The Walking Dead Season 8 Spoilers to follow. If you haven’t watched the premiere yet, scram.
For what once was a gripping, transcendental and very human zombie drama, it seems that the writing behind AMC’s The Walking Dead has devolved into a series of incredibly stupid decisions that exist solely to advance the plot. Having been a true fan of the show since it first aired 100 episodes ago, this is obviously painful to admit, but it is nonetheless a disappointing truth that the prime-time show has over the years lost some of its original appeal.
That’s not to say that the show doesn’t occasionally still produce some great or heartfelt moments, which, for some OG fans, is what we optimistically still hang around for. Unfortunately, this past Sunday’s return of The Walking Dead Season 8 premiere was lacking those key moments grounded in realism and consequence, and was instead littered with a lot of poor decisions, utter theatrical nonsense and of course, throwback filler—because 100 episodes, I guess.
I understand that the writers were promising a much more hopeful vibe with the return of Season 8 to cast away the shadows of the previous bleak and depressing Season 7, and in that respect, the premiere episode “Mercy,” succeeded. The anti-saviors, comprised of rebels from the oppressed communities of The Hilltop Colony, The Kingdom and Alexandria, share a unifying and uplifting call-to-action that offers the first rays of sunshine. With Rick at the helm, they seem to have a strategic, take-no-prisoners action plan—and stylistically they look good executing it, too.
Yet sadly all that scheming and rallying didn’t stop our heroes from running into several nonsensical snares that left us wanting to throw the remote at the TV. Let’s start with the very first incredibly stupid thing that has fans (rightfully) outraged:
1. Why didn’t Rick just shoot Negan right then and there?
Despite Rick & co. being lined up and heavily armed at the gates of the Sanctuary, Negan simply saunters out in the open, in his usual can’t-touch-this posture—and although Rick keeps promising Negan he’s going to kill him, he fails to take action in this opportune moment.
While generously allowing Negan some annoying words eluding to a dick measuring contest, Rick merely hides behind the sheet metal fence and makes absolutely no use of his solid aim and the crystal clear shot to simply take Negan out right where he stands—ending it all.
Nope. Rick waits until everyone starts shooting willy-nilly, and when Negan finally takes cover and is perfectly shielded from view, Rick decides now is the time to unload bullet after bullet, each failing to hit the “one person” he originally claimed has to die.
2. Why didn’t Rick position a sharp-shooter on the perimeter, or better yet, just order any of the rebels to shoot upon sight?
What’s even more infuriating than Rick not taking the shot, is that literally anyone else could have taken it, quite easily. If Rick’s truly serious about protecting his people from this homicidal, arrogant maniac, wouldn’t you think he’d support their decision to shoot and end it all if they had the shot—which many of them indeed had? Any single one of the anti-saviors on the other side of the fence could have taken him out—Maggie, Jesus, even Gabriel—yet they all stood there, letting Negan run his cocky mouth into a grand production as usual.
3. The insane waste of ammunition
Even more baffling is that after all the time wasted between Rick and Negan throwing shade and trying to talk each other to death, Rick’s team then proceeds to waste a staggering amount of bullets, shooting out the windows of the sanctuary with not a single fatal shot landing on Negan or any of his lieutenants. If they really had been anticipating ‘all out war,’ don’t you think they would want some of those bullets to land? Maybe they’d want to be somewhat conservative with their shots? Nope, they just continue firing blindly and wasting precious resources.
4. Why in the name of all that is good and holy would Father Gabriel try to help Gregory?
I understand that Gabriel used to be a priest, but considering he didn’t try to save anyone from his own parish when he had the opportunity, don’t expect us to believe that he’d put his life on the line to try to save Gregory— who not only tried to kill Maggie at one point, but is also a self-interested, giant piece of traitorous turd.
Newsflash, Gabriel’s “heroic” actions here are not a strong example of character growth—they’re simply idiotic. Gregory has not exhibited a single redeeming quality as long as he’s been on the show—even characters as heinous as The Governor and Negan have managed to pull that off. If anyone deserved to be eaten alive by walkers, it’s Gregory.
Naturally, Gabriel’s stupid decision landed him in an even stupider predicament, that could potentially cost him his life. Gregory—who should have at the very least broke his neck after being violently shoved down a flight of metal stairs—drove off with the priest’s car and left a gaping Gabriel for walker chum. Which begs another question, why didn’t Gabriel just chase after the old injured man? You really mean to tell me an old man who was just thrown down a flight of stairs can maneuver through a chaotic storm of bullets more agilely than you, Gabriel? I don’t think so.
5. Why didn’t Gabriel shoot Negan in the trailer? Is that machine gun just for decoration?
Father Gabriel winds up taking shelter in the very same trailer the bullet-grazed Negan happened to hobble into, because of course. Instead of Gabriel turning his machine gun on the number one villain and the ONE person Rick claimed needed to die—Gabriel responds in the most bewildered way, like he is unfamiliar with Negan’s smug drawl and egregious comic phrases. In fact, even when Negan emerges from the shadows, Gabriel still gawks at Negan as if he’s never seen him before in his life, and is intimidated by his threatening potty humor. Hello! You have a weapon in your hands! Use it!
6. Do the walkers have super speed now?
For as fast as Daryl was zooming along on his motorcycle, setting off those explosives to lead the walkers in breadcrumb-like fashion back to The Sanctuary, that walker herd was able to keep up pretty darn well. I get that they would probably eventually make their way around to each explosion by following the smoke, but in that case the cameras shouldn’t have shown how fast Daryl was cruising on his bike juxtaposed to the shuffling undead right on his heels in every frame.
Having said all of this, there were several scenes in this episode that visually were very cool, and although some of the character choices and dialogue felt forced, cartoonish and inauthentic, it’s still early enough in the season that there’s plenty of room for optimism.
If the writers really did take serious notes from the pilot episode and first season overall, it might not be too late to save Season 8. Maybe if they once again incorporate meaningful dialogue between characters we actually care about, instead of forcing uninteresting, loosely developed new characters down our throats each week, and bring back some of the realistic, gritty tension that made the show so addicting in the first place, maybe they’ll be able to turn this show we all still inexplicably love around.
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.
What do you think? Am I being too harsh? What infuriated you the most about the Walking Dead Season 8 premiere? What moments were redeeming to you? Comment below!