Michonne exits The Walking Dead with a little help from some old friends.
The episode begins not in present-day, but with a flashback to the end of Season 2. We see Michonne and her two pet walkers in the woods when they happen upon someone on the run. Why, it just happens to be our good old friend Andrea- not with Laurie Holden doing a new scene, but just archival footage from the Season 2 finale. Kind of lazy, in my opinion, but hey, what are you gonna do?
That won’t be the last time that comes up, either.
Anyway, this comes with a twist. While before, this hooded stranger saved Andrea’s life, this time Michonne goes on her way, leaving the blonde woman to be devoured by walkers.
In present-day, Michonne and Virgil arrive at their destination, with Michonne finally uncuffing Virgil from the boat. Virgil wants to see his family first, including getting flowers for his wife, while Michonne is more focused on the munitions. Michonne’s in a hurry, but Virgil is taking his sweet-ass time as the two walk past a building with a “Restricted Area” sign.
As the two arrive at a clearing, with Virgil talking about his family, Michonne gets fed up and draws her sword on him. She demands to know where Virgil’s family is.
Indeed, we find out just where his family is: in the ground. Virgil promised to bring flowers every day. He couldn’t just say this right off the bat to Michonne because hey, those words don’t come easy. Plus, he doesn’t trust people. Who would’ve guessed? He still promises to help Michonne look for munitions, but the island isn’t clear. It was, at one point, until the others came.
The sickness came with it and killed his family. The island never had a lot of walkers- rippers, as Virgil calls them- so he never became proficient at killing them, as Michonne is. His family is still inside, which is why he needed Michonne to come with him.
As the two enter the abandoned facility, Michonne takes out a few walkers in her path. Virgil knocks over some equipment, which attracts some walkers their way. Michonne batters her way through them with help from a nearby gurney. The two ram their way into another room and Michonne soon enough cut down every single walker.
The two enter another room, where they find walkers hanging from the ceiling. Overcome with emotion, Virgil places a shoe back on the foot of one of the hanged walkers.
Back outside, Virgil explains that he wanted to give them something they would love to take with them. Whenever he had a hard time, his wife would talk him through things. Without her, Virgil doesn’t know who he is.
Yes, yes, a terrible thing has happened, but Michonne is in a hurry. She once again presses Virgil to deliver what she came for, and then she’ll leave, but Virgil suggests that they do this in the morning since it’s getting dark. Soon enough, Michonne agrees that they’ll get to work first thing in the morning. Good luck with that.
That evening, after she attempts to radio home, Michonne explores the compound in hopes of finding something, anything that will help her, but comes up short. She does hear voices and enters one room to better hear who these other people are. That’s just when Virgil appears at the door and locks her in the room. He berates her for not waiting until morning and ruining what trust he had in her.
As Michonne stews in her new cell, she slurps up some water from a nearby tap, which probably isn’t the wisest thing to do, but we’ll see. She keeps banging on the door until someone from the other side tells her to calm down. The people on the other side tell Michonne that she’s been here maybe for about a day.
They didn’t talk to her earlier because Virgil tends to blow up at them if they make a sound, so it’s best to be quiet. Michonne asks for the building’s layout, but the prisoners explain that the entire place is booby trapped. Virgil comes around as little as possible and doesn’t like to see the prisoners. Two of them were researchers with Virgil, and one was an assistant. The four were once friends.
So what went wrong? Stragglers used to come by boat and stumble upon the island, so they took them in. Eventually, food supplies ran low one night and a fight broke out over rations. Someone pulled out a knife and one of the new arrivals died. Virgil was late getting there and he panicked. He said that everything needed to be locked down, but what Virgil didn’t know is that his wife and kids were inside.
Virgil was never the same since he snapped. The three suggest that Michonne eat and gain her strength. She can’t strike back at Virgil if she’s weak, after all. Again, I question eating the food offered to you in some new location, but I’m no expert. As Michonne finally tells the others her name, she takes a bite into an apple.
