The Walking Dead
“The First Day of the Rest of Your Life”
April 2, 2017
Because this episode is told in a completely non-linear way so as to make it seem more profound than it actually is, let’s begin where we left off with the previous episode: with Rick shoving a gun in Dwight’s face, demanding that he kneel. Dwight explains that he wants Negan dead, but Tara is NOT INTERESTED, informing Dwight that he killed her girlfriend, Dr. Denise. Dwight protests that she wasn’t the target, which only makes the actual target, Daryl, that much more furious, and he slams Dwight against the wall, holding a hunting knife thisclose to Dwight’s eyeball.
–Tara/half of America
However, Dwight explains that his reason for staying with Negan — the woman responsible for releasing Daryl — is gone now, which causes Daryl to back off.
Dwight informs the group that Negan is coming to Alexandria with three trucks and roughly 20 Saviors the next day, and he suggests that Team Rick bring trees down in the road to slow them down and attack the Saviors once they finally arrive. Then, Dwight can radio in to the Sanctuary that everything is fine when everything will totally not be fine as Team Rick rides back in to the Sanctuary in Savior trucks. Once inside, they can instigate a workers’ revolution and then eventually take out the outposts, one by one.
And while everyone including Daryl agree this sounds like a plan, Daryl STILL REALLY WANTS TO KILL THIS GUY. BUT REALLY REALLY.
Meanwhile, at the Sanctuary, Negan presents Sasha with a plate of pancakes and assures her that she doesn’t have to die today, but somethree in Team Rick’s do. Sasha is like, “Instead of three people, how about only one person in Team Rick dies tomorrow?” And because Negan doesn’t understand bargaining or foreshadowing, he readily agrees.
Over in Hilltop, Maggie and Jesus debate whether or not to help Alexandria, as if they really think there’s a choice. And in the Kingdom, King Ezekiel and Carol lead the knights toward Alexandria, happening upon Morgan, who is wearing that Ben kid’s armor. In a big flowery speech about dragons and honor and other nonsense, King Ezekiel asks Morgan to join them in the fight against the Saviors and Morgan is like, “Sure, whatever.”
Back at the Sanctuary, Dr. Mullet tells Sasha that he’s relieved she didn’t take her “allergy medicine” and assures her that she’ll get used to the Sanctuary, but Sahsa’s like, “Yeah, no.” Dr. Mullet then notes that if people die today, it’s because of choices that they made, and Sasha is like, “YEAH AND YOU SHOULD THINK LONG AND HARD ON THAT, DR. MULLET.”
Dr. Mullet then leads Sasha outside where Negan has a casket that he intends for her to use for her big entrance at Alexandria because sure that just makes sense, you’re going to want to keep a casket around just in case you need to make a big showy display of intimidation against folks, that’s just good planning. Dr. Mullet gives Sasha an iPod he procured for her loaded up with a playlist he got … somehow. Sasha asks to ride in the casket to Alexandria so she can take a nap, and asks only for a bottle of water, to which everyone is like, “Seems legit.”
Once inside the casket, Sasha begins listening to the iPod and takes her suicide pills, because OBVIOUSLY, DR. MULLET.
As the suicide pills take effect, Sasha listens to her iPod and flashes back to the afternoon that Abraham told her he was going with Rick to take Maggie to see the doctor at Hilltop. Sasha asks him not to go, explaining that she dreamt the had died. Sasha basically says that Maggie can take care of Maggie, and Abraham is like, “Come on, now, you don’t mean that, she’s carrying the future.”
And Sasha agrees and she tags along on the trip, which is how Sasha had the privilege of watching her boyfriend’s head bashed in by a lunatic with his weirdly anthropomorphized barbed-wire-wrapped bat.
Meanwhile, Team Savior find their route to Alexandria blocked by felled trees. As the Saviors work to clear the way, Dr. Mullet asks Negan if he might be allowed to try to talk to Team Rick before things get out of hand, and Negan is like, “You do you, but I’m still going to kill people.”
Over in Alexandria, the Junkies arrive, and Bangs greets Michonne and Rick by saying that she’s going to fuck Rick after all this with the Saviors goes down. Except she says it in that weird non-language of theirs: “I lay with him after.”
And can we just pause here and discuss how very utterly stupid it is the way the Junkies talk, like they are mentally-stunted Yodas? Is this group supposed to be a stroke victims club? Because adults don’t just lose language, not even if the power goes out, not even if they’ve seen their loved ones devoured by zombies, that’s just absurd.
But as it will turn out, it won’t be the most absurd thing in the episode.
Right, so the Junkies arrive and grunt at Team Rick with their little half-sentences while Team Rick wire up bombs and take their positions.
The Saviors finally arrive and Dr. Mullet pops out of a truck, trying to reason with Team Rick that compliance is their only option. When Rick asks where Negan is, Dr. Mullet replies, “I’m Negan,” and so Rick is like, alright, fuck it, kill them all, and gives Rosita the signal to detonate the explosives.
Except! The explosives don’t go off, and, in fact, the Junkies all suddenly turn their weapons on Team Rick.
Negan finally appears, and explains that he and the Junkies made a deal on top of the deal they made with Team Rick. Negan then reveals the coffin and explains that Sasha is inside. She doesn’t have to die, but for her to remain safe, Rick has to turn over all the guns, the pool table and pool table-related equipment, their lemonade, Daryl and then Rick has to choose an Alexandrian for Negan to execute.
