WARNING: This article contains spoilers for the Season 8 premiere of The Walking Dead, "Mercy," which as of publication has not yet aired on the west coast.
The Walking Dead unveiled both its 100th episode and Season 8 premiere tonight. "Mercy" served as the opening gambit in the season subtitled, "All Out War," inspired by the 2013-2014 comic book storyline of the same name.
Rick's forces achieved a stunning victory against their nemesis, Negan's Saviors, but the episode focused on more than just setting up the season's primary conflict. Given that this was TWD's centennial episode as well as a season premiere, the show also made sure to pay homage to the previous seven seasons leading up to this milestone achievement.
It made for an hour of television that balanced action and reflection and looking forward while honoring the past. We've gathered the most exciting and significant moments in TWD100, so you can relive them and get goosebumps all over again.
Carl Follows in His Father's Footsteps
"Mercy" was not only The Walking Dead's season premiere, it was also it's 100th episode. Producers Robert Kirkman, Scott Gimple and Greg Nicotero commemorated the series' monumental achievement by rewarding fans who'd been with them from the beginning. One of the ways they decided to do that was to recreate, shot-for-shot, the pilot's opening sequence, but this time starring Carl instead of Rick.
ICYMI, the gas station where Carl finds the Muslim man his father scares off is the exact same one Rick comes across at the beginning of the show's first episode, "Days Gone Bye." He passes the same abandoned campsites, corpse-filled cars and empty gas pumps his father did a few years back. It's an incredibly detailed and subtle homage to where the series started and how far this world and the people in it have come.
Old Man Rick (Comes Downstairs)
Unless you're a true spoiler purist you've seen this picture before tonight. A grey-haired Rick opens his eyes in a comfy bed, seemingly confirming that he lives to a somewhat ripe-old age, or at least through "All Out War." But "Mercy" did this shot one better and extended the flash-forward to include Rick actually getting out of bed, heading downstairs and revealing Michonne, Carl and Judith to still be alive and living as one happy family. Wut?
It sounds way too good to be true for a show as bleak as The Walking Dead, and the dreamlike quality of the sequences only underscore that. However, comics fans will look at these scenes with a far different perspective -- they would seem to indicate that the show's next stop after "All Out War" will be to follow the comics' two-year time jump to "A New Beginning." After Negan's defeat, Alexandria enjoys two years of peace and becomes pretty idyllic. In the show, Judith looks to be about two years older, and Alexandria appears to be thriving. We're either heading in that direction, or this was a very large red herring.