Although there was a serious battle, this will leave a disappointing impression because in a season finale dealing with the battle against their toughest opponent yet, you can’t not kill a major character. TWD cops out again from losing someone important although it had several chances (Michonne, Carl, Rosita)- and don’t give me the Sasha argument, she killed herself. the actress will star in Star Trek: Discovery so her death on the show was inevitable. Furthermore, after having seen 99 episodes, you get a sense when a character is featured unusually prominently, as was the case with Sasha. She got a big farewell episode, which crammed in a few flashbacks too many. I liked seeing Abraham one last time and I liked that the flashbacks explained her motivation to sacrifice herself for the sake of Maggie and the group, which is the sole purpose of this group, according to Abraham. In combination with the combined forces of Alexandria, the Hilltop and the Kingdom emerging victorious from this (first) battle and Maggie’s speech about Glenn helping Rick in Atlanta enabling all this to happen, the season ends on a conciliatory and hopeful note after starting with an atmosphere of bleakness and helplessness. I understand and appreciate this thought but if the following seasons are to be interesting, TWD needs to become less hesitant to raise its stakes instead of just threatening to do that.
But let’s start at the beginning: The Alexandrians question Dwight and are barely able to hold back Daryl and Tara. Now that Sheryl is gone, Dwight has no reason to be with the Saviors anymore. They compile a plan to attack the Saviors while they’re at Alexandria. Thus, Dwight can radio back that everything’s alright so that the Alexandrians can orchestrate a surprise attack on the Sanctuary and convince the workers to join their mission to destroy every outpost. Dwight heads back to the Sanctuary and delays the Saviors’ arrival by felling trees onto the street.
We see further preparations for the Saviors’ arrival. Carol, Ezekiel and their group of soldiers find Morgan, who still isn’t quite himself but who joins their march to Alexandria. Enid, Jesus and Maggie discuss the plan and Maggie decides to help Alexandria. The Alexandrians, by now joined by the Scavengers, set up their explosives in front of the gate. There’s a weird moment between Jadis and Rick where she suggests that she and Rick do it, which is met with strong disapproval by Rick.
Back at the Sanctuary, Sasha negotiates with Negan about many persons he is killing as a pedogogical measure for their disobedience. Sasha can bring him down to one and fools Negan and Eugene into believing that she will comply with them. She even offers to spend the drive in the coffin she will be presented to the Alexandrians in. She has an iPod (probably to keep track of the time) and a bottle of water (to swallow Eugene’s suicide pill) and anticipated Negan’s shtick uncannily well. [more to that in a bit]
So the Saviors arrive and let Eugene try to deescalate the situation. However, Rick is resolved to end this and is clearly hurt being Eugene proclaiming to be Negan, so he has Rosita detonate the explosives. However, Negan somehow knew and had the bombs defused. Rick reaches for his gun, causing Jadis and all Scavengers to turn on the Alexandrians and hold them at gunpoint.
These little fuckers ratted on Rick in exchange for a pretty shitty deal (12 people), which is even beaten down by Negan to ten. I already suspected them in my last blog entry and Negan even mocks Rick for trusting “the garbage people” (for that short moment, I loved Negan for using this term popularly used on the Internet). Anyway, Negan presents the coffin to Rick, with Sasha alive and well inside, and demands all their weapons, lemonade, the pool table and Daryl. In addition, Lucille will kill one person that Rick has to decide on. If he doesn’t comply, Negan will kill everyone. Thankfully, Rick wants to see Sasha first, which sets Sasha’s plan in motion and is a very iconic “holy shit”-moment apparently adapted from the comics.
Sasha has just been revealed to have swallowed the pill when Negan opens the casket and she jumps onto him, nearly getting a piece of him. Although this would have been a good death, the show will not give up on its best protagonist so easily and has some random Savior rescue Negan and get eaten himself. Negan yells to Simon that plan B is on. Meanwhile, Rosita is shot and Jadis shoots Rick after he tries to renegotiate. The Scavengers and Saviors are in control and Negan will follow through on his initial intention to kill Carl in front of Rick and cut Rick’s hands off. Rick won’t back down and restates his promise to kill Negan. In the very last moment before Negan hits Carl, deus-ex-machina Shiva appears and saves the day. The groups from the Kingdom and Hilltop have arrived simultaneously and our group gains the momentum in the battle after the tiger distracts Negan long enough for Carl to get hold of a gun and start a shooting with Stormtrooper-level aiming. The Scavengers flee and the Saviors also drive off quickly as they are outnumbered. Michonne not very surprisingly didn’t die from the fight with a Scavenger although her opponent clearly had the upper hand. This would have been a shocking death that could have spiced up the episode.
Our group considers this a victory and after Sasha’s burial, Maggie gives a nice speech about how Glenn’s brave effort to save Rick from the tank in Atlanta (Pilot episode) has made all this possible. I liked that because it ties in a lot of the happenings in the show, gives Glenn’s death a meaning and creates a genuine feeling of togetherness. The three communities are now united and will have to face the Saviors in the war that is about to come (and is hopefully more vicious than this battle).
Back at the Sanctuary, Negan asks Eugene how Sasha could have died, clearly suspecting Eugene had a hand in this. However, Eugene’s explanation of suffocation is plausible enough for Negan to not be able to punish Eugene. I fear this will have severe consequences for Eugene as Negan will someone push him into making a mistake. We repeatedly heard Negan talk to Simon about plan B but we’ll have to wait to see what that could be. What we know is that Dwight didn’t know about the ambush, which he tells Daryl via a little statue. Daryl is visibly affected by this apology. That means, however, that Negan doesn’t fully trust Dwight (understandably) and has just been waiting for a reason to crush him.
The back half of season 7 felt much more interesting and stronger than the first half but the finale has a slightly unsatisfactory aftertaste. I’m counting on TWD to return with a phenomenal season premiere, which also is the 100th episode! Let’s hope for a 90-minute action-loaded game-changing episode.
All images (incl. title image): © by AMC (Photos by Gene Page), taken from the official website