Recap: The Walking Dead's 100th Episode- 'Mercy'

We. Are. Back!! Man, the past year has flown by, it doesn’t seem like it was a full 12 months ago that we finally got the answer to “Who did Negan kill?”. During the following 7 months, we got to know Negan and the saviors better than we wanted to. I heard plenty of folks talking about last season as if it were a low point in the series, I just don’t get that. Of course, I’m the guy that didn’t mind the whole season at Herschel’s farm so maybe my bar is lower then most but I don’t think I’m totally off base saying that the arrival of the Saviors brought a much needed villan injection to the world, not to mention the other communities and their colorful inhabitants, I’m looking at you Jerry from the Kingdom. It all lead up to an explosive showdown that setup an all-out war with the combined forces of Alexandria, Hilltop, and The Kingdom squaring off with Negan and the Saviors.

The season premier, which happens to be the show’s 100th episode, waste no time in getting going. I’m really starting to think that the war, and the whole Negan story-line for that matter, are going to be wrapped up by mid-season. We get started with probably the most eventful, and confusing, cold open in the show’s history with shots jumping between Rick visiting graves in Alexandria to Rick, Maggie, and Ezekiel giving what appears to be a pre-battle speech to their assembled forces, to that old man Rick scene that we all saw in the comic con preview. This ends up being a theme throughout this episode, non-linear storytelling can work well if done right but this episode doesn’t end up being an example of that. They stick with this method throughout and it just ends up getting more confusing, especially since they end up coupling it with scenes that really don’t appear to make any sense…at least with the context in which they’re presented, the biggest offender being a set of scenes that just has Rick staring at what appears to be a stain glassed window with eyes raw and red from crying. These scenes show up as buffers between the other timelines, I’m assuming they’ll make sense looking back once we get deeper in the season but as far as this episode is concerned it only serves to add a dash of WTF to the proceedings.

The episode then checks in with Carol, Tara, Morgan and Daryl who are preparing for their part in the first offensive. It’s not really clear what exactly their objective is but we are quickly reminded that Morgan is back to being lethal, his reintroduction this season comes by way of his sneaking up behind a savior then impaling the dude through the back, just viscous. I figured he’d slowly make his way back to it and never again become a fully callous killer…but damn! There’s very little if any dialogue between the group as they prepare, it really seemed like the showrunners were intentionally trying to make it difficult to tell exactly what was going on. Really that was the theme of the whole episode. When everything finally begins to come together we find out that Daryl and co have been setting up an elaborate carrot on a stick for a herd of walkers leading them right to the Saviors front door. What good does that do? You may ask, isn’t the Sanctuary, home of the Saviors, pretty well protected? Enter Rick and his team with a convoy of Mad Max style armored vehicles. It’s really cool to see the ingenuity with which they setup this whole thing, a series of cars and vans with sheet metal attached to them…honestly it makes you wonder what took them so long to do this. The best part comes as the whole crew pulls up to the savior’s front door and you see that, when lined up, the cars actually create a safety fence for the Alexandrians to hide behind.

After some jawing between Rick and Negan, during which I couldn’t help but to wonder why everyone didn’t just start shooting…I mean really, Negan saunters out completely unprotected with just a bat in his hand and no one thinks to pick him off? Anyway, after the jabbering between the two leaders lead finally begins to fly, but it flies in odd places with the good guys literally shooting what appears to be random volleys into the windows and doors of the sanctuary. It isn’t until an RV that rolled up with the convoy is pushed into the main fence that you realize what is going on…and by then it’s too late. BOOM. The whole thing was loaded down with explosive effectively opening a big whole in Negan’s protection and yelling “Welcome, Free Food” to every walker in a ten-mile radius. It’s just then that Daryl, Carol, Tara, and Morgan’s work pays off. The herd arrives as the Alexandrians are putting rubber to pavement and getting the hell out of dodge. Father Gabriel, who has really turned himself around over the last season, makes the stupid decision of trying to save Hilltop’s resident d-bag, Gregory. He’s repaid in kind when Gregory leaves him for the walkers, steals a car and drives off. Gabriel is able to make his way to a trailer when he’s totally surrounded by the dead, getting in at the last possible moment. Just as he starts to catch his breath we hear that familiar voice spouting that line we all heard in the first trailer, “I hope you got your shittin’ pants on”, yup…that’s right, Gabriel picked the one trailer that was occupied by none other than Negan.

All in all, my only complaint about the episode is the tragically bad way the time jumps affected your ability to immerse yourself in the world. Don’t get me wrong non-linear storytelling can be great…hell Tarantino has made a legendary career out of it, but you HAVE to know what’s going on for it to work. Outside of that the episode definitely felt like the showrunners were trying to do something different by dropping us in the action immediately and not spending full episodes explaining the plans and setup. I could have done with a bit more background on what they were planning but if this is the price to get right into the war, well then, I’m happy to pay it.