The Walking Dead season seven finale, The First Day of the Rest of Your Life, was both agonizing and thrilling. The episode was chock full of filler, dragging out the climax with painfully slow flashback sequences. The saving grace is that the long-awaited showdown between the Alexandrians and Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) surpassed expectations. A twist was laughable. It's hard to imagine Rick (Andrew Lincoln) being so gullible and naive, but at least our hero gets his gun back on with gusto.
The finale begins with Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) in a dark place listening to headphones. She begins to gasp. It seems that she has taken the poison pill given to her by Eugene (Josh McDermitt) in the sanctuary. We then flashback to her waking up to a kiss from Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) at their house in Alexandria. She is remembering the events before he was killed. She warns him not to go, to sit this one out. She had a dream that he had drowned.
We have another flashback with Negan opening Sasha's cell door. He brings a pancake breakfast with blueberries arranged in a smiley face. Negan tells her that at least two people will die today. But it doesn't have to be her. Sasha says that only one person will die today. Negan reminds her that she cannot tell him anything.
In Alexandria, Dwight (Austin Amelio) swears he's turned against Negan. He wants him dead and the Saviors wiped out. Daryl (Norman Reedus) puts a knife to his head. Tara (Alana Masterson) reminds him of Denise's murder. She begs Daryl to kill him. Dwight says that Negan is coming tomorrow. That he can help them prepare for the attack. Rick decides to take a chance. He and Daryl let Dwight return to the Saviors.
At the Hilltop, Gregory (Xander Berkeley) has vanished. Maggie (Lauren Cohan) ponders whether they should stay out of the fight, at Rick's request, or join them. Judith has been brought to her care. Jesus (Tom Payne) remarks that he is glad she is making the decision. The scene then cuts to the Kingdom, where Carol (Melissa McBride) is training a group of settlers to fight. Morgan (Lennie James), having abandoned his peaceful ways, is ready to kill. King Ezekiel (Khary Payton) wonders if there's any of the old Morgan left.
Jadis (Pollyana McIntosh) and her junkyard settlers arrive at Alexandria. She wants to bed Rick after the fight. Michonne (Danai Gurira) is not amused. She leaves with a junkyard fighter to take up a sniper's position. Outside the fence, Rosita (Christian Serratos) rigs a bomb inside a box truck.
The Saviors are on their way to Alexandria. But their progress is thwarted by trees in the road. Simon (Steven Ogg) tells Negan they know we're coming. Eugene begs Negan to let him reason with Rick to avoid bloodshed. We then flashback to the horrid Abraham dream sequence. Sasha is convinced Abraham shouldn't leave the house. He tells her that it's their job to go first.
The Saviors pull up to the Alexandria gate. Rick is stunned to see Eugene working for the Saviors. He ignores Eugene's pleas and gives Rosita the signal. She presses the detonator, but nothing happens. Suddenly, the junkyard settlers turn their guns on the Alexandrians. Jadis points her pistol at Rick. Negan jumps out of the truck cackling with glee.
Negan curses Rick for what's about to come. He has Dwight and Eugene place a coffin upright on the truck bed. He has Sasha. Rick will choose who dies by Lucille today. We then flashback again to the Sanctuary. Sasha and Eugene are walking to the truck. She tells him he still can be loyal and do the right thing. He gives her an old iPod as she gets into the coffin. She plays the music and swallows the poison pill.
As Sasha slowly dies, she remembers her last moments with Abraham. She curses Maggie, why should they risk going out for her? Another dream sequence kicks in; Maggie and Sasha are sitting outside the Hilltop. Maggie is telling Sasha about Glenn. How he saved Rick and brought them all together. Abraham softly chastises her for comment about Maggie. He knows she didn't mean it. He reminds her that they must always do the right thing, no matter what.
Negan opens the coffin. Sasha has turned into a walker. She attacks him and they both fall off the truck. In the confusion, Carl turns his rifle on the junkyarder's holding them hostage. It's a firefight in the walls as the Alexandrians shoot at their captors. In the sniper's tower, Michonne and the junkyarder are in a bloody fight. Jadis shoots Rick with a glancing blow to the side. He falls off the wall to the ground.
Jadis picks up Rick and forces him to Negan's position. Negan has Carl kneeling in front of him. He tells Rick that he will kill Carl. Rick responds that he will kill them all. The Saviors are all already dead. Just when Negan is about to swing Lucille, Shiva the tiger attacks his men. The Kingdom settlers, led by Carol and Ezekiel, come in guns blazing. Ezekiel screams that Alexandria will not fall today.
The Saviors and junkyarders get another surprise. Maggie and the Hilltop settlers are there as well. They overrun Negan's men. Jadis runs away, then sends up a smoke signal to retreat. Rick and Carl join the fray as the bad guys make a run for it. Negan tears out of town in his truck. Giving them the finger as he drives away.
The conclusion has Rick finding Michonne alive, but badly beaten up. Outside the wall, Jesus and Maggie find the Sasha walker. Maggie weeps as Jesus kills her. Negan, at the Sanctuary, is suspicious of Eugene's role in Sasha's death. Eugene and Dwight stand quietly behind him as Negan readies his men for war.
A montage ensues of all the injured being cared for. Rick, Ezekiel, and Maggie are seen on a platform talking to everyone. Carol sits beside a stoic Morgan. Daryl finds a note from Dwight at the gate, he didn't know. The final scene is a voice over from Maggie telling Sasha about Glenn's sacrifice. The last shot is of her holding the Glenn's watch.
I find it highly implausible for Rick to have blindly trusted Jadis. Their betrayal was obvious. The Hilltop and Kingdom coming to the rescue was also a given. The season has been mercilessly slow in reaching this point. The extended flashback with Abraham was also drawn out and unnecessary. Thankfully the final battle was gritty and action packed. It's welcome sign to see Rick back in predator mode. We're looking at full blown conflict with Saviors next season when The Walking Dead returns on AMC.