[SPOILERS for those not caught up on The Walking Dead ahead.]
The second half of the seventh season of The Walking Dead has put Rick and the Alexandria survivors in the precarious position of trying to find a way out from under the oppressive thumb of Negan and The Saviors. The failed attempt to recruit King Ezekiel in the mid-season opener left the group in desperate need of soldiers and weaponry, to prepare for their insurgence.
The Walking Dead introduced a new all-original group in its most recent episode, referred to as The Junkyard Community. This group of scavaging human parasites were first seen in the final moments of the mid-season opener, "Rock in the Road", and were fully introduced with their leader, Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh), in this weeks episode, "New Best Friends".
McIntosh recently opened up about the Junkyard Community and her role as their cold and severe leader, Jadis in an interview with Variety. The role, which was cast last summer under the character name "Brion", gives McIntosh the ability to join the cast of what remains one of the more popular shows on television, despite its ratings having dropped in season 7, thus far. McIntosh revealed details about Jadis, beyond her obviously questionable haircut choices:
"I think everybody has to be menacing at this point. It’s a dangerous world. We’re keeping our cards close to our chest, and I as an actor on the show have to keep my cards very close to my chest about where this can go. I definitely don’t see myself, as Jadis, as a villain at all. I’m a survivor and a leader, and I’ve taken pretty good care of this group. And I think she’s done a pretty good job when you see the size of it."
On the weaponry the Junkyard utilizes and their sense of morality:
"Yeah, you can see the weaponry they all have are all road signs made into knives. My knife is an old railroad spike that’s been flattened out. You need to have those visceral things to recognize where we come from and how we do things. Morality in this day and age is a hard thing to hold onto. That’s what makes the show so exciting to watch. The audience sees Rick and his group as the good guys, but even they have all sorts of morality issues. Carol’s arc is amazing. I think we can be let off with a few things like chucking Rick into a pit with Winslow. It worked out just fine. Why should anybody be upset by that? (Laughs.) Rick certainly measures up to be the man that we hoped he is."
McIntosh also said that Jadis was clearly testing Rick, to make sure that the way Gabriel had built him up was indeed accurate:
"Gabriel said Rick can do anything. He made him into Jesus. Jadis is a very good reader of people. So I can see in his face what he’s been through, how much he means it, that he’s sincere. That gives me an idea that he might be right. But you can’t trust his words. So throwing Rick into that pit with Winslow means I can see what kind of a fighter Rick is. I see his tenacity. I see that his group jumps toward the tubes to help him. I even signal with my hands to come toward the tubes so they can see what’s going on, and I can also test how useful they are and how much they care. That tells you a lot about how successful a leader is, how their group responds when he’s in danger. I find out everything I need to know. The character of Rick is also really impressive he comes out of the pit. He doesn’t waste time with, “Why did you throw me in that pit?” He just starts moving on to the deal, and I like that about him. I couldn’t just take Gabriel’s word for it, no matter what my first instincts were. Jadis’ instincts were correct, but you can’t take any risks in this world."
The stage is now set for an impending battle, so no doubt the rest of season seven is going to be a huge build to the season finale and the war with The Saviors. Negan isn't a foe to be taken lightly, but it will be interesting to see what dynamic this strange new group brings to the party. There is no Walking Dead comic book history for this group, which makes it a lot more fun for many viewers. The comic books sometimes spoil upcoming events or sour existing fans, because the show often doesn't follow them that faithfully.
The Junkyard group first found out about Rick and the gang earlier this season, when Rick and Aaron made the daring move of crossing the perilous zombie lake to get to the houseboat full of supplies. The Junkyard group had been too nervous to make that move. That also goes to show that the group is calculating and careful, hence they are able to operate as they do.
What makes the Junkyard Community so interesting is their bizarre behavior and their apparent ability to go unnoticed. This group has been around and occupying a rather large area, and yet they remain fairly unbothered. Their ability to stay hidden and move around undetected will no doubt be a huge asset in the battle with Negan and his Saviors. Then, once Negan and the Saviors are subdued, the question will remain if this group is a friend or foe in the long term. There are more groups out there that are concerned only about their own survival, rather than rebuilding a network of communities, like the Alexandria group would prefer to do.
The Walking Dead continues next Sunday with ‘Hostiles and Calamities’ @9pm on AMC.