The start of season 8, the 100th episode, an explosive premiere ‘Mercy’.
This episode gave fans an insight into the odd section of the season 8 trailer where Rick was awaking from sleep with large grey facial hair. This scene, a flash forward of peaceful life with Michonne, Carl and Judith, mirrored the season 1 premiere when Rick awoke from a coma in a hospital to find himself in the wake of a zombie apocalypse.
The episodes title ‘Mercy’ was rather effective in it representing Rick’s mercy towards Negan when he has the opportunity to kill him and Carl’s mercy to the survivor who pleaded for sustenance.
With Rick, King Ezekiel and Maggie motivating their people before the attack on Negan and The Saviours, it was clear that Rick’s organisation of the ambush was too much for the Saviours and his confidence in wanting to destroy and kill Negan reignited the fighting spirit of the character who, last season, was oppressed by the sadistic villain of the show.
[perfectpullquote align=”left” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“The future is ours, the world is ours,” Maggie Greene (Lauren Cohan) says.[/perfectpullquote]
As the battle began we see Rick ticking off zones where Saviour outposts had lied before he took them for tactical advancement. We see the rugged determination of our main protagonist prevail over his weakened and dishevelled character of season 7. The impeccable timing of the trio of survivors made for an efficient demolition of Negan’s Sanctuary with preemptive explosions attracting a massive herd of Walkers and penetrating the hardened exterior of the Sanctuary.
In a last ditch attempt to weaken Rick’s forces Negan calls upon the betraying and idiosyncratic “leader” of Hiltop, Gregory (Xander Berkeley), to dissuade his people from attacking Negan. In response to this the character of Jesus (Tom Payne) as Gregory says the Hiltop stands for him interrupts with :
[perfectpullquote align=”left” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“The Hiltop stands with Maggie” (Jesus)[/perfectpullquote]
This boosts her impact as a leader and reminds the audience of the time earlier in the episode when Rick tips her as the leader of Alexandria when the war ends.
The character of Carl when at the rendezvous with Rick sees a pleading survivor could prove important later on in this season. The character in desperation quotes the Quran, making him the first Muslim survivor on the show. It also makes for an intersecting story as Carl gives him food and apologies for Ricks boisterous warning shot.
The nail biting opportunity Rick has before him to kill the defenseless, vulnerable Negan is taken away by Gabriel who tells Rick that it’s not about him as they escape from the damaged and burning Sanctuary.
The heart-wrenching, cliffhanger moment as Gabriel, viewing the helpless Gregory at the end of the battle, rushes to his aid as a Good Samaritan. Once by he side, he is abandoned by the psychologically demented Gregory who leaves in a car with Gabriel scrambling desperately for shelter from the onslaught of surrounding Walkers. As Gabriel takes shelter in an unsuspecting trailer we hear the resounding and magnificent voice of Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) saying as he did to Rick in last seasons premiere :
[perfectpullquote align=”left” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””] “I hope you’ve got your s******* pants on”(Negan)[/perfectpullquote]
To end the action packed episode, ‘Mercy’, with the pair engulfed in crowds of Walkers and trapped
together in the darkness of the trailer.