The Walking Dead's eighth season has begun with Rick and co. doing a bit of planning, showing some decisive proactiveness and giving Negan a run for his money (on his own turf, mind you). The premiere episode of The Walking Dead Season 8 was all about Alexandria, the Hilltop and the Kingdom coming together against the Big Bad in the series' 100th episode. There were plenty of flashbacks and Easter Eggs in "Mercy", but you might also have noticed the double in memoriam as soon as the screen faded to black — dedicating the premiere to John Bernecker and George Romero.
Earlier this year, The Walking Dead lost one of its stunt members, John Bernecker, in a tragic accident on set. Bernecker died from the injures he suffered while rehearsing a scene with another actor, and the production for The Walking Dead Season 8 was put on hold while cast and crew mourned the loss of their co-worker and friend. Even the show's press events at this year's San Diego Comic Con were canceled, with only autograph sessions and (a rather less cheerful) The Walking Dead panel in Hall H to represent the show.
"Mercy," The Walking Dead Season 8 premiere episode, also paid tribute to the late zombie-horror legendary director, George A. Romero. Since the episode was directed by Greg Nicotero — who started in the business working under Romero — it was no surprise that his mentor would have his legacy appreciated. Not to mention that Greg Nicotero is no stranger to including many a zombie tribute to other directors of the genre in the episodes he directs — Romero included.
The Walking Dead Season 8 dove right into the All Out War story arc from the comics, and it definitely looks like the show is back on its track as far as pace goes. While this season's production may have initially suffered with a terrible loss, it seems the showrunners were able to turn the tables and bring about one hell of a Season 8. Of course it's all the better that they're carrying the torch of George A. Romero's legacy and John Bernecker's dedication with them.
The Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 2, "The Damned", airs next Sunday, on AMC.