"Mercy" is the first episode of the eighth season of AMC's The Walking Dead. It is the one-hundredth episode of the series overall. It premiered on October 22, 2017. It was written by Scott Gimple and directed by Greg Nicotero.
Light plays across a sweating, seemingly exhausted Rick's face.
Rick stands at the Hilltop graves, lost in thought.
Residents of Alexandria, Hilltop and the Kingdom prepare for battle at the colony; they prepare reinforcements and armor for their vehicles.
At the Sanctuary, a crossbow bolt pierces Dwight's motorcycle tire. He unrolls the note that's attached. It reads, "Tomorrow."
Carol and Tara stand watch on a bridge. Tara checks the time. They spot a herd of walkers in the distance and smile.
Rick gives a rousing speech to the united communities, reminding them they're fighting for their futures, for a bigger world. He vows to stop the Saviors and kill Negan, the only one who truly has to die. Maggie and Ezekiel echo Rick's sentiments.
Dwight writes a response, secures the note to the bolt and shoots it back toward Daryl, waiting outside the Sanctuary.
Carol and Tara sit on the bridge and wait as the herd of walkers moves along the road below.
In a vision of the future, Rick sleeps in bed. His beard is full and white. Flowers sit on a nearby table. Hearing music, he wakes.
Back in the present, Carl searches a gas station for fuel. He comes across a nervous stranger who asks for help. He also says "May my mercy prevail over my wrath," adding that he's quoting the Koran. Carl raises his gun, but the man insists he just wants food. As Carl is considering his request, Rick appears and chases the man away with two gunshots above his head. Rick explains to Carl that he couldn't risk the possibility of the man being a spy for the Saviors, but if that isn't the case, then he hopes the man will survive. Carl tells Rick that hope will not be enough in their struggle against the Saviors.
Daryl and Morgan kill Saviors at various lookout points. One by one, they cross the targets off of a list supplied by Dwight.
In Alexandria, Rick and other community members mobilize for an attack on the Sanctuary.
Daryl joins Carol, Tara and Morgan on the highway.
Rick leaves Alexandria with a caravan of vehicles that have been retrofitted for battle. Rosita watches from her porch, still recovering. Michonne and Carl stay behind with a few other residents. As they watch the procession of vehicles, Michonne tells Carl that this is his show; Alexandria's safety is in his hands.
En route to the Sanctuary, Rick comes across a lone Savior on watch; he stabs the man and sifts through his belongings. The injured Savior taunts Rick, telling him that he will kneel again before the Saviors, and that his son will die. Angered, Rick frees a walker tethered to a nearby electric post and leaves it to feast on the dying man. He then signals the caravan to proceed.
The caravan arrives in a large field, where members of all three communities are waiting. Dianne reassures Andy's safety as Tobin, Bertie and Daniel chat nearby. Aaron approaches Eric and questions if he is praying. Scott and Freddie inspect armored vehicles as Jerry insists that Enid wear additional armor for her chest. Alvaro guides a leashed Shiva from a Kingdom bus. Other militia members mingle and mill about the clearing. Maggie insists on joining the initial phase of the fight, despite being pregnant. Ezekiel offers to let Maggie see the Kingdom's doctor, but Jesus assures him they'll retrieve Doctor Carson, who was previously taken by the Saviors. Rick vows to relinquish leadership and follow Maggie after the fight is over.
Carol, Daryl, Morgan and Tara wait on the highway until the herd arrives; they vacate the road in haste. Moments later, the SUV they parked on the exit ramp explodes. Dwight dispatches a large team of Saviors to investigate the explosion. Daryl and Morgan rig a tripwire across a road. They join Carol and Tara on a pedestrian overpass.
Rick's group guns down two sniper lookouts at the Sanctuary as Dwight nonchalantly walks inside. The caravan arrives at the front gate, parking in formation to create a wall with the metal sheets retrofitted onto each vehicle. Maggie gives the signal and the group raises their guns toward the sky, shooting in unison. Negan steps out with his lieutenants.
Light plays across Rick's face. He looks up at a stained glass window.
In the future, the white-bearded Rick gets out of bed and finds Michonne in the dining room of their Alexandria home. He walks over to her with his cane, a noticeable limp in his stride. Carl joins them.
Back in the present, Rick tells Negan's lieutenants — Dwight, Simon, Gavin, Regina and Eugene — that he will let them live if they surrender. Although Gavin seems open to negotiation, no one ultimately accepts Rick's offer.
The group on the overpass spots a walker nearing the tripwire.
Negan tells Rick that he lacks the numbers to win a fight against the Saviors. At Negan's command, Simon brings Gregory outside. Gregory declares that the Hilltop stands with Negan and the punishment for fighting against the Sanctuary is banishment for the offenders and their families. None of the Hilltop's militia back down. At Negan's urging, Gregory again declares that "The Hilltop stands with the Saviors." "The Hilltop stands with Maggie!" Jesus shouts back defiantly.
