Scottish actress Pollyanna McIntosh plays Jadis as a strange, enigmatic presence on The Walking Dead. She speaks in Yoda-like haikus, wears a Rhythm Nation-style getup and paints in her spare time. On Sunday night, she came more fully into her own in “The Lost and the Plunders,” the most Jadis-centric episode to date. (Major spoilers ahead.)

The AMC series has revealed a handful of freestanding communities over the last few seasons, and the Scavengers—led by Jadis—have taken over a junkyard and built it into a fortress. They’re militaristic and brutal. They don’t take to outsiders.

In this week’s episode, they came to an end, with Jadis as the only survivor. Playboy sat down with McIntosh to talk about the episode, how Jadis’ artistic side fits into the series and how her own career has evolved over the last few years.

You and Steven Ogg (Simon) both play characters that have sometimes weird, sometimes comedic energy. What were your thoughts on shooting the one-on-one scene with him that was more about power?

Stephen is always looking for those moments—just like I am—about the absurdity, the comedy, the tragedy of life. We’re looking for the moments of levity despite the awful situation that our characters are in, and with the weight of what the hell is gonna go down in that scene. For me, I was thinking about how I’m going to make the right choices and how I’m going to survive this.

Steven and I are great friends, so we have a good time, even in a scene like that one. I did hit him in the chin by mistake in one of the takes. We had done the scene a bunch of times, and he said, “Well, you finally got me.” I actually hit him quite hard, but he’s a big guy.

Do you take the emphasis on Jadis as an artist to connect her to the world before the change or to show that she has more of a right-brain sensibility, or is it something else?

One of the really interesting things about the show, and one of the things that makes it so egalitarian in the way that it treats humanity, is that you don’t know people’s history. You don’t know what job they did. You don’t know their background. Jadis has this right-brain—as you say—history and worldview, and it’s a little bit jarring to square that with the military stance that they take and the cruelty that she brings sometimes.

Her weaponized walkers are actually quite creative. She’s a creative thinker, and you can see that in her bargaining technique and how she thinks on her feet. It matches for me. I feel the character so strongly, and I think it’s an interesting take and a new way for viewers to look at Jadis.

“It’s great storytelling to present a question of who Rick is now and whether he’s lost hope.”

Jadis has an odd way of speaking, and the show hasn’t explained it. Do you have a theory about why Jadis talks the way she does?

The producers never explained it, but I have a strong sense of why she talks that way. Jadis uses that clipped language for expedience inside of the community, and it’s something they have in common that binds them as a community. It also doesn’t waste anything, which is another theme of their world. And it’s a way of putting outsiders on their back foot. You can get a better sense of a person when they’re nervous or unsure than when they’re confident.

You seemed to stop doing it after the Saviors killed the rest of your people. Why was that?

Her community was gone. It was too painful. Also, if you want outsiders like Rick and Michonne, you can’t use the usual tactic of trying to be above them or putting the language between you and them. You try and connect and step into their world.

After Carl’s death and all the death at the junkyard bringing some gravity to the situation, I was surprised that Rick and Michonne didn’t take Jadis with them. Were you surprised?

It definitely surprised me, but I had put his life in jeopardy three times already, and he had a lot on his mind with his son dying. They thought they were coming to get an army and not just Jadis, so it logically made sense not to take her. We want to see Rick moral, and we want to see Rick do the right thing, and that’s something we want to hold onto with him as the moral center of the show. So it’s great storytelling to present a question of who he is now and whether he’s lost hope.

The meat grinder scene was super disgusting. Did you get to see all of that?

I did! It was very cool. It really was a machine that grinds up boards and metal to back it up and get rid of it. They slopped that stuff onto the conveyor belt, and it was super disgusting.

It was sad because her entire community was dead, but it was fun to watch.

The show does a wonderful mix of horror and emotional, human experience. I think that will be an iconic scene.

You’ve been doing a lot different things over the last year with film and TV and theatre. What has your routine been like?

Routine—that doesn’t compute! We shoot The Walking Dead from the beginning of May to the end of November, so as a series regular, it’s nice to have that schedule. I’m often going away on the weekends for conventions and interacting with fans and just spending time with the cast. After this season, I went to Louisiana for production on a film that I wrote and directed, and I’ve been in the edit suite with that for the last couple of months.

What’s the movie called?

I can’t actually tell you the title yet, but we’re going to have a festival premiere sometime this year. It’s an emotional film with a horror element, and I’m really excited about it. There will be a few other castmates from The Walking Dead in the film.

You come from a fashion background, and seeing you in those strange costumes reminds of seeing Taryn Manning in the orange jumpsuits on Orange Is the New Black.

[Laughs] That wardrobe is actually very empowering. She has the black hooded jacket and the boots, and she has the knife placed perfectly between the jacket and the belt. It’s a beautifully made thing, and I feel very proud and strong when I wear it. It’s got all these different pieces and is a bit like a hipster Berliner. I feel very capable in that outfit. It was much stranger to wear the white dress at the end of the episode, which was very vulnerable.

The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.