Lingering closeups of a weary Rick (Andrew Lincoln), a cane, flowers, and the face of a clock reading 8:21 kick off season eight of AMC’s The Walking Dead. As season eight episode one – the show’s 100th episode – begins, Rick is standing at the foot of a grave. An unspecified amount of time has gone by, and in another clip we see members of Rick’s group gathering metal.
The scene shifts to Rick telling the citizens of Alexandria, Hilltop, and the Kingdom the bigger world is theirs by right. He believes that’s even more true since they came together.
An arrow’s shot and lands near Dwight (Austin Amelio). He unfurls its message and it simply states, “Tomorrow.” Dwight scribbles on the note and reattaches it to an arrow. He shoots it back at Daryl (Norman Reedus) who’s outside of the Saviors complex.
Rick continues his speech, saying it’s time to end the rule of those who take the world and call it their own. Only Negan has to die, and Rick vows to kill him himself. He’s also ready to take down those who stand with Negan and those who turn a blind eye.
“Together” is the key theme to his speech, and King Ezekiel (Khary Payton) joins Rick and Maggie (Lauren Cohan) to declare those who join together his brothers and sisters. Maggie adds her voice, saying they practiced this repeatedly and the plan doesn’t end this morning, reminding them they all have to keep their faith in each other. “If we can hold onto that with everything we have, the future is ours. The world is ours.”
Tara (Alanna Masterson) and Carol (Melissa McBride) make notes of times and movements. A large horde of walkers pass under the bridge they’re positioned on.
Rick glances down at the grave again. Once more to the closeup of the cane, flowers, and clock stopped at 8:21. The closeups lead into a shot of an older Rick in bed, with a full, neatly trimmed beard and lots of grey in his hair.
Once more to a shot of Rick, tears flowing, eyes bloodshot, and looking exhausted.
Carl (Chandler Riggs) drives a van down the road, stopping at a gas station. He hears a man going off about being shot, mumbling about lessons his mother taught him. Carl locates the stranger and as they begin to talk, Rick shoots over the guy’s head. Rick wants him gone, believing he might have been a spy. He doesn’t kill him and if he’s not a spy, Rick admits he hopes he makes it.
The note Dwight wrote reveals the locations of Negan’s lookouts. Each location is crossed off the list after Daryl, Morgan (Lennie James), and Rick take them out.
It’s 30 minutes to attack time and Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) asks Rick if he’s ready. Rick claims just one person brought them to this and Gabriel advises him this preparation for war is also rooted in just one person – Rick.
Tara and Carol are joined by Morgan and Daryl on the bridge at 7:49.
Rick kisses his young daughter goodbye and then shares a passionate kiss with Michonne (Danai Gurira). Carl watches and then he and his dad hug. “This is the end of it,” says Rick as he gets into a truck and leaves, followed by a brigade of vehicles all plated in scrap metal. Carl remains behind as do Rosita (Christian Serratos) and Michonne. They’re ready to defend Alexandria.
Rick stabs one of Negan’s men and then goes through his supplies. The man struggles to speak, saying he remembers Rick begging and crying. Rick crosses that location off his lookout list and then turns a walker loose on the barely-alive man. He signals the group and the caravan appears.
The caravan makes its way to a field and now we’re caught up with the moments prior to Rick, King Ezekiel, and Maggie’s speech. The well-armed fighters prepare to go to war. Some pray, some make new friends. Maggie is ready for this, joking that you can wage war through the second trimester. She needs to stand with the Hilltop, at least for the first part of the battle, since she convinced them to stand up to Negan’s Saviors.
Rick actually laughs at Maggie, and then they discuss what tomorrow might look like. Rick is anxious and can’t wait for it, and Maggie assures him there’s just one more fight. King Ezekiel tells Maggie they have a doctor in case she’s worried, but Jesus believes the Hilltop will get theirs back. King Ezekiel declares they’re going to reshape this world. As the leaders break up their talk, Rick tells Maggie the Hilltop is lucky to have her. He also reveals that after this, he’s following her.
