The First Day of the Rest of Your Life had me on the hook. I was couch potato- seething at the thought of all the hard work done on the second half of this season would be undone thanks to some garbage characters. The Saviors’ crushing oppression all season seemed set to continue. This time it was going to be the breaking point.
And then the season finale erupted into a glorious G.I. Joe finale that sent
Cobra er…The Saviors scurrying.
Every year, G.I. Joe would have these five-part events to basically introduce the new characters and show off the new vehicles. These mini-movies all followed a similar format. The Joes would get completely pummeled in the opening act, slowly rebound and win minor victories before the big standoff. Despite bracing for a big fight, the Joes would invariably be put on the ropes again before a last minute arrival turned the tide.
In The First Day, that last second arrival was Shiva. No need for bears or lions when you’ve got a head gnawing tiger as backup. The showrunners promised The First Day would be epic and it’s hard to argue it didn’t deliver. The Hilltop and The Kingdom came right at the perfect moment to bail their pals out.
And it really gave me a Joe flashback with the various characters having knowing moments like Rick and Morgan’s nod before going back to battle. Negan may be cocky and supremely overconfident, but he understands a losing situation when he sees it.
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A lot of what played out made a lot of sense. Rick probably was a little overeager in arming The Scavengers. They weren’t heavily invested in the fight against The Saviors and their loyalty was completely up for grabs.
It would have been amazing if Jadis and the rest of The Scavengers started speaking perfect English after their betrayal. With their broken dialect being a means of suckering in unsuspecting suckers like Rick. As the war vs. The Saviors can’t be the focus every episode next season so settling the score with The Scavengers will make for a nice mini-arc.
Dwight became intriguing for the first time all season. Even with the tide turning, he didn’t make a defiant stance against Negan here. He’s playing a longer game and given Rick the proper gameplan to take The Saviors down once and for all. As an inside man, he’s far more valuable to Alexandria than just another bullet stopper.
It was a shame we had to lose Sasha, but we’ve had time to accept she was as good as dead after her ill-fated mission with Rosita. That plan was poorly conceived and it was fitting that she was the only one death she negotiated. And any excuse to have Abraham return, even in a flashback, was great. Of all the Grimes Gang deaths, Sasha’s was the most helpful. She sacrificed herself to give Rick and crew the advantage … even if it only lasted temporarily.
My one gripe with the big fight scene was how Michonne was tied up so long with one scavenger. Michonne has kicked mucho tail since her arrival and one scavenger takes her out for the whole fight? But that big blowout with all the members of the three communities taking down The Scavengers was excellent. Ezekiel may be putting on a show, but man was he inspiring on the battlefield!
But this one battle definitely isn’t the end. Both The Saviors and The Alliance rallied the troops in impressive closing scenes. It was a nice touch having Maggie frame the war as the continued evolution of the Grimes Gang’s bond dating all the way back to when Glenn initially helped Rick.
Critics hated the goriness of Glenn and Abraham’s deaths, but it wasn’t the case of just killing off characters to kill them. Their deaths meant something and are serving as the driving force for a lot of the gang.
The First Day was one of the series’ best season finales. It provided the first big strike back against The Saviors, set the stage for Season 8’s Great War and set in motion several exciting subplots for next year. All without frustrating the fanbase with a major cliffhanger.
Rating: 9.5 out of 10
Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC