"The Walking Dead" introduced its newest group in the Feb. 19 episode "New Best Friends" -- a junkyard community that could be the army Rick's (Andrew Lincoln) been waiting for, to take the war to Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan)... But we couldn't help but notice something peculiar about them.
It's all in the way they speak. This far we've mostly been introduced to their leader Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh) and the words she spoke were very deliberate and very strange. How has language changed so much, for some people, in such a short amount of time?
While there is no official timeline as to as how long it's been since the outbreak on "The Walking Dead," we can surmise that it's been around three years since everything fell apart: Baby Judith is still a toddler after being conceived sometime around the zombie apocalypse, while Carl (Chandler Riggs) is clearly still in his early teen years.
That's why it's so strange to hear a group like the junkyard community -- no official title as yet -- speaking in what could be considered a gibberish code. When Jadis wants Rick taken to the top of a trash heap, she commands, "Show Rick up up up." For an explanation from Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) as to why they should work together, she demands, "Your words now."
It's such a unique regression that we've not seen on the show before, and one that points to a larger meaning within the group.
"The language and dialogue is a way to keep their group cohesive. This dialogue is one way to separate them from the outside and cement that community. It's very succinct, clear and to the point," MacIntosh explains to The Hollywood Reporter in an interview. "And as you can see from the heap and how all the trash is used, there's nothing that is wasted. In this case, it's the word; there's no need for extraneous words, it's just what you need -- and direct."
While using how they speak as a way to bind the group makes sense, it's a little difficult to simply accept that an entire community would so quickly and easily abandon traditional English for their own made-up dialect -- in the same way King Ezekiel's (Khary Payton) regal way of addressing his people can feel like a little too extravagant to be believable.
What if that's the point, though? Throughout its seven seasons, "The Walking Dead" hasn't really evolved the language of the main characters at all -- Rick still sounds like he always has, as does the rest of the crew. That makes them familiar and trustworthy.
We've spent seven years with these people, watching them face down the absolute worst humanity and the undead have to offer. Now, at their darkest hour, these groups that look and sound very different are supposed to be the ones they can count on. It's a smart way for the show to put us in their position: These strangers feel as weird to us as they do to the characters themselves.
As viewers, it's easy to see the massive differences of strangers, and wonder just how trustworthy they are. The junkyard community has taken what could be considered a "Lord of the Flies" approach to the end of the world. They're a group that has been cut off from what's left of society, surviving by their own means with their own rules. In doing so, they've managed to become something entirely different from the rest of the world. That makes them unpredictable.
Now, with an uneasy alliance between them, Rick and his group have to hope that they aren't being set up for yet another enormous blow to their own chances at survival. It's an ironic position Rick's people find themselves in, given the way they were once received at Alexandria -- as primitive, untrustworthy and strange.
"The Walking Dead" airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on AMC.