Previously, on The Walking Dead…
Dwight came to Alexandria in an attempt to form an alliance with Rick & Co. to help take Negan down. Carol moved back into The Kingdom, and she and Ezekiel agreed that they need to join Alexandria in the fight against the Saviors. Rick and Jadis formed an alliance; in exchange for guns, the Scavengers would help Alexandria defeat Negan. On the fateful morning when Rick & Co. departed to bring Maggie to Hilltop, Sasha and Abraham both insisted on coming along. Later, as a prisoner of The Sanctuary, Sasha begged Eugene for a weapon – and he brought her the suicide pills that he had originally made for Negan’s wives.
Sasha lays in the darkness, listening to music from what appears to be an iPod. She sweats and struggles to breathe, almost half smiling. Her eyes close slowly and she exhales, the headphones pulling out of her ears as her head turns to the side.
In what appears to be an earlier moment, a tear falls from Sasha’s face in the darkness, the headphones still in her ears. She smiles and whispers, “Hey, darling. Wake up.”
Flashback to the morning before Rick & Co. departed on the journey to take Maggie to Hilltop in the season 6 finale. “Hey, darling. Wake up,” Abraham says softly, as Sasha awakes from her sleep on the couch. The camera slowly pans to reveal him sitting on the sofa, and Sasha sits up to kiss him. I found this moment to be truly bittersweet; it was so wonderful to see Abraham and Sasha together again, and yet the audience knows that his death took place not long after this scene.
As they break from the embrace, Sasha inquires as to whether “they” are back; remember, Daryl had taken off after Dwight before the group in the RV had departed, and Glenn, Michonne and Rosita had followed him. Abraham tells her that they have not yet returned, but he reveals that Maggie is having complications with her pregnancy. He plans on going with Rick to take her to Dr. Carson at Hilltop – but Sasha implores him not to go.
In present time, Negan visits Sasha in her cell at The Sanctuary. “Welcome to the first day of the rest of your life, Sasha,” he says, carrying a tray in one hand as he enters. He sits down and sets the tray in front of her, telling her that she is going to help him. He says that no one wants to see her die, himself included, which implies that he is planning on using her as a bargaining tool…however, someone (or, a few people) will still have to meet their end to drive the lesson home.
“Tuck in,” he says. “Big day.” He pulls the cover off the tray to reveal a breakfast including fruit, eggs and a pancake with a smiley face made out of blueberries. I actually laughed out loud at this moment because the smiley face pancake was just so bizarre and out of place for the seriousness of the scene; it is truly a perfect example of Negan’s personality.
“What do you need from me?” Sasha asks him slowly. Flashback to the moment in season 5 where she and Maggie sit watching the sunrise after a particularly brutal storm, moments before Aaron approached them about bringing their group to Alexandria.
In the cell at Alexandria, Rick and the others interrogate Dwight. Rick inquires as to why he wants to help them, and Dwight confirms that he also wants Negan dead. Tara leans in and tells him about Denise, saying that “she was a doctor and she helped people.” Poor Tara; I don’t believe that she has come face-to-face with Dwight prior to this moment, so I get the sense that it was a lot for her to take in.
“I wasn’t aiming for her,” Dwight says. Almost immediately, Daryl has him pinned to the wall, holding a knife to his eye. Tara tells Daryl to “do it,” but Dwight apologizes, claiming that there is another way. Rick and Michonne suggest that Dwight is just there to check on Daryl’s whereabouts and bring the information back to Negan.
“What I did, I was doing for someone else,” Dwight says to Daryl, throwing back the same words that Daryl used back in episode 3 (when he refused to dishonor Glenn by kneeling to Negan). “She just got away. So now I’m here. So are you, because of her.”
Now realizing that Sherry was the one to set him free, Daryl considers this. Tara continues to implore him to kill Dwight, but Dwight says they can work together to stop Negan. He tells Daryl, “You knew me then, and you know me now. You know I’m not lying.” Breathing heavily, Daryl pulls the knife away from Dwight’s face.
At that moment, Rosita reveals that the Saviors have Sasha; she didn’t say anything prior to then because she doesn’t trust Dwight, but she does trust Daryl’s judgment. This is an excellent point because Daryl has always been an extremely good judge of character, so it’s no wonder that his gut feeling would be the one to go with here.
Dwight reveals that Negan will be on his way to Alexandria with a group of Saviors soon, giving Rick & Co. an opportunity to plan. He says that he can slow them down by taking some trees down to block their path in the road so the Alexandrians can get ready. He tells them that if they can take out Negan’s crew, they can head back to The Sanctuary together, recruiting those who work for points and killing the other Saviors to end Negan’s rule once and for all.