7:50am. Tara, Carol, Daryl, and Morgan wait as Tara counts down 10 seconds. Nothing happens and Tara says, “Shit!” A few more seconds pass and the horde is now approaching the bridge. The team race away, Daryl on his motorcycle. The vehicle left on the bridge explodes.
Back at the Saviors’ camp, radio communications indicate the explosion on the bridge was heard. Two cars, 10 guns, and a few motorcycles are sent out, but they assume it’s probably just something that was left under a dead body. (It’s Dwight on the radio commanding the group.)
A cord is stretched across the road as Carol, Morgan, Tara, and Daryl stand on an overhead pedestrian walkway over the street the Saviors will take to investigate the explosion.
Dwight leaves his post as two of Negan’s lookouts at the camp are shot. The armored caravan, which includes the motorhome, arrives outside Negan’s gates. The fighters all get into position behind the armor and a few fire their guns in the air at Maggie’s command. They then wait for action and it doesn’t take long before Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), Dwight, and a few of his men emerge from the building. Negan smiles.
Once again, we return to the red-eyed, worn-out Rick. He looks up at a stained glass sign. He’s alone.
And now we’re back to the older Rick in bed. He checks his watch and then greets Michone in the kitchen, chiding her for turning off the alarm. She smiles, reassuring him they can manage without him for one morning. He’s walking with a cane.
Back to the action, Negan has five people with him (including Eugene) as he claims they don’t need to shoot it up, reminding Rick his d*ck is the bigger of the two. He doesn’t look worried as he says he actually doesn’t care if his penis isn’t bigger, he’s not going to let his people die over this particular contest. But, he says Rick’s about to let his men die because of it. Negan wants to know what he can do for Rick, and Rick begins calling out the names of the people assembled behind Negan. Eugene starts to talk but Rick immediately cuts him off.
Rick tells the five, and the Saviors inside the building within earshot, they have a chance to survive if they surrender. Now’s the only time Rick can guarantee that. None do, and Negan smiles again.
Back at the overhead walkway, Morgan’s forced to go back to street level to kill a walker who might set off their explosion.
Negan thinks Rick’s offering his people a good deal. Then he asks about himself, and Rick reminds him he’s twice told him what’s going to happen. Negan thinks Rick has no idea what’s about to go down. He also wonders if Rick has the numbers for this fight, and then answers his own question saying Rick doesn’t.
Gregory, the leader of Hilltop, emerges next to Negan. Gregory announces the Hilltop stands with Negan and the Saviors. If anyone takes up arms, they will no longer be welcome in the Hilltop. Plus, their families will be thrown out. Negan urges him on and Gregory says to go home now or there will be no home to go back to.
No one moves in Rick’s group but Maggie tells the Hilltop members near her to do what they have to do. Again, none budge. Negan suggests the Hilltoppers leave and go back to whatever they normally do with their daily lives. Maggie calls out that no one is leaving and Jesus interrupts Gregory when he tries to say once again that the Hilltop stands with Negan. Jesus shouts, “The Hilltop stands with Maggie.”
Returning to Carol’s team, Morgan spots the Saviors’ cars approaching and doesn’t have time to make it back to the bridge. He shelters in place instead. The cars blow up as they hit the tripwire.
Negan’s number two, Simon (Steven Ogg), expresses his disappointment in Gregory and shoves him off the platform.
Outside the Saviors’ complex, Rick and Maggie nod when they see the smoke from the explosion. The nod is passed on by King Ezekiel and goes down the line.
Rick once again tells Negan’s lieutenants to make up their minds. Negan’s smile is gone but as Rick begins his countdown from 10, it returns. Rick stops at 7 and begins firing. Negan and his men make a run for it as the combined forces begin firing into the building’s windows.
