Spoiler Warning for Season 8, Episode 10 of “The Walking Dead,” as well as all episodes of the previous seasons. Certain spoilers from the graphic novel series will also be discussed.
Coming off of the most emotionally traumatic episode of “The Walking Dead’s” entire run, this episode is a necessary installment that is less dreary and depressing, but still chock full of development and story progression. This episode is significant in the sense that it is far different from predecessors, utilizing a “chapter” style form of storytelling that explores the narrative through the point-of-view of six main characters; this is slightly reminiscent to the Season 4 episode titled “Inmates,” which had a similar structure and focused on small groups of characters following the destruction of the Prison. There are a handful of issues present, most notably some odd editing choices and a few instances of inconsistent writing. That being said, the character development, action and performances make this one of the strongest episodes of the season.
*Due to the narrative structure, events will be discussed in the order they are shown in the episode, rather than in chronological order. For each “chapter,” the name of the featured character appears in white text to make the audience aware that the events are being shown through that character’s point-of-view.
All that Michonne wanted after arriving at Alexandria was for her family to be safe and for the community to work out for them. Seasons later, Carl is dead and Alexandria is destroyed. This first chapter picks up on the morning of Carl’s death as Rick and Michonne stand at his grave; walkers flood in and Michonne steps away to dispatch them as Rick has a final moment with his son. While Carl may be dead, his famed gun with the silencer will apparently live on as Rick decides to take it with him. Part of the wall has opened up and Michonne uses her katana to block the opening with some dead walkers, allowing for some truly gnarly kills, including one that seems to be a homage to the split-faced Quarry walker from “First Time Again.” Michonne makes her way to the Grimes household, which seems to be undamaged after the bombings; she becomes emotional after spotting the hand prints that Carl and Judith made on the porch the day before. As more walkers begin to overtake the community, Michonne heads inside and alerts Rick that they need to leave. While loading the truck, Michonne notices that the gazebo is burning and she notes that Carl used to sit atop it, another reference to “First Time Again.” She and Rick try to put out the fire using extinguishers, but to no avail. The burning gazebo represents what life has become for the Grimes family; everything, including Carl, has been burned away.
This episode really seems to mark the end of the Alexandria Safe-Zone, as noted in the scenes of Rick and Michonne driving out of the fallen community that is now overrun with walkers; it’s worth noting that the characters do return after the War in the comics, but it remains to be seen if that will happen in the show. Regardless, for the characters, this is a final goodbye to their home and Michonne takes one last look at the sign that still stands at the main gate to welcome newcommers; “Mercy for the Lost, Vengeance for the Plunderers,” the source of the episode title. While driving Rick wonders what Carl meant in his final words, a strange thing to say considering he literally told Rick that the fighting will have to stop at some point and that he will have to do what he needs to in order to hold onto his humanity. Michonne proposes that they read the letters that Carl wrote, but Rick just isn’t ready to do that yet…and can you blame him? While flipping through the stack, Michonne is stunned to discover a note to Negan. Rick decides to drive to the Junkyard to meet with Jadis and try to recruit them one last time, but when they arrive, there is an eerie emptiness, which is interrupted moments later by the sounds of walker growls; Rick steps in a puddle of blue paint that was recently spilled, a marker for another chapter. Suddenly, the two find themselves being trapped by dozens of turned Scavengers. While the decision for Rick and Michonne to come back to the Junkyard AGAIN feels repetitious initially, it does set up a fantastic moment later in the episode.
This episode catches up with Negan following his attack on Alexandria in “How It’s Gotta Be.” He speaks with Simon in the Sanctuary meeting room about the fact that Rick and others seemed to have an escape plan, something that is very much disappointing to him. Simon is feeling a bit restless about not having anywhere to be, wanting to teach the rebels a lesson by wiping out a community or possibly all of them and searching for new people to take control of in their place. There’s also talk about the fact that no one has heard from Gavin’s group at the Kingdom, which viewers obviously know were wiped out by Carol and Morgan last episode; it’s later mentioned that Negan has sent a team to check in on them, so there will likely be some drama that arises once word gets back about what happened. Negan is angered by the fact that Simon would bring up his plan to eliminate a community again, reiterating his belief that people are a resource and that killing should only be a last resort. Some Saviors enter the room with the coffin containing the prisoner named Dean that Maggie executed; Dean has turned and Negan puts him down with a nail gun in rather dramatic fashion. Simon is enraged after reading the message on the coffin that states that she is holding 38 more prisoners, deducing that they are his own people from the Satellite Outpost. Negan straight up puts Simon in his place by demanding that he fall back into line and do his job, screaming at his “right hand man” and putting the fear of Lucille into him. These two have had a touchy relationship this season, but this episode really shows that things are only getting worse between them as Simon becomes increasingly rebellious.