Sometime later, Virgil appears at Michonne’s cell door to tell her that he’s glad she ate. He won’t open the door because he knows that Michonne will kill him. He doesn’t want to fight Michonne, but he does want her to understand. As Michonne starts to trip out, Virgil explains that the island has a gift that can help Michonne, just as it helped him. She asks what Virgil did to her.
Virgil explains that he laced her tea with jimson weed. He knows that she needs peace, just like he does. As Michonne lashes out, Virgil finishes her sentence, indicating that they’ve had this conversation several times already. He doesn’t listen to Michonne’s pleas for her children, just as no one listened to him.
Now let’s really trip. As Michonne looks up, she sees Siddiq standing over and chastising her for not protecting the others. She let people like him, Rick, and Carl die. To be a part of Michonne’s family means eventual death.
Michonne lashes out until she hears chains rattling. She sees her former self standing before her as Virgil implores her to give in. Her other self is waiting for her.
Michonne gives in as we’re transported back to the end of Season 2. Again, Michonne does not rescue the seemingly hapless Andrea, but does pilfer her supplies after she’s been devoured.
This wouldn’t have happened to comic Andrea. Just saying.
Okay, now we get into somewhat new footage territory. We jump forward with Michonne on the road, I assume during the events of “Clear,” as she tries to hail down a passing vehicle, where we find out that Daryl is one of the passengers. When the vehicles comes to a stop further down the road, Daryl takes one look back at the hitchhiker before deciding not to pick her up.
Later on, with Michonne still on her own, she has an unexpected run-in with the Saviors- among them DJ, Laura, and Negan. Michonne takes a swipe at Negan, but misses and gets Lucille in the chest instead. Negan tells Michonne that he’s not one for saving people on the road, especially people who tried to kill him, but he likes Michonne and her massive lady nuts. Besides, it’d be a waste to have a nice sword.
With that, Laura tosses Michonne an apple as Negan formally introduces himself.
Then we jump ahead to Season 6’s “Not Tomorrow Yet” as Glenn and Heath get the drop on a sleeping Laura. Seriously, what is everyone’s beef with Laura all of a sudden? This could’ve been anybody! Make it Paula! Anyway, this is just carefully spliced footage.
Either way, Michonne is too quick to fall for this. She opens fire and then avoids Rick Grimes long enough to escape the satellite outpost.
The episode jumps to the Season 6 finale, “Last Day on Earth,” as Rick and company are lined up before Negan. However, rather than doing the job himself, Negan decides that the murder will come at the hands of his right-hand gal, Michonne, who has been on a wicked-ass tear. Huh. Tough luck, Dwight, I guess.
Michonne takes center stage and chastises Rick and pals for knowing next to nothing about her fellow comrades, but murdering them in their sleep anyway. Michonne then stands before her other self and brings down Lucille.
When Michonne is later on the run, she’s put down first by an arrow to the chest from Daryl. Before she can grab her katana, she gets a bullet in the head, courtesy of Rick Grimes.
After this trip down memory lane, we return to the present as Virgil offers Michonne a glass of water. Michonne attacks Virgil and a fight breaks out, with Virgil managing to flee. Michonne frees the other prisoners and they rush outside, just in time to see the boat has been set on fire.
Could tonight get any worse?
They pursue and take down Virgil, who explains that he wanted Michonne to help him in case the others tried to kill him, never mind that she would try to kill him as well. Plus, she found them first. Virgil remembers that his wife told him the right thing to do, and then she was gone. After that, he didn’t know what to do, but he couldn’t let the others leave, nor could he kill them.
The others implore Michonne to move, noting that she has just as much of a reason to kill Virgil as they do. That’s true, but she tells them that he owes more than he can ever make right. Killing him means they’d just lose more of themselves. That won’t settle anything, but their mercy means they get something out of it: peace. Fair, so one of the survivors grabs their gun and knocks Virgil out.
