After capturing her last week, Negan wants to use Sasha to his advantage in “The First Day of the Rest of Your Life.” Of course, Rick and the rest of Alexandria are preparing to go to war with the Saviors with their new Junkyard allies. Maggie and the Hilltop are also preparing to be Rick’s secret weapons in the fight. Even the Kingdom is ready to stop hiding. The tension that has been brewing since the audience saw the first swing of Negan’s bat comes to a head.

Abraham returns

It might all be in Sasha’s head, or in her memories at that, but the return of Abraham is a welcome one since there’s such a focus on the possibility of her impending death.

Michael Cudlitz was such a fun addition to the show with his one-liners and his fantastic delivery of the most outrageous dialogue.

Seeing fan favorites is such a welcome surprise on “The Walking Dead” since once a character is dead, they’re either a walker or gone for good. Character moments like the ones Sasha and Abraham get in these flashback scenes are so great, and I wish things like that could have been done without the theatrics of the coffin or the labored breathing or the dozen other things the writers decided to do.

There is way too much teasing of a death

At seven seasons into the show, the audience knows that there’s likely going to be at least a death or two in a season finale. “The Walking Dead” has a TV savvy audience at this point.

It knows how many fake outs there have been when it comes to character deaths and it has fans who are obsessive in their quest for spoilers. These fans know that Sonequa Martin-Green is signed to another series as the lead. They don’t need to constantly be reminded that she’s marked for death in this episode. A writer can give an actor an intense episode without it being spelled out in flashing neon lights that they’re likely going to die.

I would have rather been surprised by the reveal of zombie-Sasha emerging from the coffin and taking out a few Saviors than have seen it coming a mile away.

The Heapsters turn on Alexandria

Now, this was a surprising addition to the episode. Given how hard Rick had to work to get the Heapsters on his side, I didn’t expect these junkyard residents to be on Negan’s side when the fight got going.

It’s inevitable, of course, that something in Rick’s plan would go wrong. It always does. But this was certainly not the direction that seemed likely.

What was nice is that we do get confirmation that Dwight isn’t on Negan’s side. He leaves a chess piece in the gate with the note “didn’t know” scribbled onto it to make the point that he didn’t know just what Negan had planned. At least the group still has one ally.

Rick’s got his fire back

We all knew he was ready for a fight since he managed to rally his people and go on a search for guns, but faced with Negan, again, threatening to kill Carl and take his hands, Rick essentially tells Negan to do his worst, but he’s still going to kill him. Rick has finally got to the point that he’s accepted that there’s a possibility he won’t be able to save Carl one day, but he can still avenge him.

This moment is great and all, because it does signify that Rick is all-in for this fight against the Saviors, but it’s topped by the cavalry saving the day in the form of Shiva eating a Savior and Maggie leading people from the Hilltop to take out a whole contingent of them. Seeing the Hilltop, the Kingdom, and Alexandria presenting a united front is almost worth the drawn-out storytelling and visible signs of Sasha’s end.

The verdict and what’s next

Like much of the season, “The First Day of the Rest of Your Life” was drawn out too long for only a few minutes of action, teasing story beats that the audience could see coming, and all around uneven. It did have its moments, though.

3 out of 5 stars

The Walking Dead” doesn’t return until October, but when it does, it’s with the 100th episode of the series. Before that, its sister series “Fear The Walking Dead” returns in June.