REVIEW: The Walking Dead S7 E16 ‘The First Day of the Rest Of Your Life’ is glorious yet flawed
After a season of slow and deliberate and sometimes painful buildup, The Walking Dead finally delivered the confrontation we’ve been waiting for in ‘The First Day of the Rest Of Your Life’. It was glorious.
‘The First Day of the Rest Of Your Life’ really had everything one could ask for in a season finale. There was an important death, ample action and twists a-plenty. Great strides were made in the plot. Finally Rick and Alexandria, for the first time all season, have survived an encounter with the Saviours on top. Put short, the season finale was a spectacle and showcase for how to make a season finale.
Of course, it was clear The Walking Dead was heading for a kind of positive conclusion after the horror and brutality of ‘The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be’ all the way back in October. This season has had a clear, if sometimes frustrating, arc that came to a close beautifully in the season finale. Some individual character arcs have also been on a long and powerful journey – none more so than Rick, who has gone from defiant, to broken, to hopeful, to defiant once more. Rick’s journey, played by an exemplary Andrew Lincoln, has been a sure highlight of the season.
That’s not to say ‘The First Day of the Rest Of Your Life’ was a perfect finale, because there were numerous flaws. In The Walking Dead‘s eagerness to conclude Sasha’s arc in the same way as Holly’s – yet not the same way as Holly’s – we got this bizarre decision to carry Sasha in a coffin from the Sanctuary to Alexandria. This kept it a surprise for the audience when Sasha emerged as a walker, but doesn’t really make any sense from Negan’s point of view. Elsewhere, some very convenient timing from the Kingdom and the Hill Top is the only reason Carl still has his skull and brain intact. We won’t even talk about the likelihood of King Ezekiel training Shiva to only take out enemies on the battlefield, like some sort of Game of Thrones-esque Direwolf.
It also feels like cheating that the only major character we have lost in the first battle in a war is Sasha, whom most suspected would kick the bucket by the season finale. Sasha’s death was for many a foregone conclusion, so the lack of an unexpected death feels a bit like The Walking Dead playing it safe after the backlash to the season premiere.
‘The First Day of the Rest Of Your Life’ did a lot to ask for forgiveness for that brutal season premiere and the dreary tone of part 7A. It offered the closure we never expected for Abraham and Glenn, brought our heroes out on top and maintained a sense of victory and optimism that felt nearly impossible back last year.
Abraham was right, the world has to keep turning. And The Walking Dead keeps getting better.