The Walking Dead / Season 8 Episode 1: Mercy / AMC
Since the last shot of season 7 was of Glen’s watch (by way of Abraham), I guess it makes sense that the season 8 opener plays with time liberally. We also already know that war is inevitable and that Negan is the big bad of the moment. “Mercy” essentially re-establishes the stakes: who is playing and for what, so almost everyone got screen time even if they didn’t have any lnes. And if they didn’t have lines, they got to talk on The Talking Dead once the credits rolled.
So… I’m less interested in that (because I didn’t really learn anything) than I am in what I did learn from Father Gabriel.
Lesson 1: You Knew What This Was
As the late great Maya Angelou tweeted said, “when someone tells you who they are, believe them.” So Greg is a trifling P.O.S. when was ready to sell out Maggie (and I’m no Maggie fan) so many times in the past.
— Maya Angelou (@DrMayaAngelou) June 12, 2015
Dude just literally stood in front of you and was like Hilltop stands with Negan. It didn’t even matter that Hilltop was out en masse with makeshift armor ready to die to oppose Negan. Nope, didn’t matter at all because Gregory is a slimy dude who will say whatever he needs to say to survive.
I guess it’s easier when the villains have a W drawn in blood on their foreheads, but not all villains look like that. Not everyone will tell you they are a villain, but do not doubt that they will show you who they are.
Lesson 2: Suppress or Move On
I’ve said it before: emotions will get you killed, but let’s focus in on one particular emotion here: guilt.
Guilt has no place in the apocalypse. None. Nein. Nah. Nope.
Oh you used to be a horrible person that watched his congregation die while you sat snug as a bug in a rug in your fortified church? That’s the past.
And the past will get you got.
In the beginning of the episode, when Rick is merkin’ dudes like Arya Stark meets the absolute nightmare version of Santa’s naughty list, one of the Saviours (who is dying because Rick has just stabbed him in the gut) says to Rick, “I saw you. Begging. Crying.”
We all know that Rick is pressed about what happened to Glen and Abraham and, eventually, to all of Alexandria. He feels responsible for the feudal/colonial bullshit that he and his people fell into. But, let me repeat myself: Oh you prostrated yourself before Negan and was coughing up supplies and letting dudes burn your mattresses at the edge of town? That’s. The. Past.
Why? Why is this so important?
Because guilt will have you out here trying to be a hero and earn them redemption points to get into whatever you think the afterlife looks like (though, honestly Rick, what afterlife looks better than Michonne’s open and loving arms at home in your Alexandrian McMansion?)
This guilt/rage cocktail is what leads Father Gabrielle to have tell Rick that 1) he’s making this (the war effort) about him even though it’s not and 2) “hurry yo ass up and stop shootin’ at Negan like we don’t have a whole ass plan that your ego and hubris is about to ruin.”
[looks directly into Father Gabriel’s eyes and sighs] Listen, the fandom might never forgive you. You’re a man of god and you literally locked your congregation out of the church and they all died. All of them dead, fam. You had one job. Singular. And you didn’t do it. But guess what?
You with Rick and Michonne and Carol and dem now. Your weak-ass ways are your past. So whatever guilt you have, it’s weighing you down and feeding the part of your brain that makes bad choices. Bad choices get you ripped to death by walkers.
Save Gregory, huh? Did the weakness in you bow to the weakness in him like y’all went to yoga after abandoning your posts? Namaste wherever it’s safest and eff everybody else? I get it. I do. But you can’t save him (see #1). Just because you got your shit together doesn’t mean everybody else will (and you’re lucky you met Rick when you did, because this season—this episode—has Rick shooting at strangers in abandoned gas stations on some “if he’s not a saviours, I hope he makes it but damned if Imma be a part of his making it.” That last part was silent, but we all heard it.
So you tried to save Gregory. How’d that go? He stole your car. But honestly, did you expect any iota of loyalty from that snake in the grass?
— Nicole Homer (@realnicolehomer) October 23, 2017
Lesson 3: No Time Like the Present
Didn’t you hear what Beyonce’s daddy said?
Shoot. He said shoot.
At the point when you are trapped in a trailer with the sociopath who has pet phallic symbol baseball bat, that killed several of your friends with said weapon, who stole your food, who took your bullets, who enslaved women for the sole purpose of sexual exploitation… shoot him. God will forgive you. In fact, this might be the redemption you were trying to get by saving Gregory. I’ve read the old testament, your god is a vengeful god. I’ve read the whole bible, my dude has a thing for sacrifice as well so here is your chance.
Now once he starts asking about your pants? What are you waiting for, fam? There will never be a perfect time to act. So act now because this moment is as perfect as it gets.