“Keep talking,” Rick says, wanting to hear more of Dwight’s plan.
As Dwight leaves Alexandria later that night, Rick tells Daryl that the fight has begun. Daryl promises to kill Dwight when everything is over, whether or not Dwight is sorry for everything that has happened – and really, who can blame Daryl? Dwight stole his motorcycle, vest and crossbow, abused him as a prisoner and fed him dog food!
“If he’s lying, this is already over,” Rick says seriously, walking away. Daryl turns to see Tara staring him down from the doorstep of one of the houses – and though I completely understand her frustration in this moment, I think that Daryl made the right choice here. Taking Negan down has to be the number one priority for the time being, and Dwight can help them do just that; revenge can come at a later time.
Back in the darkness, Sasha listens to the iPod. “Oh, I gotta go,” she says softly. Flashback again to the moment with Abraham, where Abraham is telling her that they should both go to help Maggie. Worried, Sasha tells him that she had a dream the night before that he had died. I found this to be both eerie and sad, because the fact of the matter is that this interaction took place less than a day away from Abraham’s actual death.
In present time, Negan finishes explaining his plan to Sasha. “I can do it, but no one has to die,” she says. Negan explains that punishment is a necessary tool; however, Sasha stares him down, repeating that no one has to die that day. So to bargain with her, Negan offers to kill only one person rather than three.
“Okay,” Sasha says. “Just one person has to die.” And it is at that moment that I first get the extremely ominous feeling that she is referring to herself.
Flashback again to Sasha and Maggie watching the sunrise together.
At Hilltop, Maggie meets with Jesus and Enid, weighing the options of joining in this first fight with Alexandria. She confesses that she’s thinking of leading Hilltop to Alexandria to fight, since Rick & Co. will need help even with the Scavengers fighting alongside them. Jesus can’t help but smile, glad that Maggie is the one who will be making this decision rather than Gregory (whom they have noticed has disappeared). Enid picks up Judith – who is apparently staying at Hilltop for the time being – and hands Maggie the pocket watch that belonged to Hershel and later, Glenn. I really loved this moment, because it’s like Enid is literally handing Maggie her inspiration.
Near The Kingdom, Ezekiel leads his court to ally with Alexandria in the fight against the Saviors. They raise their guns at Carol’s command, noticing a line of shopping carts similar to the ones that Richard had set up to block The Kingdom’s exchange with the Saviors in episode 13.
Just then, Morgan emerges from behind a car, confirming that he is the one who set them up this time. Carol approaches him and tells him that trying to kill the Saviors on his own will not work for what they are trying to accomplish, implying that they are at their strongest as a group. Carol inquires as to whether or not he has killed any Saviors; if he has and it can be traced back to The Kingdom, their advantage will be gone. However, Morgan confirms that he has only been killing walkers up until this point; the line of shopping carts was to keep them out of his way.
Then Ezekiel comes forward, imploring Morgan to accompany them to Alexandria if he truly wants the Saviors dead. He notes that Morgan is wearing Benjamin’s armor and implies that it should be worn in honor of the fallen rather than to serve Morgan’s own purposes. Morgan agrees to join them and the group moves forward once again, Shiva at Ezekiel’s side.
On the day the Saviors are supposed to make their visit, the Scavengers arrive at Alexandria. Some ride bicycles, while others ride in dump trucks – and I am once again reminded of how completely strange these people are.
Jadis greets Rick and Michonne, seemingly impressed with what they are fighting for. She looks Rick up and down and asks Michonne if Rick belongs to her; Michonne confirms that they are a couple. Jadis reveals her intent to “lay” with Rick after the fight is done and asks Michonne if she cares – to which Michonne and Rick both nervously back away and claim that they need to “get back to work.” Well, that was an interesting proposition, Jadis – please excuse my laughter!
Meanwhile, just outside of the walls, Daryl, Rosita and Aaron set up an old moving truck filled with explosives to use when the Saviors arrive.
On the road to Alexandria, the Saviors try to cut through the trees that Dwight has taken down – and they are some pretty big trees at that! Dwight looks unsuspicious as Negan and Simon discuss whether or not the Alexandrians took the trees down on their own – which means that they have no clue what Dwight is up to. Eugene uses this time to ask Negan if he will allow Eugene to be the first to approach Rick & Co. when they arrive; after all, if the Alexandrians really did take the trees down, that means they are entering hostile territory. Negan smiles.