Morgan kills the stray walker endangering the tripwire and sees the caravan of Saviors in the distance.
Simon pushes Gregory down the stairs after deciding he's no longer useful.
On the road, the Savior caravan trips the wire and sets off an explosion.
The explosion is heard at the Sanctuary. Rick tells Negan's lieutenants to make up their minds; he begins firing when they don't respond. Negan's crew runs for cover in different directions. Rick's group continues firing, blowing out the Sanctuary windows. The herd approaches, drawn by the explosion. Morgan and Tara get in a car, preparing to leave. Carol urges Daryl to be careful.
Rick's group continues to spray bullets at the Sanctuary, then retreats to their cars for evacuation.
Daryl shoots a succession of explosive barrels while riding his motorcycle toward the Sanctuary, guiding the herd.
Gabriel positions the RV in front of the Sanctuary fence and exits as it continues slowly moving forward. Rick uses the garage door opener to detonate the explosives in the RV, successfully breaching the gate. Negan takes cover behind a vehicle, as Rick continues firing at him. Gabriel urges Rick to evacuate. Before he goes, Rick uses an instant camera to snap a picture of the scene. Rick leaves as the herd closes in on the Sanctuary; Gabriel gets in his car, ready to follow suit. Just then, he sees Gregory crying for help and runs to his aid. The Saviors fire on them from inside the building, forcing Gabriel to take cover. Gregory jumps into Gabriel's car and drives off, abandoning him.
Carl returns to the gas station and leaves two cans of food with a note, "Sorry." The mysterious man watches from the bushes.
Rick's group waits for Gabriel at their rendezvous point. Rick tells Daryl that Gabriel stayed behind to save him, but they can't wait for him any longer. Daryl signals the group to get back in their vehicles. They prepare to enact the next phase of their plan.
A small group of soldiers from the militia (which includes Morgan, Tara, Jesus and Dianne) stands outside the fence of the satellite station outpost they previously cleared out. It has since been re-settled and fortified by Saviors. Morgan asks Dianne if she'll be able to hit the guards through the fence using her arrows. She expresses doubt.
At a second Savior outpost, Daryl and Rick shoot a guard and enter the front gate.
Carol and Ezekiel lead another group toward a third Savior outpost. They see a Savior guarding the front entrance and shoot at him. However, they all miss and the Savior ducks behind a car for cover. He then throws a smoke grenade at the group which explodes, creating a big cloud of smoke.
Meanwhile, Walkers continue to flood into the Sanctuary's grounds. Gabriel takes cover inside a trailer only to find it already occupied by Negan. Walkers surround the trailer as they swarm the Sanctuary.
In the future again, Judith, now 6 years old, runs up to white-bearded Rick in the kitchen. They walk to the porch and see people setting up a festival across the street.
Lights from the stained glass window dance on Rick's tear-streaked face. He says to himself, "My mercy... prevails... over my wrath", chuckling.
Rick concludes his speech to the unified communities. He urges them to fight for tomorrow, assuring them they've already won. The crowd cheers, ready for battle.
- Dahlia Legault as Francine
- Kerry Cahill as Dianne
- Karen Ceesay as Bertie
- Peter Zimmerman as Eduardo
- Carlos Navarro as Alvaro
- Daniel Newman as Daniel
- Jeremy Palko as Andy
- Brett Gentile as Freddie
- Anthony Lopez as Oscar
- Traci Dinwiddie as Regina
- Craig Gellis as Tough Grizzled Savior
- Kinsley Isla Dillon as Six Year-Old Judith
- Mandi Christine Kerr as Barbara
- First appearance of Siddiq.
- First appearance of Regina.
- The title of the episode, "Mercy", comes from Siddiq and Rick's statement: "My mercy prevails over my wrath".
- This episode is 67 minutes long, according to AMC's schedule.
- It is the third season premiere in a row to be extended.
- This is the first extended episode this season and the nineteenth extended episode overall.
- This episode has the lowest ratings for a season premiere since Season 3.
- This is the fifth consecutive season premiere that is written by Scott Gimple and directed by Greg Nicotero.
- As of this episode, Seth Gilliam (Gabriel) and Ross Marquand (Aaron) have been added to the opening credits.
- Also, as of this episode, Sonequa Martin-Green (Sasha) has been removed from the opening credits.
- Austin Amelio (Dwight), Tom Payne (Jesus), and Xander Berkeley (Gregory) are still listed under "Also Starring" despite being regulars in previous seasons.
- This is the first episode featuring Khary Payton (Ezekiel), Steven Ogg (Simon), Katelyn Nacon (Enid), and Pollyanna McIntosh (Jadis) as series regulars. They are all listed under "Also Starring".
- Jordan Woods-Robinson (Eric), Cooper Andrews (Jerry) and Jayson Warner Smith (Gavin) are upgraded from "Co-Stars" to "Also Starring" in this episode.