The show makes a return to Oceanside this episode following the shocking turn of events in the Mid-Season Finale when Enid shot Natania. Cyndie, Beatrice, Kathy and Rachel bring Enid and Aaron into the same house that Tara was held in “Swear.” They chain them to a radiator as they decide what to do next; being that Natania was Cyndie’s grandma, it is up to her to decide what is done. The Oceansiders leave to discuss, allowing Enid to open up to Aaron about killing Natania, something that she doesn’t regret and feels was justified. Cyndie and the others return and let their prisoners know that they will be taking them to the beach, presumably to execute them. Enid looks Cyndie in the eyes and sternly tells her that killing them will be a huge mistake considering the fact that Maggie and the others will likely come looking for them and will wipe out Oceanside completely. Enid really stands up for herself and her people in this episode, showing that she is learning from Maggie and the others, and is no longer going to stand in the background; she is taking charge and will be responsible for making important plays in the story.
Cyndie decides to allow them to live and leads them out of the community as Aaron and Enid once again try to convince her to bring her people into battle; she shoots this down and warns them to never return. Enid gets in Cyndie’s face again and basically tells her to stop being a coward, but there seems to be no convincing her. Aaron tells Enid to return to the car and to drive back to the Hilltop to update Maggie, explaining that he will stay and try to find a way to make Oceanside fight. The two hug and promise each other that they’ll see one another again; this is a touching moment between two of the last OG Alexandrians. Aaron once again proves himself to be such an impressive and likable person as he gives up the opportunity to return home and rest, putting his life at risk to forge an alliance. It is somewhat irritating that the Oceanside story still hasn’t progressed much since the community was introduced over a season ago. This is now the third time that our characters have visited the women, yet it feels like they aren’t any closer to joining up with the others survivors; this is a case of odd pacing this season that makes it seem as though certain arcs aren’t progressing like they should. Still, the community and its characters have a wealth of potential, so hopefully they become major players soon.
What transpires during this particular chapter is some of the best of the episode. Under orders of Negan, an irritated Simon leads a crew of his men to the Junkyard to make Jadis aware that the Saviors know that she realigned with Rick. They arrive to find Jadis painting, seemingly catching the community off guard and prompting the Scavengers to arm themselves and prepare for a shootout. Simon demands that Jadis apologize for working with Rick, but she comes up with a flimsy explanation which is immediately called out as “BULL…SHIT.” The situation tenses up when Simon announces that they will be collecting all of the guns, something that is met with anger, but Jadis ultimately orders her people to turn over their weapons. There’s a little bit of backstory for the strange group as Simon questions Jadis about the helipad and solar panels in the Junkyard, a possible connection to the helicopter that was seen by Rick in “The Big Scary U.” While Jadis doesn’t really open up here about anything, she does later in the episode. It’s clear that Jadis really doesn’t like Simon or the Saviors as a whole and that her alliance with them was more out of common interests than anything else.
Simon continues to demand that she apologize and when she refuses to, he pulls out a gun and shoots Brion, and then Tamiel. There is a switch that flips in Jadis’ head and she absolutely snaps, punching Simon and knocking him to the ground as she screams at him; the blue paint marker comes back around as it is spilled all over Simon’s boots. This is where shit really hits the fan as Simon orders his people to kill all of the Scavengers; bloodcurdling shrieks can be heard as Jadis turns to see her people being gunned down right in front of her. The scene cuts back to Simon as he is returning to the Sanctuary, reuniting with Negan, who is curious as to how the meeting went. Simon bends the truth and states that the message has been received, but doesn’t mention the fact that he just slaughtered dozens of people; obviously, Negan would be angry if he found out what really happened (going back to people being a resource), so it makes sense that Simon would lie to protect his own ass. Their conversation is interrupted by a Savior who alerts Negan to the fact that Rick has reached out to them via walkie-talkie and wishes to speak. Simon looks down at his paint-covered boot and the reality of what he just did begins to set in; Simon isn’t right in the head and Negan just may be forced to put an end to his second-in-command if the truth ever comes out.
