Previously on The Walking Dead, “The First Day of the Rest of Your Life”
Undeterred by the Junkyardigans’ betrayal and another near-victory for Negan, Rick and company decide to take the fight to the Saviors. “Mercy” unfolds in true The Walking Dead fashion with flash-forwards and flashbacks designed to make you question the plan and whether or not it will be successful. It doesn’t always work, but it sticks here; the tension builds steadily and the stakes actually feel high.
It’s not clear how much time has passed since the season seven finale. Enough time for Judith to be an older toddler (though I’m sure we’re not supposed to notice or believe that actual years have passed), but pregnant Maggie’s stomach is still annoyingly flat. Enough time that they’ve managed to track the Savior’s lookout posts and other compounds, and monitor a traveling herd of walkers. Enough time that Carl is once again over his father’s shit. Enough time that Daryl and Dwight have devised a communication system that involves shooting arrows at each other with their crossbows. Enough time that Morgan is once again killing motherfuckers with no qualms or regrets. No word yet on whether or not Tobin and Carol have had the “Girl, where the hell you been?” talk.
Then there are the glimpses of the future featuring a completely gray-haired (and thinning haired) Rick who walks with a cane, Carl with more bass in his voice, Judith now walking and talking like she’s ready for kindergarten, and Michonne still looking like yesterday cause melanin is magic. These scenes are made even more confusing when they’re spliced with extreme close-ups of a red-eyed, sweaty Rick, and it doesn’t look like he’s doing well at all.
Back to present day, though, and Alexandria has now formerly aligned with Hilltop and The Kingdom. They’re about to launch a multi-pronged attack that relies on luring a herd of walkers with gunfire and explosives and depositing them on the Sanctuary’s doorstep. While Carol, Morgan, Daryl, Tara, and others handle that, Rick, Maggie, Jesus, Gabriel, Enid, and Ezekiel lead their crew to the Sanctuary to draw Negan out. Rick offers Negan’s five lieutenants (Simon, Gavin, Dwight, Regina, and Eugene) and anyone else who wants it, safe passage if they give up now. Negan, though? Oh, he gotta die. Dems the rules.
This is all for show, of course, because once they hear the explosions that signal the walkers arrival, Rick and crew lay down a shitton of gunfire meant to be the final beacon for the herd. As they prepare to leave, Rick has to be coaxed by Gabriel to stop firing on Negan and go. This isn’t about Rick. This isn’t about revenge. Except it kinda is. Still, Rick leaves, but Gabriel stays behind to help Gregory who has been discarded by the Saviors after they realize he no longer controls Hilltop. Since no good deed goes unpunished, Gregory thanks Gabe and then promptly steals his car and leaves Gabe to seek shelter from the incoming herd. He hides in a trailer and finds that he’s now sharing space with none other than Negan. Talk about going from the frying pan into the fire.
The first part of the plan was a success if you don’t count losing Gabriel and Negan still breathing. But the there’s little time to celebrate as they now have to dismantle Negan’s many outposts, and Carol and Ezekiel are met with a grenade when they arrive at their first one.
Bites & Pieces
While setting up for their ambush, Carl runs into a man who’s more crazy and hungry than he is sketchy, but that doesn’t stop Rick from firing warning shots to scare the man off. Later, Carl returns to the spot where he saw the man and leaves food and an apology note as the stranger watches from the bushes. Awww. Carl’s bout to get a friend, y’all.
Michonne, Carl, and Rosita sat out the action to stay behind and guard Alexandria.
The look Negan gives Gavin when he requests some more time to ponder Rick’s offer was hilarious and it almost certainly will come back to bite him in the ass or head… with a barbed-wire covered baseball bat.
What did you think of the episode? Leave your brief thoughts below or on our Facebook post for this review, and we’ll read them on tonight’s podcast.
The Walking Dead S8E1 Review Score
Starring: Andrew Lincoln, Danai Gurira, Lauren Cohan, Chandler Riggs, Melissa McBride, Lennie James, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Norman Reedus, Alanna Masterson, Josh McDermitt, Christian Serratos, Seth Gilliam, Ross Marquand, Khary Payton