Be warned! This review will cover aspects of the episode. Spoilers will lurk like groaning walkers...
The Walking Dead was dark, violent and pensive this week – which perhaps shouldn't be too much of a shock. But Scars, which leaned heavily on its theme enough to break it, still managed to be an effectively dramatic example of the show. The episode flipped around in time, explaining a particularly tragic episode that took place in the time between Rick's disappearance and where we find the characters today. And, for the most part, it was the series looking to explain why Michonne has such trust issues, layered upon those she already had.
The series' bad-ass sword-wielder encountered an old friend – Jocelyn (Rutina Wesley, probably best known for True Blood), someone she knew from the days before the disaster. Turning up with a feral group of kids in tow, they were invited in to stay at Alexandria, but quickly betrayed Michonne's trust, murdered residents (albeit people we don't really know or have grown attachments to) and stolen supplies. And they'd kidnapped some of the community's children, including Judith.
With Michonne and Daryl in pursuit, the episode takes an even darker turn when the pair is captured by Jocelyn and her Oliver Twist-esque group, leading to both of our heroes branded by the kids. The show has been leaning into the concept of humans being more dangerous than the walkers in the last couple of seasons and this was just the most recent example. Michonne's escape saw her facing off against the group and – though the Dead team largely chose to cut away from it – killing some of them in her attempt to find Judith.
Wrapped around the flashbacks was the story of Judith going missing again in the present day, though this time under her own power, and dealing with the bubbling issues that have been affecting here. We got a brief chat between Michonne and Negan about what he talks about with Judith. It didn't so much as push the theme home as stab it right through the heart.
Nothing in the current storyline – which sadly included yet more from Henry and Lydia – carried the power of the flashbacks, but neither would have really worked without the other. This dip into Michonne's past felt necessary, and of course felt like another showcase for one of the show's powerhouse performers in Danai Gurira, who will be sorely messed when she moves on.
Scars was a tale of two tones, though they were best described as gloom and gloomier, but the peek into Michonne's distant past invading her more recent past provided a decent episode that pushed the boundaries of what the show is willing to do in the service of pushing that "people are dangerous too" theme. The Whisperers took a back seat until the very end, when two scouts discovered Alexandria, but that felt like the show setting up a big clash in the last couple of episodes. Oh, and while they were useful in detailing this particular chunk of the story, Jocelyn and her branding brats did little to distinguish themselves from the usual group of violent, dysfunctional enemies we habitually meet on the show.
Highlight: Michonne's escape.
Lowlight: The set-up you could see coming from space.
Kill of the week: Michonne slays Jocelyn.
Quote of the week: "She'd smoke out the bullshit, you know that" – Negan to Michonne, about Judith.
Zombie of the week: The one we're calling Uncle Grabby.
The big question: Will we get the chance to find out what happened between Maggie and Michonne, with Lauren Cohan off on another show and Gurira leaving herself next season?
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The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9pm on AMC in the States and Mondays at 9pm on Fox.