Hello, Jocelyn, my old friend.
The episode begins with a flashback as a pregnant Michonne cuts down some defenseless walkers in the woods. Everyone needs a hobby, I suppose. Anyway, she finds and digs up Rick’s Colt Python. She’s joined by Daryl, who says that he’s been down this path before, but found nothing. Michonne has been having trouble sleeping, and Judith has been asking about Daryl.
He promises to return to Alexandria, once he finds something. He won’t stop looking. Michonne asks if Daryl is okay being alone, but he asks her the same question. However, in her mind, she’s not.
Back at Alexandria in the present, Michonne cleans and later seals Rick’s gun when Aaron arrives. As Michonne tells Judith to stay with RJ, Aaron tells Michonne that Daryl has arrived and he’s not alone.
The two meet Laura at the gates and find Daryl, along with Henry, Connie, and Lydia. Henry tells Michonne that she’s with them. While Aaron doesn’t trust her, Michonne trusts Daryl. Apparently that’s enough.
In a parallel flashback, Scott tells Michonne that he found some newcomers, and one of them, named Jocelyn, played by Rutina Wesley True Blood, happens to recognize Michonne. Oh look, it’s another Tara in the world of The Walking Dead.
While Henry is stitched up by Siddiq, Connie and Daryl inform Michonne of their plan to head to the Kingdom- Connie even thanks Michonne for everything. Fine, but Michonne still wants Laura to keep an eye on Lydia. Aaron, meanwhile, informs Michonne that Daryl and the others weren’t followed, but if the skin-jobs come looking, they may find them.
Back in the past, Jocelyn stumbles outside to leave, even with Siddiq, Aaron, Rosita, and Michonne trying to stop her.
So a few of them plus Eugene and Gabriel head to a building and begin exploring. Inside are various signs about skinning animals. Not at all creepy, right? They soon happen upon some strangers.
In the present, Laura keeps watch of Henry and Lydia, who is admiring Henry’s scar. She’ll never forget what he did. Michonne arrives to speak with Lydia alone. Before Henry leaves, though, he thanks Michonne for letting some people go to the fair, since the Kingdom needs all the help it can get.
Michonne notes that Lydia cares about Henry, as does she. Michonne admits that she’s done many things to protect Alexandria- some she’s not proud of and some she wants to forget, but it’s all to save her people. It hasn’t been easy, but it’s what she had to do. Still, she’s made peace with that.
It would be easier if the only life she had to risk was her own. If she could just walk away and take the risk with her- just to make everyone safe- that wouldn’t be hard. She wants Lydia to think about that. With that, she leaves Lydia with her thoughts.
By the lake, Judith talks with Daryl about Lydia and Henry. She figures that bringing Lydia means that Daryl wants to help. Lydia asks if Daryl would stay if Michonne says it’s okay, but he needs to keep moving. Keeping Judith and RJ safe is important, but Judith disagrees. She’s heard the stories about how the communities fought the Saviors and won. But Judith hasn’t heard all of the stories.
Judith then asks what her father would do. For that, Daryl has no response.
As night falls in another flashback, some of the residents play the quiet game while Aaron and Michonne watch from a distance, though Michonne wishes that Rick could see this. Linus and Winnie, the kids with Jocelyn, found some food from hunting, as Jocelyn tells Michonne that the kids take care of her. The adults, though, they just broke, but the children grew and learned how to survive. They’re capable of anything.
Michonne brought them all back, but Jocelyn sees the look in Michonne’s eyes: she’s going back out to find Rick. The two reminisce over a moment from high school and how Michonne showed a similar look then. The very least Michonne can do right now is enjoy this moment. Michonne worries that she’ll never find Rick, but if she gives up now, then she never will, and she can’t live with that.
At the very least, Michonne needs to know. Rick’s children deserve to know. But hey, if Michonne could find Jocelyn after 15 years, perhaps she could find Rick.
