The Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 1 Review: Mercy

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Hope you're wearing your shittin' pants!

After an excruciatingly long six and half months The Walking Dead finally made its return, and it was well worth the wait.

The Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 1 set out to make a huge statement with its monumental 100th installment, and after all was said and done, it no doubt set the tone for what's to come this season.

Seeing Rick and company band together in finally taking the fight to Negan and the Saviors, made for an exceptional Season Premiere. If this episode proved anything, it's that Rick Grimes is a return to form this season.

Scouting The Area - The Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 1

Gone are the days of the sobbing, helpless, snot bubbling Rick whom we saw throughout most of The Walking Dead Season 7.

By the end of the episode, it's clear that the relentless and merciless Rick Grimes is back, and it's damn exciting.

The episode kicked off exactly where we left off on The Walking Dead Season 7 Episode 16, with Rick rallying the troops and delivering one hell of a motivational speech about all they've endured and the future that they can build for themselves.

It was a nice little recap to bring the viewers back into the fold and get the blood pumping again.

Heroes Unite - The Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 1

There has been a lot of speculation as to where Dwight's allegiance truly lies, but after witnessing how the episode played out, I'd say it's quite evident that he is definitively on Rick's side.

Dwight knows what Negan is capable of, and what he has done. So, if Dwight is able to give Rick an edge in putting an end to Negan's reign, why not take it? He's the perfect mole that can bring down the Saviors from the inside.

At this point, Dwight has nothing left to lose -- even death would be a better alternative than continuing to live under Negan's rule.

Having Dwight on team Rick is a huge asset, since Rick's plan to take the fight to Negan would not have been possible had it not been for Dwight's information on the Savior lookout points.

The scenes with Rick and Daryl tactically taking out the Saviors one by one was brilliant, and it aided them in being able to sneak their way to the compound undetected. Although, I kept wondering how long things would go according to plan.

Negan has always been one step ahead of everything Rick has attempted, so why should this situation be any different? 

Needless to say, I had concerns that this well prepared and thought out plan would be all for naught.

The Best Defense Is A Great Offense - The Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 1

Daryl leading the enormous herd to the compound was the icing on the cake. Rick knew he didn't have the numbers to go up against the Saviors head on. So, they gave themselves the numbers by using the horde.

Of course, anything could have gone awry at any point, especially when the walkers were such an integral part of executing their plan, but the amount of time and coordination that it took to bring it all together paid off.

Gregory: The Hilltop stands with...
Jesus: The Hilltop stands with Maggie!

For a guy who is as calculating as Negan, it's not easy to put one over on him and catch him off guard. It's only happened once with Sasha's suicide attack on The Walking Dead Season 7 Episode 16.

Similarly, Negan thought he had an ace in the hole with having the sleazy Gregory present, but his attempt to threaten the Hilltop members into submission fell on deaf ears. Gregory may be the face of the Hilltop, but Maggie is the person they'll follow.

At that point, Negan knew it was Rick who finally had the edge, and Rick counting Negan down was the perfect "stick it to him" moment.

You're gonna make me count?

Rick

During the initial assault, I found myself wondering why they were wasting all of that ammunition and shooting the glass of the compound, but it made sense from a tactical standpoint. Not only was that falling glass a weapon in itself to those inside, but it also paved the way in for the approaching horde.

Rick was hell-bent on taking Negan out, but it was not about him during that moment, and it took Gabriel's intervening to remind Rick of that.

In the end, Rick's group, along with the Kingdom and Hilltop completed what they set out to do, and that was to take a long overdue stand against the Saviors.

The More The Merrier - The Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 1

The only snag is that now Gabriel is holed up with Negan, who is the absolute last person you'd want to be hunkered down with. It does not bode well for Gabriel, and you know Negan will use him to his advantage in his retaliation against Rick.

I hope Alexandria, the Kingdom, and Hilltop are well prepared because once Negan does find a way out of his current predicament and regroup, the Saviors are going to be gunning for everyone.

Gabriel At The Ready - The Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 1

The only thing that detracted from the episode was the constant back and forth with the flashforwards.

It was difficult at times to determine if what we were watching was in real time, a flashfoward or a flashback. I can understand that these segments were used as a respite from the action, but they were used so abruptly at times that they did affect the momentum that had been built up moments prior.

It wasn't a deal breaker, but I feel these scenes would have served the episode better had they been used in their entirety. Instead, I was left feeling like a ping pong ball being bounced around.

And it's not just the back and forth that I found odd, but the repetitive nature of the scenes. A good handful of them were the exact same scene, just cut differently.

If we start tomorrow right now, everything we've beaten, everything we've endured, everything we've risen above, everything we've become ...if we start tomorrow right now, no matter what comes next, we've won ...we've already won!

Rick

The flashfowards were used to prepare us for a big time jump that's coming. When that jump will occur or how much time will pass remains to be seen; however, there were a few hints thrown in.

The beginning of the episode showed an approximately 4- to 5-year-old Judith, which would chronologically make sense. Yet, in the flashforward, she appeared at least six or seven years of age.

This means the time jump will be at the very least one to two years. Which would be the longest jump in time this series has seen to date. We also know that Rick had an obvious limp and using a cane to get around, which could likely be attributed to an injury suffered during the war with Negan more than anything.

Perhaps what's most interesting about this glimpse into the future, is that it reveals that Rick likely does eventually win the war with Negan, but at what cost? The price they pay and the sacrifices they make in order to obtain that peace will be part of this season's focus.

The Calm Before The Storm - The Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 1

This episode was a solid start to The Walking Dead Season 8. It put all of the pieces into motion and with Rick striking first, it set up what is sure to be an intense season.

Other nuggets from the episode:

  • What was up with that guy that Rick chased off and Carl later brought food to? Will he come into play down the road or was that scene used to basically present Rick and Carl's differing views?
  • For an episode with the title "Mercy," there was certainly little present with the exception of Gabriel trying to help Gregory.
  • Speaking of Gregory, that guy needs to be walker fodder already. What a waste of life.
  • Whose graves could those have been that Rick was standing over? Judging by his red teary eyes, it's obviously someone close to him. Based on the flash forward, it's not Michonne, Carl or Judith, but everyone else is fair game at this point. Dare I say...even Daryl? 
  • Morgan killing the Savior with his spiked staff was so exciting. Morgan's back baby!
  • I thoroughly enjoyed the attention to detail of the recreation the first time we met Rick on The Walking Dead Season 1 Episode 1, only this time with the focus on Carl. At 100 episodes in, it was a fun little nod to the episode that started it all.

What did you think of "Mercy"? Was it worth the wait? Hit the comments below and let me know your thoughts.

Remember, you can always watch The Walking Dead online right here at TV Fanatic.

The Walking Dead returns with a new episode next Sunday, October 29.

Mercy Review

Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.4 / 5.0 (48 Votes)

Steven Ford is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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The Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 1 Quotes

Rick: The Hilltop's lucky to have you.
Maggie: You showed me how to be someone worth following.

Rick: This isn't about me.
Gabriel: Yes it is, you made it like that.