THE WALKING DEAD: “MERCY” REVIEW
The Walking Dead’s eighth season premiered with explosions, fire and guns. Lots of guns.
The opening half hour prioritised tension and build-up. Short, abstract interactions between characters made me anxious, yet eager to get into it. Even after 100 episodes, the narrow close-ups and restricted angles still catch your breath.
Cleverly positioned corrugated shields made a particularly fiery standoff buzz with anticipation as the camera darted between characters. That restricted, claustrophobic feel makes The Walking Dead stressful to watch.
Rick gave another “we will beat the bad guys” speech. This latest one could well have been a mashup of his most inspiring lines from seasons past. A forgettable backdrop to the action.
Eventually the pressure cooker burst, taking every walker, vehicle and building in the episode along with it. I counted eight explosions through a sequence that showcased some horrific yet pleasing walker effects.
The explosions and gun fire are not really what this show is about though. Meticulous character development has tended to sit back in recent series allowing the cheaper, action focused set-pieces take charge.
Time was a recurring theme and showrunner Scott Gimple along with episode director Greg Nicotero reminded us why we have continued watching. We saw Carl re-enact the opening scene of the pilot episode shot by shot. The original scene was so emotive and all those feelings were brought straight back in a wonderfully nostalgic moment.
→ The Verdict
A satisfying episode, but a reliance on call backs and nostalgia feels forced. Team Rick were ahead of the opposition and even when it seemed the bad guys had got one up yet again, steadfast loyalty and all-round badassery saved the day.
The new season opened with a series of bangs which pumped energy into the story, although sacrificing characterisation and in-depth story telling could harm the show.