When Rick doesn’t immediately comply, Negan opens the casket only to have Zombie Sasha lunge at him. Chaos chaos chaos: Rosita is shot, Zombie Sasha eats the face of a random Savior after he pulls her off of Negan, Bangs McGee shoots Rick in the side, Michonne has the crap beaten out of her by the Junkie she was stationed with in a sniper nest, and the Saviors quickly regain their advantage.
Bangs drags Rick over to Negan where he has Carl kneeling, and Negan announces his next plan: he’s going to bash Carl’s head in — which is a damn shame, because he really likes Carl — and then he’s going to chop off Rick’s hands. And Rick is all:
But before Negan can kill Carl, Shiva attacks one of the Saviors.
OK, but how did Shiva know who, in a virtual sea of identical humans, to attack? SHE’S A TIGER. Tigers don’t care about good guys or bad guys, THEY’RE ALL DINNER. But yeah, dude, totally, release your pet tiger into a crowd of people and trust she’ll go for your enemies.
The point is, The Kingdom and Hilltop both arrive at precisely the right moment, waiting patiently for Negan to make his Big Villain Speech. Fight fight fight, and eventually Team Rick is able to push the Saviors and the Junkies out of Alexandria.
Back at the Sanctuary, Negan wonders how, exactly, Sasha was able to die in the casket and Dr. Mullet suggests that she ran out of air. Negan is half-convinced. He then announces to the rest of the Saviors that they are going to war. Yay.
In Alexandria, Michonne and Rosita are tended to in a makeshift infirmary, but not Rick, who was also at least grazed by a bullet (??). Outside of the walls, Maggie and Jesus put down Zombie Sasha. And then as Rick, Maggie and King Ezekiel address their communities, Maggie monologues the following:
Rick: She gave us a chance; you did. You made the right decision to come.
Maggie: The decision was made a long time ago. Before any of us knew each other. We were all strangers who would have just passed each other on the street before the world ended. But now we mean everything to each other. You were in trouble. You were trapped. Glenn didn’t know you but he helped you. He put himself in danger for you. And that started it all. From Atlanta, to my daddy’s farm, to the prison, to here. To this moment now – not as strangers; as family – because Glenn chose to be there for you, that day a long time ago – that was the decision that changed everything. It started with both of you and it just grew, all of this: to sacrifice for each other, to suffer and stand, to grieve, to give, to love, to live, to fight for each other. Glenn made the decision, Rick. I was just following his lead.
It’s taken me awhile to understand why I was so underwhelmed by this episode, but I think it all really boils down to Maggie’s monologue. I’m a monster, I know, but hear me out.
Despite knowing perfectly well that this episode was not going to be the end of the Negan storyline, I had still hoped that there would be something more definitive, more conclusive that would happen. Instead, the writers decided to turn this episode into something of a bookend to Glenn and Abraham’s deaths in the first episode of the season. It was all about paying tribute to Glenn and Abraham and giving closure to that story instead of moving this story someplace further.
And I know that this is a silly complaint on my part. As far as plot goes, the series is hewing fairly closely to the comics at this point, with this episode corresponding to the final issue of Volume 19: “March to War.” And I hope this isn’t too much of a spoiler, but what that essentially means is that Negan is going to be around for a while — which I knew going into this episode. So it’s not that I was looking for Negan to die, or for the war against the Saviors to have been decidedly won, but I was looking for both more of a win for Team Rick, and to see more of these different groups coming together to form a unified front.
While it was lovely that the show gave Sasha such a big send off, I would have preferred to see more of the political side of the communities coming together and planning this showdown than the flashback with Abraham. Let’s be honest: while it was nice to see Michael Cudlitz again, the flashback served only as a speed bump in the action, and did not actually inform us of anything new or useful about either Sasha or Abraham.
Similarly, Maggie’s speech, while some found it heartwarming, I found it to be sentimental nonsense designed to give people the “feels” without actually saying anything novel. And this is going to sound heartless, but the survivors don’t actually need Abraham or Glenn or even the recently departed Sasha to serve as a reason to fight for one another. We long ago established that these people are family — so why does Maggie need to give a big flowery speech to remind us of that?
No, I am more interested in the new dynamics at play: how the Kingdom is going to interact with Hilltop and Alexandria; how Carol and Morgan bring themselves back into the fight; what Dwight is doing to undermine Negan’s efforts; where the hell Gregory is and what he is up to. These were elements of the story that we could have explored if we weren’t so busy having a treacly half-assed memorial service for Abraham and Glenn.
As for what we can expect in the next season, as I said, the series seems to be sticking pretty true to the original material. SCROLL OVER FOR SPOILERS:
From what I can tell, the series is going through roughly two volumes of material a season. The next two volumes of the comic are “All Out War – Part 1” and “All Out War – Part 2,” so I’m thinking next season is basically going to be a lot of back and forth with the Saviors. Negan will launch a deadly attack on Alexandria (probably corresponding with the mid-season finale), and Team Rick will be forced to move to Hilltop. Later — towards the end of the second half of the season — Negan will attack Hilltop, but is betrayed by Dwight (and possibly Eugene and Dr. Carson). Rick slashes Negan’s throat, but chooses to save his life and take him prisoner. Dwight takes possession of Lucille and becomes the leader of the Saviors. Characters who might die include Eric and Shiva. I KNOW, I KNOW.
But that’s still six months away. To kill the time, I invite you to explain to me how a tiger can make moral value judgments.
The Walking Dead will return on AMC some time in October and still doesn’t think people would just up and start talking like they were brain damaged just because they no longer have access to refrigeration.