Spoilers will be present for the episode, so proceed at your own risk!
The Walking Dead returned for its eighth season this past Sunday evening, and for the most part the premiere was one big boring setup for the season’s main event, which will be a war between Negan and his Saviors, and Rick and his followers, which now includes King Ezekiel’s Kingdom, and Maggie’s Hilltop (sorry Gregory). The episode, which is titled, ‘Mercy’, featured a long tense build-up to a battle to end all battles, but by the time the battle went down, it felt more like a backyard brawl than the attack that will break Negan’s hold over those living within his territory. Nothing really happens at all, and outside of two flash forwards — one of which is probably a dream scenario and not reality — there was no narrative meat to the plot.
If anything, this episode showed once again that Rick’s hubris, which we thought he lost in Season 7, hasn’t been too far beneath the surface of his faux compliance from last season. All this episode really showed us that is no matter how hard Rick tries to get the upper hand on Negan, he will pay in the end for his wrath. That was depicted in the flash forward that showed Rick crying over two graves and looking very distressed over certain decisions he has made. By the looks of it, Rick’s actions in this episode have set him up to fail, at least in terms of keeping his people and close friends safe.
Even though this episode was a bit dull, it still had six key moments that provided some entertainment or insights into the season’s events as it moves forward. Below you will find the moments that I deemed to be important from ‘Mercy’.
Top 6 Moments from ‘Mercy’
1. The Opening War Montage
The best moments from this episode all took place during the extended opening montage, which featured glances at Rick’s war party preparing for their attack on Negan’s campaign. Rick gave an impassioned, if not a bit cocky speech on how he and the other camps have all but won the war against Negan, because it is their right to be in control or some other narcissistic claim. Of course Maggie — the clear leader of Hilltop — and King Ezekiel had a few motivational words to say as well. These groups are overly confident for no real reason, which will definitely cost them all in the end.
We also got to see how two former mortal enemies are working together thanks to the arrow note exchanges between Daryl and Dwight. While they were playing secret messenger Carol and Tara were playing Walker wranglers by diverting a horde of zombies towards the Savior’s sanctuary.
Although, the most important aspect of this opening montage has to be the two flash forwards we see for Rick. The more recent looking one with him lamenting his choices over two graves is the one to key on, because it shows us that Rick’s decisions this season to go on the attack and fuel his wrath are going to cost him dearly. It’s not clear who the graves belong to, but if I were a betting man I’d say one of them is at least for Carl or Michonne due to how devastated Rick appears. The far future flash forward on the other hand has to be a diversion, because the way it is filmed with the blurry lens leads one to believe that it is a dream of what could have been, versus what actually happens. The fact that his family and lover are in it just reinforce that Rick is probably having this dream due to the fact that he loses Michonne or Carl, and therefore spoils his perfect future.
2. Carl and the Hungry Man
While Rick is planning his attack we see Carl run into a survivor who is hungry, but before Carl could talk to him Rick shows up and scares him away with gun fire. Carl later returns and leaves food for the man and an apology note for his Dad’s rash actions. We get to see the man, who stares creepily at Carl as he leaves the food. I’m guessing this scene wasn’t just shot for shits and giggles, so there’s almost a 100% chance that this mysterious Hungry Man somehow manages to fuck up Carl’s and/or Rick’s lives. Stay tuned on this dude.
3. Daryl-Bo and Morgan-Bo
These two channeled their inner Rambo in this episode, so while their attacks on Negan’s lookouts weren’t huge moments in the episode, one had to appreciate how lethal and ninja-like they were. We all knew Daryl was a badass, but after last season’s events Morgan now too is a lethal killing machine, so it was thrilling to see how brutal these two have become towards Negan’s followers.
4. Negan’s Cockiness
After an insane amount of build-up Rick and Negan finally square off at Negan’s compound, and as expected Negan isn’t phased in the least by Rick’s show of force. Negan essentially makes fun of Rick and calls him out for putting his people in harm’s way to prove who has a bigger dick. Negan’s cockiness wasn’t a surprise, but what it showed is that he definitely has something planned for Rick that no one is expecting. Either that, or he just felt he couldn’t show his concern in front of his Lieutenants out of fear of losing his control over him. I just feel his response to Rick’s attack was vintage Negan, but also hinted that he has plans that run deeper than just one encounter.
5. Negan Wounded
Due to Rick not knowing how to count down from 10 Negan catches a bullet and gets wounded during Rick’s shower of bullets. By the way, aren’t bullets a commodity these days? Why the hell was everyone just blindly firing them into the windows of the Savior’s compound? Anyway, Negan getting wounded is more of a symbolic event than anything else. It proves that he isn’t untouchable, but it also gives Negan another reason to be as ruthless as possible to anyone outside of his followers, so it will only stoke the fire between him and Rick.
6. Gabe’s Mercy
Father Gabriel is no longer a little wuss, but he also can’t help himself from saving others, even when they don’t deserve to be saved. Just as Rick and his warriors are leaving Negan and his followers for dead, Gabe spots Gregory the Loser calling for help after being cast aside by Simon after no one from the Hilltop obeyed his orders. Gabe shows him mercy and runs out to save him, but Gregory does what Gregory does and runs away and steals Gabe’s car. Gabe is left to hide in a trailer as the zombie horde floods Negan’s compound, but unfortunately for him this trailer is also where the wounded Negan holed up. Due to Gabe’s mercy, he is now a prisoner of Negan’s and will either meet Lucille early on, or be used as bait to goad Rick into doing something stupid. Just when Gabe is starting to become a badass he gets himself caught! Such is life on The Walking Dead.
- It was surprising to see how accepting Michonne and Carl were of being forced to stay home as Rick heads out for the attack on Negan’s compound.
- What the hell was Rick taking a picture of while attacking the compound, or why was he taking polaroids? Maybe a callback to Negan’s polaroids of his victim’s smashed heads?
- Who is in the two graves and when will we find out? Final episode type of stuff, or maybe a midseason finale reveal?
- The old man Rick flash forward has to be a dream situation just like the big dinner with Glenn and Abe from last season.
“Making you a better geek, one post at a time!”