If I had to describe The First Day of the Rest of Your Life in one word it would be anticlimactic. I knew going in that it would be tough to top the season opener in which both Abraham and Glenn died but there should have been a greater pay off for having to slug through multiple episodes of perpetration for this supposedly epic battle. The season finale is not the pay off the audience deserved and I think that this will go down as one of the worst seasons to date. At times season six almost made me nostalgic for white people sitting on a porch because at least then, Glenn was still alive.
Part of what made this so anticlimactic was the knowledge that Sasha had come to the end of the road. With the majority of the deaths on The Walking Dead, other than those of the clear fillers, there's not been much warning that they're coming. With Sasha, we knew that she was going to die because Sonequa Martin-Green has already been cast as a leading character on the new Star Trek series. What we didn't know was how. It quickly became clear on her suicide mission to kill Negan at the Sanctuary that at best her death would be a pyrrhic victory for Rick and the gang but when it played out, it was even worse than that. All Sasha's death did was to provide a little bit of time.
Sasha, like many characters of colour on The Walking Dead, never got the characterisation that she deserved. This is why the writers had to go to such extremes to make her death poignant to the viewers. The writers offered us some fan service by having Sasha spend some time talking to Abraham. Personally, if they had to bring back a character, why couldn't it have been Glenn? Look, I know that Sasha's connection was to Abraham and not Glenn but Glenn is the fan service that I wanted. Part of the problem for me with Abraham and Sasha in this episode is that the magic between them seemed to just be missing. I didn't feel any chemistry between them and that was sorely needed in order to move us to the point of accepting that Sasha was ready to make this gigantic sacrifice for her people. I will however say that Sasha's death accomplished one thing that I thought would never happen, I was rooting for a walker. I really wanted to see Sasha rip out more throats.
For Sasha's death to work, Negan basically had to become a James Bond villain. Part of the enduring problem with The Walking Dead is that Rick and probably Carl have built in plot armor. This means that though it makes complete sense for Negan to just show up and blow Rick away, Negan has to come up with some long winded reasoning to justify the antics he pulls. Why didn't Negan just order Gladis to put a bullet in Rick's head for instance? Why exactly did Negan find it necessary to drive up to Alexandria with Sasha in a coffin when he knew going in that he had the upper hand? Negan knew that he had turned the garbage people to his side and had disabled the bomb which Rick and crew had planted. There should have been no way in which he lost this battle. Essentially, The Walking Dead made Negan stupid.
Let's pause for a moment and question why it is that Negan decided that he could flip Sasha? Negan may have been successful turning Dwight but what kind of leverage did he really have on Sasha to assume that she would turn against her people? I know that he's got Eugene on his side but Eugene is a coward. Some of course could argue that Negan really did like Sasha and her "beach ball size lady nuts", especially given his reaction when he saw zombie Sasha for the first time but I'm far more pragmatic and believe that it was yet another device by the writers to try and elevate Sasha, so that her death would have more meaning.
Speaking of stupid, is this really all Rick could think of? Rick and his crew have spent the majority of this season preparing for a showdown with Negan. They've collected weapons, explosives and made alliances and yet they quickly found themselves in jeopardy. Had it not been for The Kingdom and of course Maggie leading The Hilltop into battle, Carl would have been dead. How is it that Rick didn't come up with a back up plan? Why did Rick trust Jadis so much? Rick has a history of not trusting people, at times to his own detriment. Think back to when Rick first arrived in Alexandria, and how he almost blew it for his entire group with his mistrust of Deeana and all of the Alexandrians? Suddenly, Rick's all full of trust for Jardis and her weird garbage people and shocked when they betray him with Negan? Really Rick?Giving someone guns means that they have to be loyal to you now?
Speaking of Jadis, she provided the laugh of the night for me asking Michonne if she could lay with Rick. I love that Rick just stood there and stared, knowing better than to open his mouth. I love that Michonne simply ordered them to get back to work rather than saying no. Michonne's look said it all.
Michonne had a rather rough run in the season finale and yet, I never for one moment that she was in jeopardy. The look on Rick's face however when he thought that Michonne had died trying to play out her part in his foolhardy plan, served as a great reminder of just how close these two are and how much they've gone through together. Up until that moment, Rick was all defiance but the possibility of Michonne's death seemed to just break something inside of him. Despite all of his bravado about how they should continue if one of them died, it became clear, in that moment, that if Rick's the survivor and Michonne dies, something in him would be lost forever.
Sasha's death, as terrible as the loss was, did help to bring people together. The eulogy by Maggie brought us back to the first season and Glenn's decision to help a stranger which would lead to a connection between so many people. To Maggie, helping Rick is honouring Glenn and the choices he made. Sasha's sacrifice is structured as the community coming full circle because putting the needs of the group above the individual is supposedly what being a part of this post apocalyptic world is all about. Maybe, someday, Eugene will learn that lesson and finally stop being a coward. At this point, I really would not mind seeing Darryl shoot him with an arrow or Michonne chopping his head off.
In the end, the season finale didn't so much as wrap things up, as put a bookmark on the action which is sure to be continued. Negan's small force which he brought to Alexandria were defeated but he still has plenty of people left for an all out assault against Rick's forces. The battle has really just begun. This is not something I can get excited about because it feels as though we will be treated to more dragging out of this conflict next season. Negan swaggering around the place is entertaining but it's not a substitute for a compelling plot.