The Walking Dead delivered its 100th episode and the beginning of its eighth season Sunday night, and did it really deliver. When we left Rick and his crew at the end of Season 7, he was rallying his troops for the upcoming All Out War with Negan. Negan was also rallying, but we don't care about him. We finally got to see ass-kicking Rick emerge once again, and leave crying, begging-for-mercy Rick behind.
Note: This article contains major spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 8 premiere, "Mercy."
“Mercy” was the name of the episode, and mercy, was it good to see #TheWalkingDead back in top form. The callbacks to previous episodes were incredible, and the internet reacted accordingly, like always. The flash-forward showing us old man Rick gave us hope that better things were ahead. But another depressing jump into the future kept that hope in check, as it was one that showed a mourning Rick. He had lost someone dear to him, and there were a few clues as to who it might have been.
Who could it be? I believe Rick is either mourning Father Gabriel or Shiva. First, let's look at why it very well could be the tiger that Rick is mourning.
Shiva's Body Appears To Be In The Season 8 Trailer
Here's the Season 8 trailer for you again:
Around the 4:12 mark, some walkers are attacking Carl, and little Grimes seems to land on an animal's lifeless, ravaged body.
A random dead (and huge) deer makes little sense, and since Shiva dies in the comics, her time to go might be coming. You can see how much danger Shiva was in earlier in the trailer, in a similarly wooded area, so it's not looking good for the tiger.
Shiva Saved Carl Once; Could She Do It Again?
Seeing how Carl, Shiva, and most likely other survivors are in peril in the trailer, Shiva could very well save Carl's butt again. She did it once in Season 7, when Negan was about to bash his brains in. If Shiva saves him again—and she might, if we guess that it's her body Carl is on top of in the trailer scene already mentioned—then maybe Rick is all choked up over her death. Why wouldn't he be for an animal that saved his son not once, but twice?
But that's not the only team member I think Rick is mourning. Nope, I think he's also grieving the lost of their trusted priest, Father Gabriel. And here's why:
The Celtic Cross In The Scene
I'm not aware of any Irish characters on the show, but any time you see something religious, Father Gabriel tends to come to mind, does he not? #TWD isn't exactly known for just throwing random shots into the show for no reason. If there is something in particular that's included in a shot, it's usually for a reason. I can't think of anyone else that a stained glass window would symbolize if not their man of the cloth.
The Concept Of Mercy As Foreshadowing
"My mercy prevails over my wrath." Rick's words as he stands in front of the Celtic cross don't actually come from the Bible, but from Allah. Either way, it sounds like something Father Gabriel would say, doesn't it? And the concept of mercy ties directly into what looks to be Gabriel's storyline for the near future—and what might even lead to his death.
In the premiere, Gabriel showed mercy for Gregory, which (of course) backfired horrendously, when the duplicitous Gregory abandoned Gabriel to save himself. It left the good priest trapped in a small room with Negan at the end of the episode. Stupid, spineless Gregory. But before that, Gabriel stops Rick from killing Negan, saying that it's not about Rick. Again, he shows mercy, probably to the wrong damn guy. His mercy for Gregory got Gabriel abandoned; his mercy for Negan got him trapped with the very same. If Gabriel does end up dying as a result of his mercy, that quote by Rick is both foreshadowing and a fitting eulogy for a man who never let his belief in compassion and mercy waver.
This Interview With Nicotero
EW had a talk with Nicotero, and posted it after the episode aired. In it, he was quoted as saying:
"So when you broke it down that way there might even be four timelines because if you think about Rick at Glenn and Abraham’s graves, and then you think about Rick on the back of the truck when he’s doing his speech so yeah, we always do that because it always gives the audience an opportunity to put some of these timelines together for themselves."
Nicotero suggests there may have been more timelines and versions of Rick than we thought. Old man Rick, Negan-taunting Rick, speech on the back of a truck Rick, and mourning Rick. The scenes where Rick is mourning, truly mourning, seem different than where he's standing at Abraham and Glenn's graves, not the least of which is that Celtic cross. Could Nicotero, Robert Kirkman, and the rest of the TWD crew be—gasp—purposely misleading us into thinking one thing while another is actually happening? They would never do that. Would they, Glenn?
What do you think? Could Rick finally be getting some closure over Glenn and Abraham's graves, or does he weep for someone new? Sound off in the comments about who you think Rick is mourning!