AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 9, Episode 14: “Scars”
Directed by Millicent Shelton
Written by Corey Reed & Vivian Tse
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Chokepoint” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Calm Before” – click here
We catch up with Michonne (Danai Gurira) on the shore of a lake. She found Rick’s pistol caked into the earth. She was pregnant— obviously a while before the six year jump. She and Daryl (Norman Reedus) were out there together. He wasn’t back at Alexandria, out there trying to find clues as to where Rick went, any assurance he was still alive. Back at Alexandria, Michonne and the others found a woman at their gate. Someone she recognised named Jocelyn.
In present day, Michonne and Aaron (Ross Marquand) head to the gate where Daryl’s arrived after so long with Connie (Lauren Ridloff), Henry (Matt Lintz), and Lydia (Cassady McClincy). The community doesn’t trust the girl, however, Michonne trusts Daryl. An interesting mirror of the past situation we’re seeing, as Michonne finds a person she knows at the gate.
What’ll be the aftermath of both these situations? We know Beta (Ryan Hurst) will be coming after Daryl. Could he bring his wrath to Alexandria? And will that parallel whatever happened with Jocelyn, too? Great writing, either way.
Back then, Jocelyn was wounded. She wanted to go back out into the wild. There were others she needed to find. Michonne offered to help, so she, Gabriel (Seth Gilliam), Rosita (Christian Serratos), and Eugene (Josh McDermitt) went back out. They made it to a building and located the rest of her people hiding out.
Michonne wants to have a private chat with Lydia. She tells the young woman about the things she’s “had to do” to protect her people. She cryptically makes it all about the supposed greater good of a community. Such a stark contrast to see Michonne as she is now, pretty much ruthless, and how she was while pregnant, still filled with hope.
A cute scene with Daryl and Judith (Cailey Fleming) has her trying to convince him to stay. She’s “heard all the stories” about their group and believes they’re all stronger together. They both have a love for Rick. Easy to see how Sheriff Grimes lives on in Judith, whose soul is so pure, so moral she could never be anybody but Rick’s daughter.
Back when Michonne was pregnant, she and a few of the others went to look for Jocelyn but she was nowhere to be found, and neither were some of the kids. Then they noticed a dead man, along with raided food and other items.
And bloody footprints leading into the sewer.
“You haven’t heard all the stories”
Michonne can’t find Judith, so she goes to see Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) in his cell. She wants to know what they talk about. He tells her mostly “stories about her dad,” homework, “Uncle Daryl.” He tells her of Carl and Rick’s daring adventures. Michonne thinks it’s a tactic of his to get into her good graces. But there’s sincerity about Negan, in spite of his horrific past behaviour. He does know a little about Judith— and he knows she won’t “take shit lying down.” This sends Michonne off home where she finds a note. Little Judy Grimes is gone to be the Little Ass Kicker her uncle once named her.
Back then, Michonne and Daryl were searching for Jocelyn. Michonne kicked herself for not believing someone she knew so well before the fall of humanity could’ve been so nefarious. Daryl comforted her. They eventually came across one of the kids, only to run into the rest of the group. They forced Michonne to drop her weapons, knocking her out, and they shot an arrow into Daryl.
The pair woke tied up together, and this is when they received those matching scars. Jocelyn stood by as a child branded a searing hot X into the flesh of Daryl and a pregnant Michonne. “The strong survive,” said the boy, to which Jocelyn replied: “And thrive.” Once the pair were marked, they were hunted. One kid cut Michonne’s pregnant belly, forcing her to pick up her sword. She had to stab her old friend to death before she lost her baby, not hesitating to sink the blade into her chest. Astonishing she didn’t have a miscarriage— one tough woman!
Scary how Jocelyn’s people feel similar to the Whisperers in that they had a survival of the fittest-like ideology about living in a post-zombie apocalypse world. Perfect because Michonne feels as if she’s living out a parallel moment again currently, searching frantically for Judith. Fantastic sequence cutting between her having to face the kids of Jocelyn’s creepy cult to her fighting a horde of walkers in a field to get to Judith. Back then she was forced to kill kids to save her own living and unborn child.
“You live in the past chasing the ghosts”
In current day, Michonne finds Judith. They sit afterwards and talk about the memory of Jocelyn, and Judith remembers. She knows her mother had to do what she did that day. Although she doesn’t know why things are so divided between the communities today, wishing it were different.
This episode’s been all about Michonne holding onto the past, in negative and positive ways. Sometimes we have to hold onto the past— she never has to forget Rick, neither does Daryl, or Judith. At the same time, holding onto the past can sometimes keep us from moving forward, hindering growth. Michonne’s beginning to have a change of heart. She realises being too isolated is not always good. It wasn’t what Rick or Carl wanted. This means they’re headed for the fair, picking up Daryl & Co. along the way.
This was one of those spectacular episodes full of emotion that The Walking Dead does so well. Lots of good character work, as well as story. The editing and writing together worked so well going back and forth from past to present in this episode, helping to fill in a few of the blanks in those 6 years. “The Calm Before” is next, and we’ve got some Whisperers ready to alert Alpha (Samantha Morton) about the Kingdom’s fair. Uh oh.