Critics and Fans Weigh In on The Walking Dead Season 8 Premiere

100th episode of the AMC zombie series hits hard and its aim is true. Fans, critics, and even Rotten Tomatoes' staff got in on the Dead chatter.

by | October 23, 2017 | Comments

Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes - The Walking Dead _ Season 8, Episode 1 (Jackson Lee Davis/AMC)
The Walking Dead clearly doesn’t need “Mercy” when it comes to critical reaction to its 100th episode. The premiere of the AMC zombie series’ eighth season now stands at 89% on the Tomatometer with 19 reviews in (we’ll update this figure as more reviews are added).

Spoiler Alert: This article reveals details of  episode 1 of season 8  of The Walking Dead.

“Scott Gimple and company have heard fans’ complaints… and are bringing things back to basics. Rick’s a badass again; the action is moving quickly; and the latest episode even featured a few blink-and-you’ll-miss-them moments of humor.” – Laura Bradley, Vanity Fair

“In a bold narrative gambit that feels refreshing after the hints of creative exhaustion in Season 7, this hour hopscotches across time and, possibly, in and out of reality.” – Charles Bramesco, New York Times

“It delivered on spectacle, if not on logic. And it was fun.” – Luke Holland, Guardian

“Unlike last season, we don’t have to wonder when the war with Negan will finally come. It’s here, and at least that much brings us hope as we head into the uncertain future.” – Nick Romano, Entertainment Weekly

“‘Mercy’ is nowhere near the best episode The Walking Dead has ever aired, but it’s an effective season premiere that manages to add some energy into the aging series and at least partially hits the reset button. – Kelly Lawler, USA Today

Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan, Seth Gilliam as Father Gabriel Stokes - The Walking Dead _ Season 8, Episode 1 (Gene Page/AMC)

At the season level (81% Tomatometer score on 11 reviews), critics are impressed and hopeful:

“Rick, and his band of survivors… aren’t passive victims anymore; they’re active and fighting back. It’s the way longtime fans are used to seeing them, and it feels good.” – Eric Deggans, NPR

“This new season of The Walking Dead should be more fun to watch almost by default.” – David Sims, The Atlantic

With some dissent, of course:

“The urge to expand the story beyond the constant flight from mindless flesh-munchers is understandable. But much of the dread, as well as emotional urgency, has gone out of the show in the process.” – Mike Hale, New York Times

“The action is so fragmented, it often feels like — to paraphrase Shakespeare — there’s a lot of sound and fury going on, and it doesn’t signify much.” – Kristi Turnquist, Oregonian

“Suddenly, The Walking Dead seems as if it’s outlived its moment, as if it got stuck somewhere in 2015 and left us all to sail on by, waving.” – Todd VanDerWerff, Vox

Fans mostly agreed, noting the episode’s homage to the series’ first season.

The Walking Dead Andrew Lincoln as Rick season 8 (AMC)

They were especially pleased to see Rick (Andrew Lincoln) return to form — mostly.

They saved their harshest vitriol, however, for Gregory (Xander Berkeley), who not only showed up as a traitor to the rebellion, but bailed on Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) who had stopped to save him after the rebels released the Walker horde. The padre was then left to face the zombies and, worse, Negan.

The Watching Dead

The Rotten Tomatoes staff had its own screening of the premiere to weigh the pros and cons over Slack — but the exercise turned into something of a free-for-all.

Zoey Moore: where does one get licorice in the apocalypse ?

Ryan Fish: Idk who’s less inspiring — Rick or Ezekiel
Ryan Fish: Or Maggie

Debbie Day: Con: Rick said, “We end them.”

pro: time jump
Kerr Lordygan: FLASH FORWARD
Ryan Fujitani: What the hell was that?

Debbie Day: Pro: theme song is still awesome
Kerr Lordygan: song makes it seem like more dramatic stuff is happening than really is
Ryan Fujitani: Remember when that song would give you goosebumps? Me neither.
Actually, that’s not fair. It is a pretty good one.

Ryan Fujitani: Negan should have made Rick cut Carl’s hair, instead of his arm, last season.
That hat has made it further than most cast members
Kerr Lordygan: that shot should’ev killed Carl last season. boo
how does rick find the materials to wax his chest so often?

Ryan Fujitani: Who are these ninjas?

Debbie Day: Violent Lennie is unsettling. Don’t know if that is a pro or con

Zoey Moore: I’m not trying to be rude, but where the f— is Michonne?
Ryan Fujitani: I think I would prefer a series of just Daryl, Carol, and Morgan running around doing Seal Team 6 stuff.
Oh, and Michonne.
Zoey Moore: Carol is USELESS
Ryan Fish: Who needs Michonne when you’ve got Father Gabriel
Kerr Lordygan: Carol’ll get her groove back, just u wait!

Ryan Fish: JUDITH
All your faves are here, Z
Zoey Moore: I looked down for one minute. We need to rewind

Ryan Fujitani: Won’t that dude just become a zombie now, too?
Seems counterproductive to leave them like that.
Zoey Moore: We need Zombie population control
Debbie Day: And won’t it be suspicious that they’re all turned to zombies together?

Ryan Fujitani: Jesus is the poor man’s jared leto
Ryan Fish: So true

Zoey Moore: Maggie’s got your Arse, the future.
Ryan Fish: Rick says he’s following Maggie? I knew she was the best leader
Ryan Fujitani: I might be alone in this, but I never really bought Maggie’s rise to leadership.