- This episode contains references to the first episode:
- Carl searching a gas station is similar to Rick searching another gas station.
- Gabriel being surrounded by walkers in a trailer with Negan is similar to Rick being surrounded by walkers in a tank.
- Addy Miller, who portrayed the walker Summer, makes a return as a walker that Rick sees after meeting up with Carl, bearing resemblance to her such as a chunk of her cheek missing and a cut on her forehead.
- Rick wakes up in a room after having received some sort of injury after an unknown amount of time and starts looking for his family like he wakes up in the hospital in Atlanta.
- During the highway scene where Carol and Tara are waiting for the herd of walkers, there is a flower graffiti on the wall nearby Carol. This could be referencing either the "Cherokee Rose" episode or Carol telling Lizzie to look at the flowers before killing her in "The Grove".
- When Carl returns to the gas station to leave the survivor some supplies, he can be seen carrying the orange backpack that the group took from the dead hitchhiker at the ending of "Clear".
- Negan saying "Let me ask you something, Rick." is a callback to how Shane Walsh always told Rick things like "Let me ask you something," or "Let me tell you something, Rick."
- Ezekiel's quote from the start of the episode is from Shakespeare's Henry V.
- In the scenes where an older Rick wakes up in an apparent flash-forward, a parody of Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust", 'Weird Al' Yankovic's "Another One Rides The Bus", can be heard. This could be a reference to Rick's victory over Negan in this apparent future or the use of the camper van later in the episode. Yankovic has commented that although he was puzzled at the song choice, he was honored to have his song chosen. Scott Gimple has said the choice was to make the scene jarring, and "Storywise, it had to be a song that I wanted Judith to be into, but I didn’t want her to be into something necessarily typical..."
- Coincidentally enough, "Another One Bites the Dust" could be foreshadowing of Carl, one of the four character in that scene, getting bit in "The King, the Widow, and Rick", as he indeed is condemned to "bite the dust" when he is bitten. The usage of "Another One Rides the Bus" instead could have been to mislead fans.
- In the final of these scenes, the people of Alexandria Safe-Zone built a big owl for the festival. This could be a reference to Jessie, who had previously built an owl out of metal parts with her sons. She also had an owl tattoo on her arm.
- Rick counting down for Negan's lieutenants to decide whether or not they surrender is similar to Negan counting down for Rick to cut off Carl's left arm in "The Day Will Come When You Won't Be".
- The 1985 Coachmen Senator RV that first appeared in "The Distance" from the Alexandria Safe-Zone is destroyed in this episode.
- The episode is dedicated to the memory of John Bernecker and George Romero.
- The clock pointing 8:23 in Rick's flashforward scene is a Scott Gimple's tribute to "Lost" (as the numbers 4, 8, 15, 16, 23 and 42 usually make an appearance throughout this series). It's also the same time that the clock in Cyndie's room in Oceanside pointed to before she brought the fish to Tara at the beach in the episode "Swear".
- Rick took a photo of Negan before leaving is similar to how the Saviors took photos of Negan's victims in previous seasons.
- An older Rick using a cane while viewing a rebuild and thriving Alexandria during the apparent flash forward is a slight nod to the time jump following the war in Issue 127.
- Judith mentioning a fair during the apparent flash forward is a slight nod to the communities fair in Issue 142.
- Michonne telling Carl she is staying behind to help him protect Alexandria since he is in charge is adapted from a similar scene in Issue 115, where Andrea talks with Carl instead.
- Rick giving a speech to the Militia before the start of the war is adapted from Issue 115.
- Rick and the Militia arriving at the Sanctuary and shooting at the sky to make Negan come out is adapted from Issue 115.
- Negan mocking Rick's plan is adapted from Issue 115.
- Negan having Gregory announce his intentions for the Hilltop to side with the Saviors is adapted from Issue 115.
- Gregory being shut up by Jesus who along with other residents side with Maggie is adapted from a similar scene in Issue 116, where only Jesus sides with Rick instead.
- Simon pushing Gregory down the stairs claiming he is disappointed in him is adapted from a similar scene in Issue 116, where Negan pushes Gregory down for being a pathetic leader instead.
- The Militia shooting at the Sanctuary windows to lure a herd of walkers is adapted from Issue 116.
- Gabriel directing the RV through the Sanctuary gates to let the herd in is adapted from a similar scene in Issue 116, where Holly drives her truck with the intention of killing Negan instead.
- Negan asking Gabriel if he has his "shitting pants on" after they get trapped inside a trailer is adapted from a similar scene in Issue 116, where Negan asks Dwight this after he notices the herd instead.
- In the scene where Dwight secures the note to the bolt and shoots it back toward Daryl, the walker in front of Dwight can be visibly seen blinking several times.
- In the scene where Carol & Tara are waiting for the herd to pass under the bridge they're on, the shadow of the bridge and the walkers are in different direction.