After a cliff-hanger of an ending in season 7 of AMC’s The Walking Dead, you would expect that season 8 would start off with a bang. Despite making a valiant effort to make a ‘bang’, quite literally, with explosions and visual effects, the first episode of season 8 ‘Mercy’ was subpar at best.
It starts off strong, with Rick making an impactful speech that unites everybody (and I mean EVERYBODY) together against the loveable villain Negan and his squad of Lieutenants. With Unity in mind, the Hilltops, Saviours and Rick’s squad vow to join arms in order take the fight to Negan. We see the team split a apart because of the battle that happened at the end of season 7 with Carol and Tara resting over a highway of ‘Walkers’. Darryl is shooting explosives to set up traps for Negan’s men and Maggie had asserted herself as the leader of the Hilltops group.
But what was most interesting about this episode was the random flash-forward that showed grandpa Rick waking up to a ‘Heaven’ like colony, where he wakes up to a breakfast with Michone, Karl and Judith. This was the real head spinner because you really don’t know if he was just dreaming or if this was actually a flash-forward to what we can expect after Negan.
The climax of this episode begins when the the two sides of this war finally meet face-to-face (sort of; they were hiding) and Negan walks out with all of his lieutenants into open space. Despite having orders from Rick to shoot Negan on site, no one ever thinks to shoot him right there and then when he walks out (This episode could have ended in 20 minutes). Negan and Rick go back & forth between who knows what the bigger plan is and then all hell rains out with gun fire and zombies coming from all directions. Rick definitely won this first battle in their war, bringing the fight to Negan with explosives set in vehicles and bombarding his camp. This leaves Negan and his squad in a bad position, but despite that, Rick was not able to get off a shot to kill Negan.
Despite winning the battle, Rick hasn’t won the war yet. We finish off the episode with Father Gabriel stuck in a trailer with Negan and that leads me to believe that Father Gabriel may be on his way out of the series. Despite having world wide popularity, the first episode of season 8 hit an all time low of viewership for Walking Dead season premieres and although it was quite anti-climatic, it does make us want to wait to watch it again this Sunday.