Following what was arguably his biggest loss in the series so far, Rick didn’t get a moment to rest as he worked to salvage the war against Negan in Season 8, Episode 10 of “The Walking Dead.”
[SPOILER ALERT: The remainder of this article will discuss Season 8, Episode 10 of “The Walking Dead.”]
The episode opened relatively close to where it ended last week, with Michonne and Rick burying Carl Grimes. They both take a special moment at his grave inside Alexandria, with Rick torn between whether or not to leave Carl’s pistol at his grave, ultimately deciding to take it with him. As they mourn, their time is cut short by the impending herd of walkers that’s now breached the gates of Alexandria.
Fortunately, they luck out and the Saviors aren’t around looking for survivors. As a result, they’re able to take some supplies from the homes before getting a van together to head out to see Jadis and the rest of the Scavengers, who are surely a target for Negan after agreeing to help Rick the previous day. As they leave, Michonne is upset to see a gazebo that Carl loved to sit on burning to the ground. She and Rick make a futile effort to put the fire out, only to be overrun and forced to retreat. In their own way, they were letting the memory of Carl burn to the ground behind them - something that became much less of a metaphor as they drove and Rick began to wonder what Carl meant when he said there had to be something left after the war.
Knowing he can’t stop, and being unable to read Carl’s notes to those left behind just yet, he stays mission-focused and takes he and Michonne on a trip to the junkyard.
Meanwhile, Negan and one of his generals, Simon, about what to do next. It’s been hinted at before that Simon isn’t necessarily 100 percent behind Negan as a ruling body. However, fear of the maniacal leader makes him fall in line.
Simon wonders why he’s not out hunting Rick, to which Negan replies that he wants him to visit the Scavengers. This excites him, as the day’s events have given him a rage and bloodlust that he thinks will be satiated by making an example of Jadis and her people. However, Negan has other ideas. He makes it clear that Simon’s job is to collect their weapons and kill just one of them as punishment for their betrayal. Simon protests, prompting Negan to raise his voice and explain that an entire faction of people are better alive and serving him than dead as an “example.”
Simon reluctantly accepts his orders, even after seeing that the people he led at the satellite outpost are now prisoners of Maggie at The Hilltop. He makes his way to the junkyard and demands everyone’s weapons and an apology. Jadis, with her limited diction, tries to talk her way out of the situation, but Simon isn’t having any of it. He grills her on if she knows what the junkyard used to be, but it’s unclear what he means. By all accounts, it simply looks like a junkyard.
She relinquishes her people’s guns, but Simon isn’t satisfied with her apology.
“There’s remorse,” she says.
Simon doesn’t feel like she means it and executes her right-hand man. Again, Jadis repeats herself, prompting Simon to disobey Negan’s orders and execute someone else. Jadis flies into a rage and punches Simon, who in turn stands and orders his men to execute the now-unarmed Scavengers. When he returns to Negan, he lies about carrying out the mission to the letter.
Back at the junkyard, Rick and Michonne arrive to find that they’re encircled by the Scavengers, who are now walkers. The only one left alive is Jadis, who has abandoned her odd speech pattern to explain that she was merely an artist who liked using the junk to create. Having had the worst day in the zombie apocalypse thus far, Rick is in no mood for character arcs and develops a plan to get him and Michonne out of there. When Jadis asks if she can join, Rick shoots over her head, forcing her to retreat. Instead of escaping, she turns on a metal thresher and lures her former comrades into it, effectively clearing out the junkyard. She’s alive, broken and likely really upset with Rick.
The episode ends on a low note as Rick finally gets the courage to read one of Carl’s notes, revealing the shocking twist that Carl had written a note for Negan. Rick takes a walkie talkie and calls the Saviors to pass a message along to Negan. The two chat and Negan seems genuinely upset to hear that Carl is no longer among the living.
“He asked you to stop… he asked me to stop,” Rick says. “He asked us… for peace, but it’s too late for that. Even if we wanted a deal now, it doesn’t matter. I’m gonna kill you.”
Negan laments that Rick is continuing to fight despite losing his home and his son.
“You could have just let me save all of you! That’s why I killed your friends in the first place,” he says. “You can sit there and say you’re going to kill me but you won’t. You failed, you failed as a leader, but most of all, Rick, you failed as a father. Just give up… Give up because you have already lost.”
In an episode that seemed keen to boast Negan’s philosophy as a savior of humanity, it’s possible fans need to look at Simon as the main villain of Season 8. However, more will be known once his lie is revealed in later episodes.