The best part of The Walking Dead's return is seeing all our favorite characters again. Like Daryl, Michonne, Simon and, of course, that trusty orange backpack.
You might not have noticed, but the orange backpack Carl is carrying in the Season 8 premiere has been around for seasons, even outliving many of the show's human characters.
While it makes sense that the survivors would hold onto the same gear (they can't exactly pop down to Walmart), this particular item holds deep significance for the Season 8 premiere. What is the meaning of the orange backpack in The Walking Dead? You're about to find out.
Back in Season 3 Episode 12, a hitchhiker wearing an orange backpack is seen begging for a lift from Rick, Carl and Michonne. They ignore him and keep driving, leaving him defenseless.
Later on, they drive past the same spot and see the hitchhiker's bloodied corpse. Instead of feeling guilty, Carl sees an opportunity for some sweet loot and grabs the poor guy's backpack. Hey, it's not like he'll be needing it anymore.
Since then, we've seen the bag make plenty of appearances. Glenn, Rick, Eugene and Daryl have all used it at some point, though Carl obviously has a certain fondness for it. And as the Season 8 premiere showed us, it teachers him an important moral lesson.
"Mercy" is both the title and theme of this episode. Gabriel shows mercy to Gregory, and the episode leaves us wondering if Negan will show the same to him.
But the first direct mention of mercy comes from the mysterious guy begging Carl for food. He paraphrases the Qur'an, saying, "May my mercy prevail over my wrath."
As much as he wanted Carl to show him mercy, Rick had other ideas, firing a few warning shots to scare him off.
The stranger's quote about mercy may have hit home for Carl. He no doubt still feels guilty about leaving Backpack Guy to the mercy of the walkers, ultimately leading to his death.
This is where the orange backpack itself comes in. Almost poetically, Carl pulls out two cans of food and an apology note, leaving them for the starving stranger. It's his way of making amends to what happened to the backpack's original owner and, for his potential new friend, showing mercy.
Thought those words didn't affect Rick? Think again. Toward the end of the episode, Rick quotes that same stranger with a more hopeful statement: "My mercy prevails over my wrath." Looks like the orange backpack taught him a lesson, too.
Did you notice the reappearance of the orange backpack in the Season 8 premiere?