Originally posted Sunday, March 17, 2019 by RODNEY HOfirstname.lastname@example.org on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
Show runner Angela Kang decided to experiment with storytelling and this Michonne-focused story largely worked. There’s no doubt some will cringe at Michonne having to kill kids to save her own but that act leaves plenty of scars, as the show title notes.
It’s part flashback, explaining why Michonne is so wary of the outside world now and why she and Daryl had an “X” branded on their lower backs six years earlier.
It’s also part present, focused on Judith’s desire to bring Alexandria back into the fold with the Kingdom and the Hilltop.
The two stories are intricately weaved together and leads us back to the Kingdom fair. And with the Whisperers ready to pounce, the final two episodes may lead to some big-league deaths. Another war is brewing.
To simplify things, I’ll focus on the past first, then run through the present:
The episode opens six years earlier, a few months after Rick had disappeared, Michonne looks like she’s in her third trimester pregnant and trying to find more clues regarding Rick’s disappearance. Where’s his body? She finds his gun and keeps it for Judith. (This begs the question: did they miss the helicopter that ferried him away? How could they not hear that ruckus after the bridge exploded?) Daryl is there, too, hunting. Daryl is flying solo and says he’s be okay because he’s, well, Daryl. Michonne says she couldn’t be alone.
At the time, by monstrous coincidence, she runs into an old friend Jocelyn, who she knew in college and arrives at Alexandria “seeking” help. They were close during college and Michonne welcomed her and a bunch of her kid followers into Alexandria.
Bad move. The next day, she finds Jocelyn and the kids gone, the pantry cleared out, an unnamed Alexandria resident dead. What’s worse, several kids were kidnapped - including Judith!
Oddly, just Michonne and Daryl go out to find them - especially with Michonne super pregnant. (Why not more people?)
Anyway, she tells Daryl how close she was to Jocelyn back in the day, that she trusted her and feels totally betrayed. “I let my guard down,” she says ruefully. This is clearly why she is now so suspicious of any cooperation with anybody years later.
Daryl, alluding not so subtly to what they will face years later, says some people hide their evil, “like it’s a mask for something.”
The dynamic duo spy one of Jocelyn’s kids outside a school. He runs inside and Daryl and Michonne get ambushed. They then get branded with that “X.” Jocelyn, now hardened to the core, has a brander repeat the saying, “The strong survive... and thrive.”
“I told you children are capable of anything,” Jocelyn says. “I taught them.”
Yikes! This woman is scary.
Somehow, Daryl and Michonne escape the room at a later point. Jocelyn sees them and says some sort of garden-variety evil thing about how Judith is better off and that Michonne is living in the past. She has two of her kids try to kill Michonne and leaves.
Michonne naturally doesn’t want to hurt kids but when the younger one slices her pregnant belly, she grabs her katana and the two kids scurry in a hurry.
When she leaves the school building, Jocelyn whacks her old, pregnant friend with a two-by-four multiple times. That is uber cold.
Jocelyn stupidly pause and apologize that she had to do this to an old friend. Michonne reaches for her katana and knifes Jocelyn in the thigh, then the heart.
Jocelyn’s kids are looking at their leader, dead. Michonne offers to bring them back to Alexandria. Instead, one of the kids goes off to kill Judith and the other Alexandria kids Jocelyn’s kids then attack Michonne and she has no choice but to kill them first. Yes, kids. (Even “The Walking Dead” has its limits. They don’t actually show her taking the kids down.)
The one kid assigned to take down Judith runs away. Judith is okay. But she hesitates before she says “Mommy!” Brutal.
Side note: Michonne should be bleeding seriously from her stomach but somehow doesn’t. Just because.
Meanwhile, in present day, Aaron says Daryl is outside the Alexandria gate with an injured Henry, Lydia, Connie and Daryl. Aaron says he doesn’t trust Lydia but Michonne only lets them in because “I trust Daryl.”
Michonne gives a not-so-stern warning to Lydia that being alone might save others from pain and injury. (She alludes to her own issues with Joceyln and the kids.)
I doubt Lydia will pay her much heed.
Anyway, the four leave the next day for the fair. Of course, Judith wants to go with them and sneaks out that night.
For whatever reason, Michonne goes to Negan to find out what his talks with her are like. He says Judith enjoys hearing heroic stories about her brother Carl and Rick. He says she likes hearing him talk as much as he enjoys hearing himself talk. “I shoot straight,” he says, unlike Michonne, who has tried to protect Judith as much as possible.
She points out the hypocrisy because she doesn’t think he he told Judith some of his more heinous acts, like the way he killed Abraham and Glenn. But alas, he did! He says Judith wants them to be more open to outsiders.
Michonne explodes and says he cannot tell her what Judith wants or feels. Negan quickly gets what’s going on. “You didn’t come down here because you’re curious. You came down here because you have no idea where she is!” He says she’s probably like her mom and “not taking s*** lying down.”
(I’m not sure if this scene was thrown in there more to give Jeffrey Dean Morgan something to do and another chance for Michonne to emote.)
Eventually, Michonne tracks Judith down, while mowing down walkers to get to her, in a parallel to her (earlier) killing Jocelyn’s kids.
Anyway, Michonne later finds out Judith remembers the Jocelyn death scene when she was three, that she hesitated when she saw Michonne because Michonne was caked in blood. She clearly kenw what was going on.“I thought you didn’t remember,” Michonne says. “You never said anything after the first year.”
“I guess it made you sad,” Judith says.
If Judith understood Michonne’s “Alexandria First” philosophy, why were they in a field full of dead walkers? “Our friends need our help,” she explains.
“It’s not that simple,” Michonne pleads.
Judith understands Michonne is doing all she can to keep Judith safe because she loves them. “When did we stop loving Daryl and Maggie and Carol, the King.”
“We didn’t,” Michonne says.
“Then why does it feel that way?” Judith says. Gut-punch moment for Michonne!
“We have to protect the people we love -- all the people we love,” Michonne later said. “And we will.”
So they go to Kingdom, meeting up with Daryl’s crew.
As they enter, two reconnaissance Whisperers spy them. “We must tell Alpha,” one say.
The new war is about to go down.
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