Cryptic Callbacks, Fiery Face-Offs, Gullible Gabriel: The Walking Dead 100th Episode


Last Sunday, AMC aired the Season 8 premiere of The Walking Dead, and the series’ 100th episode. Fans and critics alike had high hopes for the season opener, as last season’s finale left viewers feeling generally pretty heartbroken. 

The Walking Dead’s Season 7 premiere was monumental for the series, and drew an impressive 17 million viewers — no easy feat for a primetime drama series in the height of football season. The introduction of the formidable Negan and his menacing, personified sidekick Lucille, gave the series a needed refresher in what many were beginning to believe was a stale storyline.

Season 8’s premiere wasted no time in jumping back into the heat of battle. We were quickly reunited with (what’s left of) the gang, with Rick, Maggie, Morgan, Daryl and Carl at the forefront of the action. It’s surprising, when looking at the pacing of an average season of TWD, to see just how quickly the pacing of the opener was. Viewers were jolted back into the walker-infested universe within the first few minutes, and Rick and the gang’s plans were quickly underway. 

In recent years, critics have censured the series for moving at a glacial pace with all the big action-centered sequences packed into the mid-season, and season finale. It’s unsure whether season 8 will follow this pattern, but judging by the opener, TWD is set to cruise along into at least a few high-intensity episodes revolving the group’s face-off with Negan and the Saviors. 

Another exciting aspect of the premiere came in the form of the parallels and “Easter eggs” from the pilot episode. Throughout the episode, we see a strange, dreamlike fantasy through Rick’s eyes, of himself as a grey-haired, heavily bearded man, living in a pleasant house with Michonne, Carl and Judith. The overhead point of view visuals of Rick awakening in a bed harken back to that very first scene when Rick Grimes opens his eyes in the Atlanta hospital bed to discover the terrifying new world around him. In the latest episode, he even looks to his bedside table to see fresh flowers, whereas in the pilot, he looks over to find dead, wilted flowers. It’s uncertain what this daydream signifies at this point, but it is exciting for fans, nonetheless.

(*Other Easter eggs included Carl looking for gas at the gas station, the orange backpack, and Carol looking over at the flower drawn onto highway divider.)


While the episode had its share of victories, it also had its disappointments. Negan, yet again, puts a damper in Rick’s plans when out comes Gregory, the spineless leader of the Hilltop Colony. A collective head shake was shared by viewers as the sycophantic Gregory, once again, displays his true colors in announcing that the Hilltop will not stand for any rebellion against the Saviors. Typical. 

The episode’s second infuriating moment came when, as expected, in the frenzy of the walker horde/shootout siege, Gabriel finds himself in a dilemma over whether or not to leave Gregory behind. Of course, what does Gabriel do? He goes back for Gregory, and Gregory ends up running off and stealing the fortified truck, thus leaving Gabriel behind in the middle of a swarm of walkers. 

What’s frustrating about this scene, is that, at this point, one would think Gabriel’s character had grown enough to see this coming. Granted, yes, his priestly past is still not easily left behind, but you would think that he would have the foresight to realize Gregory is a coward who will do anything to save himself, even at the cost of others; we even witnessed it in this very episode! Nevertheless, it leaves Gabriel in a suspenseful position, when he escapes to an RV where the show’s most tyrannical villain yet has also sought refuge. 

Gabriel comes face to face with Negan, who emerges from the shadows, and wryly inquires if the former priest has his “shitting pants on.” There’s that classic Negan we love to hate to love.