At Alexandria, the Scavengers do their part in helping to get everything in place. From the roof of one building, Michonne and a Scavenger strategize as snipers, splitting up to take more sight lines. “We win,” the Scavenger says confidently, and Michonne agrees.
Listening to the iPod in the darkness and struggling to breathe, Sasha says, “You know what’s gonna happen, how this is gonna end?”
Flashback again to the scene with Abraham, where he tells her that they’re going to walk out the door together and both travel with Rick to Hilltop. Sasha argues that they can stay at Alexandria because Rick said that they need to prepare for a fight anyways. Noticing her worry, Abraham inquires as to how he died in her dream. Sasha tells him that she dreamt that he drowned at the beach and when she tried to save him, she started to drown too. Abraham tries to make her feel better by saying that he hates the beach anyways and that they won’t be going anywhere near the seaside on the mission, but Sasha still protests.
In what appears to be present time at the Sanctuary, Eugene and Sasha walk through the halls. Eugene asks her if she’s changed her mind about “taking that allergy medication” (code for the suicide pills), and she claims that she has. Eugene says that she’ll get used to the place in time, but Sasha disagrees.
“If people die today, it’s because of the choices they make,” Eugene says. “Yeah, it is,” Sasha replies. Cue that ominous feeling once more.
Flashback again to the scene of Maggie and Sasha watching the sunrise.
Everyone gets into position at Alexandria as the Saviors arrive – but much to everyone’s surprise, Eugene is the one trying to bargain with them as the cars approach, speaking to Rick through a megaphone. He implores Rick to comply with Negan’s demands that day so no one has to die; Rick asks, “Where’s Negan?”
“I’m Negan,” Eugene responds. Saddened and disappointed, Rick nods at Rosita, and she presses the button on the control to set off the explosives. However, as the Alexandrians brace themselves, there is silence; nothing happens at all. Suddenly, the tables are turned as the Scavengers hold the Alexandrians at gunpoint. They have been betrayed at the worst possible moment – and I knew these garbage people weren’t to be trusted!
One of the Scavengers opens the gate for the Saviors as Negan & Co. exit the vehicles. Dwight follows, looking on the scene with a stunned expression on his face; it’s clear that he was not expecting this. As the Saviors discover the explosives in the truck, Michonne views the scene from her post using the scope of her gun. Realizing what has happened, she turns to find herself being held at gunpoint by the “sniper” Scavenger. “We win,” the Scavenger repeats once more.
Negan speaks to Rick, telling him to have his people drop their weapons; Rick refuses and turns to Jadis, who is currently holding a gun to his head. She reveals that they followed the Saviors after seeing them take the supplies from the boat in the midseason finale and made a better deal with Negan. I’m pretty sure that just ruined your chance to “lie” with Rick, Jadis – as if you had a chance in the first place!
Negan calls Rick and his people “animals” for attempting to blow them up with Eugene right there, and he instructs Dwight and Simon to raise a coffin from one of the trucks. Negan claims that Sasha is inside “packaged for [their] convenience – alive and well.” He claims that in exchange for Sasha, he wants all of the guns they found while searching for the Scavengers, as well as all of their lemonade, the pool table with all cues and chalk, a person of Rick’s choosing “for Lucille” – and Daryl, of course. He claims that if he doesn’t get everything now, Sasha and the rest of the Alexandrians will die. With that list of demands, Negan kind of sounds like a spoiled child here; why am I not surprised?
At this, Rick asks to see Sasha, and Negan complies. He knocks on the front of the coffin and speaks to Sasha, opening the door.
But Sasha still lies in the darkness, listening to the iPod. “It felt real,” she whispers. What on earth is going on here?
Flashback one final time to the scene between her and Abraham. She tells him that her dream felt real and it was like they had lost everything. Abraham kisses her and they rise from the couch. He explains to her that the fight is always for someone else, and that Maggie is “carrying the future.” Realizing that he is right, the two depart for the RV together.
A second flashback to earlier that day, before Eugene and Sasha departed from The Sanctuary. They exit the building into the sun, with Eugene confirming to Sasha that it will take a few hours to arrive at Alexandria. He hands her an old iPod with headphones for the journey.
“I truly wish I measured up,” Eugene says to her.
“You still can, Eugene,” Sasha replies. “I’m not giving up. Not on you.” She agrees to take the journey inside of the coffin, telling Negan that she needs some rest anyways and will just need a bottle of water.
