If you weren't stanning Judith Grimes on The Walking Dead already, this week's episode had to have sealed the deal. Sunday's flashback episode showed how Judith and Michonne's relationship grew in Rick Grimes' absence. We also learned how Daryl and Michonne got their scars on The Walking Dead. Slowly but surely, the gaps in that big time Season 9 jump are getting filled in.
Turns out, both Michonne and Daryl were branded by a villainous group of kid survivors lead by Queen Sugar and True Blood star Rutina Wesley. Her character, Jocelyn, was college friends with Michonne and has taken a completely different path since the world ended. Maybe all of the adults in her group did die out — or maybe she had something to do with that.
Jocelyn decided to surround herself with an army of impressionable young minds that she can mold into killers instead. She's more Pied Piper than Oliver Twist's Fagin, and she took Judith and a bunch of other kids right out from under Michonne's nose while staying in Alexandria. Daryl and Michonne (who was still pregnant with RJ at the time) went off in search of Judith, and ended up getting captured by Jocelyn's group. They tied them up, and Jocelyn instructed her kids to brand Michonne and Daryl's backs.
"I told you children are capable of anything," Jocelyn says to Michonne. "I taught them. Helped them become what we are because they can't be soft. Not now. Not like I was."
And exactly what children are capable of is the central debate of the episode. Should Michonne let Judith be a kick*ss zombie killer, or enjoy her childhood while she can? What's the right balance, in a world like this? What's the best way to protect the ones you love?
Jocelyn's band of Lord of the Flies ruffians was truly terrifying, but ultimately no match for Michonne and Daryl. Come on! They've been fighting zombies since these tykes were in diapers, and rescued Judith and the other children from Alexandria in no time. However, after that incident, Michonne became a very different kind of leader.
This flashback serves as the backstory for Michonne and Judith's conflict in the present. The older and wiser Judith wants to go and help her friends, but Michonne is still hesitant to bring the communities back together. At the end of the episode, the two discuss what happened with Jocelyn and how that lead to where they are today. It wasn't a war that frightened the adults at Alexandria so much that they stopped opening their gates — it was temporarily losing their children, and their hope for the future to someone they had once let in and trusted.
"That's not what Carl or your dad gave their lives to create," Michonne admits, "but it kept you and RJ safe. That's what I wanted. That is all I wanted." Michonne doesn't hate Maggie, or Carol. The gated community just drifted apart from the Kingdom and the Hilltop. It's still sad, but kind of a relief.
After talking it out with Judith, Michonne agrees to go to the Kingdom's fair. They pick up Daryl, Connie, Lydia, and Henry along the way. They also attract the attention of some Whisperers. Looks like Michonne's decision to reunite with the other survivors couldn't come soon enough.