Spoilers for The Walking Dead comic books and episode 8×01.
The Walking Dead season 8 opener, “Mercy,” officially kicked off All Out War.
The season adapts volume 20 of creator Robert Kirkman’s comic books, which saw Rick Grimes bring together the Alexandria, Hilltop and Kingdom communities to finally fight back against Negan and his oppressive Saviors. While showrunner Scott M. Gimple has stayed closer to the comics than past showrunners — particularly his predecessor, Glen Mazzara, who famously drew ire from fans and cast members alike for his fast and loose approach to the source material — The Walking Dead’s live-action counterpart is mostly an accurate adaptation with major events going down more or less how they occurred in the books.
Situations or characters can be switched around, like Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) taking out Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) before Glenn (Steven Yeun) or Michonne (Danai Gurira) becoming Rick’s lover instead of Andrea (played in the show by Laurie Holden), but Gimple has maintained an almost strict adaptation from page to screen.
All Out War Begins
Like in the comics, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) galvanizes the survivors of Alexandria, the Hilltop and the Kingdom with a rallying speech before making their move, with Rick saying he knows their path “ends in a good place.” Michonne and Carl (Chandler Riggs) stay behind to keep an eye on things in Alexandria while the “soldiers” move out, while in the comic it was Andrea — who would become Rick’s wife and Carl’s new mom following the death of Lori — that got the moment with Carl. Andrea died way back at the end of season 3, leading to Michonne taking on some of comic book Andrea’s traits, including her role as surrogate mother to Carl.
In both the comics and the show, Rick, de facto Hilltop leader Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and King Ezekiel (Khary Payton), royal leader of the Kingdom, roll up to the gates of Negan’s Sanctuary in a surprise attack. Unlike the comics, Rick and crew aren’t out in the open: they’ve played things with more strategy, concocting cover by way of reinforced vehicles, including a familiar RV. During a war of words with Negan, the bat-wielding villain presents Hilltop figurehead Gregory (Xander Berkeley), who in the show is still cowardly — just not as cowardly as his black-and-white counterpart. Still, both pledge their allegiance to Negan in a surprising twist. We knew Gregory was in bed with the Saviors and had his best interests in mind — but now all of the Hilltop knows it, too.
A Holly Jolly Crash-mas
Unlike the comics, everyone from the Hilltop stands behind Rick, and a fire fight gets underway. As Rick and his army fire upon the windows of the Saviors’ compound, “back up” arrives in the form of a massive Walker horde that floods the Sanctuary. In the comics, Rick nearly drove a truck through the Sanctuary’s gates to unleash the Walkers, but it was Holly — a character who in the comics was in love with Abraham — who ended up crashing into the gate with the truck, bringing it down and leading the Walkers inside.
(In the show, Holly was a complete background character: she appeared in just one episode in season 6, and succumbed to a fatal stab wound from one of the Wolves during their Alexandria invasion). In the show, Carol (Melissa McBride), Morgan (Lennie James), Tara (Alanna Masterson) and Daryl (Norman Reedus) — who didn’t have a role in the comic book arc as he’s a character invented for the show — are the ones who lead the horde towards the Sanctuary by way of explosives.
Grab Your Shitting Pants
After crashing the truck, Holly was saved by Negan, who took her prisoner as he believed her to be Rick’s lover, Andrea. Some of her traits were given to Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green), who died in the season 7 finale as a prisoner of Negan. In the show, it’s Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) who is accidentally left alone with Negan, but under different circumstances: with the Walker herd about to devour Gregory, Gabriel saves his life, only for the leech to speed off in a vehicle. Gabriel takes shelter in a nearby trailer, only to learn Negan had the same idea. It remains to be seen if Father Gabriel will make it out of his situation alive, but with All Out War underway, audiences should expect the casualties to start racking up — on both sides.
Be sure to check out ComicBook.com’s continued coverage of The Walking Dead‘s landmark 100th episode. The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.