The Walking Dead Season 7 Finale Recap: Glenn Made the Decision


Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes, Chandler Riggs as Carl Grimes, Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan – The Walking Dead _ Season 7, Episode 16 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

Everything comes full circle in The Walking Dead Season 7 finale.

Like a wonky iPod playlist, it feels like The Walking Dead has been accidentally set to repeat. This season, we’ve seen our gang come into contact with Negan on many occasions, resort to violence, and have long drawn out talks about the fight for their freedom, over and over again.

In retrospect, it appears as if The Walking Dead writing staff had two iconic comic moments in mind and set them as bookends before they had any sort of meat in between. If this is the case, that means the story had to be forced to fit a prescribed outcome, and that it wasn’t allowed to evolve organically in a writer’s room like most of the best stories on TV do nowadays.

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If the series had its druthers, this call to war would have taken place at the conclusion of Season 7A, not drawn out for eight additional episodes until the actual season finale. Making viewers wait only allowed everyone a great deal of time to clearly guess what was coming next, and ruined the surprise by virtue of numerous and egregious errors in pacing. Too slow. Snooze.

To service the bookends of our gang’s journey to war, comic storylines were teased apart and mercilessly elongated. Remember when Negan killed Spencer back in the mid-season finale? Yeah. That’s when this whole war business is supposed to start in the books, and that’s when it should have kicked off on the show, too.

The main takeaway for the TWD staff from this mostly failed season should be to diverge from the comics. This isn’t to say that the comics aren’t great; they are. But taking a page from the Game of Thrones team might be in order just about now. The GoT team takes risks. They do their own thing.  They go their own way sometimes. And the show is better for it. The Walking Dead used to do these things – see: Daryl’s existence, Carol’s raid at Terminus, etc – but for some unfathomable reason, the show has been stuck on autopilot, mindlessly following the outline of the comic narrative for at least an entire season.

Since the botched deaths of Glenn and Abraham, the show has been chuffing along to kill time between moments lifted directly from the source material. Of course fans want to see their favorites translated from page to screen, but the team would benefit from adjusting the story to accommodate character growth instead of the other way around.

Arguably the best episode of the entire seventh season was “Bury Me Here”, an installment that saw Morgan’s (Lennie James) battle with his demons finally come to a head. Since the comic doesn’t focus too strongly on The Kingdom – and, oh yeah, Morgan is dead in the comics at this point – this episode was a wild departure from the books, yet, it worked to engage viewers in the story. Other attempts at departing from the comic – such as the addition of the garbage pail kids – were too obviously aimed at padding the season with fluff instead of bolstering strong characters with intriguing substance.

Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes, Danai Gurira as Michonne, Pollyanna McIntosh as Jadis – The Walking Dead _ Season 7, Episode 16 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

Sure, it was fun to meet the garbage pail kids and check out their insane living space – and even more fun to watch Jadis (Pollyanna MacIntosh) mack on a flustered Rick (Andrew Lincoln) – but finding out the group was traitorous was almost a foregone conclusion even before they turned their guns on our gang. Guns that, might I add, our gang painstakingly collected for them over filler episodes that comprised the vast majority of Season 7B. It’s cool to meet new people, but it’s best when the newbies have an actual purpose. Five minutes of a betrayal followed by a retreat does not an interesting group make. In retrospect it seems like their entire existence this season was to keep our gang away from Oceanside, and to drag out time until the skirmish in the finale.

(Side note – Also, way bad decision on Rick’s part to ally himself with Jadis and her kooks. We haven’t seen a mistake like that from him, maybe ever. Is Rick getting rusty? Discuss.)

Now, Oceanside I can get behind as an ally of our gang. And the fact that the show ignored a group of strong women and children as a viable source of an alliance, and turned it into an adversarial relationship instead is one of the most glaring missed opportunities in the recent history of the show. Perhaps the group will get their day in the sun at some point in Season 8. At least I hope so.

However, all of these things did indeed happen. There’s no changing that. And, in the end, The Walking Dead Season 7 finale wasn’t half bad. Instead of standing in place, it finally delivered a short burst of action and forward momentum that fans needed to get over the break and into next October. Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) sacrificed herself for the greater good, Rick threatened Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), and the cavalry arrived in the form of a snarling tiger and some good-hearted yet completely badass people from the Kingdom and Hilltop. Take that, garbage people (and, yes, I’m including the Saviors when I say ‘garbage people’).

