SPOILER ALERT: Read on only if you have already watched Sunday’s “The Lost and the Plunderers” episode of The Walking Dead.
The empire struck back on Sunday’s “The Lost and the Plunderers” episode of The Walking Dead. But it was not Negan doing the striking, and it was not Alexandria, or the Kingdom, or the Hilltop being struck. Instead, it was Simon the Savior who went rogue, wiping out all of the Scavengers save for one — and that one was the group’s enigmatic leader, Jadis.
We saw more from Jadis in this episode than any before. We saw her lose her cool, lose her friends, lose her regular clothing, and even lose her stilted speech patterns. In the end, she was reduced to grinding her zombified troops into mush and eating applesauce alone in the junkyard.
What does it all mean? And what does it mean for Jadis’ future? Will she reemerge from her scrap heap solitude? And, if so, whom is she coming for: Rick or Negan? And now that we have seen Jadis reduced to her lowest level, could she possibly turn into the feared antagonist from The Walking Dead comic named Alpha. We asked Jadis herself, Pollyanna McIntosh, all that and more. (Also make sure to check out our episode Q&A with Steven Ogg, who plays Simon.)
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So did you know this episode was coming a few weeks in advance or not until you got the script?
POLLYANNA McINTOSH: I think it was about two weeks before we shot the episode that I got the call that I’d be reading a script where my beloved castmates would be disappearing, and [showrunner Scott M. Gimple] is good like that. So it wasn’t completely shocking when I read it because I had just heard it was going to happen, but it was still very heartbreaking. And then we were all kind of excited and on board with this big iconic community wipeout and how we were going to be part of something really cool and very moving, and I’m just really proud of the edit and everything, and I think it came out great.
Let’s talk about some of these scenes. We start with a super intense one between Jadis and Simon in the junkyard there. He’s cursing and shooting people; you’re hitting him and spilling paint. How much fun was that to film?
Oh, it was so fun. I absolutely love Steven [Ogg]. We’re great friends, and it was just like play time for us. We were completely in the moment and I really despised him at the time — but boy was it fun, and getting to give him a good swing as well was quite satisfying. But again, just bloody heartbreaking, you know? Just bloody heartbreaking stuff to shoot. And my only complaint was that I wanted him to have a bloody great big stinger on his chin after I’d hit him, but it might have given it away to Negan, so we couldn’t do that, and I was like, goddammit!
You’re like, come on she’s strong enough to leave a mark! But, no.
Exactly! She needs to leave a mark and she’s got those little metal rings on her gloves and I just thought it’d be really fun to have, like, the little discs make marks right in his face. But, yeah, they were concerned about Negan thinking something was up too early in the storyline. I kind of have to defer to the wonderful and incredible creators of The Walking Dead I think on this one.
Let’s say it hadn’t all gone bad and Simon hadn’t slaughtered everyone. Which side does Jadis go with here— Negan or Rick — or does she continue to try to play them both?
I think if that hadn’t happened, she would have felt the vulnerability that they now have, from the Saviors. And I think that she would have wanted to get rid of them, so at that point, she probably would be going to Rick and saying, “Alright, let’s do this, let’s take these guys out.” Because they were finally a real threat to her. But now, it’s gone the other way. Now, everyone’s cheating on Jadis.
So then Rick shows up, finds Jadis on the heap and she’s alone, out of her uniform, and — in the biggest shock of all — she’s actually speaking in complete sentences and with a different accent! What’s going on there?
I have found my sentences again! They were with that white dress. Yeah, it was really fun to do that because it just felt very real, honestly. It felt very emotionally real, and yet when I read it, I thought, how am I going to speak in complete sentences? That doesn’t feel right, that’s not who I am at this point. But, of course, with such a change, her identity is being stripped away, being blasted away really. And that was also a useful tool to actually connect with Rick and Michonne at that point. I don’t think it would have been quite so effective had I said it in stilted sentences. And yet they just bloody well left anyway, didn’t they?
That was really the first peek we’ve gotten into what Jadis was like before this whole apocalyptic scenario unfolded. Did it get your wheels turning at all in terms of who she was before this all happened?
It kind of turned my wheels more as to how will she move forward and what will she become, because I felt who she was before. I have my own background, which is spun off from the background they told me. So, yeah, it more makes me wonder how I’m gonna keep walking after this.
What do you think that does to Jadis when Rick refuses to let her come and actually shoots at her — or above her, as he will say?
I think there’s genuine shock there. She didn’t think he was the guy who would point a gun at her without reason. I mean, she hasn’t been exactly the nicest person to him, but without reason at the moment, I think it really shocked her. But I don’t think she’s going to be feeling sorry for herself about how Rick’s left her there. She’s got enough grief going on, and I think that it becomes about survival and it becomes about honor and it becomes about doing this kind of ritual of burying my mates.
Yeah, let’s talk about that and whole demolition grinder scene. Take us through the logistics of how that was actually filmed.
So, the logistics of that were really, really fun because it was very much a practical deal. I was hitting that bar with that stick and I was undoing that chain that would have let them drop in. And then, of course, these wonderful actors were pretending to be falling into the grinder, but it was a green screen piece that they were stepping onto and kind of writhing around in and darting their way out of. But it all felt very real and it was wonderful to be able to see their faces coming at me like that, because it was all I needed, really. It was very sad — very sad, indeed.
I also feel that there’s a forceful making-herself-face-it too about it, that there can be no denial. It’s a practical way to get rid of them, and it’s the only kind of burial we can have on a mass scale while making sure they don’t go off and kill somebody else. But it’s also kind of like taking care of the burial in a way that is physically getting rid of the walker.
So she has to go through all of that and then what’s going through her mind as she sits down and opens up some applesauce?
For me it was, I’m gonna go on, and in what way am I gonna go on. What am I gonna deal with first? I sense a little revenge there. I feel that. I felt that at the time, and there’s also just still that overwhelming grief, and just trying to at least eat, you know? Just trying to at least still survive, if even on the most basic level.
And you talk about revenge, but I guess then the question becomes: revenge at whom? Because she could want revenge on a lot of people right now. Obviously, Simon did what he did and shot everyone up, and then Rick did what he did and left her there. So who is the revenge directed at?
That’s the mystery, isn’t it? I mean that’s the question: Who the hell first and to what end? Hmmm…
You’ve heard the theories that Jadis turns into Alpha, a big antagonist from the comic book who is the leader of the Whisperers. Obviously, people are going to start running with that again seeing where she is now. What can you say about that?
I wanna say, isn’t it fun to wonder about that? Isn’t it the best? I wonder about that sometimes. But that’s The Walking Dead, man. They keep you on your toes. I love it.
That’s a good point, because I know that Scott, as your showrunner, is not all that forthcoming with information. He doesn’t like to tell you too much in advance. So when you read this episode, and having heard about this other person named Alpha, did you connect those dots at all?
Well, I mean, she’s been brought up by the fans on those funny sites since I got cast, before we even shot a second of it or anyone had seen a script. People really love that character and they are excited to see her and I’d be honored for it to be me, but I’d also be thrilled if we could have another great female character come in, and why not have two? So, for me, it’s like which is better? Which is more exciting: to add another great woman to the cast of characters, or to get to do it myself? I don’t honestly know. They’ll decide.
Have you asked Scott in the past whether Jadis turns into Alpha?
Of course! I bug him about it all the time!
And what does he say?
Well, I’m not gonna tell you! [Laughs] But, no, he’s said publicly and to me, “It’s a completely different thing. It’s not you.” And I say, “Fine, okay.”