The Walking Dead aired the tenth episode of its eighth season on Sunday night, titled, "The Lost and the Plunderers." It was a mixed bag of characters and pacing, setting the stage for the final six episodes of the season.
The Lost and the Plunderers brought Jadis, Negan, Simon, Aaron, and Enid back into the mix for the first time in 2018, serving as the first episode in The Walking Dead's post-Carl Grimes era. It was directed by David Boyd and co-written by Corey Reed, Channing Powell, and future showrunner Angela Kang.
In a new weekly breakdown of The Walking Dead's episodes on ComicBook.com, let's take a look at the good and the bad of Episode 8x10.
Season Eight of The Walking Dead has felt it necessary to manipulate timelines to hold back reveals or punchlines.
It started with the flash-forward sequence which eight episodes later turned out to be Carl's dying vision (which might not have been the original plan, considering Carl was in the original flash forward). It continued in the Mid-Season eight premiere when Rick was seen in some future scenario sitting by a tree, covered in blood, crying about his mercy prevailing over his wrath. There have been other instances, as well, and Episode 8x10 had a few in itself.
The episode started immediately where its predecessor left off and, in its same Michonne-centric sequence would jump toward the end of its own narrative at the trash heap. Throughout its extended run time, Episode 8x10 would jump through time with character-centric breakdowns. Each would come with some sort of reveal, as if audiences were expected to say, "Oh, wow! So, that's when Negan called Rick! I can't believe it!"
It's not reinventing the wheel type of stuff and it was hard to buy into at first. However, by the time Episode 8x10 came to a conclusion, the single character centric break down of the episode worked. At least the show included multiple perspectives instead of bottling itself around one or two faces as several hours did in Season Seven.
The characters in any horror-genre title always have a way of making bad decision which allow the terrible events to occur. It's often excused in gore-fest flicks but titles such as The Walking Dead should be held to a higher standard.
In Episode 8x10, The Walking Dead put sensibility on display from several characters, which was delightful to see.
First, Negan's ruthless wish to control all of the people around him was finally put into perspective when Simon suggested the Saviors cut their losses and call it quits on the Alexandria, Hilltop, and Kingdom communities' people. Negan, a character seeing attempts at humanization in the episode, ruled that he is here to save people and will do whatever it takes to make sure people follow him.
It almost certainly marked Simon for a death sentence but was a refreshing moment of a character finally saying what the audience is thinking. Moments like a helicopter flying over Rick revealing a potentially larger world much grander than this little war and Carl's death seem to show how many more important things there still are in this world outside of the war.
Then came the encounter with Jadis. It might be too little too late to make fans come around to Pollyanna McIntosh's landfill-dwelling artist character but a portion of the fanbase was conflicted when the Scavenger leader lost her people. After he plea to Rick to help her escape, Rick simply tells Michonne he is done with her. "She can't help us, anyway," he adds. He saw no need to waste his time or mind killing her but realized she wasn't worth saving.
A bit of sensibility goes a long way for the characters being followed through the apocalypse week in and week out.
Kang co-wrote The Lost and the Plunderers which should mean the outlook for The Walking Dead's future is bright. As mentioned earlier, she steps in the showrunner beginning with Season Nine.
The previous slides here are a testament to what the show can be under Kang's leadership. Previously in Season Eight, Kang helped pen Episode 8x05. Much like Jadis' big reveals, peeling back the bland layers in favor of a character audiences and characters can finally understand, Kang gave Negan his backstory in The Big Scary U.
In just two episodes, Kang's pen has given Negan, Jadis, and Simon than most of their other episodes combined. Whether or not fans are supposed to root for these characters survival is irrelevant. They finally know have gotten to know them.
Furthermore, the relationships Kang has injected into the show have grown. Not only did she show how Rick and Michonne will rely on each other in the wake of Carl's death, but Simon and Negan's relationship is officially torn with the characters being left to learn what the audience knows -- a fun tactic -- and Gabriel earned a whole new perspective of the villain. While he, nor the audience, developed a soft spot for the Saviors, Kang managed to offer an understandable perspective of the villainous group like never before.
Hopefully she can get characters like Daryl to speak relevant sentences while also bringing relationships like Rick and Michonne's, Carol and anybody, and Maggie's attempts at grieving over her husband into an emotional spotlight!
Unfortunately, Episode 8x10 reminded the world of Oceanside's existence.
This story has been the flattest in The Walking Dead's recent seasons. It started with Tara's Episode 7x06 journey to the community. The episode itself wasn't bad or filled with poor content but it's timing, arriving when audiences cared more about literally anything else going on involving Rick, Negan, Michonne, Carol and the rest of the gang, was poorly implemented.
Since their introduction, The Walking Dead has journeyed to Oceanside on several occasions. Most recently, Rick's group took all of their weapons in a very Negan-like move of demanding the community's goods in favor of not killing any of them.
So, Aaron and Enid then set out on a mission to recruit this weapon-less group who already wished to remain unbothered. Topping that off, they killed their leader.
Unfortunately for Sydney Park and her Oceanside co-stars, the community hasn't been incredibly interesting to the show's narrative. Like Rick's trip back to Jadis and the trash heap earlier this season, attempting to involve this group blissfully avoids any attempt at the aforementioned sensibility. While they may or may not join the war, probably attempting to prove another point of humanity if they do, their inclusion in Episode 8x10 bogged down its pacing.
There were, as previously mentioned, attempt to humanize Negan in this episode.
While he wouldn't agree with Simon's request to cut the losses with their enemies, as no egotistical maniac in his position would, Negan continued down the "I save people," path. He repeated his request to kill "only one" member of the Scavengers, as well. Not that killing any people is acceptable but he has a better grip on the situation than Simon and several of his men who wish to kill everyone.
Then came the call from Rick. As Negan smugly answered on his walkie, the news of Carl's death triggered some true emotion from the villain. It almost looked as if Negan and Rick would have a moment to level with one another. Then, Negan took his metaphorical gloves off and used his words to belittle and demean Rick and blame him for Carl's death. Whether or not he is right or wrong in saying Carl's death is Rick's fault, he had no remorse for verbally destroying a man who is already in a horrific state of grief.
In the same episode, Negan showed signs of morality and humanity while also boasting a villainous self-serving carelessness.
The Walking Dead has a track record of loose ends. Several times throughout the show, what appeared to be Easter eggs or references to something larger turned out to be irrelevant details. Things like the letter "A" appearing time and time again have shown no payoff while the "Wolves Not Far" teasers ended up bringing in a villainous group (which was quickly eliminated with little effect on the narrative other than Alexandria's background character population and defining Rick's savagery as the necessary leadership).
Episode 8x10 teed up several storylines with its words which may or may not be relevant in the future.
First up was the mention of solar panels in the landfill. This, however, might have been a simple advanced explanation for how Jadis was able to use the trash compactor to eliminate her reanimated walker community.
Then, there was the mention of the helipad. There's no word on whether or not Jadis and her people have a helicopter. No one knows if they know how to fly one. However, the helipad came to light during a particular shot in Season Seven and this mention by Simon could either be a set up for something great (and hopefully tied to the chopper which flew over Rick earlier this season) or an attempt at brushing the green screen mishap under the rug.
Lastly, the blue paint which ended up on both Simon and Rick's shoes may or may not come into play in the future. The episode decided to bring it into focus more than once, though, so hopefully it pays off.1comments
In the words of Abraham Ford, "Loose ends make my a-- itch."
Result: Probably bad.