Sonequa Martin-Green as Sasha Williams, Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan – The Walking Dead _ Season 7, Episode 16 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

For all its faults, the finale presented us with some intriguing thoughts about running a successful society. After a spooky sequence with Sasha listening to music by iPod light in a dark space, we flash back to her last conversation with Negan. The two argue about whether or not someone needs to die, but during their chat, Negan reveals his dictatorship mantra. He says, “Punishment? Can’t do anything without that. Punishment is how we built everything we have.”

Oh dear. Negan, you dumb.

Throughout the remainder of the finale, it’s further banged into our heads that Negan is a leader who inspires absolutely no love. Obviously, because we see one of his own, Dwight (Austin Amiello) defect. Perhaps the brutality of this new world has eaten away at his brain, but ruling through fear is no way to build a strong, lasting, and thriving community. But he insists on peddling his brand of justice throughout the lands, despite continually vocalizing that it’s hurting him to do so. This guy is just a barrel of contradictions, or he’s just lying.

You know who isn’t a barrel of contradictions? Rick. And Maggie. And Ezekiel. And Carol. And pretty much every single one of our gang who has a stake in a free and communal future of the world. These people govern with compassion and understanding for their fellow man, and an overarching hope for the future of humanity. That’s why they all come together at the end to extinguish the threat of the Saviors in the short term.

But they have some help from Sasha.

Throughout the entire episode, we’re treated to increasingly upsetting flashbacks from a slowly dying Sasha as she’s stuck in the coffin. She sees Abraham (hi Abie!) and we get to see their conversation about the mission to help Maggie. It’s sweet to see Abraham again, but mostly this scene contradicts most everything we know about Sasha. She balks at jumping into the fray to help one of her besties, instead choosing to focus on her new boo. Abraham won’t hear of it, so off they go to Abraham’s certain death.

Josh McDermitt as Dr. Eugene Porter – The Walking Dead _ Season 7, Episode 16 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

As Sasha slowly perishes in the coffin, Eugene tries to reason with Rick. So if you were a person who truly believed that Eugene was pulling some sort of double agent thing, I’m truly sorry. The mulleted traitor showed his true cowardly colors, and Rosita (Christian Serratos) moves to detonate a bomb that they’ve conveniently set up in a ‘Trust A Move’ truck just outside the walls of Alexandria.

Nothing. Nada. Zip. The garbage pail kids strike with the fury of the second betrayal of the night.

Of course we all know where things go from there. Negan brings people to their knees again, threatens Carl again, and promises to break Rick… again. Super familiar, right? Almost like this has all happened before…. but then Shiva flies out of nowhere and makes a snack out of a Savior, breaking the cycle of repetitive insanity.

(Side note – How does Shiva know who the bad guys are? Maybe she can just sniff out evil? Also, if she was going to attack anyone in that moment, shouldn’t it have been Negan?)

After the dust settles, we watch as Negan calls his troops to war, a single dictator telling his subjects how it is instead of offering up solutions. This provides a juxtaposition to Maggie, Rick, and Ezekiel taking center stage as a unified front at Alexandria. Season 8 is setting up a massive showdown between good and evil, but can it live up to our expectations? If Glenn has anything to say about it, it will.

The lovely speech that Maggie gives about Glenn in voiceover throughout the conclusion of the episode is actually the perfect capper to a season that mostly forgot about our favorite pizza boy. While we didn’t really get a chance to grieve Glenn, we finally see that his spirit truly lives on in the actions of his loved ones. He was the one who started all of this, and damn if we don’t agree with his philosophy.

Until October….

Related Story: The Walking Dead Recap: Sasha's Choice

Random Thoughts Before I Go:

  • The ‘Trust A Move’ truck was a nice visual nod to the comics in which there’s a ‘Bust a Move’ truck involved.
  • The incident with Michonne in the watchtower was disappointing to me as a comic reader. In the book, it’s a full grown, creepy man who tries to attack Andrea, and he fails. It’s hard to believe that this little slip of a garbage person did that much damage to our fierce and fearless Michonne. Although, I will admit that I loved the little Grimes family scene at the end. Finally Coral is back in the picture. I know he’s annoying sometimes, but he’s basically the whole reason for the Richonne relationship, and we should be thanking him.
  • Even though Negan is a total knob, it tickles me so every time he mentions making spaghetti for Carl.

‘The Walking Dead’ Season 8 will premiere in the Fall of 2017. Seasons 1 – 6 can be found on Netflix. Season 7 is currently available from with a cable subscription.