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The Walking Dead: The Biggest Moments of The Season 8 Premiere

The Sanctuary Falls

Sanctuary Falls The Walking Dead

While Rick's plan didn't go off without any hitches (Gregory's alive, Gabriel probably isn't for much longer), its incredibly ambitious endgame was achieved. After knocking out the Sanctuary's lookouts, Rick's forces divert the massive walker herd toward Negan's base. Rick beats them there in a caravan of makeshift armored cars, and after shooting up the Sanctuary and making noise that'll ensure the now close-by herd will come a-walkin', breaks down Negan's gates and leaves.

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When the dust settles, Negan's stronghold, once thought to be essentially impregnable, is now completely overrun by thousands of walkers. Now, this is the season premiere, so in no way is this conflict finished, but much of the Saviors' power rested in their goods and walls. They could attract and protect the most people, so their power base was always naturally bigger. By eliminating those two elements, Rick dealt his enemy a decisive (and awesome) blow. Whose d*ck's bigger now, Negs?

The Hilltop Chooses Maggie

Gregory Simon The Walking Dead

This wasn't, like, a surprise, but it was still so, so sweet to see Gregory do the inevitable and betray his own community... only for everyone to realize that he's so redundant it doesn't matter. When it's revealed that Gregory's defected and sold everyone out to Negan in exchange for his own protection, it looks like Rick's plan is finished before it's even off the ground. Gregory declares that anyone in the Hilltop who doesn't abandon the mission then and there will be expelled from the community along with their families, and Rick's coalition can't take the loss in numbers.

Thank goodness Gregory's been a POS for as long as anyone can remember. When faced with the ultimatum, literally no one moves and Jesus yells that the Hilltop chooses Maggie, and Simon realizes he's been played for a fool by an even bigger fool. Then Simon pushes Gregory down the stairs and the cake, she is iced. What a douche. Unfortunately, the fall doesn't kill him...

Gregory Betrays Gabriel

Gabriel The Walking Dead Mercy

Since his arrival on the scene in Season 5, Father Gabriel Stokes has been divisive, to say the least. The priest carried powerful guilt that manifested itself in a mental breakdown that resulted in his betrayal of Rick's group to Deanna Munroe. He's since achieved a measure of peace and become one of Rick's trusted advisors. That's what made so utterly infuriating to see him achieve some damn heroism for once, only to be betrayed by the human stain that is Gregory.

Gabriel is about to follow Rick out of the Sanctuary as planned when he sees an injured Gregory pinned down by gunfire and walkers. Because he is such a good person now, Gabriel risks his own life to help Gregory, only to get betrayed and left behind. Then, he breaks out more badass than we've ever seen and makes his way through a throng of walkers to safe haven in a trailer... only to discover he's sharing with a very, very perturbed Negan. We're praying for you, Father.

"After This, I'm Following You"

Hilltop Maggie The Walking Dead Mercy

For the past few seasons, Maggie's been steadily honing her political and leadership skills, and she's shown herself to be both fair and capable. She smoothly slips the Hilltop out from under Gregory's control without firing a shot, all the while bearing the weight of Glenn's death and the pressure of her pregnancy on her shoulders. As their forces are they're about to leave for the Sanctuary, Maggie thanks him for showing her how to be someone worth following and Rick tells her that, "After this, I'm following you."

That's nothing if not a clear endorsement of her taking over the mantle of leadership from him. Taken in context, it's not really that surprising. Andrew Lincoln pointed out that Rick's never really wanted to be at the head of everything:

He's getting tired... he's not a politician. He's a general... he's a sheriff's deputy -- that's where he comes from, that's his DNA... Now, Maggie is different and Deanna sort of spotted her as a future political leader -- somebody that could run things. She's industrious... she's respected, principled and I think that Rick is very much [tired]. He just wants it done, and then other people can take over.

The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC.

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