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The Walking Dead – The First Day of the Rest of Your Life Review

"Yet another disappointing finale"

The Walking Dead has the capacity to be a very good television series. Heck, we saw that in the back half of this season when the show managed to string together two solid episodes in a row. But “The First Day of the Rest of Your Life” was not a good episode. It was not a good finale. From the opening moments to the end, the episode was chock full of easy to spot twists, a death most fans saw coming miles off (especially if they had any familiarity with the comics), and character development for two dead characters (in the show’s best instance of too little too late).

The central arc of the front half of the way too long episode was the long march to death for Sasha. I don’t want to take anything away from Sonequa Martin-Green, who was, as we’ve come to expect over the last few weeks, really great with the little she had to do in the episode. It was also nice to see Abraham and Michael Cudlitz back on the screen. But, boy, do I wish that scene had been a part of an episode last season.

One of my chief complaints with the Abraham-Sasha relationship was that there was no lead up to it. Just a single episode where Abraham told her she was hot and suddenly they’re together. So there was never a chance for the audience to understand what made them tick as a couple (and, to be honest, almost nothing to make us see who they were as individuals, as both characters spent so much time with others who defined them- Abraham with Eugene and Rosita, and Sasha with Tyreese or Bob). But a sweet scene like the one in this episode would have gone a long way to deepening both characters and their relationship. We could have had some idea of how deeply they cared about each other and how good they were for each other. It would have made Abraham’s death resonate far more than it did. At this point in the show’s run, I have all but forgotten about Abraham, so a reminder was fine, but I spent the whole of the flashback wishing we had gotten the chance to care more for this duo when they were both alive rather than in their deaths.

Sonequa Martin-Green as Sasha Williams – The Walking Dead Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

The other pretty obvious plot point? That Team Emo would betray Rick. Think about it. You meet a random gang in the middle of nowhere, a group who’s M.O. has been taking what they want and not thinking twice about the cost to others, and you decide to arm them with only their word that they’ll help out. Sure, if you’re Rick Grimes, one of the apocalypse’s worst leaders, you would totally take that deal. But come on, trust a random group who you haven’t encountered in the years you’ve been in the area at your first meeting? That is not a good idea. Especially when they act like people who haven’t interacted with society in years. Of course they’re going to betray you. When you live in a thriving community and there are still vestiges of the old society in your day-to-day operations, it’s easy to forget that others out there are just looking for the best deal. It’s up to Rick to see that, though, and watch out for the double-cross. Disappointing on all accounts.

But perhaps the most disappointing part of the episode was that Negan is still alive. And we all get to deal with another season of him this fall. Or rather, the audience who stays with the show does. And I’m pretty sure that audience won’t include me. I’ve watched The Walking Dead since the beginning, and seven season in, I’ve lost any joy I once got out of watching it. Sure, there’s the occasional episode that distinguishes itself as a classic, but for every “The Grove,” there are 20 more episodes that are average to awful. The thought of spending another hour watching Jeffery Dean Morgan mug for the camera as Negan is just too much, even with the potential of getting to see a great performance from Danai Gurira, Lenny James, or Melissa McBride.  If I get word that the show has returned to its peak form, I might find my way back to watching it, but no promises. I just don’t want to be disappointed once more.

Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes – The Walking Dead Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

Final Thoughts:

— What was up with the Maggie-Sasha sunset scene? When did that happen in the timeline? I was expecting Maggie to be a shocking death in the shoot-out, and it would turn out to be a nice moment for the two departed characters. Instead, it was just a really weird scene that added nothing to the episode other than confusion.

— That “What’s the point to this?” speech from Abraham was really lovely. Shame we couldn’t see that eloquent side of him when he was alive, writers.

— Speaking of eloquent, Ezekiel gets some really great dialogue.

— Since I’ve already been asked this by some people, the wooden soldier Daryl found was from Dwight, indicating that he didn’t know about the double cross. I have a feeling Daryl will need more convincing.

— And with that, I will officially wrap up my last Walking Dead review. Thanks for reading these over the past few years. I hope you have enjoyed them. I suspect I’ll be able to find someone else to take up the reviewing mantle in the fall. If not, I’ll try to jump in with a review if/when something important happens or there’s a great episode.  If you continue watching, feel free to tip me off to good episodes or reasons I should watch again on Twitter.

Rating
6.0
Pros
  • Some nice Abraham-Sasha moments
Cons
  • Easy to spot twists
  • Character development that came too late
  • Negan remains an awfully crafted character

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Meet the Author

About / Bio
TV critic based in Chicago. When not watching and writing about awesome television shows, I can be found lamenting over the latest disappointing performance by any of the various Chicago sports teams or my beloved Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Follow me @JeanHenegan on Twitter.

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