If any one character has acted in an extremely frustrating manner in the post-Rick era of this season it’s been Michonne. Even more so since Michonne had up til now been one of the more level-headed and rational characters in the series. We knew something occurred during the time jump that caused her to have severe trust issues as well as the full support of the council for Alexandria security. In one of the finest hours of the series, Scars answered a lot of lingering questions as well as reminding Walking Dead viewers how fortunate we’ve been to have Danai Gurira on the series so long.
The Walking Dead has lost some ‘indispensable’ cast members before, but Gurira exiting the series next season is going to be a huge obstacle to overcome. Best to appreciate her now while she’s still around.
Flashbacks aren’t a typical storytelling tool for TWD, but it was essential for this story. Michonne is pregnant, but still checking the riverbeds either in hopes of finding Rick alive or ensuring that none of the walkers is her man. She does find Rick’s gun, which probably isn’t the most encouraging sign. Daryl assures her Rick isn’t here as he’s gone as far as the ocean looking for Rick. He’s been away from Alexandria since Rick’s disappearance and has little interest in returning. On one hand the time jump avoided prolonged grieving Rick episodes although we never got to really feel his loss from his closest allies. Scars allows the writers to show how much losing Rick meant to Michonne and Daryl who are carrying out an obsessive routine even though hope is lost.
Alexandria gets a new visitor, Jocelyn (Rutina Wesley, Queen Sugar), who actually knew Michonne before the world went dead. It was nice to see Michonne smiling and laughing reminiscing about the old days. Jocelyn encourages Michonne not to give up searching for Rick. Jocelyn’s camp is down to the kids as none of the adults managed to survive. With the help of some of Jocelyn’s kids, Alexandria tracks down and brings back the rest of the kids. Jocelyn is so grateful she puts all of Alexandria’s kids up for sleepovers. In our cynical Walking Dead minds of strangers = dangers this is probably a whirlwind of red flags, but Michonne had no reason to be suspicious of her buddy until it’s too late.
The next morning, Jocelyn and the kids are gone…along with most of the food and medical supplies. A bloody trail of footprints leads to the manhole cover Jocelyn and the kids used to escape.
Let’s catch up to the present day for now. Daryl arrives at Alexandria with Connie, Dog, Henry and Lydia in tow. While leery of Lydia, Michonne’s trust tank with Daryl is still 100. Michonne brushes off Henry’s gratitude about the fair saying she wouldn’t have allowed it if she knew what was going on with Lydia. That’s cold, Michonne. The temperature drops further when Michonne talks to Lydia and not so subtly suggest Lydia beat it.
Daryl catches up with Judith, who tries to get him in the feels by asking what would Rick do with regards to the splintered communities. Like Negan, Daryl doesn’t talk to Judith like a kid. Not wanting to keep things awkward, Daryl takes his crew out at night. Judith isn’t happy with Michonne’s lack of interest in helping and ditches dinner to help Daryl.
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Michonne questions Negan, who confesses that he’s shared all kinds of stories with Judith including the ones where he had batting practice with Glenn and Abraham’s heads. Way to tell the full story warts and all, Negan. Michonne goes slam off on him for daring to mention Carl and suggesting he knows more about what Judith wants. Negan properly reads the room and tells Michonne that Judith is just acting like her mother. I’m kinda liking sounding board Prisoner Negan.
It doesn’t take Michonne long to catch up with Judith, who’s surrounded by walkers. This triggers more memories from Michonne as she remembers tracking Jocelyn and the kids with Daryl. Seriously, how bada$$ is Michonne that pregnant no one at Alexandria questions her going with Daryl to find the kids? This was a reminder we have not had nearly enough Daryl and Michonne scenes. I’m warming up to a Daryl-fronted Walking Dead though as Norman Reedus is giving Daryl some much needed depth this season.
They find the kids, who promptly attack them. Michonne and Daryl may be stone cold blooded killers, but they’re not about to start slicing and shooting brainwashed kids. They get tied up and branded as Jocelyn watches. Yeah, this would cause some serious trust issues. Jocelyn won’t let them get weak and has been corrupting them to be psychos in training. Daryl gets free and Michonne chases after Jocelyn, who defends herself with some of her kids. One slashes Michonne’s stomach in a crazy moment. Jocelyn meets the wrong end of Michonne’s katana, but not before giving the order for her kids to kill the Alexandria kids. Uh-oh. Michonne doesn’t want to do it, but she eventually carves up the kids to keep the Alexandria kids safe.
Director Millicent Shelton (Luke Cage, The Flash) beautifully cuts between the flashback and current day as Michonne kills walkers to get to Judith. This would have been an easy scene to go too dramatic or show too much, but Shelton gives it the proper restraint that allows viewers to imagine what happened in Michonne’s most traumatic moment. As Michonne and Daryl return to Alexandria, the respect from everyone is obvious. This is why folks don’t pop off when Michonne lays down the law. She did all this while pregnant.
Judith tells Michonne she remembered that day and questions when they stopped loving Daryl, Aunt Carol and the others. This was another tricky scene as Judith couldn’t be too precocious here, but she was repeating the mantra of Rick and Carl — you fight for your family. Finally won over, Michonne takes Judith out to get Daryl and company to Hilltop.
Gurira was excellent here. She’s always been good, but wow did she deliver so exceptionally here as the momma bear who would do anything to protect her cub. This was essentially a Michonne showcase and it was superb.
After the previous two seasons, The Walking Dead felt like its glory days were behind it, but if these next few episodes are half as good as Scars, this could rank as one of the series’ best seasons. With the teases for next week it doesn’t look like I’ll be disappointed at all.
Rating: 10 out of 10
Photo Credit: AMC