History probably won't look at The Walking Dead's seventh season too kindly. However, despite the ratings dip the series suffered after a brutal premiere, it's still a show with a dedicated fanbase. AMC needn't worry too much.
Still, it would behoove the show to avoid some of its cardinal sins — namely, the frustrating cliffhangers — as we gear up for the season seven finale on Sunday night. There's still a lot that's poised to happen: Alexandria just got the weapons it needed, Dwight is now a possible turncoat, the Kingdom is ready for war and Gregory might be giving up Maggie to the Saviors. And we haven't even mentioned Sasha yet.
That's a lot to get through in just one episode, but The Walking Dead has been juggling multiple storylines, and communities, for the greater part of this season. Here's five things the series needs to accomplish come Sunday.
1. Reveal Eugene and Dwight's true loyalties
It's to actor Josh McDermitt's credit that we can't definitely say whether Eugene really is a full-fledged Savior. If push came to shove, I'd say his loyalty to Negan is legit, on account of how terrified he is of Negan's wrath after what he saw happen to Glenn and Abraham in the premiere. He said just as much to an imprisoned Sasha in episode 15.
But that could always change in the finale — say, if Eugene sees what Negan does to Sasha or other members of Alexandria. Regardless, having a clearer answer on Eugene's true loyalty would satisfy fans during the show's hiatus.
Similarly, we should get a better idea of Dwight's sudden change of heart, and whether or not it's real. Season seven has gone to great lengths to convince viewers that Dwight is a complicated character, though his grieving process for his former wife Sherry leaving the Sanctuary was to blame her disappearance on the in-house doctor, who was then burned alive by Negan. Not exactly the stuff of heroes.
Best case: Dwight does turn on the Saviors and becomes a valuable asset to Alexandria. Worst case: He's full of a shit, so he and Daryl finally throw down.
2. RIP, Sasha
We've laid out the evidence several times, but Sasha is a goner. I'd be willing to put my year's salary on it. This has less to do with the chances of Sasha dying (very high) and more to do with The Walking Dead's propensity to stall important events for several weeks — or with Negan's case, a season hiatus where fans had to wait to find out who met the end of his bat.
We don't need any more stalling on Sasha's fate, Sonequa Martin-Green has to get started on her new Star Trek series, and the show needs to move on from her assassination attempt that was doomed from the get-go.
3. Get the war started
As I mentioned earlier, there's a lot of moving pieces with the show ahead of the finale, and plenty that would ostensibly precede Rick's showdown with Negan. However, even if the "All Out War" isn't finished by the end of the finale — and it probably won't be, considering all the hype — it has to get started.
To put it another way, a good chunk of fans have been surprisingly patient with The Walking Dead ever since it asked viewers to wait for a new season to find out who Negan killed. The payoff for season seven's occasionally stagnant narrative would be the epic battle against Negan and the Saviors. Completely delaying those events for even longer might test even more fans' patience — and eventually, even the most dedicated viewers might decide to jump ship.
4. Give fans a Whisperers tease?
To be clear: The Walking Dead shouldn't be doing anything related to the Whisperers, it's way too early to introduce the next villains in the series. But they brought this onto themselves, by teasing the Whisperers all the way back in October (seriously!).
An Instagram post from October was a direct nod to a Whisperers moment from the comics, when they give Alexandria an ominous warning by presenting the head of an Alexandrian on a spike. Many comic book fans made the obvious connection, which — again, if you post this image ahead of your season seven premiere — would lead said fans to believe we were going to get a Whisperers tease at some point.
The Walking Dead should deliver on this promise, otherwise, it's another case of the series building up hype for a much later payoff. That's not a good look.
5. Please, please show Shiva killing something
The CGI tiger Shiva is one of my favorite parts of The Walking Dead. Why? She's a fucking tiger — no further explanation needed. Sadly, we've barely seen Shiva on-screen since her introduction, which is likely because she actually looks somewhat realistic. In other words, the opposite of that really depressing CGI deer from episode 12.
However, if we don't really get to the Saviors-Alexandria showdown, we need a little taste of Shiva action. Even if it's just Shiva attacking a zombie.
AMC has made some questionable decisions with The Walking Dead, but this one is simple. You have a tiger on the show, you use the tiger to eat and kill things. Please do this one thing.
The Walking Dead season seven finale premieres Sunday at 9 p.m. Eastern on AMC.
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