The Walking Dead Recap: The First Day of the Rest of Your Life
By: Emily Offshack (@CanadianEmily)
The cliffhanger-free season finale of The Walking Dead brought us the beginning of the war we’ve been anticipating all season.
SPOILERS AHEAD. You have been warned.
Sasha dies while listening to music in the dark. That’s how it begins. Going backwards in time throughout the episode, we see Sasha, still alive, thinking about the last conversation she had with Abraham before they left to escort Maggie to The Hilltop. She didn’t want him to go, but Abraham convinces her that everything they do is for someone else now, and Maggie’s baby is the future. We know that they go, and Abraham dies.
Dwight warns the Alexandrians that Negan is coming the next day. Daryl decides to trust Dwight instead of stab him in the eye. Everyone is counting on Dwight to delay Negan’s arrival, and then lead them to each of the Saviors’ outposts after they kill Negan. They let Dwight go.
Preparations for the fight begin on all sides. The Scavengers arrive in Alexandria. Ezekiel convinces Morgan to join The Kingdom as they are on route to help out. Maggie faces her first big decision as leader of The Hilltop, as Gregory is gone, as to whether they should go to Alexandria or stay behind as Rick has suggested. Negan plans to use Sasha as a hostage to make Rick stand down, but he still plans to kill someone as punishment; at this point, it’s unclear how Negan knows about Rick’s plan. Eugene gives Sasha music for the ride to Alexandria; he assumes she has decided to not use the suicide pill. Sasha voluntarily gets into the casket that Negan wants to present her in when they get to Alexandria. Everyone but Sasha thinks she’ll be alive, rather than undead, when they get there.
Negan arrives in Alexandria after clearing a roadblock of tree branches constructed by Dwight. Only the Scavengers have arrived before him. Eugene comes out to talk them down first, and Rick asks for Negan. When Eugene declares that he is Negan, Rick has to painfully decide to go ahead with setting off the explosives they hid in a truck, and Rosita pushes the trigger. The bombs fail, and the Scavengers turn their guns on the Alexandrians. It’s a set up. The Scavengers found a better deal.
Negan emerges, questioning Rick’s morality in trying to murder Eugene. “You people are animals!” Negan bets that Rick thinks differently about Sasha’s fate, so he gets Dwight and Simon to unveil the casket. Rick demands to see her before making any deals, and when Negan opens the casket, walker Sasha stumbles out on top of him, knocking him off the truck. She misses her chance to kill Negan, but she manages to bite off the face of another Savior. Your recklessness is forgiven, dear Sasha.
Carl is the one who smartly uses the distraction to take out the Scavengers around him, and a battle ensues. Rick is trapped by Jadis, Rosita gets wounded, and Michonne battles a Scavenger on a balcony. The Alexandrians are overpowered. Rick and Carl are on their knees in front of Negan once again. Negan wants to kill Carl and take off Rick’s hands. Just as Rick thinks Michonne has fallen to the ground dead, he maintains his fight and tells Negan that even if he kills Carl in front of him and takes off his hands, he will still kill him one day. Rick also has beach ball-sized…oh, nevermind.
Negan brings Lucille up to swing at Carl just as Shiva pounces on a Savior behind him. Tigers frighten Negan. He runs, Rick and Carl escape, and the battle continues. The Hilltop shows up, and Negan notices Maggie: “That widow is alive, guns a-blazing!” The numbers (and the tiger) are enough to make the Saviors and Scavengers leave, for now. Rick and Carl find Michonne, alive. Besides Sasha, some background Alexandrians are dead.
Rick, Maggie, and Ezekiel — the leaders of the free world — talk to their group of survivors. Daryl finds a note from Dwight written on an action figure: “Didn’t know.” Jesus and Maggie find walker Sasha on the way back to The Hilltop, and Maggie helps her die. Negan is now suspicious of Eugene with regards to Sasha’s death, but he’s ready for the bigger war.
Next season: war.
It’s all because of Glenn
“Glenn made the decision, Rick. I was just following his lead.”
The voiceover of Maggie at the end of the episode was a cry fest. Glenn didn’t get to make an appearance in the episode, like Abraham did, but the existence of the family of survivors is attributed to him. He chose to risk himself to save Rick in season one. If that hadn’t happened, none of them would be where they are today, and a new little baby wouldn’t exist at all. The Hilltop went to help Alexandria, because that’s what Glenn would do, and that’s what our group does.
I miss Glenn. So much.
This episode demonstrated that one way to separate good versus evil is the willingness to sacrifice for the greater good. It could mean putting yourself in danger, giving up something you have, or working hard. Abraham and Sasha decided to put themselves in danger to help Maggie. Sasha decided to kill herself to help build a safer future for Maggie’s baby, Enid, and Judith. The quick scenes of Sasha and Maggie sitting outside of The Hilltop before Sasha left for The Sanctuary implied that a new era would begin soon, and it’s in large part due to Sasha.
When power attracts power
Negan has a big weakness: his craving to add more powerful people to his group. Not only powerful people, but also powerful people who defy him. Dwight, Sasha, Daryl — he loves these people. He must be lustful for Rick right now.