Zoey Moore: I WANT TO FAST FORWARD THROUGH ALL THE TALKING. If it’s not Rick and Michonne telling each other how in love they are, what even is the point
Debbie Day: showrunner warned at NYCC that lots of exposition in 1st ep of season = the talky dead.

Ryan Fish: …is that her name?
Zoey Moore: Tara is the tiffany trump of the zombie apocalypse
Ryan Fish: I can’t believe she’s made it through all the way from the Governor days
Ryan Fujitani: Ditto that.
Kerr Lordygan: those girls are so interchangeable
Ryan Fujitani: Tara does not belong with these three.
All she’s good for is eating red vines

Kerr Lordygan: where are the monosyllabic women’s gang? We need more of them
oh great a 30 minute negan monologue
oh phew
Ryan Fish: I agree, I want those ladies back. That’s the best part of Tara’s storyline. /The only thing that’s actually happened to her

Ryan Fish: Is this a Flash Forward or a fantasy?
Why does Rick imagine himself as Gandalf
Zoey Moore: denny ducket, who hurt you?!
Ryan Fujitani: He looks like a poorly designed C-list GI Joe
Debbie Day: Terrible hair!! Con con con!
Ryan Fish: The first time I saw Negan I got chills. Then he did the same thing 100 more times

Zoey Moore: Kill Gregory and none of this speech matters
Kerr Lordygan: go hooome noooww
Zoey Moore: it’s that easy
Kerr Lordygan: is this now written by the This is Us writers?
Zoey Moore: Maggie.
Ryan Fujitani: Oh we got a bunch of badasses here
Ryan Fish: Ok Maggie might be the coolest character left
Debbie Day: Jesus, Jesus!
Zoey Moore: Take that back

Ryan Fujitani: It would be the best if that was really the death scene for Gregory.
just getting pushed down the steps.
Ryan Fujitani: Dude on the right needs to take a piss.
Debbie Day: Wants to take a timeout
Dude on the right is left shark…but on the right
Zoey Moore: I’M SO MAD
Ryan Fish: This is such a weird way to shoot a scene
Ryan Fujitani: It’s about damn time.
They’re shooting at nothing.
They’re wasting ammo on windows.

Zoey Moore: #CarolIsOverParty am i right, guys?
Debbie Day: Carol is my fave.
Ryan Fish: I kind of wish “If Daryl Dies We Riot” never happened, it made his character weaker. I’m never worried for him.
Unpopular opinion but I’m saying fingers crossed he dies this season — that would be ballsy
Zoey Moore: Ryan Fish, wow rude
Ryan Fujitani: What happened to those junkyard people?
Zoey Moore: Gabriel is still alive
Ryan Fujitani: I thought they were on Negan’s side
Zoey Moore: The bangs
garbage bangs
Where did they go
Debbie Day: Scavengers disappeared into a trash pile

Ryan Fujitani: I’m still unclear what all these explosions are meant to accomplish
Zoey Moore: negan’s hurt and i feel okay about it

Ryan Fujitani: Machine gun preacher in the house
Zoey Moore: GOODBye, gabriel
Ryan Fish: I hope Daryl sacrifices himself to kill Negan this season
OMG both these characters can die rn and I’d be so happy
Gabriel sux. Gregory sux.
Debbie Day: Gregory leaves padre. Wonder where he’s going to go

Ryan Fujitani: I didn’t quite catch it.. Does anyone know what’s going on right now?
Kerr Lordygan: no
Debbie Day: Nope!
Kerr Lordygan: negan was way better on Good Wife
Debbie Day: What we need right now is an Old Man Rick flash-forward

Ryan Fujitani: The amount of unnecessary gunfire on this show is appalling.
Find a dumpster to hide under, Gabe!
Ryan Fujitani: I can’t believe they doubled down on the shittin pants line
Ryan Fish: I think they think “shittin pants” is a lot more badass sounding than it is
Ryan Fujitani: That is no doubt the case.
Kerr Lordygan: who wrote this shittin pants ep?
Ryan Fish: Last time I wore my shittin pants I got kicked out of the bar I was in
Zoey Moore: hope you got your shittin’ pants on because…you-youre about to shit…your pants?
Ryan Fujitani: every pair of pants is a pair of shittin pants, really
Kerr Lordygan: not really, Ryan
remember Naked Gun 2.5? Poopypants? That’s been my nickname ever since. I think Leslie Nielsen zombie is about to appear

Debbie Day: Cue bad hair
Ryan Fish: Are they going to draw this “is it a flash forward” thing out the whole season?
Zoey Moore: Everyone but Michonne has aged. DOES THAT MEAN SHE DIES? YOU GUYS???
Ryan Fish: This isn’t Lost
Kerr Lordygan: the extras look ridonk. sitting around waiting for catering to arrive… with assault rifles in their hands
Ryan Fish: Now that I think about it this show actually IS kind of like Lost

Kerr Lordygan: oh. it’s over?
Ryan Fish: So the best part of that episode was that it was dedicated to George Romero
Zoey Moore: I LOVE THIS SHOW and I HATED this episode
Ryan Fish: I stopped watching this show last season and I’m glad I did
Kerr Lordygan: This Is Us meets The Simpsons

What did you think? Tell us in the comments! The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8C on AMC. 

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