The seventh season of "The Walking Dead" ended the only way the show knows how to end — or begin — anything, with violence.
After a savage season opener in which bad guy Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) bludgeoned not one, but two characters to death with his barbed-wire-wrapped bat, the season finale attempted to close with a little hope. Unfortunately, "The Walking Dead" version of hope is always delivered via gunfire, flesh-eating and death. And Sunday had all three!
So what did we learn from the Season 7 fare thee well? We made a list.
Warning: spoilers ahead.
Sasha made the ultimate sacrifice
Many fans saw the writing on the wall for actress Sonequa Martin-Green when she was cast in the upcoming CBS online series "Star Trek: Discovery." However, it's doubtful they pictured her "Walking Dead" character Sasha going out à la coffin surprise!
A large chunk of the finale was told through Sasha's flashbacks. Imprisoned by the villain, Sasha is told she's being sent back to Alexandria in hopes of forcing Rick (Andrew Lincoln) back under the thumb of Negan and his Saviors. Sasha, however has other plans.
After consuming a poison pill while locked inside her travel coffin, Sasha spends her hours-long journey back to Alexandria listening to an iPod and dreaming of friendlier times. Upon arrival, Sasha will have already died and transformed (rather quickly) into a flesh-crazed walker. Her big reveal creates the diversion Rick and friends need to turn the tables on the Saviors and the double-crossing Scavengers.
Fingers crossed that Sasha's sacrifice amounts to something greater in the next season. She was a complex warrior whose struggles made for truly gripping television. The selfless act was very in character for Sasha, and despite this whole season already feeling like a war between the Alexandrians and the Saviors, it further amped up the stakes for the inevitable showdown, which hopefully will screen sometime next season as this bloodbath shambles on.
Abraham died for the future
Sasha's flashbacks brought back her short-lived romance with Abraham (Michael Cudlitz). Her memory of the day before Abraham's journey to help Maggie and her baby — which ultimately led to his death at the end of Negan's bloody bat — was bittersweet. Turns out Sasha predicted his demise and begged him not to go (isn't that always the way).
Alas, Abraham would not be deterred from his path. He was willing to sacrifice it all for the children, because they are the only future that can deliver us from the end of days. (Cue Whitney Houston's "The Greatest Love of All.")
Overall, in the face of a rapidly declining roll call of "Walking Dead" characters we're excited to spend time with on this series, it really was nice to see Abe again. And now we know why he did what he had to do; blame the children.
Showmanship still reigns in the apocalypse
In an apocalyptic wasteland where simple things like pudding are a special treat, one would think that dramatic reveals would take a back seat. Fortunately for fans of maniacal laughs and monologuing villains, Negan is still on this show. This is the guy who serves up a breakfast of pancakes with a blueberry smile the day he's asked you to pick out a friend to die. So if he's going to drive several hours to start a war in another town, you can bet Negan's going to bring props.
Hence, the scene-stealing, Sasha-bearing coffin.
True, it's Sasha's decision to ride in the casket (so she can secretly commit suicide and transform into a walker without anyone knowing), but why was this coffin there in the first place? Do you think Negan workshopped this reveal in some sort of wacky prop storage facility? Did it start off as a basket? Or a giant cardboard cake? The mental gymnastics one has to do to understand why Negan would want to waste gas lugging this giant joke of a reveal all the way across town are extensive.
But hey, now we have this image so win-win, right?
No one suspects a tiger
Just when all is seemingly lost for the heroes of Alexandria, King Ezekiel (a character who talks like he's in an entirely different show than the rest of the cast, played by Khary Payton) shows up with his feline companion. Off the leash the tiger kills a Savior mid-swing and saves Carl's (Chandler Riggs) life.
How this cat knows how to differentiate between the "bad guys" and the "good guys" is fascinating. Good job, tiger.
Eugene has learned nothing
After years of character development and heroic deeds, it turns out that Eugene (Josh McDermitt) is still the lying coward we were introduced to in Season 4. He's playing for Team Saviors now.
Savior turncoat Dwight (Austin Amelio) was in the dark about the eventual betrayal by the Scavengers as evidenced by the "Didn't Know" message he scrawled on the wooden toy soldier, which is good intel going into Season 8.
If this is your version of hope, we’ll take death, thanks
Michonne (Danai Gurira) repeats the phrase "We're the ones who survive" over and over again while getting absolutely pummeled by a Scavenger. Because Michonne is amazing, she survives. Her mantra is the jumping-off point for Maggie's (Lauren Cohan) big voice-over. The message was all about how the survivors were destined to fight for each other.
It's a call to arms for the surrounding survivors, which is odd as this whole season was set up to be a Negan vs. the survivors showdown and that didn't actually happen. At all. Even in the finale!
The last scenes showed Negan commanding his troops. So our best guess is that Season 8 will deliver the undead war we've all been waiting for since we started this little end-of-the-world drama inside a hospital with a comatose cop coming to life in a world he no longer recognizes. Right?