This desire for other powerful people is hurting Negan. He trusted Sasha enough to go through with his plan, which gets him almost killed by walker Sasha. He trusts Dwight enough to continue to have him by his side — though maybe this is due to lack of trust — and Dwight is trying to take him down from the inside. Daryl. Daryl would never comply with Negan, but Negan would try to make it happen until one of them was dead. Whether Negan likes to feel in control of other powerful people, or he just wants to socialize with people who are “similar” to him, it’s going to backfire.
Dwight and Daryl
They’re going to have a bromance someday, right? Maybe not, but if Dwight manages to help them defeat Negan, Daryl is not going to carry through with his promise to kill him. Dwight has done awful things, but so have many of the people in our group. Dwight did what he had to do to maintain the life that Sherry chose for them, and he tried to escape with her, twice. Maybe he let Negan control him more than Daryl ever would, but if his persistence results in Negan’s demise, maybe it was worth it.
Tara really wants Dwight dead, too. She egged on Daryl to do it right away, and when he didn’t, she was mad. If Daryl doesn’t kill him, Tara just might. It’s hard under these traumatic circumstances to avoid seeking revenge for the wrongdoings that personally affected you.
Ezekiel and useful flair
Look, I don’t like most historical dramas or any show where the dialogue is similar to how Ezekiel speaks. But it’s a perfect moment when Shiva saves the day and Ezekiel arrives with knights and horses. He shouts, “Alexandria will not fall! Not on this day!” It created a heightened sense of this being an epic battle, and it served as a necessary distraction that allowed the Alexandrians and their allies to gain ground on their enemies. If I was on the wrong side of that battle, there’s no question that I’d hear Ezekiel and think, “What the heck…” for long enough that Morgan could smash his staff through my face. Even in absence of Shiva.
Speaking of Morgan, the look exchanged between him and Rick in the middle of the battle is great. It was as though Morgan said, “Look at me! I’m killing for this war,” and Rick said, “Cool. I like you again. Let’s get to it.” The ability of friends to accept massive personality swings is awesome.
Gregory is off searching for Simon, while Simon is at the battle. If they find each other, Gregory has saved himself from being associated with the war, but at what cost? Will he go back to The Hilltop as a spy?
Heath! You are out there, somewhere, on your own and without glasses. Are you so blind that you can’t find your way back to Alexandria, or has something happened? I hope we see you early next season!
What everyone wants
“I want all the guns you managed to scrape up. Yep. I know about those, too. I want every last grain of lemonade you have left. I want a person of your own choosing for Lucille. Daryl. Oh I gotta get me my Daryl back! I see you. And…the pool table and all the pool cues and chalk, and I want it now!”
Negan wants these things, sure. He wants control. The zombie apocalypse isn’t an exercise in survival for Negan. For him, this is fun. He serves pancakes with smiley faces to prisoners. He gets to make the rules. He wants everything, and he truly believes that punishing those who break his rules is how he will get it. Can’t say it hasn’t worked for him, but a new enemy is created every day. He has now reached the tipping point where he has enough enemies to defeat him.
The Scavengers just want the best deal. Oh, and Jadis wants Rick, which makes him look bashful for the first time ever. Maybe Rick should have offered himself as a new deal while she held a gun to his head. Negan offered to give Jadis 12 people; there’s always a chance one of them will be as attractive as Rick. There are so many weird components to this deal. First, Negan plans to hand over Saviors, and they’re expected to become Scavengers, just like that? Who would he give? Workers, who might find it freeing to be rid of Negan? Or some of the higher-up Saviors, who would just be there to spy? It’s a bad deal, Jadis. After Rick is temporarily captured, Negan reduces his offer from 12 to ten people, and though Jadis tries, there is no negotiation. As usual, Negan’s in control. He might retract the deal completely now that the initial battle failed. It’s good that Jadis understands that people are the most important resource, but why does she think forcing Saviors to join is a good method to increase the population? Plus, she already has a lot of people. Did you see all those trucks and bikes pull into Alexandria? Bikes were odd, yes?
Alexandria, The Kingdom, and The Hilltop want freedom from Negan, which would result in the ability to reconstruct a civil society. Society may never look the same again. It might have a king with a tiger. But as long as it’s safer than it is under Negan’s rule, it will be better. Will Rick think it’s necessary to take out the Scavengers, too? Jadis did shoot him and push him over the wall. They can’t be trusted, but are they innately dangerous without Negan around?
Oceanside. Remember them? Their guns have not been stolen yet, but Rick still needs them. All Natania wants is a safe space for her own people. That’s okay, but it can’t last if Negan is around. Hopefully they will join Rick in the battle next season.
Then there are Eugene and Gregory, who are shortsighted in their desire to protect their own safety above anything else. Given that Rick was willing to kill Eugene, I don’t know what would need to happen for Eugene to be accepted back into Alexandria or if he’d ever want that. If Negan is defeated, where does that leave Eugene? Maybe he’ll move to the Junkyard. As for Gregory, it’s doubtful that Maggie will let him back into The Hilltop if she learns he went to the Saviors for help. It’s possible he’ll come back before she discovers what he’s been up to, though.
We are the ones who live
You got it, Michonne. Even when someone is smashing your face into concrete, you manage to survive, and Rick and Carl are there to find you. It’s not about these three, of course. It’s about the descendants, biological and otherwise, of those who fight for the greater good. They will be the ones who live, instead of merely survive, generation after generation. They have to be. Someday they’ll all be free…
…though likely not until the series finale.