After a decisive victory against the Saviors, Alexandria, the Hilltop and the Kingdom seem poised to finally regain some of the ground Negan's forces have stolen from them. But this is The Walking Dead, and nothing is ever, ever that simple. AS we prepare for the next battle in the era of "All Out War," CBR runs down a few key insights about Season 8 that "Mercy" revealed, and some others that TWD's centennial episode simply confirmed.
Rick's Done Kneeling, No Matter What
If Rick's behavior this week told us anything, it's that Rick is fresh outta f**ks to give. He tried the kneeling thing, and after a season of watching Negan off his people one after the other, threaten his son, and insult his manhood at every opportunity, he's all done with that, thank you very much. If the last half of his speech in "Mercy" is any indication, he'll die before he capitulates to Negan ever again.
We start tomorrow, right now -- with everything we've beaten, everything we've endured, everything we've risen above, everything we've become -- if we start tomorrow right now, no matter what comes next, we've won. We've already won!
If Rick and company can come this far in building a society based on cooperation rather than exploitation, they'll have made an indelible mark on this new world that even Negan can't wipe out, so they might as well fight him until they can't. Also, freedom is truly its own reward. At New York Comic Con, Andrew Lincoln echoed those sentiments and expressed gratitude that he could move on from Season 7.
"He's a man that is willing to die, but he's free. He's basically for all intents and purposes... I'm willing to put everything on the line, but I will never bow before you again. It's a basically polar opposite Rick that you see at the beginning of this season and I'm so happy to be playing that man and not last season's Rick [Laughter]. Ninja cat is... in the house."
... But Probably Won't Kill Negan
Spoiler alert for those of you who don't read the Image Comics series: Negan doesn't die.
When the comic time jumps several years to the events of the post-"All Out War" "A New Beginning," we learn that Rick's shown Negan mercy and keeps him locked up in a house in Alexandria. Granted, that means pretty much nothing in terms of the show's trajectory -- Robert Kirkman remains famously insistent that each manifestation of TWD franchise maintain its own integrity and not be completely beholden to other source material.
The "Old Man Rick" flashbacks peppered throughout "Mercy" are always accompanied by a present-ish day sweating, exhausted, but ultimately grateful Rick, sitting underneath a stained glass window. He doesn't speak until the final sequence, and when he does, he invokes a quote attributed to Allah: "My mercy prevails over my wrath." Pair that with his conversation with Gabriel about their mission not being all about him, and it makes a lot of sense that when he finally does get the chance to kill Negan, it be against his moral code to do so. (That quote would also seem to indicate he repairs his relationship with the gas station man he shot at earlier.)