Spoiler Alert! The following recap includes major spoilers about The Walking Dead episode 810, "The Lost and the Plunderers." Catch up with our recap of the midseason premiere right here.
Tonight's episode starts every act or so with title cards, featuring one character's name. By the end of the episode, I am still not exactly sure what each card means. The best I can come up with is that each name represents someone that Carl wrote a letter to. But it can't be a complete list. He didn't write one to Maggie, or Carol, or Morgan, or Aaron, or any one of a dozen other characters that he seemed likely to write to. The cards don't necessarily tell the story chronologically, so I have reordered things a bit.
SIMON, JADIS, and NEGAN's cards are all intertwined (with "guest appearances" from RICK and MICHONNE). So let's just dive in.
Simon is pissed off that Rick and his crew seemed to escape Alexandria. He wants the Saviors to cut their losses, and basically kill everyone and start fresh with new communities further out. Negan refuses and instructs him to go reason with Jadis and her trash people. So Simon shows up with the garbage people and demands an apology in his typical cocky way. Jadis insists that they turned Rick over to the Saviors, the implication being, "if you couldn't kill him, that's not our fault." He tells them that Negan will forgive them if they return to the original plan... and turn over all their weapons. Much to the chagrin of her fellow trash people, Jadis agrees, and Simon's men collect the guns. Simon still wants his apology. Jadis says there is remorse; Simon shoots one of her men dead. Then a woman. Jadis hits him; Simon instructs his men to "light it up." Everyone is dead. Well, except Jadis; she is left to live in her squalor alone, with only the shuffling zombies of her friends to keep her company.
Michonne and Rick are trying to deal with their grief as they realize that Alexandria has become overrun with zombies and they have to leave. A safe distance away, Michonne suggests they stop and read the notes Carl wrote to them. Rick isn't ready. Michonne tells him that Carl wrote a note to Negan, which seems to spur Rick into feeling a desperate need to talk to Jadis.
Back at the dump, Jadis has returned to the top of her trash heap. She lures the zombies towards her with noise, and leads them into an industrial-sized trash disposal. The zombies fall in and turn into a thick, reddish paste. With the place zombie-free, she pulls out a hidden box of applesauce and has some lunch.
Rick pulls off the road. He needs a second. He takes a couple of Carl's letters - one for him and one for Negan - along with the walkie and leaves the car. He looks at Negan's note and immediately walkies to the Sanctuary. He tells Negan that Carl is dead, and Negan looks genuinely sad. Rick explains that Carl wrote him a note, and he asked Negan to stop. "He asked me to stop, too," Rick admits. "He asked for peace." But, according to Rick, it is "too late for that. Even if we wanted a deal now, it doesn't matter. I'm going to kill you." Negan asks if his people killed Carl, which angers Rick. "It wasn't you! Carl went out to HELP someone, and he got bit." Despite Carl's pleas, Rick is even more determined to kill Negan. Negan then decides to blame Rick - probably not the smartest decision. "He's dead because you couldn't leave things alone," Negan says, his voice still full of sorrow. "You weren't there to stop him from doing something stupid." Negan again insists that what he does save people (y'know, except for the ones he kills) and he says that he's feeling Carl's death. "You could have just let me save all of you," Negan says. "That's why I killed your friends. You failed as a leader, and as a father. Just give up. You have already lost."
So far, it doesn't seem that Carl's philosophy is having much effect on the adults around him. And to be honest, this episode felt like everyone, from cast to crew to writing staff, was still mourning Carl. No one brought their A-game. A few good moments in an otherwise flat episode.
What I found most interesting about this episode was the remorse Negan showed when he found out Carl was dead. It was the first truly human emotion I think that we've seen from him. He truly liked that kid. Juxtapose that with Simon's readiness to kill everyone, and suddenly Negan doesn't seem like the biggest monster of the Saviors.