The Walking Dead season 8 episode 1 spoiler-free review: Regains its stride with heart-stopping aplomb

Initial musings on the popular US drama's latest outing as it returns with its 100th episode

Jacob Stolworthy
Sunday 22 October 2017 18:27 BST

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


To non-fans, it's perhaps inevitable to assume that - after seven seasons and 99 episodes - The Walking Dead has outstayed its welcome since debuting back in 2010.

This notion was perhaps matched by even the most dedicated fan following the less than enthusiastic response to its seventh run last year.

Concerns for season eight were consequently rife but cast them aside: The Walking Dead has returned with a taut, thrilling and disarmingly optimistic outing that will silence any questions surrounding the relevancy of a long-running series in a time filled with new ones.

The premiere, titled 'Mercy,' features the usual - action, smirk-inducing character interactions and on-the-nose dialogue about “reshaping the world” and "hopeful tomorrows." The threat of Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) looms large (it's only been a few weeks for our characters) and if season seven was our introduction to the new world once teased by Jesus (Tom Payne), this premiere is an introduction to something else altogether - a season of payoff.

The Walking Dead: Official Comic Con Season 8 Trailer

Has everything been building to this premiere? Perhaps not, but it certainly feels like this series has been bolstered by a renewed sense of purpose in six short months. While paying homage to past seasons with callbacks to scenes from far simpler early days, 'Mercy' is refreshingly far more versed in where these characters are headed as opposed to rehashing the reasons why they're at war with the Saviours.

The Walking Dead has returned with an assured 100th episode that adeptly weaves between the large ensemble (last count: 19) while ambiguously touching upon the fate of select characters in an ambiguous series of scenes that'll provide audiences with one of the show's biggest talking points yet.

Most shows in their eighth season would be crawling towards cancellation but after 100 episodes, The Walking Dead has regained its stride with heart-stopping aplomb.

The Walking Dead season eight airs 22 October in the US on AMC with the UK premiere arriving the following evening (Monday 23 October) at 9pm on FOX and NOW TV

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