That night, Daryl’s group prepares to head out, with Michonne noting that Judith is angry. While Daryl wants Michonne to tell Judith everything, saying that she’s not just a kid anymore, Michonne wants Judith to enjoy her childhood while she can. With that, the four leave.
Back to the past as Michonne, Scott, and the kids, now grown up, stop by Jocelyn’s home, but they receive no answer. They head inside, but find no one. Scott finally finds a dead body against one of the buildings, followed by some bloody footprints that lead to a manhole.
Back in the present, Michonne has dinner with Judith and RJ, though Judith isn’t all that hungry. She’d rather go to her room. Fair enough. Later, though, Michonne knocks on Judith’s door and understand why Judith is upset, but Michonne still wants to talk. However, when Michonne opens the door, Judith is nowhere to be seen.
So she heads to Negan’s cell and asks if Judith has been by, but he hasn’t seen her since yesterday. Michonne demands to know what Negan and Judith talked about, so he explains that they talked about homework, Daryl, stories about Rick and Carl. Negan told Judith that she’s as much of a badass as Carl. As for why, though, Michonne lashes out, saying that Negan is trying to get Judith on his side.
But Negan doesn’t see it that way. He cuts through the bullshit and shoots straight. Michonne finds that funny, given that Negan probably didn’t mention Glenn or Abraham. But actually, he’s told those stories. He then admits that Judith hates that Michonne isn’t letting people in. That gets under Michonne’s skin, saying that Judith is her daughter.
Yes, and Judith has her own idea about how things should be. Negan realizes that Michonne has no idea where Judith is. Maybe she’s not taking shit laying down.
Michonne rushes back home and finds a note from Judith, which reads that she needed to go find her friends to help them.
Back in the past, Michonne and Daryl stop for a break on the road. So they rest on a convenient swing set. Michonne fears for Jocelyn’s safety, as she hoped the two would go through more things together. She laments letting her guard down, saying she should’ve sensed something amiss. But she didn’t because she’s not like Jocelyn. Daryl says that people just hide the evil in their hearts, like wearing a mask.
Daryl is confident that Jocelyn will pay. As the search continues, Michonne happens upon one of the kids and gives chase. At the same time, Daryl explores a school, where she finds Michonne confronted by a group of kids. Armed kids, in fact. One fires an arrow at Daryl as they order Michonne to lower her weapon. For that, she’s still knocked out.
She awakens, bound and gagged next to an equally bound Daryl. As Jocelyn watches, one of the kids brings over an iron and burns an X into Daryl’s back. Jocelyn thanks Linus, who reminds her that the strong survive. Jocelyn reminds Michonne that she said children are capable of anything. They can’t be soft. Not like she was. Michonne, though, just wants to know where Judith is.
No time for that, though. It’s Michonne’s turn to receive the X, and she gets it right in her back.
In the present, while Michonne searches for Judith, Daryl manages to free himself and Michonne. As he ties up one of the kids, Michonne heads upstairs and demands to know where Judith is. However, the kids are led out the school while Michonne is locked inside.
While Michonne doesn’t want to fight the kids, she must battle with them, though one of them slices at her pregnant stomach with her blade. Once she gets her sword back, though, the kids scatter like bitches.
As Michonne rushes outside, Jocelyn attacks her and knocks her down, but Michonne gets the upper hand and puts her friend down for good. With Jocelyn now dead, Michonne now has to take down the kids, one by one.
Before Winnie can head into the vehicle to take care of the kids, Michonne begs for Winnie to stop. So he does…and instead he just runs off. As for Judith, she’s finally comes out and embraces her mother.
At the same time in the present, Michonne happens upon Judith killing some walkers. As one walker grabs her, Michonne manages to save her just in time. However, Michonne tells Judith that yeah, they need to talk.
