Thoughtful & Abstract: The Walking Dead: “Mercy”

In which Kim and Shawn discuss the type of pants one might wear while watching this zombie show.

Kim: “I hope you are wearing your shitting pants!”

I’ve spent the past 24 hours trying to figure out how to get across my true feelings about this episode. Several things happened. Several things didn’t. I got laid at the end of the night, so at least that worked out as planned, but I digress.

An interesting note about my anticipation of the season opener: I did not have a countdown. I was not suffering any type of withdrawals. There was no, “Oh my God, It’s starting in four days!” This is a direct reflection of my disappointment in last season. I was looking forward to it all day Sunday. I even started it late to avoid as many of the commercials as possible. And then, we watched as a family.

What didn’t happen

The garbage people didn’t show up.

The tiger didn’t show up.

Jerry never said, “Deuces!”

Daryl and Carol didn’t make out.

No one got shot (which I’ll talk about below).

Jesus did not do Kung Fu.

Tara did not break a tooth on that Twizzler, which is at least two years old. And I don’t care if that package remained sealed up – that shit is harder than an adolescent boy watching porn on a cell phone while Mom is cooking dinner.

What did happen

Daryl rode on his bike and blew some shit up.

Daryl and Dwight exchanged notes via arrow.

Some Saviors got taken out.

Carl fed the creeper at the abandoned lot.

Morgan returned as a killing machine. Maybe.

Jesus is with Maggie. I think we all stand with Maggie.

Honestly, I’m not even sure what else happened. This was one of the most artsy-fartsy episodes I’ve ever seen on this show. The jumping around from the inspiring speeches, to red-eyed Rick, to old man Rick, to Judith whose hair has grown by leaps and bounds in what’s probably only been a couple of weeks’ time (at best) from when we last saw her, to a lot of unnecessary talking, to the red eye, to old man, to some of the worst shooting I’ve ever seen in my life, some more red eye, and back to the inspiring speeches.

So, after all of the waiting, I’m unsure of a few things.

First and foremost, did any of that “battle” happen or was that Rick daydreaming while someone else was talking? Rude.

What the fuck was up with old man Rick’s hair? Do people still get that box-top haircut in the future?

Do you mean to tell me they have dozens of people suddenly opening fire on five jokers and not a single one of them hits anyone? Are you serious?

But most importantly, if Rick’s goal was to kill Negan, then why in the hell did he stand there, jabberjawing at him for as long as he did? I mean, couldn’t he have distracted him with the talky and then had someone shoot him? Granted, no one can apparently hit anything in that group, but there should have been a better plan than to try and talk them to death. And Rick, everyone knows you start shooting at five, not seven.

In closing, I’m underwhelmed. I’m not even going to wear my shitting pants next week.

Shawn: I think I was a little more excited about the start of this season than you. I didn’t exactly have a countdown. The return of the show was an antidote to the meh Fear The Walking Dead season so there was that. And I actually watched some of the last episodes of last season to get ready. After a few months off, I was less disappointed with last season as a whole than I remembered. Knowing where it left off, I think they did a decent job of setting up this season to come. Now there’s something about that last season that also informs my opinion of this episode and possibly the rest of the season. There was way too much repetition, explaining what we were seeing with awkward expository dialogue, and dreams. When they stuck to the actual plot, it was a pretty decent season. So I sat down with some minor anticipation knowing that most of the past seasons have started very intensely.

What didn’t happen

Not even one person shot Negan. I mean, even his own people didn’t get bored of his speech and take a shot at him.

The lieutenants didn’t give up. If they give up, it’s war over and no reason for the rest of the season.

Rick didn’t wear a kilt when he gave his William Wallace speech. Does Braveheart exist in their Universe? Someone should have called him out on it.

Any explanation for this flash-forward / dream state of Rick’s. If this dominates the season, they will drive me away for good.

Rick didn’t count all the way down to zero from ten. What a poor sport, Rick. Or did you lose track of your numbers in the middle of your flash-forward?

Daryl didn’t yell “I’ll be back” as he went full Terminator on his motorcycle.

What did happen

The episode was properly dedicated to George Romero – the father of this incarnation of the genre.

We took one step closer to Mad Max times with the armored-up cars.

Five seemingly innocent lookouts meet pretty violent deaths. Can’t shoot Negan but we got this old man guard.

Dwight shot an arrow through Daryl’s heart. Not literally but one of those arrows did have a cootie-catcher that asked: Do You Like Me? (Check One) Yes/No.

Taking a cue from the quarry season – Daryl, Carol, and Morgan started a zombie parade. That wasn’t clear until the end and I still don’t really get what happened there.

Maggie has quietly become the real brains behind this whole deal. I’m with Jesus in this one case. I love their subtle dig that Jesus is a Disciple of Maggie in this show.

If you need any reason for someone not shooting Negan, it’s gotta be that even they realize how crappy they are at assassinations. We can go back to the missed attempts at the Governor to start. We also have a shot that hit Lucille, Sasha’s wasted sacrifice, Eugene’s failures, and Carl’s half-assed attempts to show us that our team sucks at killing this one man. It makes sense to play this out over the next season based on the internal logic of the show. Rick has vowed to kill Negan and it can’t just happen, it has to be epic. Negan reminds me of the Wicked Witch of the West – once she was dead, you didn’t see the rest of her lieutenants picking up her broom and going to war. Same here, once Negan is dead, no one will be picking up Lucille to keep the war going.

So in the end the episode was way too talky and not zombie or Negan-murdery enough. I’m happy to think we might get more walker threats to start next episode but still regular pants at best.

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Shawn Bourdo

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