Although last night’s Season 7 finale was ultimately a pretty good episode, it was also a pretty underwhelming finale. Some fun things happened (see: Shiva attack and Sasha zombie), but everyone is still waiting for the big war with the baddie with back problems. They teased us with a few bullets, some dead extras, and a swollen-faced Michonne, but the problem with this “cliffhanger” is that we all already knew what was coming—for literally the whole season.
With that said, it was a pleasant surprise to Michael Cudlitz again, even in flashback form. The episode was structured surprisingly well from a story perspective, effectively dropping viewers into Sasha's entombed journey without context, then stitching the past and present together fairly seamlessly as the episode progressed leading up to her final, desperate assassination attempt. There was betrayal, sacrifice, heartbreak, and revenge. There were tiger attacks and unintentional fourth-wall-breaking metaphors, as Negan drove away from a cloud of chaos, middle finger high in the air.
But there was no way there was ever going to be enough time in this episode for there to be anywhere near the amount of resolution a season finale should demand, due to the inexorably slow pace of the rest of the season. After all that, we've come full-circle to Rick and his crew gearing up and preparing for the next onslaught, minus a Sasha.
From displays of dominance to faction elimination, a look at which characters saw their prospects rise this week.
Adam Wagner: Maggie
“That widow is alive, guns a-blazing!”
After losing Glenn in what felt like ages ago, Maggie continues to show her strength in this post-apocalyptic world. Not only has she picked herself up and become a leader, but she’s done so while carrying a child! She’s got a sort of zen calm about her right now that seems to stem from confidence—almost like Neo in the Matrix after he finally realized he was “the one.”
After a millennia of inspiring followers, even Apostle Jesus knew to step aside when Maggie came around. Hearing her bark out orders after arriving in the nick of time almost made up for the 14 episodes between premiere and finale. When this war is said and done, I know who I’m voting for in the ensuing election leaders.
Pritpaul Bains: Shiva
Were I to be completely honest, waiting to see Shiva maul a few saviors was probably the primary thing pulling me through the show throughout the last half of the season. I know quality CGI is expensive, but more Shiva kills next season would be a pretty effective hook by which to pull viewers back. You listenin', Gimple?
From poor decisions to lost lives, a look at which characters lost ground this week.
TWD's not-so-lovable antagonist was forced to deal with his first real dose of adversity since his smashing debut on the show, and he dealt with it about as well as he could. When Gregory sold out Rick et al (at some point) and the “filthy garbage people” aptly lived down to their name, Negan was still in the driver's seat through most of this confrontation. But the appearance of Shiva and reappearance of Maggie legitimately took him by surprise (and led to a couple of my favorite cheesily unnecessary reaction lines this season: “That's a goddamn tiger! And that widow is alive, guns a-blazing! Taste that, Simon? That's the taste of shit!”)
AW: The Garbage People
Holy shit! I think the writers were reading our power rankings. First, the Garbage People arrived at Alexandria in DUMPSTER TRUCKS, and then Negan actually calls them THE GARBAGE PEOPLE (no offense). Well, after that double-deal done wrong—they’ve really found themselves out with the trash.
The Garbage People always claim they take but don’t bother. Except, Discount Milla Jovovich has gotten her people in quite a predicament. By taking Rick’s deal and then reneging on it for a better deal with Negan, her greed has made her some powerful enemies. I don’t understand why a group who scavenges and steals to survive, purposefully staying off the map, would deal with either group. Even if things went exactly as planned, she had to know that only bad things would happen after.
A tribute to the late, great Hershel Greene, this section searches for the best displays of humanity amidst chaos this week.
Maggie's a valid option here, but I'll give it to Sasha this week, in her last hurrah, for at least going out on her own terms. Girl knows how to commit, I'll give her that.
While her flashbacks with Abraham were touching and a fun device by which to move along this episode, and her sacrificial gambit was interesting and creative (if wildly ineffectual), it was a bit difficult to buy her sendoff having the weight the writers seem to have hoped for—especially as a setup for a series finale—when viewers had spent so little time with her as a character compared to the core list of protagonists. She did what she could—what she felt she had to—with the resources at her disposal, but her gesture rang a little hollow in the context of the show as a whole because of this. Her live in-casket shots were a great hook, though, and at least she went out as she wanted to—sending Negan one last giant walker-sized fuck you.
She didn’t exactly say “no” to Discount Milla Jovovich. She was at least entertaining the idea of sharing Rick to that hot pile of Garbage for the greater good. It’s possible she’s just trying to accrue debts from Rick. He already owes her a deer, maybe she was hoping to score a hall pass as well.
- “Goddamn tiger!” (AW)
- I know it’s an apex predator, but how did nobody see or hear a tiger charging? (AW)
- Dwight's plan, as initially laid out, is probably the most fundamentally sound plan anyone has conceived of thus far this season. (PB)
- Dwighty didn’t know, Dwighty didn’t know. (AW)
- Ezekiel sounded like he was auditioning for a role in a Shakespeare play. (AW)
- Ezekiel's “Not on this day!” battlecry and Negan's war rally both garnered pretty serious nerd cred—those scenes clearly had to be referencing Aragorn at the Black Gate and Saruman's sendoff of the orc forces at Isengard, right? (PB)
- Why does Ezekiel trust/respect Morgan so much? I still don’t get it. (AW)
- Negan's happy-face pancakes were glorious and adorable (and possibly a callback to Jeffrey Dean Morgan's time as The Comedian in Watchmen). (PB)
- Really digging the synth-heavy soundtrack they decided to go with for the finale. More of that, please. (PB)
- I legit thought that Sasha was masturbating in the opening. (AW)
- “I lay with him after.” Way to make it weird, Discount Milla Jovovich. (PB)
- Every time I see Lennie James onscreen, I am in awe at his ability to actually make me feel sympathy for a character that I would undoubtedly hate under the stewardship of pretty much any other actor. (PB)
- You had one job, Rosita! (AW)
- Just when Eugene seemed fully turned … that pill he gave Sasha and that lie he told Negan afterward reminded us that the old Eugene is still under that Negan veneer somewhere. Between Dwight and Eugene, Negan may well have two traitors in his inner circle to deal with next season. (PB)
Zombie Kill of the Week
Other than the off-screen mercy killing of Sasha, there were no zombie kills. Therefore, we'll instead end our coverage of Season 7 with a perfectly apt, Negan middle finger: