The Walking Dead: The Lost and the Plunderers

There was remorse.”

There wasn’t enough.

The Walking Dead has always deviated from the source material. The Dixon brothers are entirely a show invention, for example. But killing Carl is a deviation the show may not ever recover from. Much like Game of Thrones with Sansa’s horrific ‘arc’ in Season 5, it feels like the show has succumbed to despair. There’s a difference between exploring despair within a narrative, and succumbing.

But anyway, this episode was all about six individual characters, separated out by title cards. I thought the title cards indicated who Carl was writing to, but why would he write to Simon or Jadis? “Hey Simon, you should go full beard, the moustache isn’t the right choice”? “Jadis, love the garbage sculptures, keep shooting for the moon”? Was it just another faux-artsy move on the part of the direction? If so, that’s a direction choice they should dump. They should also dump the time-switching thing; everything feels inconsistent and unsatisfying. The Walking Dead is (or should be) telling a straightforward war story. It isn’t telling the story of how Rick got his tattoos.

1. Michonne

Michone tried and failed to save the gazebo, and ultimately Alexandria was left in flames. Another example of the show succumbing to despair; Alexandria was a home, a community, and now it’s gone. It feels wrong that slimy Spencer Monroe has been posthumously proven correct: Rick’s leadership led to the loss of what Deanna Monroe built, however inadvertently. I wonder how the remnants of the Alexandria will react when they learn it's completely lost? And with the Kingdom gone, I assume that the Hilltop will be the new stronghold. Or maybe after the end of the war, they can move into the Sanctuary.

I liked Danai Gurira’s facial expression when Rick started badgering her about what Carl meant. “For God’s sake, Rick, not now. Let me catch my freakin’ breath.”

2. Negan

Negan and Simon’s relationship has taken a serious hit.

We’ve known that Negan was delusional for a while, but he genuinely believes he’s saving these communities? Have we ever seen him or any Saviour actually take out Walkers for the benefit of said communities? I don’t think they have, although maybe I’m wrong. They’re just an extortion racket, and it feels like too little too late in terms of characterization for Negan. This guy swaggered onto the show and gleefully butchered two beloved characters, the key word being ‘gleefully’. If they wanted him to be anything other than a cartoon monster, they should’ve worked out who he was with a great deal more care when they first introduced him. They sure spent enough time building him up.

Simon isn’t delusional. He’s honest about what he is: he’s a bully and a bloodthirsty sadist, neither of which bodes well for his long-term survival, but he doesn’t lie to himself. Negan talks about saving people, while Simon seems very aware of what 'save' means. It means 'subjugate'. His behaviour in this episode really lends credence to the theory that Simon was once the leader of the Saviours, back before they were the Saviours and when they were more akin to the Claimers. I’d be kind of fascinated to see a big flashback episode about how Negan came to power.

3. Enid

It really shouldn’t have taken so long to get back to the Oceanside, and it looks like it’ll take a while to resolve as well. This is too much plot for a show that not only has lots of plot to be going on with, but doesn’t spend nearly enough time on advancing that plot. Are we going to get to the season finale, having spent fifteen minutes every other week with Aaron pleading with Oceanside for help, only for them to turn up suddenly armed at the last minute? Convinced off-screen, perhaps, to shock people more?

I like Enid and Aaron well enough, but this should have been the episode when they convinced Oceanside to join them. They hardly made an effort, and Enid tried to blame Oceanside for the death of Grandma Fish. We got yet more moralizing speeches about killing, fighting, death. We’ve heard it all before from different characters over the course of eight seasons and the characters either never learn, or they learn so they can relapse later. This is circular character development and I’m kinda sick of hearing the same speech over and over.

The Enid segment just consisted of bad choices all round.

4. Simon & 5. Jadis

Simon, Jadis and the Garbage Pail Survivors were a good choice, however. It was a wise move of the showrunners to wipe them out. They were interesting when they first appeared, but since then they’ve proven themselves to be utterly useless to either side. Their idiocy ultimately got them all killed, and if Jadis is feeling responsible, then good. She should. They did not prepare for the Saviours at all, despite having guns and knowing how outnumbered they are. They had the home field advantage, too. But no, they decided to lie boldly to Simon’s face without much in the way of conviction, and that sent our boy Simon over the edge.



That said, it was a good scene between two pretty horrible people. I like Simon, though. He’s scary, fun, charismatic… everything Negan should be and isn’t. There’s a boiling intensity to him, and I hope he survives longer than seems likely. Maybe Simon could oust Negan? I do get the strange feeling that the attempts to humanize Negan are pre-empting some kind of poorly thought-out redemption arc.

I'm not sure if Simon planned to massacre everyone from the outset, or if his anger got the better of him, but it certainly seemed like he was trying to provoke Jadis. I like that he was smart and curious enough to recognize that something was going on with the dump (solar panels, helipad) and that got me interested in what the dump used to be. And as much as Jadis brought her fate on herself, I did feel genuine sympathy for her; she had to watch her friends turn into monsters. I even understood her a little. In such a savage world, it makes sense that she would have carved out an isolated piece of it and detached herself.

