This was originally posted by Rodney Hofirstname.lastname@example.org on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog on Sunday, April 2, 2017
Last season's "Walking Dead" finale was infuriatingly annoying, leading to the intriguing - if long-winded - entrance of Negan.
Tonight's finale was somewhat less irritating but the story arc felt convoluted and sloppy and dialogue flaccid (save for Ezekiel's florid phraseology.). Plus, while Sasha is not a bad character, she has never been anywhere close to a compelling one. So the amount of time the producers spent on setting up her death was a bit much for me.
And while it was a nice trick to show her trying to kill Negan as a walker, there was a zero percent chance she'd be successful simply because it's way too early for Negan to die. The predictability sucked up any sense of tension.
In the end, Sasha was the only major character to perish despite a gazillion bullets flying. Not even an Eric or Gabriel died.
The Scavengers turning on Alexandria was a nice twist but the episode as a whole felt tonally inconsistent. The Sasha/Abraham flashbacks lacked bite. That scene with Maggie and Sasha staring out into space just added confusion. Plus, it was way too obvious that Negan would not have a chance to kill Carl, that either the Hilltop or the Kingdom (or both) were going to intervene. Sure, they did it with some flair, courtesy of a CGIed tiger but the tiger and bullets galore missed Negan, Simon, Dwight and Eugene, as did Jadis of the Scavengers. Predictably, it's too soon for leaders to become walkers.
At 90 minutes, the episode felt draggy at times and while it was nice to see all the major characters in one place (save for Gregory), many players barely got any airtime. Carol was grossly underused, for instance. I give this episode one a C because I didn't feel much at all during this episode.
Why was Negan so cocky as he approached Alexandria?
He had previously negotiated with the Scavengers and gave them a better deal to double cross Rick. Rick over-estimated his ability to negotiate and trust this group. And Negan plays chess so well, he is frequently three steps ahead of Rick. Every time Rick shows any sense he has an advantage, he really doesn't.
Wait? Did Jadis really just hit on Rick?
Yes. She needlessly said she wanted to sleep with Rick after all was over in front of a peeved Michonne. Rick's reaction, backing away, was one of the few genuinely comedic moments of the episode. Jadis would definitely be a strange first date.
Why did Morgan decide to stick with the Kingdom?
Carol and King Ezekiel convinced him that he wasn't as messed up as he thinks. It wasn't exactly a deep psychological session but Morgan's goals are the same so why not work together?
Is Eugene all in as Negan?
It sure looks like it. But after the attack on Alexandria went sideways, Negan asked Eugene how Sasha could have "turned." Eugene lied, which he is good at, since Negan knew nothing about the poison pill. He also had a good excuse: she simply ran out of air inside the coffin, the delays with the trees possibly costing time. Negan wasn't fully convinced but he chose not to kill off Eugene without definitive evidence he might have intervened. He needs Eugene's smarts for now anyway. He's a turncoat but it's hard to hate him.
Why didn't the bombs go off?
The Scavengers obviously messed up the connections since they were actively undermining Alexandria. They are savvy and not great folks to have as enemies. Secondary question: will they get involved again or skulk off into the night?
Who's side is Dwight on?
I suspect he remains a double agent. He is trying to undermine Negan but has to stay on the down low. He did provide Rick some valuable intelligence that might be useful later. And maybe, just maybe, Sherry will show up again. (Who knows? She could be hanging with Heath.)
Why is Sasha still alive at the start of the episode?
She has been ready to die for awhile. That has already made her pending death less impactful. She tried to manipulate Eugene to give her a weapon she could use to surreptitiously kill Negan. Instead, Eugene gave her one of his poison pills since she claimed she just wanted to die. After oddly negotiating the deaths from three to one, she accepted whatever plan Negan had. He stuck her in a coffin to open up for quixotically dramatic purposes. Was this some sort of negotiating tool or theater or something? It all seemed like an excuse to reveal the "surprise" of her being a walker after taking the pill and attacking Negan.
Was Rick's speech in front of Negan strategic or foolish or both?
Negan promised to bust of Rick's hands after killing Carl. Rick then gave an absurd "I'm going to kill you one day" talk in front of Negan. Negan was not scared. Why should he be? It's not clear that Negan cared one way or another what Rick had to say at this point. He had outsmarted Rick at every turn.
Did anyone think Negan was really going to "Lucille" Carl?
Carl is virtually untouchable on this show. No way. Carl didn't even seem too scared. Carl was ready to go if he had to but this was not like the first episode where Negan's menace was fresh.
Who (that mattered) were badly injured?
Michonne almost died at the hands of a Scavenger. (The reunion scene with Carl, Rick and Michonne felt more hokey than heartfelt.) Rosita was shot but not fatally. So was Rick, in his side, but it appears Jadis only created a minor flesh wound because he didn't bleed out.
How did the producers try to honor Abraham and Glenn, who died during the season premiere?
They brought Michael Cudlitz back for a flashback scene where Sasha gave Abraham a tiresome rendition of a dream where she saw him dying and them losing the war. At first, she doesn't want him to go with the crew to the Hilltop to save Maggie. But he convinces her that they go together. Oops. Then at the end, Maggie gives a lovely narration recounting how Glenn helped lead them all to this point, that his moves saved Sasha and how her death honored his death - even if it didn't quite work. Too bad we don't get a Glenn flashback or ghost or some way to see Steven Yeun whole again as well.
How big is Negan's crew?
It sure looks a lot bigger than Rick's. Rick remains at a seeming disadvantage even with the Hilltop and Kingdom's help. Now the producers have to decide how long this war is going to last season 8 and how long to keep Negan around.