This Walking Dead review contains spoilers.
The Walking Dead Season 8 Episode 10
An episode that should have been owned by Rick Grimes after the untimely death of Carl last week is actually made more interesting by a couple of supporting characters who take the lead of “The Lost and the Plunderers.” One of my issues with the midseason premiere is that Rick’s reaction to Carl’s imminent doom seemed a bit tempered. Perhaps it’s everything he’s already lost along the way or maybe it’s the fact that at least he still has Judith, but I’m of the opinion that Carl’s death should have totally pushed the dude over the edge.
I know what you’re saying, “Rick Grimes over the edge” is not really unexplored territory for The Walking Dead, considering seasons five and six were all about a more feral Rick trying live among the civilized people of Alexandria. Yet, past episodes have established – and at great length – that Rick’s been busy trying to build a better world for his son all along. Everything he’d done up to this point, whether it be scavenging or stabbing Saviors while they slept, was so that Carl could one day live in a good world. Heck, there’s a whole speech at the end of the midseason premiere of season six, “No Way Out,” devoted to this – not to mention that Carl basically regurgitated said speech back at his dad in his farewell, along with some choice lines from Lori.
So why isn’t Rick more torn up this week? His reaction seems so odd and against his character that it’s almost like we’ve entered a strange alternate universe where Carl never existed on the show to begin with. The strange air of “moving on” creeps into “The Lost and the Plunderers” too quickly for my taste.
The episode attempts to show Rick and Michonne’s grief through symbolism, like when they try to extinguish the fire on the gazebo Carl apparently liked to sit in, but it comes off a bit heavy-handed. It doesn’t help that Rick then decides to just move on to the next adventure to the junkyard, as if on auto-pilot. Perhaps this is the way he’s chosen to grieve his dead son? But there’s not much in Rick’s actual story this week to support that he’s trooping on to keep it together. Hell, he’s barely in the episode.
By the time Rick gets to trolling Negan on the walkie, it’s the villain who has the more powerful reaction to Carl’s death – and it’s another shining moment for the bad guy, who’s been exponentially better this season than last. Maybe it’s because we don’t often see Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s character break the facade of complete badass, but it’s undeniable that Negan seems to have more of a soul this season than Rick, and that’s more evident than ever in this scene, which might be the best of the night.
But this episode isn’t really about Rick or Carl at all. It’s about Jadis, Simon, Enid, and Aaron. They take center stage in a series of short vignettes that intersect throughout the episode. The episode’s structure is actually kind of odd, too. There’s almost no reason for those title cards announcing we’re going to switch to a different character’s perspective except perhaps as an attempt at something more high brow? Why couldn’t the episode just cut to the next scene and character like every other hour of The Walking Dead? The world may never know.
The time we spend with Enid and Aaron is so boring that the women of Oceanside probably let out a sigh and relief when they were finally rid of the two and their struggling side quest. While it makes sense that Enid and Aaron would try to convince Oceanside to fight alongside the rest of the settlements, the storyline has been groan-inducing thus far. It doesn’t help that the Oceanside’s leader, a character season seven took the time to flesh out, was killed in about a second of screen time in the midseason finale, without any real reason but to create “tension” and move the subplot forward. It’s just so very bad, and inspires the same conversations about standing up and fighting or doing nothing we heard all of last season.
Meanwhile, Simon and Jadis get the best subplots of the night. Simon, who is played by the marvelously unhinged Steve Ogg (I’m a big Grand Theft Auto V fan), continues to unravel amid all the chaos, and this week he’s signed his death warrant. When Negan finds out that Simon’s slaughtered the Heapsters, well…I’m guessing there will be more than an iron waiting for him. It’s not hard to see Simon’s insubordination coming, especially after Negan’s plan for the Hilltop has seemingly backfired.
The actual massacre plays out quickly. There isn’t much of a conversation before Simon orders his men to fire on the unarmed Heapsters. I have to say it’s sad to see this settlement fall in such a brutal manner and without ceremony. These weirdos provided some of the better moments in the latter half of season seven and were utilized way too little this season.
Seeing Jadis unravel, then pick herself up, and grind her former people into sloppy joe was a powerful moment for the character. I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Jadis, and I like the fact that she doesn’t just end up joining Rick’s people and becoming another one of the characters in the background of the Grimes drama. My hope for Jadis, who’s finally embraced proper English again (admittedly, to my disappointment), is that she gets back at both of the men who screwed her. Negan killed her people and Rick refused to help her. Mind you, Jadis did some fucked up shit in her day, but didn’t Carl preach mercy before the end? Were I a betting man, I’d say we’ll see Jadis again, but perhaps not until season nine – and this time, she’ll be dressed in walker flesh…