Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Lucille Photo by Gene Page/AMC

For once it is satisfying that someone has jumped the gun on Rick's plan, especially since that person is Rick himself. Overtaken by fury and provided with an irresistible opportunity to get Negan alone, he chases him off on wheel and foot into a building that is so dilapidated that it appears abandoned before the turn -- a new and fascinating set choice for the show. While Negan and Rick grapple in this haunted house of an almost forgotten past, leaders like Maggie and Georgie suss out plans for a more developed and interconnected future. Is Rick making a necessary correction to past injustices or indulging in his grief by focusing on the past, and is Maggie's choice to trust a stranger and begin focusing on the future wise or foolish at a time like this? What does this episode of contrasts tell us about emotional healing and leadership?

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Photo by Gene Page/AMC

In "Dead or Alive Or" the Alexandrians have entered a desperate no-man's-land somewhere between total conviction and faithlessness; how are they to navigate this, indeed, murky terrain? Greg Nicotero's fantastic swamp and its undead residents are a rich symbol for the ground they are forced to cover in this episode. They are in a state of fatigue, shock, and uncertainty that requires some faith in order to keep moving forward -- how much faith though?

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Photo by Gene Page AMC

It would have been hard to imagine TWD topping last week's spectacular show of sorrow, but they may have done it with "The Lost and The Plunderers." Even with Carl's death we were given some hope, but this episode is one of despair, of personal loss, and of isolation. Deceit, in its smaller and its more egregious forms, is braided into almost every interaction. An inherent mistrust hangs over everyone, a mistrust aggravated by grief and exhaustion. Even the infamous Negan himself seems weary and oddly humorless. Jadis and her community are destroyed and then abandoned. Rick is still whirling toward his grief, and Simon apparently has gone mental. Things seem chaotic at the moment, but there may be a unifying theme, some sin, so to speak, they are all committing: the sin of isolationism.

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