Closed inside the coffin, Sasha turns on the iPod, selecting the song “Someday We’ll All Be Free” by Donny Hathaway. As she listens to the music, she takes the suicide pill and drinks it down with the water, smiling. Suddenly, all of the scenes throughout the episode where she was lying in the dark finally make sense – we have been seeing her dying moments (and the memories that go along with them…though it is slightly strange that she didn’t think of Tyreese or Bob as the end was nearing).
Now, in present time, Negan opens the coffin – and suddenly Sasha, now a walker, is upon him. Shocked, Negan falls to the ground with her – giving the Alexandrians the opportunity to take the first shots of the war. When I first saw this scene, I was simultaneously laughing and crying because while it is heartbreaking that Sasha sacrificed herself, it dawned on me that they wouldn’t have had the chance to make the first move without her sacrifice. It truly is a tragically beautiful moment.
As the fighting ensues between the Alexandrians and the Saviors/Scavengers, Negan struggles on the ground with Walker Sasha. A Savior pulls Sasha off, and she begins to feast on him – and one has to admit that even in death, Sasha is still fierce! As this is happening, Simon gets Negan to safety.
The fighting continues, gunshots firing everywhere. Michonne takes a serious beating from the Scavenger on the roof as Rick limps along with Jadis, holding his bleeding side. She leads him to a grim scene: Carl has been captured and is on his knees, surrounded by Negan, Simon and other Saviors – including a disappointed-looking Dwight.
Jadis forces Rick to get on his knees next to Carl, and Rick obeys. Negan mocks Rick, telling him that he had to ally with the “filthy garbage people” instead of continuing to obey the Saviors. This use of language is both accurate and hysterical, since Jadis is…you know…standing right there and all. Jadis and Negan discuss the terms of their deal, and it is worth noting that she does not push her negotiations with him. This is very unlike the way in which she negotiated with Rick in previous episodes, making it clear that even as allies, Jadis is still a bit wary of Negan.
Giving Rick one of his famous speeches, Negan sarcastically explains how the Alexandrians’ disobedience may be his own fault; after all, he likes to have fun with them, and he even fed Carl spaghetti (as if anyone could forget this)! As such, Negan states that he has to start over again with lesson number one.
On the rooftop, Michonne and the Scavenger continue to struggle, the Scavenger holding her over the edge. From below, Rick takes in the scene as he hears a scream; someone has fallen from the rooftop to their death. Michonne?
Realizing that they likely just lost someone close to them, Negan taunts Rick, telling him that they chose to rebel and that this is their punishment. He claims that he is going to kill Carl right there (though he’d prefer not to, because he likes Carl), and he will then use Lucille to take Rick’s hands.
“You can do it right in front of me,” Rick replies. “You can take my hands. I told you already: I’m gonna kill you. All of you. Maybe not today; maybe not tomorrow. But nothing is gonna change that. Nothing. You’re all already dead.” YES, RICK!
But suddenly, out of nowhere, an orange-and-black striped figure pounces, attacking one of the Saviors standing behind Carl; it’s Shiva! The Kingdom has arrived, Negan and the remaining Saviors are screaming and fleeing from the scene, and I’m cheering out loud because it’s JUST. SO. AWESOME.
As Shiva feasts on her snack, Ezekiel, Carol and the others from the Kingdom round the corner, shooting and driving the Saviors back. At the same time, Maggie leads the fighters from Hilltop in from the other direction, everyone coming to Alexandria’s aid just in time.
Together, Alexandria, Hilltop and the Kingdom drive the Saviors back. Seeing that the odds are now stacked against them – and realizing that Maggie is still alive – Negan says, “Taste that, Simon? That is the taste of shit!” As he and Simon flee, Shiva attacks another Savior right behind them. Ah, I love that tiger!
As the three communities continue to fight back – including Carol and Morgan, of whom I can’t help but be extremely proud in this moment – the Scavengers flee the scene, using signals and smoke screens to conceal their getaway.
“They’re falling back!” Rick exclaims, as the group charges to the front gate to finish the fight on Ezekiel’s command.
As the communities continue to fire their weapons, the Saviors depart, Negan giving them the finger out of the passenger-side window of the truck he is riding in. As the group on the ground continues to be shot at by a few straggling Saviors, the gates to Alexandria are shut, and the communities charge forward to make their final attack. They try to open the gates to no avail, and Daryl climbs to the top of a truck to view the scene from above; however, the Saviors and the Scavengers are all gone, making it clear that this was just the first of many battles to come.
