Spoiler warning for anyone who hasn't yet watched The Walking Dead's Season 7 finale.
Outside of overtly direct moments such as Rick's phone cals with Lori and Tyreese's hallucinations, The Walking Dead hasn't spent a lot of time dwelling on its deceased characters, but Season 7 honored both Glenn and Abraham in multiple ways since their shared slaughter in the season premiere. Tonight's finale offered up the biggest and best callback of the bunch, though, with actor Michael Cudlitz making a surprise reappearance as Abraham for some emotionally sound scenes with Sasha as she was on her way to joining the choir invisible.
Not that The Walking Dead retconned Abraham's death and brought him back in the flesh. Rather, he appeared inside of Sasha's memories while she was cooped up inside that coffin on the way to Alexandria with Negan & Co. Having already set herself down the path of no return with the pills Eugene gave her, Sasha repeatedly drifted back to one of Abraham's last stress-free moments as a member of the living. While it's not explicitly clear if everything Sasha is thinking about happened in full exactly like that, or if she is just allowing her regrets to manifest, it appears as if Sasha made a very strong attempt to convince Abraham that they should stay in Alexandria while everyone else attempted to take Maggie to Hilltop. She wasn't into eating snakes.
Fans will remember in the Season 6 finale when Rick was readying the RV to head out, the trio of Abraham, Sasha and Eugene approached with guns at the ready, and Abraham declared they were also going, with Sasha saying "Package deal." She smiled then, but as we learned here in the finale, Sasha apparently had quite the prophetic dream about Abraham's beach-bound death that day, and she was nearly pleading with him to sit that mission out. But because a good soldier puts the good of the many above the good of the few, there was no chance Abraham was going to back down. It's that mindset that actress Sonequa Martin-Green had brought up in the past as a motivating factor in aiming to take Negan down, and it's the mindset that Sasha takes with her back to Alexandria. Not the "Maggie's gotta take care of Maggie" one.
Look at how Eugene is looking at her there, like he thinks she's the one to blame for them tagging along on this adventure. Knowing what we do now of Eugene and his fractured loyalties, I wouldn't be surprised. He obviously now blames himself for supplying Sasha with the means to her own end, even if he's not going to admit that to Negan. And the big bad is probably suspicious anyway, so that already doesn't bode well for Eugene in Season 8. But that's for later.
Considering how rarely The Walking Dead brings former actors back after their characters are long dead, Abraham and Michael Cudlitz lucked out in "The First Day of the Rest of Your Life." As other characters' returns have gone, the moment was played for its emotional strengths over giving Abraham another shot at mowing walkers down with one weapon or another. Though Abraham's temporary resurgence may not have been necessary for any other reason, it speaks strongly to how important Scott Gimple and his creative team saw Sasha's sacrificial death, and it worked well. Especially as a lead-up to Shiva.
Even though The Walking Dead will eventually come back to viewers for Season 8 later this year on AMC, I don't think we'll be seeing one Abraham Ford in live-action ever again. But then, stranger things have happened, I guess. Check out all the strange things coming to the small screen in the coming months -- sadly not including Netflix's Stranger Things, which returns in October -- head to our midseason premiere schedule and our summer TV guide.