24th Oct2017

‘The Walking Dead 8×01’ Review

by Paul Metcalf


When a show reaches its 100th episode fans are often treated to something special. In the season finale of The Walking Dead we get to see Rick (Andrew Lincoln) as an old man, but all is not as it seems… After the events of last season, Rick and his group, along with members of The Kingdom and Hilltop plan an attack on Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and the Saviours. When the plan is put into motion, will the attack have the impact that Rick hopes it will?

Seeing Rick as an old man, enjoying moments with his family and Michonne (Danai Gurira) tease a look into the future. This future though is obviously not real. We also see a different version of the future, though with a younger Rick. This Rick looks broken, which hints at some kind of tragedy. It teases that Rick may dream of the perfect future, but obviously this is the world of The Walking Dead where nothing ever goes right.

Back to the modern-day, we see Carl (Chandler Riggs) as a growing man. Becoming more mature, the fact that he encounters a survivor (Avi Nash) looking for help and doesn’t move in for the kill shows that he is taking a more measured view of the situation. The fact that he leaves food for this survivor later in the episode shows that the world of the zombies hasn’t killed the kindness in Carl, which is a hope for the future.

With Rick though, it does feel that he fears failure, and being weak. He is the one that scares off the survivor, and later he is the one to make a mistake that puts Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) in danger. This may be a theme for this season, as the broken Rick we’ve seen is the one that has failed. If Rick and his group are going to succeed, he can’t let his obsession with killing Negan cloud his judgement. Even if that death would really help their cause a lot.

What we see in this 100th episode of The Walking Dead is what makes the show good. Often it tends to rely on lots of talking and emotion, and can go through a whole episode without little action. Mercy is more about action, and more about showing that the war against Negan is now in full effect. While Negan won’t show weakness to Rick, it is clear that he doesn’t hold the same power he once did.

One thing that bugged me in this episode was the scene where Gregory (Xander Berkley) now with Negan proclaims to Rick and his group that the Hilltop does not fight for Rick. It seemed rather fruitless and non-sensical to have Gregory within Negan’s compound trying to show he has control of the Hilltop he is no longer a part of. While it is arguably just a show of power by Negan, the fact the Hilltop members in Rick’s group even questioned what side they were on made little sense at all.

What we see in this first episode of season 8 of The Walking Dead is that there is hope for the future. Carl is the next generation of survivor and he shows humanity, where Rick is quick to show the lack of it. Rick does have the dream of living to an old age enjoying his family, but it feels all too perfect to be real. It is the future that Rick is fighting for. There is no doubt that in truth we will see the broken Rick that was also teased in the episode before we ever see him living the perfect life.

Whichever teased Rick we end up with at the end of the season, this is a fitting episode for the 100th episode of The Walking Dead. With plenty of action and one hell of a Negan scene to finish the episode, this is a very good start to the eighth season of the show.

***** 5/5

The Walking Dead airs at 9pm on Fox in the UK on Mondays.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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