Like season finales of the past, Sunday night's closing of season seven of “The Walking Dead” was an emotional roller coaster. Unlike past season endings, however, cliffhangers were kept to a minimum as the lives of the multiple communities now represented in the show came full circle exposing where everyone truly stands.
Tensions of war have been brewing between Negan and the Saviors as well as Rick and Alexandria since the bloody season finale of last spring. The tragic battering to death of characters Abraham and Glenn sparked a season comprised mostly of the impact of Negan’s oppression on the surrounding communities. We saw how seriously evil Negan and the Saviors really are but the classic Rick we know and love ensured everyone that revolution can, and will, be accomplished.
Thus, after much planning and strategizing, season seven reached its boiling point. Rick and Negan once again met face to face as fans caught a preview of the meaning behind “the first day of the rest of your life,” for which the episode was titled. Just when Lucille was about to take the life of Rick’s son Carl, Ezekiel and The Kingdom arrived promptly, as his pet tiger Shiva physically launched into dinner, feasting on of one of Negan’s men long enough to distract everyone inside of Alexandria. The Kingdom's arrival prompted the first battle of what is sure to be a long, apocalyptic civil war.
Feminine heroism of Carol and Maggie returned as the members of Alexandria, Hilltop and the Kingdom joined together to nail any cheap shot at the Saviors and so-called “garbage people” or Heapsters that they could. Carl and Michonne’s lives were spared and, while many fighters were mulled down, no key players were killed including Negan as the Saviors quickly retreated after a few minutes of gunfire and chaos.
While the fight did not do any serious damage on either side, Rick and Alexandria are much further ahead than they were this time last season. The battle symbolised the strength and will that has been alive in Rick’s group since the beginning of the apocalypse. While Negan sees them as just another group with resources to steal, this battle proved the Saviors fight will not be as easy as he believes it to be. Alexandria is still very much alive and, as we know, Rick will never back down. When it often seems as though Negan and the Saviors are one step ahead, fans must remember the journey Rick and the group have endured to this point. Fighting for their lives once again, anything is possible.
The unsung hero of the show undoubtedly was Sasha, who silently took her life, turning on the Savior's trip to Alexandria and leaving her zombie self to take on Negan, thus throwing a twist into his plan to use her as a hostage. Her lone walker attack allowed Rick and the gang their first chance to escape the wrath of the Saviors that was about to come. She was the only serious casualty of the night, but it was a meaningful one.
In the words of the poetic monologue by Maggie that closed the episode and season, Sasha’s decision was a decision that was made a long time ago by Glenn, referring to the first episodes when Glenn and Rick teamed up in Atlanta. Since that point, “it just grew. All of this. To sacrifice for each other. To suffer, to stand, to grieve, to give, to love, to live. To fight for each other.” These words along with the rest of Maggie’s preaching rang camaraderie, the true essence of the survival of the show.
What lies ahead for “The Walking Dead” is sure to be the “war that ends all wars.” However, the hopeful and thankful speech that ended the season proved the fight ahead has a strong meaning for all involved and the sacrifices along the way are well worth the eventual goal of freedom and prosperity for all enduring the apocalypse. This initial blow to Negan will weigh heavy when it comes to next seasons fate.
All in all, this season finale was solid, and a lot more satisfying than the gruesome cliffhanger of season six. Questions were answered, lines were drawn and now fans can await battles and decisions that will come in the near future in anticipation, not wonder.
Kendra Harter is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.