Indeed, Michonne tells Judith about the incident with Jocelyn, as she wondered if she was too late for Judith. She thought that she had lost Judith, but Judith acknowledges that Michonne didn’t look like herself because of the blood. Yes, Judith remembers that day very well. Jocelyn and the kids were nice the entire time, making a game out of it, but they were still bad people. It’s why Michonne did what she did.
All this time, Judith didn’t say anything after that first year because it made Michonne sad. Michonne thought Judith didn’t understand because she didn’t know, but she did. As for why they’re here now, their friends need help. And in Judith’s mind, it is quite simple. Michonne chose to be Judith’s mother because she loves her. Loving someone means doing what it takes to keep them safe.
But when did they stop loving Daryl, Maggie, and everyone else? If they didn’t, why are things the way they are right now?
As Michonne and the others return to Alexandria in the past, she and Judith stand next to what I’m guessing is Carl’s grave. Michonne promised that day to never bury another child, but then Rick disappeared and Michonne was lost. Then Judith was literally lost, and that frightened Michonne more than anything else, before or since. So they decided to Alexandria only about the people who lived them.
It’s not what Carl and Rick gave their lives to create, but it kept Judith and RJ safe. That’s all Michonne ever wanted. Michonne concedes that Judith was right: they have to protect all of the people that they love- and they will.
With that, Michonne and Judith hit the road, where they run into Daryl, Connie, Henry, and Lydia to escort them to the Kingdom.
All the while, some Whisperers spot some arrivals at the Kingdom and decide to tell Alpha.
Finally, something compelling happens in this episode. I say that somewhat in jest because while this was an interesting episode that shined a light on some aspects of why Michonne closed Alexandria off to everyone else, the overall package was not as compelling as, I believe, it wanted it to be.
Let’s discount how critics and folks at Forbes talked up this episode. Don’t take hype into consideration when watching an ongoing show you’re already invested in because you’re going to watch it anyway. So in the case of “Scars,” we touch upon some questions that have been lingering since Rick disappeared.
How did Michonne cope in the meantime? Did she ever fully move past that? In the interim, why has Alexandria walled itself off from the rest of the communities? How come there’s a disconnect between Michonne and others like Tara, Maggie, and Carol? We don’t answer all of those questions, and I doubt this episode set out to answer all of them, so perhaps that’s fans, myself included, placing expectations on this episode.
But before taking this apart, let’s start with what worked in this episode. For starters, it was good to see the slow evolution of Michonne’s level of trust in the episode. For all of Michonne’s talk about making Alexandria safe for the people of Alexandria, she opens the door for Daryl even with Lydia at his side. I imagine she would be more hesitant if it was just Henry or Connie, but Daryl? No, she trusts him without a doubt.
It was nice to see Daryl interact with the two of them. Since Rick’s disappearance, we’ve seen him become more outspoken and grow into a leadership role, even if he was reluctant to do so. But his bond with Michonne and Judith allows him to be more comfortable here versus the Hilltop. Plus, if the conversation with Judith was any indication, it shows that, like Negan, Daryl sees no need to hold back with her.
Admittedly, like Michonne, he doesn’t tell her everything, but he’ll eventually have to start being more transparent. Like Carl, she’s not a kid, and keeping secrets just serves as a way to build up walls, like Michonne has built up walls to protect just Alexandria. Well, that was a stretch, wasn’t it?
Talking about Negan, the highlight of this episode for me was Michonne facing off with him. Like before, Michonne sees Negan trying to play her or he has some sort of long-term strategy. Truth be told, it’s not unrealistic to think that he’s got a scheme up his sleeve, but between all the time that’s passed and that he came back to the cell of his own volition, Negan has no reason to pull a fast one on Michonne.
He’s alone with himself and his thoughts…and his books, anyway. As he did with Carl, Negan cuts through the bullshit and tells it like it is. So the fact that he told Judith about him killing Glenn and Abraham shows that he’s not keeping secrets. She would’ve found out anyway, and Negan’s got nothing to lose by being open. More than that, it’s not about getting Judith on his side or them being close friends.