Picking up almost immediately where Michonne’s chapter left off, she and Rick find themselves trapped in the Junkyard and realize that they must climb the Heaps to escape the walkers. They reach a point that is far enough away from the herd and are surprised when Jadis calls out for them from atop a pile of trash; she’s wearing a white gown, a striking image when juxtaposed against the messy Junkyard. Jadis looks completely defeated as she explains that the home that she and her followers built in the Heaps was their own little world away from everyone and everything. This is a rather surprising scene as Jadis is more vulnerable than ever before, even dropping her broken-English and speaking in complete sentences for the first time ever in the series. Rick decides that he and Michonne will use some of the garbage to fight their way out and Jadis pleads for them to allow her to come with them; Rick shuts this down, claiming that she is of no use to them anymore. Using a car door as a shield, Rick and Michonne make their way through the walkers before finding the exit; Jadis arrives in the center of the Heaps and begs for them to spare her, but Rick pulls out his gun and shoots above her head, leaving her to the walkers. Looking back to “Mercy,” this is exactly what Rick did to Siddiq when Carl first encountered him at the gas station; this was his way of sending someone he couldn’t trust away, while not flat out killing them.
At the start of the season, Jadis was pretty much enemy number one for fans, but this episode tries to flip that idea and make the strange character out to be a bit more human. Left alone in a world of trash, Jadis sits at the end of a long path, using a metal stick to make noise and draw her walker-followers to her. It’s revealed that she has positioned herself on a trash compactor, which she turns on and leads the walkers right into; Jadis watches as her friends and family fall into the blades and are ripped apart, all the while reaching for her. There’s genuine emotion present as nearly 90 freshly-turned walkers are eviscerated in mere minutes, with the camera focusing in on Jadis’ face. It’s truly heartbreaking, specifically when Brion and Tamiel fall into the compactor, putting an end to what is assumed to be Jadis’ two closest friends. After it’s all said and done, the compactor has pushed out a disgusting walker goop of blood and guts that is smeared over the painting that was shown earlier; this will go down as one of the gnarliest moment in the show’s entire history. This is a real end to the community, but Jadis isn’t down for the count, although she does take a moment to process what just happened before opening a supply cache and snacking on applesauce. This is the first real instance of major character development for Jadis since she was introduced a full season ago and it comes at the perfect time; while no one will likely be able to trust her anytime soon, it looks as though she is on track for a redemption arc moving forward.
The final chapter of the episode picks up just after the escape from the Junkyard as Rick explains to Michonne that he saw Jadis get away and that he didn’t want to kill her. Michonne points out that that may be what Carl was referring to in his final moments in the sense that they don’t need to kill everyone. Overcome with emotion, Rick pulls over and tells Michonne that he needs a moment, collecting the letters and walking into the forest. Michonne knows exactly what he is going through and gives him the space that he needs to deal with the loss. Rick ends up in a field and decides to open and read the letter that Carl wrote to Negan, leaving a confused and surprised look on his face. This is where the timelines sync up as Rick calls out for Negan on his walkie-talkie, connecting to the end of Simon’s chapter. Rick flat out tells Negan that Carl died, leaving the tyrant speechless and taken aback; earlier in the episode, Negan mentions that Carl was built for the world, so this news comes as a major shock to him. There seems to be some actual compassion and heartbreak from Negan, who expresses his condolences; although, this is thrown away as Negan begins pointing fingers and blaming Rick for what happened to Carl, stating that he failed as a leader and as a father. There is some inconsistent writing here as Negan once again claims that Carl was the future, even though he literally was about to bash Carl’s head in with Lucille just days ago in the show’s timeline. It’s moments like this where it’s a bit difficult to side with Negan at all; Rick is not responsible for Carl’s death in anyway. Still, it’s clear from this conversation, the battle between the two leaders is coming to a head and blood will be shed.
“The Lost and the Plunderers” is rich with character development for many key players that have been regularly pushed to the side. By focusing on a select six characters, the story is able to progress in a way that feels natural and serves to payoff many of the vignettes that were set up throughout the season. The elimination of the Scavengers has been a long time coming and opens up a world of potential for Jadis, possibly setting her up to be more likable than ever before; the Junkyard gang was mostly disliked by fans prior to this episode, but this marks a turning point for the sole survivor and could be a jumping point for establishing her as a long-lasting character. The developments for Simon and Enid are also noteworthy, giving them their best material to date as they become more nuanced and multi-dimensional. While there are a few instances of odd editing, including cheap zoom-ins and choppy flashbacks, the structure of this episode definitely deserves praise for being unique and allowing the story to be told in a way that places priority on the characters. The performances across the board are great with Andrew Lincoln, Danai Gurira, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Katelyn Nacon really delivering some powerful and emotional punches as Rick, Michonne, Negan and Enid. Without a doubt, the standouts are Steven Ogg and Pollyanna McIntosh as they showcase their talent in their best episode to date as Simon and Jadis. This tenth chapter of “All Out War” answers a few questions and raises others, setting the final arcs of the season into motion.
Be sure to tune into “The Walking Dead” next Sunday at 9 p.m. on AMC.