The Walking Dead Season 8 Premiere Has Screened, Here's What Critics Think

walking dead season 8 rick and michonne

It has been an interesting between-seasons period for The Walking Dead fans, especially compared to a year ago, when viewers were waiting to find out who Negan's victim(s) were. Season 7 was one of the most polarizing seasons of any TV show in recent years, making Season 8 all the more exciting to consider, since the cast and crew have been promising an action-packed romp of an All Out War. Well, the premiere has screened -- with yours truly among the lucky early-viewers -- and reviews have been trickling in this week, so here's what people are saying.

In the same way that Season 7 turned some fans against the show for taking a dark and dreary tone, some are praising Season 8 for lightening the atmosphere and having more fun. This quote from We Got This Covered sums it up nicely.

For those repulsed and deflated by the horrific deaths and methodical storytelling of last season, 'Mercy' is the perfect remedy -- its brisk pacing, big action, and focus on the camaraderie between the Alexandria, Hilltop, and Kingdom survivors makes for super entertaining television which makes you feel good without trivializing the drama.

The Walking Dead can sometimes take its time getting story points across, aiming for methodical storytelling at points when things should potentially have been more lucid and free-flowing. But that's not something that fans will have to deal with with the Season 8 premiere as far as Insider is concerned, and we also shouldn't expect things to look exactly like the source material.

Season eight wastes little time getting into the thick of it. And if you think you know what will happen based on Robert Kirkman's graphic novels, think again. The show is taking some liberties from the popular comics and so far, it's all the better for it.

Part of what makes The Walking Dead's Season 8 premiere so fun, according to most, is the way that the episode spins the show's central focus back to Andrew Lincoln's Rick Grimes, as well as his fellow Team Family mates. And not in a way in which they're all sectioned off in small groups and meant to be as miserable as possible, but as a group. Here's how Den of Geek felt about Rick's big return.

If the back half of season seven was about treating the wound, then the season eight premiere is finally about healing. We have a main character in Rick again, and Andrew Lincoln is better than ever in the role.

At 47 minutes, "Mercy" is technically a little longer than the average Walking Dead episode, but it still felt quite short, considering everything that was being put into play. But those are the markings of an episode that capably spreads its focus around, presumably in response to fan complaints over the standalone episodes in Season 7. was a little more reserved with its compliments, but they still give the episode its due credit for introducing the new season.

Overall, the Season Eight premiere is a good and safe episode. It has all the makings of an extravagant and stellar middle-of-the-road episode, but is careful not to go too far in kicking off the new season. Longtime fans of The Walking Dead will certainly appreciate it, quickly feeling eager for more, which is ultimately the goal of any season premiere.

Of course, while much of the opinions about The Walking Dead's premiere have been positive, you won't find anything resembling kindness or acceptance from Forbes, which took a butcher's knife to "Mercy" and spent little time offering positive criticism. No agreement about this being either a return to form or being different from past seasons.

Alas, once again the show's creators have failed to learn from past mistakes, failed to make significant improvements to the increasingly sloppy writing and plotting, and continue to treat the show's viewers as though we're stupid. Far from a return to the glory days, the Season 8 premiere is a jarring, confusing mess of an episode, in turns pretentious and mind-bogglingly nonsensical.

For what it's worth, I agree with several of the opinions stated above. It's indeed a fun episode at times, and it gives Rick a chance to re-prove that the Rick-tatorship is something worth reviving. But in the same vein, there are definitely some questionable (and possibly sloppy) choices made when it comes to the pacing and time-related edits. They're a bit more jarring than those from Season 6, and made harder to discern how things are playing out. Still, though, it's definitely not enough to keep me away from the rest of the season, which I'll be watching like a hawk every week.

The Walking Dead Season 8 will make its long-awaited debut on AMC on Sunday, October 22, at 10:00 p.m. ET. We've got all kinds of Walking Dead coverage for fans to prepare with, from our guesses to who will show up in the Fear the Walking Dead crossover to what producer Gale Anne Hurd thinks of the action this season. Then, after you hit up our latest horror-centered Cord Cutter podcast, you can check out everything else hitting your TVs later this year with our fall premiere schedule.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.