Things are starting to heat up in The Walking Dead’s back half of season 8, and we can only assume (and hope) the proverbial shit is going to hit the fan. On this week’s episode, “The Lost and the Plunderers,” we briefly witness grief over Carl Grimes’ death, visit the trash people, and get some much-needed screen time from Negan.
*Episode Spoilers Ahead*
First and foremost, “The Lost and the Plunderers” contained something we’ve never witnessed in TWD before: chapter title cards. Each time the story shifted focus on a different character, a black title card with the character’s name in white letters would pop up. Does this hold some kind of significance? Or is this just something random the show was trying out for shits and giggles? Honestly, it could go either way, but the titles didn’t do anything for me one way or the other. To be frank, they were kind of distracting as I attempted to decode their meaning. I wonder if this is something that will be coming back.
With that said, the major focus this week was split between Rick/Michonne and Jadis and the trash people. We saw a few other characters, but they were all tied to either Team Rick or Jadis’ story, with the only exception being Enid and Aaron at Oceanside (picking up from where we left them in the mid-season finale). Not a lot happened with Enid and Aaron; they talked themselves out of being killed and left empty handed, as the Oceanside ladies weren’t going to lend a hand, and in fact, they let it be known that leaving Aaron and Enid alive was their contribution to the cause. Aaron decided to stay back in attempt to talk them into it, but literally nothing else happened here. It truly felt like they couldn’t figure out where they wanted to put this story, so they kind of just stuck it anywhere. I guess we will have to wait to see how this one unfolds.
Moving on to more important things, we spent what is possibly the most amount of time yet with Simon. Negan orders Simon to send a message to the trash people due to their crossing of the Saviors by joining with Rick, but with a few stipulations – simply send the message, take ONE of their people out, and get them back on the same page. Simon takes issue with this, as he believes full revenge should be enacted and the Saviors should cut their losses with Team Trash and eliminate them. Negan’s idea that people are “resources” and the world can’t become anywhere near what it was without them doesn’t line up with Simon’s train of thought, and Simon is clearly pissed about that. But, like a good boy, he goes off to do what he’s supposed to – that is, until Simon’s squad and the trash people meet eye to eye. Simon forces everyone there to give up their guns and asks for remorse, which he doesn’t feel the Saviors are getting from Jadis. So he shoots two of her people, including the creepy, looming older guy who ALWAYS seems to be standing behind Jadis. This makes Jadis upset (These people have emotions?! Who’d have thought?) and she cocks back and knocks Simon on his ass with a punch. At this point, Simon has had enough and orders his team to open fire. Now every trash person is dead except for Jadis, and not only is Negan going to be pissed at Simon for doing the exact opposite of what he told Simon to do, he’s going to be even MORE pissed because Simon lied about it when he got back to the Saviors’ compound.
We’ll get back to Jadis in a minute, but for now, let’s move on to Rick and Michonne. “The Lost and the Plunderers” opened almost immediately after last week’s episode, with Rick and Michonne grieving over the loss of Carl. The goal here was to get Rick and Michonne out of the now-completely-screwed Alexandria and on the road to… we don’t know. They don’t seem to have a destination in mind at the offset, but Rick ends up knowing he is going to see Jadis, because they were going to help before, so maybe they will now (because these trash people are SO trustworthy and have NEVER changed their mind to screw Rick over). When Rick and Michonne reach the junkyard, everyone is gone – Simon has already been here at this point. While attempting to make their way through trash walkers, they stumble upon Jadis, all alone and in a weird white nightgown. All of her people were slaughtered, so she asks Rick if she can come with him, which strangely, Rick declines. Personally, I probably would have declined, too, but as hardheaded and full of stupid decisions as this show is, I’m totally shocked Rick had the guts to tell her “no,” especially considering all the emotional weight from last week’s episode with everything Carl said about the future. But hey, none of that matters, right? This is 2018’s The Walking Dead, and gone are the days of logical thinking. Jadis tries to follow Rick and Michonne anyways, and Rick shoots at her (purposely above her head, as to not hurt her, but enough to say “back the hell off”) and she runs off into a trash hole somewhere.
Next, we watch Jadis grieve over her dead friends and how she is now truly alone. She comes up with a genius plan to get rid of the rest of her walker friends – by luring them into a large trash grinder. The result looked like a bunch of walker flavored taco meat, but it was still a pretty neat scene. This scene and the ones before it with Rick, and even some with Simon, are the results of writers trying to make people give a shit about Jadis, but I don’t think anyone really does; I sincerely do not. These people have been a menace and untrustworthy for so long, I couldn’t care less what happens to any of them. They aren’t like Negan, for example, because they have no charisma or likeability factor to them, just the fact that they are shrouded in mystery. So, while I see what the show is going for, it just doesn’t land. Maybe something in the future will change my mind, but I don’t see that happening.
The final scene was the most emotional. Rick decided to call Negan via walkie talkie, and informs Negan that Carl is dead. Negan shows genuine sorrow and seems truly apologetic – one of the core things that makes him the best villain TWD has ever had. This whole conversation is flawless, and truly reminds me of TWD in its heyday, so it gives a glimmer of hope that the show can return to its former glory. Negan telling Rick everything, including Carl’s death, is Rick’s fault really hit hard, because we KNOW Negan truly feels this way; he’s not just saying it to be a dickhead. And Negan might actually be right, from a certain point of view. All of these attributes and more concerning Negan are perfect reasons why I can see Carl’s vision of him come true. It’s entirely possible, but who knows what the show will decided to screw up next?
While “The Lost and the Plunderers” doesn’t fix anything broken or do anything new at this point, it delivers truly exceptional Negan material, something we have needed on screen. Jeffrey Dean Morgan continues to steal every scene he’s in, and is the main reason why a lot of folks still continue this show during its downward spiral. Things don’t really move forward in this episode, but that’s understandable and acceptable coming off of last week’s HUGE episode, and the attempt to make the audience connect with Jadis failed. Miserably.