As Judith told Michonne, Negan listens to her. Sometimes you don’t want to hear people talk or respond to you with their own situations- you just need an ear to hear you. Negan provides that, but more often than not, Michonne doesn’t. As with the previous conversation she had with Negan, Michonne gets rattled by his words. This just goes to prove his point.
In Michonne’s mind, she probably knows that Negan is right. She didn’t let people in, and she’s got far too much on her plate to devote time to Judith, even though she’s not just brushing her aside. Plus, as we learn from the flashbacks, she’s got her reasons for not wanting to open up to Judith. The drawback is this just serves to alienate Judith from Michonne.
Michonne has the right intentions wanting to shield Judith from certain horrors, but even if she withheld information, we see that Judith would just remember it anyway. The conversation between Judith and Michonne was well-executed, slowly paced, and allowed the emotions to dictate the scene, rather than the other way around.
It was a lesson for Michonne as she’s been coming around to the idea of opening herself and Alexandria back up to the surrounding communities. We’ve already seen her change her tune with the council, so it’s nice that she herself is going out of her way to escort Daryl and company to the Kingdom.
All of this stuff is fine. I have no problem with this portion of the episode. If it had been merely Daryl arrives to Alexandria with Lydia, and we use this as an opportunity for Michonne to examine her relationship with Judith, then I would be more on board with this episode than I am now.
The problem stems when we start talking about what happened in those years since Rick vanished. More to the point, the introduction of Michonne’s old friend and those kids. Upon further examination, this feels like the show attempting to mirror the moment later on in the comic when Michonne was reunited with her daughter. After all, it’s a one in a million chance and it did feel similar.
That part I have no problem with, but the fact that we never saw Jocelyn in present-day spelled out that she was not long for this world. Otherwise, I imagine there would’ve been an offhand mention of her. I enjoy watching catch up with an old friend like times hadn’t changed. If the cast weren’t big enough as is, perhaps there could’ve been room for Jocelyn to become a part of the community.
But no, she’s just crazy, and she’s convinced some kids to join in her crazy-ass group of craziness. It’s a bit abrupt, but I guess that’s what should make it all the more surprising. Like Daryl said, people can do a good job at burying the evil in their hearts. The fact that it was a close friend of Michonne should make it all the more heartbreaking. Surely on this show we’ve never seen someone start off nice, but then go psychotic.
Therein lies my problem with this episode. It wants to be “The Grove,” but it falters. For my money, it was an interesting idea, but flimsy execution. For one, we got to know a bit about Lizzie before she killed her sister. So it’s a bit more heart wrenching there because we as an audience have a connection with her. Not so with Jocelyn because we only see her in this episode and never again.
Yes, Michonne having to kill her friend and some children was a tough moment for her. As a viewer, though, I have to imagine that Michonne, like Carol, has killed for less. It also doesn’t help that, yeah, it would’ve been nice to see Michonne slice the kids down instead of cutting back and forth to the present, even if that was a nice juxtaposition.
I know, I know, this is AMC and The Walking Dead often doesn’t have the stones that Game of Thrones does, but I feel, like Negan killing Glenn and Abraham, you ought to show the brutality to hammer the point home- more so given the impact that this had on Michonne.
Plus, the reveal of how Michonne and Daryl got the marks on their back…not as exciting as I would’ve thought, but that’s more just fans theorizing that there was something deeper behind the marks. Nope, just Michonne and Daryl being held hostage by Jocelyn and her not-Children of the Corn.
“Scars” may not have really pushed the plot forward, which you would expect when we have only two more episodes left in the season, but it did give us a small look into Michonne’s character and the struggles that she has had keeping it together since Rick vanished. The quieter, character moments would’ve been great for the entire episode, but Jocelyn and her ragtag group of kids, as well as some odd editing, held it back a bit.
But now that the Whisperers have found the Kingdom and will be sending word to Alpha, you can count on shit to hit the fan as we approach the season finale.