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Garbage In, Garbage Out.

Warning: Full spoilers for the episode below.

I’ll start out with what I really liked about “The Lost and the Plunderers.” The final scene. Yes, the emotional walkie-talkie exchange between Rick and Negan and how much Negan was genuinely sad to hear that Carl had died.

It fed really well into all the emotion I felt last week when Negan popped up right at the end of Carl’s “dream” community. There are many things to hate about Negan, and many points you can disagree with, but overall he’s also someone who you could totally see, with a few tweaks, being a cooperative and loving member of a larger “greater good” community.

And in some aspects, Negan’s already that. He is – or at least he thinks he is – serving a greater purpose by forcing people to fall in line. His specific truth is that people cannot be trusted to do the right thing on their own so they have to be herded, almost like walkers, and made to contribute and made to be productive. The somewhat faulty aspect of his rule involves the hierarchy and a system that, sometimes, allows brutal bullies to do some pretty nasty things. Still, Negan’s not a homicidal nutter and “The Lost and the Plunderers” did a decent job of splitting him off from someone like – say – Simon. Someone who does want revenge and massive amounts of blood spilled. Negan, despite losing so many, still doesn’t want a lot of people do die.

We clamor for conflict on this show, for sure, but this war has been going on for so long (at least episode-wise) that fans actually kind of want a peaceful resolution. Yup, they finally wore us down. Nice work, strange pacing!

Now, Negan doesn’t want a ton of death because he’s got a soft and/or sympathetic for the rabble. He knows they’re “resources.” He aims to use them. But he’s still got his s*** together enough to no be in full-fledged tyrant mode right now. I mean sure, if he was trying to get through to Rick, in the wake of Carl’s death, maybe it wasn’t the wisest move to point out all of Rick’s failures, because that seemed to just make Rick even more angry, but the blame here now mostly rests on Rick’s shoulders.

Negan didn’t kill Carl and neither did the Saviors. Also, Negan was actually sorry and sorrowful that Carl died. But Rick is now more determined than ever to kill Negan. I don’t know. I enjoy the fact that this is all fairly complex and layered. There IS a better way than Negan’s way but the question is “How many have to die just because you don’t want to go back to serving Negan?

Also, I kind of wish Rick would lean into more of what Carl wanted for him. The messaging is painfully fresh but Rick’s pulling a 180 here and it’s kind of frustrating. This is an issue, also, that wasn’t dealt with in the comics, not in the same way, because Rick didn’t lose Carl during the “All Out War” arc and yet we still see him, we think, heading to the same outcome/endgame as the comics by the end of this season. We’ll see.

“The Lost and the Plunderers” wasn’t a big episode, per se, but it did earn a few extra points because, stylistically, it gave us those titled character chapters (which, yes, did help make Enid and Simon-centric scenes more palatable) and also because, toward the end, it honed in on Jadis a bit and busted through her weird wasteland-speak exterior. The story worked hard to turn her into someone we might grow to care about, with mixed results.

I have to say, normally when Rick gets the chance to save someone and doesn’t, I wince. Here, even though Michonne didn’t agree, his treatment of Jadis in the middle of that junkyard walker herd felt pretty appropriate given how many times she tried to kill him “fun and games” style. Let’s not forget, at this point she’d now triple-crossed him and back when she notably betrayed him in the Season 7 finale, everyone would have died if Maggie and Ezekiel’s crew hadn’t shown up.

It was only after this scene though, where Rick fired a shot over her head and sent her reeling back into the garbage piles, that we saw what went down between her and Simon and how her entire squad of trash goblins got wiped out. I mean, basically, her dumb shtick straight up got her ass whooped. The role-playing reality that she decided to create amongst the garbage, with people as the paint and the junkyard as the canvas, or whatever it is she was trying to tell Rick when he super-duper didn’t care, got all of her people killed. Because she had to act snarky and terse and terrible when her people had given up all their guns and were vulnerable to Savior a-holes. She chose to “act” smug and weird, like she normally does, in front of someone who’d clearly reached his bulls*** limit for the day. And who she’d also just betrayed. Turnabout was fair play here, for sure.

Overall, even if we don’t quite care about Jadis yet, this is what we want though, right? For members fo the show’s ensemble to get fleshed out a little more. No, I didn’t care that all of the people Jadis cared about died, or that she wound up having to shred them all (in a giant thresher that you’d think would have come into play a lot earlier than this) but maybe from all of this Jadis will become a more centered, normal character with a story we can latch onto. I’m sorry she’ll miss her friends(?) but for us, as viewers, it’s like “Boy, she most have loved how that old dude stood behind her all the time and looked like the grumpiest son of a bitch on the planet. RIP.”

When these jokers, The Scavengers, first came onto the show the best guess theory seemed to be that they were all already part of a cult when the world went to hell and they then just continued their wonky way of speaking after the fall of civilization. As it turned out, as revealed in this episode, they all just made a choice to be actively odd  – almost in the same way the Kingdom chose to buy into King Ezekiel’s shared Renn Fair lie. It’s just that with the Kingdom, everyone chose to be supportive and happy and in the case of the Saviors everyone chose to be unnecessarily dirty and miserable a-holes. This was the dream?

Well, they’re all gone and only Jadis remains so hopefully they’ll do something cool with her. The battle now hinges, specifically, on the Oceanside women, right? They’ve never been an interesting element on the show but it sure seems like they’re the only ones left who can show up, Jabari Tribe-style, and tip the scales.

The Verdict

Negan’s reaction to Rick’s loss was a wonderful moment, as was the conversation between the two of them (too bad the end of this conflict isn’t coming, like, next week). And the attempt to make us care about Jadis and the Scavengers was an admirable one, though it was an uphill battle given how off-putting and treacherous they’ve been from the get-go.



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