When Virgil awakens in a cell, Michonne enters and tells him that she’s checked every corner of this place and not found a single weapon. Virgil didn’t lie- he said he could show her the spots, but he’s got no reason to go into them. Sometimes he’ll find a stray shell. Michonne’s not going back empty-handed, so Virgil tells her to take whatever she wants. She took the risk, but didn’t have a choice. She had to find out.
Also, there’s no tea. Well, hell’s bells.
Virgil explains that when he trips, he sees his family. He hoped that Michonne would see the same heavenly peace that he saw, but having her family taken from her is just Michonne’s way of seeing Hell. The only world Virgil wanted was one where his family survived, but he doesn’t know how to do this without them. Michonne implores him to try like the rest of them. He can start by helping Michonne find her stuff.
She soon does, but upon searching the room holding her items, she happens upon a very familiar-looking pair of boots. She demands to know where Virgil found these, and he explains that they washed up during the big storm. She frantically searches for anything else when she stumbles upon a phone with a drawing of herself, Judith, and the name “Rick” scrawled onto the front.
Virgil realizes at the same time that she’s the woman drawn on the phone. Michonne now believes that Virgil came to Oceanside to find them, but he claims to have never seen that phone before in his life. So why are Rick’s items here? Strange coincidence, but the world ended. Boats wash up. Michonne grabs Virgil and demands to know if this was one big trap, but once more, Virgil has no idea who she’s even talking about.
While he has no idea who Virgil is looking for, it can’t be an accident that they met. He believes that it’s possible to mod the engine and get the boat working again. If this person Michonne was looking for was on the boat, maybe she can find them again.
Later, Michonne tells Virgil that the other survivors are willing to let him come onto the boat, even after all he’s done. As Michonne puts it, sometimes the most injured are also the most forgiving. They’re giving him a way off of this island. Still, he promised his family flowers every day.
With that, the four leave Virgil on the island as they head for parts unknown. On the boat, Michonne radios to Judith, who eventually picks up as they refer to each other by their call signs for safety. Judith tells Michonne that they got most of the Whisperers and that Alpha can’t hurt them anymore. That’s to say nothing of Beta, but sure.
Michonne informs Judith that when she was on the island, she found something that could be important to all of them: something that belonged to the brave man and a place that he might have been. She doesn’t know if it means anything at all, and she can’t say if this means Rick is even alive. However, Judith says that if Michonne thinks that Rick is alive, then she has to go find him.
No dice, as Michonne feels that she is needed at home. Still, Judith is adamant that things are fine at home. Besides, what if the brave man needs her more and is trying to come home, but no one will help him? Before Michonne can say what happens when she finds the brave man, one of the others tells her that they’re at the coast. Michonne informs Judith that she’s heading north and will radio her as much as she can.
So Judith promises that she’ll take it with her everything…which prompts me to believe that she’s going to lose it at some point. We’ll see.
As Michonne gets herself two new walker pets, she happens upon two survivors in need of assistance. For what? They need help catching up to the huge settlement of people on the move not too far from where Michonne is now. As she has one more flashback to her arrival at the prison, Michonne cuts down her two walkers and offers her assistance to the survivors.
With her new companions at her side, Michonne leaves the world behind her and begins her new journey as the episode comes to a close.
Much like Andrew Lincoln, Danai Gurira’s seemingly final episode of The Walking Dead is part trip through time and part advancing the storyline that takes Michonne out of this world for the time being. Also, like Lincoln, could the door remain open for Gurira to return? Sure, especially in Rick’s films, but Gurira’s star has only risen, especially given her involvement in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
So who is to say when, if at all, we’ll see Michonne again? Could be awhile, and while I have my issues with the flashbacks, which I’ll get to in a moment, her setting off for a new adventure in search of Rick was a fitting goodbye for her character.
The central theme of this episode was companionship, or lack thereof and how having no support system of friends and allies can lead us down dark paths. While yes, we see what Michonne’s fate could have been had she not saved Andrea’s life, Virgil represents some of what Michonne could have lost.
