing thing anyone had ever seen on television.
So we’re done for season 7! And it’s been a ride. Overall I’d say the ending justified the gruesome start, but I can understand some people not liking all that punishment. There are a few plot threads left hanging, Dwight being the one I’m most excited to see. By the age old communication method of whittling, Dwight confirms he didn’t know about Negan’s deal with the trash people. That means the heroes have a spy in Negan’s camp, two if you count Eugene. He might have the big army but he’s not as safe as he thinks he is. That moment of rage of his face is a tease of what’s to come. He will lose his cool and he will be beaten. I can’t wait. I believe in Rick Grimes.
Reviewed by Jack.
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