The thing we’d been waiting all season for finally happened and… honestly, it was pretty stupid. All we really needed was a nice big fight; we had all these people, all these guns, each side knew the other was coming, just have at it in the middle of the street. But nah. There was betrayal. And a coffin. And a surprise tiger. And in the end, nothing all that much had changed. Sigh. Ok, let’s do this.
Dwight came to Alexandria to offer his help. Rick and his pals are dubious, at best, but Dwight explains that his only reason for obeying Negan disappeared when his wife escaped. He not only wants to help the survivors take out Negan, but to dismantle all of the Saviors, down to every last outpost. And his plan begins with him cutting down some trees to block the road and buy the survivors some time to get ready. And so naturally Rick and the others take him at his word and let him go and WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU WHY WOULD YOU BELIEVE HIM? Ok, fine, whatever. He goes, he cuts trees, Negan is delayed. That… achieves nothing of note, but sure. Let’s just move on.
The Scavengers have gone back on their deal with Rick in a move that would’ve been shocking if it hadn’t been telegraphed by the woman on the roof with Michonne. I mean, I know the Scavengers are kind of weird, but why else would she insist on taking the other sniper position so strongly? They were clearly up to something, and given the circumstances, there was only so much “something” they could be up to. So, yeah, Jadis turns her gun on Rick with a shrug and that’s how we’re pretty much all feeling at that point.
Much of the episode is taken up with a flashback between Sasha and Abraham from the day he died. Did anyone ever really buy them as a couple? Individually they’re both good people, but they have zero chemistry together. Anyway, Sasha tried to persuade Abraham not to go with Rick to take Maggie to Hilltop, but he was like, nah, so long as my death has meaning, it’s all good, and we all know how that turned out. This incredibly heavy-handed bit of motivation plays out in bits and pieces for the whole episode as Sasha is locked in a coffin, listening to an iPod.
The coffin bit makes absolutely no sense, by the way. None. Zero. Negan wants to bring Sasha along to the meeting at Alexandria for some bit of theatrical purpose. He’s gonna do his punishment song and dance, you know, the one where he monologues for 20 minutes as he’s leaning backwards and bouncing on his toes, and then he’s gonna pick three people and bash their heads in. Sasha persuades him to accept that “only one person needs to die,” and he agrees because… I honestly have no idea. Because it makes what happens later more dramatic, I guess. So the Saviors are loading up the cars and Sasha decides to ride in the coffin. Why is Negan bringing a coffin? Well, again, to allow for what can happen later. The entire sequence of events starts at what the writers wanted the outcome to be and then works backwards to try to find a way to get there.
In fairness, though, the outcome is pretty cool. While she’s stuck in the coffin, Sasha pops that poison pill that Eugene gave her, so when Negan opens up the lid to fill her in on what’s happening at Alexandria, out pops zombie Sasha ready to eat his face. She fails in that regard, but gives the survivors the opportunity they need to overtake the Scavengers, which they do for a while before the Saviors regain the upper hand. And then here we are with Carl and Rick kneeling before Negan once again and even Rick is ready for Negan to just shut up already. Bash my kid’s head in if you want, take my hands, whatever, just please, for the love of god, stop talking. And Negan does, indeed, haul back with his bat, but before he can smash Carl’s head like an overripe melon, we have some tiger ex machina. Shiva leaps in and...
Ok, hang on a second. How did nobody notice a FREAKIN’ TIGER sidling up on them? This is not the jungle. Shiva is not a house cat. I mean, sure, tigers are stealthy and stuff, but come ON, she’s enormous! But, ok, sure. Sneaky Shiva. Leaps in, munch munch on the bad guys, here comes Carol and the folks from the Kingdom to save the day and oh, hey, look, Maggie’s here, too, that’s nice. Family reunion. With guns. Negan and the other Saviors decide it’s finally time to get the hell outta dodge, but not before Negan - who, let’s remember, just narrowly avoided Death By Tiger - takes a moment to observe “That widow is alive!” when he spots Maggie. Really? REALLY? The Saviors leave, the survivors bury Sasha and lick their wounds. And hopefully chain Shiva back up because she’s just gonna keep eating people if given the chance, what does she care about your politics. You’re tasty.
The episode ends with a voiceover from Maggie that is genuinely lovely and far better than the show deserves at this point. She talks about how Glenn made the choice to save a stranger all those years ago (remember Rick and the tank?), and how that’s what put them all on the path that led them to this point and made them family. It would be a perfect note for the show to end on; it talks about the bonds they’ve forged, looks back on how much they’ve been through together, and implies that they’ll continue to take care of each other as best they can for as long as they can. It’s a beautiful sentiment, beautifully said by Lauren Cohen. Far better for The Walking Dead to end with that thought than to drag out this war with yet another one-note villain.