The Walking Dead S08E01 “Mercy” REVIEW

The Walking Dead S08E01 “Mercy” REVIEW

0 comments 📅23 October 2017, 21:05

Airing in the UK on FOX, Mondays at 9pm
Scott M Gimple,
Director: Greg Nicotero

Previously on The Walking Dead

  • In an effort to secure their future, Rick and co thought they wiped out the Saviors gang. In reality, they killed a tiny portion of them and their leader, Negan, came looking for vengeance,.
  • He found it by murdering Abe and Glen.
  • For weeks, the Saviors dominated every community. But slowly, thanks to the efforts of Maggie, Sasha, Rick, Tara and the others, that changed.
  • Sasha gave her life in a failed, but brilliant, attempt to kill Negan. All out war was declared and Alexandria, Hilltop and The Kingdom stand together. But will it be enough?…

Essential Plot Points:

  • A walking stick. Some flowers, Rick standing over Glen and Abe’s graves.
  • Rick addresses the combined forces of the three groups. He swears that only Negan will have to die and he will kill him himself.
  • Maggie and Ezekiel tag in. Ezekiel, because he’s amazing, quotes Shakespeare. Maggie, because she’s even more amazing, ties it all together. The future is their’s. The world is their’s.
  • At the compound, Dwight gets a message via Arrow: TOMORROW
  • He writes a reply, and fires it out past the line to a waiting Daryl.
  • Carol and Tara (rocking both some red vines and some AWESOME shades this week) prepare an ambush…
  • A colossal herd wanders by on the highway beneath where Tara and Carol are hiding.
  • And Rick, with far more of a beard, wakes up…
  • Carl is out scavenging for fuel. Every Walker he finds is long, long decayed. Everything is terrifyingly quiet. Then a man starts talking. He’s rambling, , talking about the importance of helping the traveller. Carl confronts him when shots ring out and Rick chases him off. Carl is not happy.
  • We see a list being ticked off. It’s Lookouts for the Saviors. One after another, they’re killed. One is taken down by Morgan with unusual, brutal efficiency.
  • Daryl rolls up on Carol and Tara’s position. Rick kisses Baby (Not so much Baby anymore) Judith goodbye. And Michonne and Carl too. Then, he drives off, leading a fleet of cars with fortifications welded to their sides. Rosita and Michonne, both too badly hurt to go, watching them leave. Michonne tells Carl he’ll be in charge of defending Alexandria, and she’ll stand with him.
  • Rick mauls the last lookout. Coughing up blood, he mocks Rick and tells him Carl is doomed. Rick unleashes a Walker on him and gives the word, the Fleet roll up.
  • Rick, Maggie and Ezekiel’s forces meet up and prepare the ground.
  • Tara, Carol, Daryl and Morgan are on the bridge. Whatever they’re waiting for is seconds away. Tara counts down and…nothing.
  • A few seconds late, the Herd appears and they roll out ahead of it, blowing up a derelict car as they go.  The noise attracts the Saviors and they roll out heavy. Ten people. Two cars.
  • Darryl, Carol, Morgan and Tara set an ambush.
  • At the Savior compound, Dwight watches as two guards are killed.
  • The fleet of fortified cars (Including a new Mad Max-ified RV!) roll up and form a barricade. Maggie leads a fire team up to them, gives a signal and they fire three rounds into the air.
  • Nothing. Then, Negan.
  • We see a flash of Rick, eyes red with tears. We see Old Rick. He gets up, smiles at Michonne and Carl.
  • In the present, Negan has no interest at all in war. He wants to talk. He asks Rick what he wants. Rick names Negan’s war council one by one, including a visibly uncomfortable Eugene. Rick asks for their surrender. One time deal.
  • Negan monologues. And, with theatrical aplomb, brings Gregory out. Gregory declares that the Hilltop stands with the Saviors and anyone who perpetuates rebellion will be exiled.
  • The Hilltop residents hesitate and Maggie tells them all to do what they need to do.
  • No one moves.
  • At the ambush site, Morgan takes a Walker down seconds before it triggers the booby trap.
  • The Saviors drive through the booby trap and it explodes. Negan begins to realize that things are not going his way this time.
  • Rick counts down. And on ‘7!’ he opens up. The others follow and pepper the building with weapons fire.
  • At the ambush, Tara and Morgan roll out. Carol does the same after hugging Daryl and wishing him good luck. Daryl is going to lead the herd somewhere…
  • The RV is sent rolling towards the Saviors’ compound. On Gabriel’s signal, Rick blows it up. NOOOOOOO!
  • Negan, wounded and outnumbered, is hiding behind the shattered armored nose of the RV. Rick is all set to go full Captain Ahab and die ending him when Gabriel pulls him out. Rick grabs a Polaroid camera and takes a photo of him cowering before leaving.
  • Gabriel is all set to go when he sees Gregory in trouble. VISIBLY furious at what he knows he has to do, Gabriel goes after him. Only for Gregory to abandon the Priest and roll out in his own car.
  • Carl goes back to the filling station where Rick scared the guy off. He leaves two cans and a note ‘SORRY’.
  • Carol arrives back at the Kingdom and Ezekiel grins.
  • Rick realizes that Gabriel isn’t coming and tells Daryl what happened. Daryl asks if he’s okay and Rick replies with Gabriel’s own words: ‘It isn’t about me.’
  • Rick and Daryl lead a second assault on the Observatory. Carol and Ezekiel lead a third front.
  • The Saviors Compound is gone, overwhelmed by the Herd. Gabriel makes it inside one of the last intact out buildings. And comes face to face with Negan.

