This Walking Dead article contains major spoilers.
The Walking Dead episode “Scars” finally answers one of our burning questions about season nine: how did Michonne and Daryl get those mysterious “X” scars on their backs? Until this episode, all we knew about the scars was that something horrific had happened to the two heroes during the six-year time jump.
Indeed, the flashback scenes in “Scars” reveal the grotesque origin of the scars, and the story is a bit shocking. The scenes also explain why Michonne closed Alexandria off to outsiders and the other communities.
While Michonne struggles with letting Lydia, the daughter of Whisperer leader Alpha, stay in Alexandria, she remembers what happened the last time she let an outsider in. Years before, when Michonne reunites with an old friend from college named Jocelyn, the leader of the community invites Jocelyn and the kids she’s protecting to live in the settlement.
Things are fine at first, as Jocelyn and the kids enjoy a better life within Alexandria’s walls. Michonne even lets little Judith sleep over Jocelyn’s house. But then Jocelyn shows her true face when she kidnaps Judith and some of the other children in Alexandria to indoctrinate them into the army of cold-blooded, knife-wielding children she’s been traveling with all along. It’s Jocelyn’s philosophy that kids are the best equipped to survive in the new world since they weren’t shaped by the old one.
A pregnant Michonne, realizing that Jocelyn has taken Judith, picks up her sword to hunt down her old friend who’s clearly a psychopath now. Along with Daryl, Michonne infiltrates Jocelyn’s lair, where the two are quickly captured. They are tied up and thus begins the gruesome series of events that lead to the scars and the current state of things in Alexandria.
Jocelyn orders her child soldiers to brand Michonne and Daryl with “X”s, marking their targets before eliminating them. We watch as the kids burn the marks onto each character’s back, Daryl and Michonne screaming in agony. Luckily, the two are able to escape before they’re executed but they split up because…reasons.
Michonne gives chase to Jocelyn and her minions before they can get away with the kidnapped kids. When she catches up to the villain, Michonne quickly eliminates Jocelyn but — to her surprise — her soldiers won’t back down from the fight after their leader’s demise. In a shocking scene that will go down as one of The Walking Dead‘s most brutal, Michonne is forced to kill almost of Jocelyn’s children in order to get to Judith and the other kids from Alexandria.
Her friend’s betrayal and the trauma of having to murder elementary school-aged kids are what drive Michonne to close Alexandria to all but its own citizens. It makes perfect sense. How could she ever trust again after such grisly events?
The Walking Dead pulls no punches in this excellent flashback episode that will go down as one of the series’ most memorable. The episode ends on a hopeful note, as Michonne and Judith join Daryl, Lydia, Henry, and Connie on their way to the Kingdom’s fair. Perhaps this is a sign that scars really do heal with time…