And here I was thinking The Walking Dead was un-dead and buried.
After one of the worst cliffhangers in television history, followed by the worst season of The Walking Dead, it seemed like the show was following the example of Heroes, starting out as a fantastic show before eventually fading into downright stupidity and ridiculousness and then finally ending to the relief of everyone.
Which is why I am overjoyed to say The Walking Dead has crawled out its grave prematurely to deliver an exciting season premiere and 100th episode with Mercy.
The show runners seem to have taken the complaints about season seven into account because when viewing this episode it no longer feels slow and struggling for ideas.
This is all out war and it certainly shows.
Mercy is kind of like the season six premiere as the story is told in different timelines, although this time there are more timelines and it is not very clear which is happening when, with a few exceptions.
In this episode we see Rick leading Alexandria, the Hilltop and The Kingdom’s forces to attack The Sanctuary and bring an end to Negan’s reign once and for all… but since this is only the beginning of the season we all knew it was not going to go down like that.
The opening moments of the episode are certainly thrilling, as we see Rick and the group take out Savior lookouts on the way to the Sanctuary.
This has probably my favorite moment of the episode, when a Savior that Rick takes down taunts him, telling him how he saw Rick cry and beg during the season seven premiere and saying Negan will kill Carl.
It is then that Rick, rightfully so, allows the man to be eaten by a Walker.
It is brutal and shows that, although Rick believes only Negan has to die at this stage, he is not above killing anyone else to achieve that goal.
This episode has plenty of callbacks, it being the 100th episode and all, including a shot for shot recreation of the first episode’s opening scene, only it is Carl instead of Rick.
It is in this scene where Carl comes across a mysterious man who most people seem to theorize is Siddiq but since this person looks nothing like the Siddiq from the comics I think he is someone else.
We’ll have to see what part he has to play in the coming story.
The confrontation with Negan at his factory brought a smile to my face as Negan and Rick’s roles seemed to have reversed, with Rick having the upper hand and reminding Negan of how weak he made the group feel and now how strong they are compared to him.
“Are you going to make me count?” Rick asks, repeating a line Negan spoke to him in the season seven premiere.
The shootout that follows is intense and shows Rick’s dedication to killing Negan, completing ignoring an advancing Walker herd.
It is Gabriel who snaps Rick out of it and urges him to leave with the others.
God bless Gabriel, the TV version of him is so much better than the comic book version.
A rare occurrence when a TV character is better than their comic book counterpart, in terms of The Walking Dead.
However not all is good for Gabriel because he risks his life to safe the cowardly Gregory, despite his betrayal, only for Gregory to steal his car and leave him to die.
While it is great to see how much Gabriel has changed during his time on the show, (at the beginning he wouldn’t risk his life to save people he knew and now he is risking his life for someone he barely knows and betrayed them) this can only lead to bad things for him.
Sure enough it does, with Gabriel being trapped in a trailer with Negan.
“I hope you got your s$*!ing pants on,” he says.
We do Negan, we certainly do.
However, although this episode is a great step in the right direction for The Walking Dead, not everything is perfect.
The uncanny valley, in terms of special effects, in this episode is very apparent like in the previous seasons.
For example, Shiva the tiger looks very realistic with its CGI however a shot of a car exploding looks unbelievably fake and made me wonder why they couldn’t just blow it up practically, they did it later in the episode.
Also, while the multiple timeline idea is a very intriguing way to style the episode, I do have a problem with the Old Man Rick timeline.
Fans who have not read the comics will not know what this means but as someone who has read the comics I think this spoils the events of all out war and removes all tension surrounding who will live and die.
Because of this Old Man Rick timeline fans will now have no reason to think Rick, Michonne, Carl or Judith will die during all out war because we see them in this future timeline.
Instead of actually showing this timeline they should have just hinted at it with maybe a few shots of Rick’s cane, the flowers and Old Man Rick himself.
However, other than these problems this was a great way to start season eight and I can’t wait to see how the rest of the season will go.
Hopefully The Walking Dead will go all out for all out war.