Morgan walks through the wreckage as the horde of walkers approach their location. Tara and Morgan leave in one car as Carol gives Daryl a hug and tells him to be careful. Daryl says, “Shit, this is going to be fun,” but Carol says it isn’t. They do agree it’s better than letting things be.
Back at the Saviors’ complex, Maggie screams, “Now!” and most of the group return to their vehicles.
Daryl is just feet in front of the massive horde when he starts up his motorcycle. He shots at specific targets as he leads the group forward, each shot setting off a fiery explosion so the horde can easily follow his path. It also alerts Rick and Father Gabriel as to how close the horde is to the Saviors’ complex.
Rick and Father Gabriel remain in place and fire at the complex. At a specific moment, Father Gabriel gives the signal and Rick blows up the motorhome. Negan limps out of the building and Rick fires at him. Gabriel pulls him away, reminding Rick it’s not about him since Rick doesn’t want to stop shooting at the place where Negan’s barely concealed. Before he runs away with Father Gabriel, Rick snaps a Polaroid of Negan hiding.
Rick and Father Gabriel get in the two remaining vehicles as the massive zombie horde approaches the Saviors’ complex. Father Gabriel’s about to drive away when he sees Gregory, injured and asking for help. Father Gabriel can’t leave him so he rushes out to help Gregory. He assures him he’ll take him to safety as the Saviors begin shooting at the horde. Gregory panics and runs to Father Gabriel’s car. He drives away leaving Father Gabriel at the mercy of the zombie horde.
Carl returns to the gas station where he saw the stranger and leaves him some canned food with a note reading, “Sorry.”
The cars have reassembled away from the action and King Ezekiel smiles.
Rick and Daryl wait outside of town with part of the group for Father Gabriel, but he should have been at their location by now. Rick explains that Father Gabriel stopped to get him instead of fleeing, but he’s unaware Father Gabriel also stopped to save Gregory. They have to head out and Rick repeats Father Gabriel’s words when Daryl asks if he’s okay. “This is not about me,” says Rick.
Morgan, Tara, and Dianne (Kerry Cahill) are positioned outside the gate at a Saviors’ facility. Dianne’s not sure she can hit the guards with arrows given that there are so many zombies being kept inside the fence as undead shields.
At another gate, Daryl takes out a guard and he and Rick push open the gate.
Carol, King Ezekiel, and a group of the Kingdom’s men march down a street. They fire at a Savior, but he tosses a grenade their way.
The horde makes its way into the main Saviors complex. Father Gabriel tries to flee and finally makes his way into a building. Unfortunately, it’s the same small building where Negan is holed up. “I hope you’ve got your shitting pants on,” says Negan, clearly gleeful at this turn of events. Walkers surround the building.
So, apparently the older Rick isn’t that much older as his daughter’s still fairly young (five or six-ish). They’re all preparing for a festival and she tells him they’ve built a big owl and it’s right outside. She holds his hand and he sees the owl and people tending to gardens.
Yet another scene of Rick with bloodshot eyes and tears running down his cheeks. He says, “My mercy prevails over my wrath.”
The scene transforms to Rick finishing up his speech, saying he doesn’t want to wait for this anymore and neither do any of the rest of them. “With everything we’ve beat, everything we’ve endured, everything we’ve risen above, everything we’ve become, if we start tomorrow right now, no matter what comes next we’ve won. We’ve already won!” The crowd cheers.
Episode 100 ends with title cards reading “In Memory of John Bernecker” and “In Memory of George Romero.”
More on The Walking Dead:
– Recap of The Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 2
– Recap of The Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 3
– Recap of The Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 4
– Recap of The Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 5
– Recap of The Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 7
– Recap of The Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 8
– Recap of The Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 9
– Recap of The Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 10
– Recap of The Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 11
– Recap of The Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 12
– Recap of The Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 13
– Recap of The Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 14
– Recap of The Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 15
– Recap of The Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 16