The Walking Dead – Season 7, Episode 16 – The First Day of the Rest of Your Life Review

Image for The Walking Dead – Season 7, Episode 16 – The First Day of the Rest of Your Life
★★★★

Be warned! This review will cover aspects of the episode. Spoilers will lurk like groaning walkers...

And so we reach the end of a long, dark season of The Walking Dead. It has been an uphill struggle to enjoy this one compared to previous seasons, but Season 7 at least ended on more of a success – in terms of our heroes and the show itself – than last year's wrap-up. The First Day Of The Rest Of Your Life saw the show ramp up into epic mode, with an extended finale that was full of sacrifice, a pinch of suffering and more than a little contrivance for plot's sake – though some of that can be excused, since it was fun to see Shiva take out some of the baddies.

As the writers (in this case, showrunner Scott M. Gimple alongside Matthew Negrete and Angela Kang) turned the tables constantly, the intent was to keep us guessing, but if we're honest, we could've seen the perfectly-timed arrival of the Kingdom's troops and Maggie leading the Hilltop folk coming from one of Alexandria's guard towers. Plus, while producer/director Greg Nicotero did his usual sterling job choreographing action and finding cool stuff to shoot, there were a few quibbles about the geography and how certain people got the upper hand at times.

And though the producers leant a little heavily on Negan – who, sorry for those who love him, and we have nothing but respect for Jeffrey Dean Morgan's reservoirs of charm, remains a totally one-note character – the brutality of the Saviours' leader was at least balanced with some moments of triumph for Rick and co. Even if it did mean Grimes took a bullet to the side and Rosita got shot. The extra time this episode was put to good use, unlike the season opener, and we got to spend a little moment with each of the main characters before the big fight. There were even brief opportunities for levity, including from Eugene.

While Negan's "deal" with Sasha about one character dying this week felt like the writers talking directly to the audience, we said goodbye to her in an effective and heartbreaking way. Taking her own life and becoming walker to attack Negan was a fascinating end for the character, coffin and all. Actress Sonequa Martin-Green, of course, is off to the Final Frontier (well, Star Trek: Discovery) and as Sasha journeyed to The Undiscovered Country, we were treated to flashes of her talking with Abe about sacrifice (a little too on the nose, perhaps?) and Maggie about why they fight.

It has been tough to watch a lot of this season, but the finale went some way to showing that the balance has somewhat been restored. We know, of course, that Negan and the Saviours are ready to launch all-out war against Alexandria and the other communities, but at least there doesn't have to be endless scenes of people cowering while Negan strides around and makes a cocky speech. The battle will be a long one, but at least the good guys – inasmuch as they can be good in a world gone so horribly wrong – scored a win this time.

Big Questions

Can the communities really fight the Saviours' massed forces?

There are examples of guerrilla fighters taking on better-equipped powers all through history. To quote just one example, immortalised in popular culture via a slightly well-known musical... "How does a ragtag volunteer army in need of a shower, somehow defeat a global superpower..."

What about the Scavengers?

Jadis' betrayal won't go unnoticed, and we figure there will be a reckoning.

Did you really think Michonne was dead?

Of course not! Unfortunately, this is a card the show has about seven too many times. We're calling it the Glenn Rhee Memorial Get-Out Clause.

Read this season's previous reviews below...

The Walking Dead Season 7, Episode 1: The Day Will Come When You Won't Be

The Walking Dead Season 7, Episode 2: The Well

The Walking Dead Season 7, Episode 3: The Cell

The Walking Dead Season 7, Episode 4: Service

The Walking Dead Season 7, Episode 5: Go Getters

The Walking Dead Season 7, Episode 6: Swear

The Walking Dead Season 7, Episode 7: Sing Me A Song

The Walking Dead Season 7, Episode 8: Hearts Still Beating

The Walking Dead Season 7, Episode 9: Rock In The Road

The Walking Dead Season 7, Episode 10: New Best Friends

The Walking Dead Season 7, Episode 11: Hostiles And Calamities

The Walking Dead Season 7, Episode 12: Say Yes

The Walking Dead Season 7, Episode 13: Bury Me Here

The Walking Dead Season 7, Episode 14: The Other Side

The Walking Dead Season Seven, Episode 15: Something They Need

The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9pm on AMC in the States and Mondays at 9pm on Fox.