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THE WALKING DEAD Recap: This Was Your “Life”

THE WALKING DEAD Recap: This Was Your “Life”

Editor’s note: This post contains spoilers for the season finale of The Walking Dead! Proceed with caution, survivors. For reals, if you haven’t yet watched this week’s episode, “The First Day of the Rest of Your Life,” we highly suggest you do so before proceeding. Okay? We good? Let’s go.

It is perhaps fitting that this episode aired on WrestleMania Sunday, given the shocking finishes, sudden heel turns, surprise returns, and of course a mullet-sporting coward yelling through a megaphone–yes, Eugene was totally goth Jimmy Hart this week. And the show was everything we love about The Walking Dead along with some of what we don’t; the latter being some of the padding and foot-dragging in reiterating stuff we knew and taking time to get to the inevitable battle just to make this an extra-long episode. That’s outweighed by the plusses, however: a genuine attempt to tell some of the individual storylines in innovative ways, a seemingly innocuous cold open that turned out super-portentous, and a good half-hour or so of adrenaline-pumping action. To bring back the wrestling analogy just briefly, the climactic run in by Shiva the tiger was like Hulk Hogan’s hulk-up: you knew it was coming, and would be awesome, but the wait was such agonizing metaphorical foreplay.


The opening, with Sasha listening to music and then not, seemed completely WTF until you listened closely–the bassy rumble underneath meant something. As the narrative returned to her again and again, it became more apparent. She’s hiding somewhere, and it’s either in a moving vehicle, or a place where vehicles are moving close by. And then our surprise return: Abraham! It was good to see him again, but it had to be a dream, right? This show isn’t going to pull a Bobby Ewing twist and have the whole last season be in Sasha’s head, right? You know they’re just sadistic enough that that could happen.

Sasha warned him not to go on his last mission–was she changing the past? She told him she had a vision he would die. But how? Wait…drowning? Bingo: this wasn’t a dream. It was an actual flashback.

With war with the Saviors being plotted, much hinged on whether Dwight was sincerely seeing the light. Well, the jury’s still out on that. But damn, that was a very pointy knife near actor Austin Amelio’s eye. Either he’s super-trusting, or there must have been some digital enhancement. And Daryl has one heck of a steady hand. But as for Dwight, Rick had a very Sun Tzu take: “If he’s lyin’, this is already over.”


Meanwhile, Negan was still working on Sasha, and she actually managed to talk him down from three vengeful kills to one…hypothetically. “If you had a dick I would still have these feelings,” responded Negan, which we should probably not take as a formal admission of bisexuality, but just his desire to say the word “dick” aloud as many times as possible.

In a nice example of misdirection, the Saviors busted out a chainsaw to clear some trees of the road, and given the longstanding relationship between zombies and chainsaws, I thought for sure the term “Chekhov’s Chainsaw” would apply. Fake-out: they never used it to grind some live meat. But Shiva turned out to be Chekhov’s Tiger.

Last week, I called Eugene as the one who would die, and the episode definitely tried to fake in that direction, with him saying, “If people die today, it’s because of the choices they make,” and Sasha responding, coolly, “Yes, it is.” It was indeed foreshadowing, but not the way I thought.

Eugene kicked off the big climax with his Jimmy Hart act, seemingly sealing his fate by proclaiming, “I am Negan,” but Rick’s countermeasures were sabotaged and TWIST! The Scavengers were in league with Negan all along! Bah Gawd, that’s a heel turn, King! Just goes to show you should never, EVER trust somebody named after the White Witch of Narnia, i.e. Jadis. With all apparently lost, Negan busted out a coffin, which we had all by now figured out contained Sasha before he even said it.

And then admit it…you lost your sh** when this happened:


She took the suicide pill after all, weaponizing herself into a zombie. It’s like a MacGyver-style suicide bomb for this world. Much death and destruction ensued, most of it random extras, and Negan tried to pull the eenie-meenie-minie-moe routine again, this time with Carl as the definite intended victim. Silly villain: they got you monologuing again. And we got an awesome tiger mauling, though not of Negan.

The season ended as many do, with remembrances of seasons past, and a grave and gathering threat as Negan officially declared war, and threw some shade Eugene’s way like he suspected something.

Oh, and a final dedication to the memory of Bernie Wrightson, which was a cool thing to do.


Undead afterthoughts:

–When Negan served Sasha a blueberry pancake with a smiley face, I’m just going to assume that was a Watchmen reference.

–“The Saviors are a dragon with many heads.” The metaphor you’re looking for is a hydra, Ezekiel…oh, wait, wrong comics.

–Lens flare over the church steeple reminds us Preacher is coming back soon. Bring it.

–“I lay with him after. You care?” is a surprising dismissal of Rick as a sex object. perhaps that’s why it didn’t bother Michonne much at the time.

–Speaking of: I consider myself fairly hardened to the show’s gore, but seeing Michonne’s face beat into hamburger was quite upsetting. I’d rather not watch that again.

–“Allergy medication” is a good metaphor for death. They do suck.

–Negan actually departed from his practiced patter at least twice this week, and sounded like a real human with stress and feelings. More of that, please.

–Rick paraphrasing Casablanca dialogue is perhaps a big hint as to why the character is named Rick in the first place.

Was this the finale you wanted? Disappointed there weren’t more deaths? Glad you don’t have to riot? Leave us your thoughts in comments below.

Images: AMC

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