HOLLYWOOD—I’m going to be honest, I wish the AMC hit “The Walking Dead” actually premiered at the beginning of October instead towards the end of the month. However, it has been WAY TOO LONG since we last spoke about Rick, the Alexandrians, The Hilltop and The Kingdom all bonding together to deliver a brutal punch to Negan and The Saviors. Well, season 8 is amongst us people and the premiere episode, ‘Mercy’ did not disappoint.

Things kicked off with Rick in a trance, standing at the burial ground of someone, but that person’s identity remains a secret. The Hilltop, The Kingdom and Alexandrians prepared weaponry and materials for war. Yes, a battle is brewing and all have assembled to prepare for the onslaught. Dwight is sending secret messages to Daryl, so is he indeed crossing over? It was interesting to see Rick, Maggie and Ezekiel urging comradery in their fight to rid the world of evil.

I was eager to learn just what Carol and Tara were on the lookout for, and wow, it was a horde of walkers headed in their direction, and with Daryl and Morgan in their crosshairs, whatever plan they implemented should go off without a hitch right? This is “The Walking Dead” people, nothing ever goes as planned, but that vehicle exploded as a way to not only draw the walkers, but Negan and his many minions.

Just from the first 10 minutes it was apparent this season is playing with time in a way to keep the audience on edge. On his mission to retrieve gasoline, Carl was spooked by the voice of a man, who was later chased away by Rick, but Carl still left him cans of food. I wonder exactly what role this guy will play later in the season.

Ok, it became apparent our protagonists were doing all in their power to take out threats that could jeopardize their end game, and they have been planning for a very long time it seems. Rick and the others went off to fight, while Michonne, Carl and Rosita were left behind to protect the fortress. Yup, Rick and the gang are edging themselves closer to Negan’s fortress to dismantle the regime once and for all. Dwight took cover as Rick and the gang arrived in style, with so many barriers protecting their vehicles, things seemed almost impenetrable. However, I got the feeling this was a major set-up to deceive Rick and the others, but Negan and company exited ready for war.

We get that flashback to what appears to be the present yet again, this time with Rick finally getting out of bed, but cane in tow. Some good news, Michonne and Carl are still alive, at least for now. Flashback to Negan, exiting his compound and giving an epic speech per usual, just as Rick pointed out those in command to surrender or death would be unleashed. Well, well, as expected Gregory betrayed The Hilltop to align with Negan; however, Jesus and Maggie were not surprised by the result, neither was I. For Negan to think that would work was so laughable.

Jeez this episode has so much tension, and a plan implemented was almost faltered by a walker, but went accordingly thanks to Morgan. Hmm, Negan looks scared for the first time in like EVER, and I love every second of it America! Rick began his countdown, but fired a bit early unleashing war on Negan’s compound. Daryl was in charge of luring the walkers to the compound, just as Rick made it his mission to go after Negan at all cost.

Rick blew up the gang’s beloved trailer, just as Negan was seen scrambling for safety, but Father Gabriel was the audience’s saving grace to prevent Rick from doing something he would forget, however, he decided to help Gregory and it cost him dearly because Gregory fled in his vehicle. It appears Rick and the gang may have won the battle, but the war is far from over.

As The Walkers invaded the Sanctuary things did not look good for Negan’s minions nor Father Gabriel, as he came face-to-face with Negan inside a smaller trailer that walkers descended upon with a fury. Looks like Rick’s future is looking bright, but I’m feeling this is a ‘vision’ of what he hopes for things to look like after the war ends, I’m not so certain that will transpire. Yeah, I got that confirmation in the final moments watching Rick’s bloodshot red eyes riddled with tears. I will acknowledge I’m still trying to decipher what is expected this season, but I’m all in for season 8. Until next Sunday “Walking Dead” die-hards!