  • In the future, Baby Judith takes Rick outside to show him the owl they’ve made for the Festival. We see idyllic cottages and farmland, swarming with people.
  • And then we’re back with Rick, red-eyed and weeping.
  • And then we’re back with Rick on the morning of the war, getting ready to start it all…



Put this episode side by side with the opening hour of season 7 and you can see just how far this show, and these characters, have come. ‘The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be’ is entirely about the consequences of Rick’s actions, and the immediate aftermath of Glen and Abe’s deaths. It’s nihilistic, grief-stricken, lost in the mist as much as Rick is.

This episode happens in three different times frames at once. Even on the structural level the show has grown, and done so massively. We see Rick weeping, possibly over two new graves (They looked a lot like Abe and Glen’s to us), we see Rick, Ezekiel and Maggie lead the charge and we see an older Rick in a happier future.

That first one is what we see the least of and we suspect this is going to be a recurrent motif through the season. We know there’ll be casualties, we’re pretty sure the first one hits this episode, and it’s inevitable that Rick is going to get torn up by losing people. It’s also a smart through line for the season that’s the antithesis of last year’s murder fest. Last year we saw the deaths up front and struggled to come to terms with them. This year we’re going to be kept guessing.

The future Rick is the most interesting one. This is pretty clearly the TV show’s take on ‘All Out War’, the comic plotline that advanced the timeline a couple of years and dealt with Negan (Albeit not as much as people may have wanted). It’s function here seems to be to support Rick’s speech in the present. He’s right. They’re all right. But they’re not all alright. Victory is certain. Its cost is not.

That’s big thematic stuff for the show to be wrestling with and it does a great job. The fact Jesus’ line about the world getting bigger is revisited speaks to that. The fact Hershel and the farm are directly invoked positively screams that. Alexandria was when Rick and his friends stopped wandering. Last season was when they realized what they’d have to lose. This season is all about what they’re going to get back and what they’re going to build. It’s compassionate and hopeful, troubled and uncertain. It’s brimming with possibility in a way that no show in its 8th season should expect to be.

But here it is. And here they are. An unlikely group of survivors holding it together after the world ends. And now, at last, building something new.

It’s gripping stuff, action packed, character heavy and a great set up for the season. Not everything hits (Regina, almost all of Negan’s lines and Gregory spring to mind) but this is a massively strong start for an important season.

War is here. But so, it seems, is victory. And watching those two connect is going to be fascinating..

The Good:

  • The panning shot through the armies as they prepare is one of the most moving things this show has ever done. Also one of the most important. The tone of the show shifts, very hard, this episode. It’s definitively not about Rick or Alexandria. It’s all of them now and the show is so much better for that.
  • Jerry giving Enid a piece of his armour. We do not deserve you, big guy.

  • After nearly a full season of Daryl being cowed and imprisoned, him getting to go full Mad Max this episode feels SO GOOD.
  • Gabriel’s little ‘Oh COME ON!’ moment when he sees Gregory is lovely. His relationship with his faith, and how it’s evolved has been one of our favorite parts of his character.
  • ‘We don’t celebrate it. We don’t have shame about it either.’
  • ‘It’s not going to be enough, Dad.
  • ‘Sure are a lot of us here.’
    ‘We got your back’
    ‘Really? You just met me.’
    ‘We all just met each other.’
  • ‘Here. Over your sternum.
    ‘No, I’m going back with Maggie after.’
    ‘DUDE. Sternum.’
  • ‘Well, shit! I’m sorry! I was in a meeting!’

The Bad:

  • We’re going to need some background and context on Regina pretty damn quick. Because right now she looks a Hell of a lot like a generic female villain.
  • Simon. Still awful.
  • Pretty much every line Negan has after that first one. Did we really need a reprise of the clunkiest part of the season 7 premiere? And is that Gabriel being beaten to death we can here over the end shot?

And The Random:

  • Scott M Gimple is, of course, the showrunner on The Walking Dead and has been since 2013. He’s also now aboard Fear The Walking Dead as an executive producer and, brilliantly has written for The Simpsons comics too.
  • Greg Nicotero is co-executive producer of The Walking Dead and has directed 17 episodes of the show. He’s also a veteran special effects supervisor and his work has appeared in movies like Lone Survivor, Suicide Squad and The Grey.

Review by Alasdair Stuart

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