And that scene with the grinder was wild; I was half-convinced she was going to throw herself in.

6. Rick

Hands up everyone who thought Rick was going to surrender to the Saviours. If your hand is up, you didn’t hear me correctly.

For that entire walkie-talkie conversation, I was thinking of all the times Negan killed needlessly. Even if he thought he had to kill someone straight-off to maintain control of a community, he didn't have to do it the way he did: with sadistic glee, taunting everyone. Nor did he need to keep moving the goalposts and make a point of humiliating everyone, including his own people. If he cared about saving people, he wouldn't have organized everything to benefit him more than the community he lords over. Nor do I think his love of killing defenceless people is any kind of act.

I know what the showrunners are getting at: is Rick turning into Negan? Who’s the real bad guy here? To which the answer is ‘no’ and ‘it’s still Negan cause he bats innocent people to death as a hello’. Until Rick starts taking joy in killing people who have never wronged him, Negan will be the villain.

Bits & Bobs

- If Simon was so interested in the helipad and such, he probably should’ve had his men search the place after they were done with their massacre.

- It’s seeming more and more likely that Simon was the one responsible for the deaths of all the men at Oceanside.

- So Jadis and her people were some kind of kooky art collective? Hipsters in the zombie apocalypse? That makes a weird kind of sense. Plus, there would be little reason for Walkers to congregate at a dump.

- Steven Ogg and Pollyanna McIntosh were excellent in this episode. So was Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and I’ve generally not been a fan of his portrayal. He’s better at the smaller moments than he is with the grandiose speeches and penis metaphors.

- I kept wanting to touch Rick’s gross eyebrow gash and I'm not sure why.

- On Talking Dead, Robert Kirkman didn’t look too excited to be there.

Two out of four cans of apple sauce.

5 comments:

Lamounier said...

It's neat that we have two reviews for the same episode. We are rich!

Congrats on your first post, Jonny, and welcome to the team.

Billie Doux said...

Thanks so much for joining us, Jonny, and taking on The Walking Dead. I hadn't even thought about the possibility that Simon was responsible for killing the men of Oceanside, but that would make sense. I absolutely agree, too, that Negan's crimes have gone way too far for them to walk him back. It was definitely gleeful. :)

Katerina said...

The mid-season premiere aired on my birthday, and I had to decide, after having had a lovely day, if I wanted to end my birthday watching a show full of darkness, hopelessness, and heartbreak. The answer was a resounding, "No!" Carl was not ever one of my favorite characters, but I grew to like his character very much, and part of that was because of the hope for the future that he represented, in a show that regularly makes a habit of bashing hope to pieces and eliminating "good" people. I didn't watch this latest episode, either, and don't really have any desire to go back to that world.

As you say, they've made changes from the source material before, and some have paid off, like the Dixons, and not killing off Carol, but killing off Carl was just one big idiotic decision for what? Shock value? I just can't imagine how any of them came to the conclusion that this could remotely be a good idea. When it was revealed that Carl had been bitten, I actually got excited because my first thought was that they were going to explore the possibility of some people having immunity, starting with Carl. I would definitely have tuned in to watch that development. I never thought they'd be stupid enough to kill him off until it was confirmed shortly after the mid-season finale.

So, I'm done with the show. Unless they were to pull a Bobby Ewing stunt, and we were to find out the remainder of the season was part of a fevered dream of Carl's as he recovered, I don't see how they can ever recover themselves.

P.S., I never watched Dallas (the original with Larry Hagman), but it was hard not to hear about some of its plot points at the time re: the Bobby Ewing reference where, I believe, his character was killed off at one point, then a whole(?) season later, he appears in a shower scene and the previous season had been part of his dream.

TheShadowKnows said...

"I never watched Dallas (the original with Larry Hagman), but it was hard not to hear about some of its plot points at the time re: the Bobby Ewing reference where, I believe, his character was killed off at one point, then a whole(?) season later, he appears in a shower scene and the previous season had been part of his dream."

Yes - although it was his wife Pam's dream - but it was actually even stupider than that. They undid most of the previous season (including Bobby's death, obviously) but some portions apparently slipped by the continuity staff. Also, Dallas had a sister show, Knots Landing, which included crossover material about Bobby's death. NOTHING was changed about the corresponding season on Knots Landing (I guess that whole show was just a bad dream Pam Ewing had).

But St. Elsewhere really took the cake, since the finale strongly suggested that the entire series had been imagined by an autistic child.

Patryk said...

I wonder if the cue-cards were an artistic choice or did the writers finally admit that there's too many characters to keep track of. ;)

I thought Rick would let slip that Smion killed everyone in the dump to Negan on the radio, but not yet. But Simon is not long for this world.