Mind you, Virgil hadn’t been driven to insanity like Morgan was when we saw him in “Clear.” Virgil knows very well what he’s doing by taking Michonne and the others hostage, if just to protect himself. He’s lost hope, but not his humanity, as seen when he decides to stay on the island instead of starting a new life for himself.
I imagine part of this is the guilt that Virgil feels for what he’s done. After snapping when he lost his wife, he refused to listen to reason. and couldn’t find a way to move on without her. Now, as a way to atone for what he’s done, he remains at the grave site so, even though his wife and family are gone, he’ll always be right at their side to honor their memory.
In the end, through keeping him alive, Michonne provided Virgil with the same hope that he showed her when he initially promised munitions to help in the fight with the Whisperers. More than that, the discovery of Rick’s items, while a one in million chance of actually happening, gave Michonne the biggest motivation needed to look for him. Even if that leaving Judith behind, Michonne had a new mission.
On that, by the way, I appreciate that Michonne doesn’t immediately drop everything to go and find Rick. That’s a priority, yes, but she understands that the Whisperer are a current threat as well, so it makes sense that she would want to come home first. It’s Judith who insists she go. Even without knowing at first that Alpha is dead, Michonne is willing to prolong looking for Rick if it means she can protect her family at home.
I am curious when this talk takes place, though. Perhaps we’ll see in the next episode Judith talking with Michonne, but I assume that at this point, she’d have to know that Alpha is dead if she believes that Alpha isn’t a threat anymore. We’ll see.
As for the trip through time, it’s an interesting idea to supplant this darker version of Michonne with the lighter version she would become. Had she not rescued Andrea and had Rick not agreed to help her, Michonne would have continued down the dark path that, in this scenario, led to her joining the Saviors. That in and of itself raises questions of how Negan goes about recruiting newcomers.
Still, I enjoyed seeing some new scenes and not just previous footage spliced into the episode. That’s my minor gripe with this episode compared to “What Comes After.” Rick’s conversations with Shane, Hershel, and Sasha were all new moments that had to be filmed. When we see Andrea, it’s not Laurie Holden shooting a new scene. It’s just the Season 2 finale all over again.
The same goes for when Negan picked Lucille to kill one of the survivors, because there’s no way in hell this team recreated the lineup again and got the actors to look like how they did at the end of Season 6. It’s a little lazy, but again, what can you do? Especially when Andrew Lincoln has made it clear that he’s done with the series.
This was a good way for us to see Michonne continue to be the loner type she was during her introduction. Meeting Andrea was the beginning of her breaking out of her shell. By avoiding that, and sealing Andrea’s fate at the same time, Michonne remained the cold, hardened warrior. Sure, she yelled out for Daryl to help her and perhaps that was out of desperation, but she still remained on her own.
Having said that, I wouldn’t have minded swapping out something like “Not Tomorrow Yet” for another new scene with the Saviors. Obviously the show could get a hold of Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Lindsley Register, and Matt Mangum for some new scenes. One more instead of old footage wouldn’t have hurt. But I’m not a director and me saying film a new scene or two is easier said than done.
Plus, I’ll admit, even if old footage, there’s a certain joy in seeing characters like Rick, Carl, and Glenn pop up on screen again.
But whatever darkness could have overtaken Michonne’s life was cast out when she came to join the survivors…and taking over as comic Andrea, but I digress. She found true companionship and helped continue Rick’s legacy through RJ and carrying for Judith. Also Shane’s legacy. You know what I mean.
With that said, this trip down memory lane for Michonne might not have been perfect, but it was a nice look back at her character arc and the road she could have taken had she not met the likes of Rick and Andrea. Plus, with the knowledge that Rick is possibly out there, coupled with the new survivors she’s come across, she’s headed off for this new journey as we say farewell to another member of the cast.
However, contrary to what Judith said, the war with the Whisperers isn’t over. There’s no doubt more to come, but for now, our time with Michonne has come to an end. Hopefully she’ll cross paths with Rick as she begins her new adventure, but until then, so long Michonne, and I hope they remember you.