This post contains MAJOR SPOILERS for The Walking Dead season 8 premiere!
The Walking Dead season 7 spent most of its hours (and some would say, too many) growing the unrest within the communities of Alexandria, The Hilltop, and The Kingdom, leaving them with only one option for dealing with The Saviors - war. In tonight's season 8 premiere (which is also the show's landmark 100th episode), Rick leads the assault on The Sanctuary, letting loose the dogs of war - or in this case, a herd of walkers, leading them straight to Negan's front door.
While we don't know everything that will happen in Episode 2 of The Walking Dead season 8, there are a few details we do know - that might inform what viewers can expect.
The most pressing issue heading in to next week's episode, at least as far as The Saviors are concerned, will be clearing out the walkers and reclaiming their home. The Sanctuary is a real mess come the end of the episode, with the fence down and walkers overrunning the place. Before any kind of retaliation can take place, The Saviors will need to first recover from the damage dealt by Rick and his fellow survivors. That shouldn't be too hard, these are seasoned zombie killers by this point, after all, and there's always a chance Eugene will come up with an ingenious idea to speed up the process. Regardless, their current situation is a serious setback for The Saviors and one that will hopefully give Rick and co. an opportunity to capitalize, allowing them to continue being on the offensive.
Though the encroaching walkers aren't only a concern for The Saviors, some of Rick's crew are also caught up in the chaos - most notably, Father Gabriel, who after attempting a little goodwill (more on that below), finds himself surrounded by walkers. He's able to escape the immediate danger and find shelter inside a trailer on The Sanctuary's compound. Except, there's no safety to be found here because hiding in the shadows is none other than Negan. He creeps out, saying to Gabriel, "I hope you got you s--ting pants on," warning him that whatever is coming next is sure to having him "sh--ting his pants."
What will happen to Gabriel? The first possibility which comes to mind is that Negan is threatening Gabriel, recognizing him as one of Rick's group and intending to take out all his anger and frustration over just getting beaten by Rick on the good Father. That's a distinct possibility, knowing the kind of violent man Negan is, but that may not be the most pragmatic decision for this particular moment. What's most important is clearing out the walkers, so Negan's colorful comments may be alluding to the fury he's about to unleash on the dead surrounding the trailer. Or, it's a little a both, with Negan intending to not only reclaim The Sanctuary but keep Gabriel as a prisoner - hoping to use him the next time he and Rick are face to face.
Of course, what makes this turn of events all the more cruel is that Gabriel wouldn't even be in this situation if it weren't for Gregory. As the walkers overran The Sanctuary, Gabriel took pity on The Hilltop's disgraced leader and helped him escape. And in return, Gregory abandoned Gabriel the first chance he got, stealing the Father's car and driving off. Just where he's planning to go is unclear, but it's possible Gregory will return to The Hilltop, hoping to beat Maggie there and continue his attempts to woo the community's residents back on his side. Then again, The Hilltop is already pretty unified behind Maggie, so there's a slim chance that would actually work. This might just be the end for Gregory and the coward will meet his demise on the road. But as satisfying an end as that would be for him, Gregory still holds the potential to cause Maggie trouble, so it's only all too likely The Walking Dead writers will use the character at least one more time - either to cause trouble or as cathartic walker food.
Carl & The Stranger
Lastly, the most mysterious of lingering threads from tonight's episode is the identity of the man that Carl ran into at the gas station. While the attack on The Sanctuary was the bulk of the premiere, back near Alexandria, Carl was leaving food out for this unknown stranger - something which his father specifically warned against doing (since there's no indication if they're friend or foe). It's pretty risky behavior on Carl's part, and honestly, he should be smarter than this. Only time will tell if this mystery figure is with The Saviors, is some new threat, or is something else entirely, but it will most certainly be a potential source of drama for next week.
Until then, all we can do is pour over The Walking Dead season 8 episode 2 and 3 synopses for clues!
The Walking Dead season 8 continues next week with 'The Damned' at 9pm/10c on AMC.