Walking Dead’s Mercer Twist Makes A Major Comic Improvement


The Walking Dead drops a Mercer twist most viewers expected, but the turnaround makes one notable upgrade upon Robert Kirkman’s original comic story. The Walking Dead‘s Mercer is a good man forced to do bad things in the name of Commonwealth safety, but as Pamela Milton gradually turns into the boss from hell, and as his overarching mission to protect the Commonwealth comes under question, Mercer finally snaps in season 11’s “Faith.” Intercepting Eugene on his way to jail, Mercer takes a glance at the wristwatch of rebellion and proclaims, “Time to f**k sh*t up.” The line marks Mercer’s long-awaited betrayal of Pamela Milton.


Mercer underwent broadly the same journey in Kirkman’s The Walking Dead comic story. Beginning as the Commonwealth’s well-meaning military leader just doing his best under difficult circumstances, meeting Rick Grimes and the main Walking Dead gang pushes Mercer to finally stand up for his true beliefs. Comic-Mercer’s main reason for rebelling is long-held resentment over the Miltons’ rule, combined with finding a better option in the shape of Rick Grimes. While Mercer’s twist in The Walking Dead‘s comic story works well enough, AMC’s TV adaptation improves the arc by giving Mercer a series of deeply personal reasons to be angry.

Related: Why Negan REALLY Lies In The Walking Dead Season 11, Episode 22

Why The Walking Dead’s Live-Action Mercer Twist Is Better

In the comics, Mercer’s betrayal of Pamela Milton is a decision borne from pragmatism. Pamela was never a fair leader, and the appearance of Rick Grimes finally presented a realistic alternative. On TV, Michael James Shaw’s Mercer is only pushed toward rebellion after a series of big emotional blows that are absent in the source material. The biggest, of course, is Eugene. Alexandria’s quick-talking geek and Mercer’s sister, Max, have fallen in love, and Eugene risked his life to save her during the Commonwealth riots. Instead of thanking his new brother-in-law profusely, however, Mercer is being asked to jail his sister’s beloved following a sham trial. Max (or, indeed, Stephanie) was not related to Mercer in the comics, and Eugene never went on trial.

Mercer’s The Walking Dead misery continues, as his own Alexandrian lover has been abducted. Shortly after the new arrivals entered the Commonwealth, Mercer struck up a relationship with Princess, and this romance does indeed feature in The Walking Dead‘s comic story. Only in AMC’s The Walking Dead TV show, however, does Princess get mysteriously abducted from the Commonwealth and taken to a labor camp kept secret from the Commonwealth’s wider population, Mercer included. Princess’ disappearance and Eugene’s sentencing grant Mercer two big personal reasons to defy Pamela Milton, giving his big moment of defiance much more emotional weight and resonance to Mercer’s character.

Mercer’s Line In The Walking Dead Season 11, Episode 22 Was Originally Different

According to The Walking Dead showrunner Angela Kang (via EW), Mercer’s “time to f**k sh*t up” line was actually a spontaneous take Michael James Shaw filmed, and nobody expected it to be included in the final “Faith” cut. Kang reveals the original scripted version had Mercer saying “time to take this place” instead. Comparing the two fairly is impossible without seeing the scripted scene, but the change sounds like another big improvement to Mercer’s betrayal twist in The Walking Dead season 11. “Time to take this place” feels almost exposition-y in its obviousness – something Kang herself alludes to, calling the line “cut and dry.” Not only does “time to f**k sh*t up” speak to Mercer’s years of repressed anger, it sounds more natural, letting audiences know it’s time to take the Commonwealth without actually uttering those exact words.

Next: The Walking Dead Properly Names A New Variant Zombie Type

The Walking Dead continues Sunday on AMC.


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