Meanwhile, Rick and Carl rush to the house where Michonne was stationed – only to find that the person who met their demise was the Scavenger with whom she was fighting! Relieved, they enter the house to find Michonne leaning against a wall, beaten but alive. She and Rick embrace as Carl looks on, smiling.
Back at The Sanctuary, Negan, Simon, Dwight and Eugene discuss battle preparations. Negan inquires as to how Sasha died – and, unflinching, Eugene tells him matter-of-factly that it is clear that she ran out of oxygen in the hermetically sealed coffin. Negan appears to accept this explanation for the time being and turns to address the army of Saviors standing below; they’re going to war. I must admit that I was extremely impressed with Eugene in this scene – even though he is still protecting himself from Negan’s wrath, he did have a hand in assisting Alexandria by giving Sasha the pills in the first place. Plus, the fact that he was able to stare Negan down with such confidence suggests to me that there may be hope for him yet.
Back at Alexandria, the communities survey the scene post-battle. Through voiceover, Rick asks Maggie if she thinks Sasha killed herself to give them a fighting chance, and Maggie states that she believes this is exactly what happened – though she does not know how. Rick thanks Maggie for making the choice to come to their aid.
“The decision was made a long time ago,” we hear Maggie say, as we see her and Jesus come across Walker Sasha’s body. As Jesus holds the body down, Maggie cries and stabs her in the brain with a knife.
“You were in trouble; you were trapped,” Maggie explains to Rick, as we see Father Gabriel holding Sasha’s funeral on screen. “Glenn didn’t know you, but he helped you. He put himself in danger for you, and that started it all.”
She describes how they have gone from strangers to family as a result of their journey so far – from Atlanta, to Hershel’s farm, to the prison, and finally to Alexandria – as we see Carol and Morgan sitting on a doorstep together, taking everything in. Meanwhile, as Daryl shuts the gates to Alexandria, he discovers a little wooden figurine nearby, much like the ones that Dwight carves. He turns it over and reads the phrase “Didn’t know,” confirming that Dwight was completely unaware of the alliance between the Saviors and the Scavengers. Conflicted, Daryl considers this.
“Because Glenn chose to be there for you that day a long time ago.” Maggie says. “That was the decision that changed everything.” We see Rosita and Michonne laying in Alexandria’s infirmary, Tara and Rick at their bedsides.
“It started with both of you, and it just grew – to all of us,” Maggie continues as we see her, Rick and Ezekiel standing before their communities to address them.
“To sacrifice for each other,” she says, as we see the scene of her and Sasha watching the sunrise one last time. “To suffer, to stand, to grieve, to give, to love, to live, to fight for each other.” We see the faces of the members of the three communities as their leaders continue to address them.
“Glenn made the decision, Rick,” Maggie says, as the camera zooms in on her addressing the communities. “I was just following his lead.” The camera pans to her hand, and in it is the pocket watch. A cut to black marks this as the end of season 7 – now please excuse me while I go sob in a corner.
Personally, I feel that this was not only my favorite episode of this entire season, but it is also one of my favorite episodes of any TV show ever. It was not only because I got to attend the live taping of the Talking Dead season finale and watch the episode with an audience of 50 people (my review of that will be up later this week!); rather, I found the episode to be the perfect conclusion to the season, while keeping the story open for season 8 at the same time. Sasha’s self-sacrifice was heartbreakingly beautiful, and her death in that exact moment felt right. In fact, I can’t imagine seeing her going out any way other than by fighting to the very end. Moreover, I found Maggie’s monologue at the conclusion of the episode to be one of the most emotional scenes of the entire series; it was heartfelt and touching, and it reminded the viewers that even though Glenn may be gone in body, his spirit will always live on at the core of the series. Finally, the entire episode was a reminder that everything we have seen on The Walking Dead up until this point has had a purpose – from the pocket watch, to Dwight’s carved figurines, and so on. This is the exact reason why I chose to trust the interviews from the cast and crew that stated to not judge the season based on the premiere, but rather to follow the storyline until the finale – and I’m very glad that I did. The payoff for sticking with the show was huge for me, and I cannot wait to see what is in store for season 8.
For those who play the No Man’s Land mobile game, this week’s season 7 mission is Carol and King Ezekiel fighting Saviors and walkers as they sneak their way over to Alexandria. This concludes the season 7 missions for this half season. Players who have completed all season 7 missions from episodes 9 through 16 have earned enough tokens to unlock King Ezekiel as a hero character, and he is now playable within the game.
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