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The Walking Dead Season 9, Episode 14 ‘Scars’ Review

This episode might just be the proof we need that The Walking Dead is finally a show worth watching again.

Last week, Daryl sent Beta down an old elevator shaft to his death severe discomfort/inconvenience. He also decided that Lydia could stick around with them for a while. Meanwhile, the Kingdom made nice with a group of road bandits while they continued to get ready for the upcoming tri-town fair, which Michonne has now decided Alexandria can be a part of.

This week, we finally…FINALLY…get some flashbacks to the time to fill us in on some of the history that made Michonne go full isolationist from the other communities. Also, since the name of the episode is ‘Scars,’ I’d bet a few crossbow arrows that we’ll learn how she got those X-shaped scars on her back.

The Past

We open with a flashback of Michonne, pregnant and grieving the recent loss of Rick. While out searching for potential walker versions of her husband, she finds his gun instead, which brings on a whole new wave of grief. She also finds Daryl, who’s been out looking for Rick, as well–and not dealing with his grief well, either.

Back at Alexandria, one of the townspeople has found a group of children wandering the woods along with an old college friend of Michonne’s named Jocelyn. The joyous reunion is short-lived when Jocelyn–who was also apparently injured and in no shape to be traveling–reveals she has to go back for “them.”

“Them” turns out to be a building full of supposedly abandoned children. Jocelyn had been taking care of them on her own–even teaching them how to hunt. Alexandria takes them in, which not only adds plenty of hunted food to their supplies, but lots of of joy and laughter. Jocelyn also gives Michonne a much needed sounding board for her grief as well as being a source of emotional support. So yeah…all this happiness pretty much means something terrible has to happen.

Cut to the next day: Michonne and some other Alexandria parents go to pick up their kids from a sleepover and Jocelyn’s house. To their horror, the kids are gone. Making matters worse, some supplies have been raided and a couple guards are dead, meaning that it’s clear this was an inside job by Michonne’s old friend.

Daryl and Michonne go out to find where Jocelyn took the children. During their search, Michonne struggles not to break down over how she was betrayed by someone she’d let guard down for and trusted. Daryl assures her the fact so much hidden evil exists in this world isn’t her fault.

Later, they find the children and walk into a Lord of the Flies looking ambush. After the kids knock them out, Michonne and Daryl are tied up and branded with the X we saw on Michonne before. Turns out Jocelyn has been indoctrinating the kids into a survivalist cult. (I know some people change a lot in college, but holy crap).

Daryl and Michonne manage to escape (because in the Walking Dead universe, kids sucks at everything, including proper prisoner binding). Jocelyn sees that Michonne has gotten free and sends the children after her. Michonne is initially able to fend them off, but one of the little brats manages to slice her very pregnant stomach before running away.

As Michonne resumes her search for Judith and the other children, she is attacked and taken down by Jocelyn. Michonne responds by go kicking Jocelyn’s ass and killing her, both to protect herself and her unborn baby. Seeing their leader cut down, the oldest kid tells the others to kill Michonne along with the children from Alexandria. This forces Michonne to go full Anakin Skywalker on the younglings. Covered in blood and clearly/justifiably distraught, she calls for Judith, who walks out looking like she might not remember who Michonne is before happily running into her mom’s arms.

The Present

Daryl brings an injured Henry to Alexandria along with Connie and Lydia. Aaron is apprehensive, but Michonne says that she trusts Daryl and lets them in.

After Aaron expresses his concerns over Alexandria being found and attacked by the Whisperers, Michonne sits down for what starts to sound like a nice heart-to-heart with Lydia…which quickly turns into a not-so-subtle hint that Lydia is putting everyone (including her crush Henry) in great danger just by continuing to hang around them.

Meanwhile, Judith and Daryl actually do have a heart-to-heart that’s fairly substantial. As usual, Judith lays down the plain and simple truth, hitting Daryl with the fact that if Rick were in his position, he wouldn’t have abandoned everyone and go off on his own. Despite her compelling argument, Daryl decides to leave again. Before doing so, he tells Michonne that he should tell Judith about what happened. When she goes to talk to Judith, however, her daughter is gone.

Michonne goes to Negan to see if Judith has been down to his cell to see him. This leads to a fairly intense argument over boundaries and the types of things Negan talks to her about. To Negan’s credit, he points that out Judith is very much Michonne’s daughter…meaning that she isn’t going to abandon her friends…meaning that she’s probably run off to help her friends in need from the Hilltop.

Michonne gives chase and eventually finds her daughter. After a (somewhat ridiculous) moment where she saves her Judith from a walker, they finally sit down and talk about what happened all those years ago. Michonne also explains that when Judith seemed like she might not have remembered who she was, it made her worried that she’d lost her. Judith countered by explaining that the only reason she’d hesitated was because all the blood Michonne had been covered in made it hard to tell who she was.

That’s right–turns out Judith totally remembered everything, even the fact that Jocelyn was actually bad person. She just didn’t want to bring it up because she knew it made her mom sad. She also wasn’t buying her mom’s reasoning for abandoning their old friends. If loving people was doing everything you could to keep their friends safe, then they had stopped loving their friends. This hit Michonne (and me) pretty hard…hard enough that Michonne decided it was time to try and build some (metaphorical) bridges again.

Unfortunately for everyone, Michonne’s first olive branch (taking Daryl and his traveling crew back to the Kingdom) is spotted by a couple of Whisperer scouts.

The Verdict

There are a number of reasons this episode is great.

On the technical end of things…do you guys remember that episode a couple seasons back where they did flashbacks in black and white and it felt like a poorly made student film? I loved how for the flashbacks in this episode, they simply washed out the colors. Much like how this season compares to the last three, it was infinitely more subtle and enjoyable.

On the script side of things, ‘Scars’ had some of the absolute best character moments we’ve seen from The Walking Dead in a very long time. Daryl and Michonne, Daryl and Judith, Michonne and Jocelyn, Negan and Michonne, Michonne and Daryl…take your pick. All the extended two-person dialogue scenes in this one were superb.

Credit also needs to go to Rutina Wesley for making the most of Jocelyn’s one and only appearance. She was such a cool character, in fact, that I’m a bit disappointed she had to die.

And last but not least, we not only got a (very good) answer to why Michonne had become such an isolation, but also a good reason (via Judith) why Michonne might be coming back around to being part of the larger community.

Yes, there were a couple of contrived moments, like Little Ass Kicker Judith nearly getting eaten by a walker. And yes, it was a little hard to believe that Michonne would think that Judith wouldn’t remember the slaughter of her new playmates and Aunt Jocelyn from an age where she could walk and talk.

But aside from those minor issues, ‘Scars’ might just be the proof we need that The Walking Dead is finally a show worth watching again.

The Walking Dead Season 9, Episode 14 'Scars'
Is it good?
A brilliantly executed episode that proves The Walking Dead is finally back to being a good show again.
SO MANY great two person dialogue scenes.
We finally learn Michonne's reasons for becoming an isolationist, which is both understandable and genuinely horrifying.
Despite only have one episode, Jocelyn made for one heck of a great character.
Kind of hard to believe Michonne would think Judith wouldn't remember what happened.
No way Little Ass Kicker would let a walker get the drop on her like that.
9
Great
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