WD – Season 7- Ep. 16 “The First Day of The Rest of Your Life”: A Review

Posted: 04/04/2017 in Uncategorized

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Well holy hell- that was a finisher. For all who complained of pacing issues, plodding expansion of the WD universe and other laments, “The First Day of the Rest of Your Life” quelled all mutinous outrage. Dangling plot lines, open arcs? All were strategically and stratospherically handled by Greg Nicotero’s direction and Scott M. Gimple’s writing. As season enders go…this one set a new bar along with the assurance that season 8 will be something “mind melting” as Gimple promised in the post wrap up show, Chris Hardwick’s “Talking Dead”. My florid intro presented, on to my review.

The titular reference is how Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) greets Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green). His interaction with her is different. His tact is as close as someone as reprehensible as he can muster to respectful parleying. He asks her if she will play a part in his attempt to suppress Rick’s rebellion. She barters with him, making one misstep whereby she tells him she can’t allow him to kill anyone. Negan quickly reminds her that he is the one who allows, dragging captive and viewer to the reality that is his king ship. Her acquiescing that only one person has to die earns his smiling agreement. A goodly part of the episode is then a cerebral trip via Sasha’s remembering her last conversation with Abraham (Michael Cudlitz). Her moments in the darkness listening to music seem initially disassociated. She withdraws and we take the journey with her wondering where the show runners are going with this plot device. The journey is one well worth taking even from a purely sentimental point as the seemingly quick get together between her and Abraham is duly examined as each ‘gets’ one another and the romance that was never really presented to the audience is given proper light. As always, Abraham-isms abound including the ‘Sandblasting nut sack’ description of why he hates going to the beach. Sasha’s sharing a prescient moment with him becomes in and of itself prescient with her own journey.

While Sasha’s musical mind trip proceeds, we join Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and his team as he prepares Alexandria for war. A moment with Dwight (Austin Amelio) earns Tara’s (Alanna Masterson) due venting of her grievance for his having taken her lover, Dr. Denise Croydon (Meredith Wever). His apology of ‘aiming for Daryl’ nearly earns him an immediate end. Dwight is a bastard and is incredibly difficult to read. His pushing Daryl (Norman Reedus) to acknowledge his ex-wife’s part in allowing his escape from the Sanctuary, as well as the notion that he is being truthful in wanting to help, creates some tense moments. Alexandria is a powder keg and Dwight can easily be perceived as the lighter that could ignite everything. His offer to set up the imminently arriving Negan creates a hasty, desperate truce which causes the viewer nearly as much anxiety as the Alexandrians as we simply don’t know the man’s real allegiance.

The arrival of the “Heapsters” drew more attention to their being as cloying as they are bizarre. They ride bicycles, speak mono-syllabically with one garishly carrying a red umbrella. They seem more like circus folks than warrior allies. Kudos must be given to Pollyanna McIntosh’s Jadis who after asking Michonne (Danai Guirira) if Rick is “hers”, follows up with “you mind if I lay with him afterward?” This made for a duly awkward, funny moment as Rick is duly made uncomfortable while Michonne sees this tension breaking moment for the frivolous provocation it is. Still, these folk are odd… and troublingly so.

As Negan drives in with Sasha in toe, properly concealed in a coffin for grim dramatic flair, Eugene (Josh McDermitt) answers any question about his allegiance or any back door plan he might be hatching. Appearing at Alexandria’s gate and answer Rick’s query as to where Negan is with “I’m Negan”, the contemptuous glare given him by Rosita (Christian Serrartos) reflects our own perspective as viewers. Sasha’s later moment in which she holds out hope for Eugene making the right choice received no due reward. For all intents and purposes, the be-mulleted coward returns to the path that protected him this far.

Two moments inform what makes this episode rise to epic levels of fan satisfaction. The first is the foiling of the Alexandrians’ ‘counter measure’ against Eugene and the Saviors along with the acknowledgement of how Negan has remained steps ahead. The second is two tiered beginning with Sasha exploiting Eugene’s ‘beneficent’ attempt to honor her wishes while in captivity and ending with a cavalry arriving moment that simply blew the roof of the episode. “He’s got a goddamn tiger” indeed. King Ezekiel’s (Khary Payton) “Alexandria shall not fall this day” is Shakespearean in its delivery and majestic in its physical manifestation via a seamless CGI tiger attack. The rallying of forces so terrifically capped off with Negan’s bird flipping would cause the most jaded viewer to stand up and cheer. WD’s season ender incandescently delivered, locking in its position as simply outstanding and well worth your time. Yet again, a series about the undead is one of the best damn shows on television. Season 8 can’t come soon enough.

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