Not only was last night’s episode the Season 8 premier, it was the 100th episode of the show. To honour that, the writers and directors punctuated the episode with a series of nods to the pilot. Drawing parallels between the two was quite comforting but it also highlighted how much the series has changed over seven seasons, and not every aspect has changed for the better.
Overall, this season’s opener was an enjoyable episode, with some great moments. It is difficult not to compare last night’s episode with the season seven premier and I definitely enjoyed this season’s premier to that of season seven’s. While I typically do not mind when an episode of the Walking Dead does not follow a linear narrative, there were times – particularly before the first advert break – where I really did not know what we were watching, or when what we were watching was supposed to be happening. Who is “sore-eyes” Rick? Is that a flash back or a flash forward? Was “Grandpa” Rick a dream or a glimpse into the future? Generally though, I found these scenes more intriguing that confusing.
I do believe that, at some point, this series needs to use a big time jump and take us a few years into the future. I believe the creators want to take it to 11 seasons – if it wants to remain fresh, they need to take it in a different direction. The series is still great, it is still better than most series on television right now, but it needs to branch out before it starts chasing its tail. I do wonder if “Grandpa” Rick and his terrible haircut is a way of foreshadowing a time jump at the end of this series. I can only hope.
Maggie’s baby bump is still refusing to grow so I had to use Michonne’s battle bruises to gauge how much time had passed between season seven and season eight. Really, how isn’t she showing more by now?! As I was watching this episode I wished I had re-capped the season seven finale; I think it would flow very naturally if it was watched straight after the finale, whereas in isolation it felt like I had been dropped into the middle of an episode.
There was some genuine promise in this episode that we are going to cover some ground in season eight. I loved that we saw every character, I loved the sense of foreboding as our group methodically picked off the Saviours outposts. I really enjoyed the action but ultimately, some of this was let down by uncomfortable dialogue.
Sometimes Negan is funny and frightening, sometimes his one-liners leave me squirming in embarrassment. I have love-hate feelings for the character and how he is portrayed. It must be an extremely difficult tightrope for the actor to walk and he does not always succeed. In short “I hope you brought your sh!tting pants” did not strike fear into my heart. That is a line to be delivered to a crowd, where that kind of relentless posturing makes sense; aimed at just one person in a small confined space, it simply sounded silly.
From this point on, I would like to Negan unravel a little. He has to be shaken up by Rick’s attack, whether Rick and his group fail this time or not, they intend to keep coming at him. Negan does not seem to be used to this kind of insubordination! So where does this leave him? Hopefully we will get to see that in a little detail.
The episode ended on a cliff-hanger of sorts, so I can’t wait for the next episode, even if I have no idea where they are going to take this season. Thoughts?