‘The Walking Dead’ Recap ‘What We Become’: The Death and Rebirth of Michonne

In “The Walking Dead” recap, Michonne lands on the island with Virgil in hopes of retrieving weapons but she finds a shocking surprise instead…

By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer

It’s been known for several months that Danai Gurira would be leaving “The Walking Dead” but how the writers would craft her exit hasn’t been known until now.

The actress, who has been Michonne since first debuting in season 3, is crossing over to act as showrunner for her own series called “Americanah,” which stars Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o.

Judging by the way Gurira leaves “The Walking Dead” with the latest episode on Sunday night, it appears almost certain that she will return as the katana wielding bad ass at some point in the future. Much like lead star Andrew Lincoln, who left the series after playing Rick Grimes since the pilot episode, Gurira’s exit was written in such a way that it will allow her to return in the upcoming “Walking Dead” movies that are being produced for AMC.

Gurira is a big loss for the main series but “The Walking Dead” has found new ways to survive even in the wake of losing Rick Grimes so it seems certain that the show will find a path forward without Michonne as well. That said, the writers did manage to craft Gurira a fitting exit with plenty of call backs to iconic moments for her character throughout the new episode.

With that said, let’s get to our recap of “The Walking Dead” titled “What We Become”…

Too Good to Be True

After a long journey to an island that previously housed a U.S. military depot, Michonne and Virgil arrive with the promise that she will find weapons that will help in the coming war against the Whisperers. Almost immediately after landing on shore, Michonne begins to realize that Virgil’s promises aren’t exactly as they seem when he constantly talks about his family yet his wife and children are nowhere to be seen.

When Virgil begins picking flowers and herbs from a garden outside while meandering on and on about his family, Michonne knows that there’s much more this mysterious man has been hiding than telling her thus far.

Virgil finally comes clean when he reveals that the island was safe and sound until a new group of survivors landed there and passed along an illness that claimed his wife and children. Because the island was cut off from the rest of the zombie apocalypse, he had never been adept at killing walkers and he couldn’t bring himself to finish his family after they had turned.

He asks Michonne to finish the job for him and he will give her all the weapons on the island.

Michonne reluctantly agrees as she heads into the main building and begins cutting down all of the walkers inside. She eventually makes her way into a room where numerous people have hanged themselves. Horrified by the sight of it all, Virgil is barely clinging to reality as he puts the shoe back on one of the people hanging from a rope.

After cutting down all the zombies inside the building, Michonne heads back out with Virgil, who continues to tell her about his family and how they died. He asks her to stay the night because the tides won’t allow them to leave until morning and that’s when he will give her all the weapons she could ever want.

Michonne reluctantly agrees but later that night she decides to begin exploring the compound to see what else she can find. She discovers numerous crates that previously housed guns and other weapons but everything is empty. As Michonne continues to make her way deeper and deeper into the building, she eventually comes across a room where she hears people talking from the other side of a wall.

Michonne barely has time to be stunned at what she’s discovered before Virgil slams the door behind her and tells her that she should have just waiting until the morning.

What If

Night turns into day and into night again as Michonne struggles to realize how long she’s been Virgil’s prisoners. The people trapped in the next room over finally reach out and tell her that they’ve been there for months after working with Virgil in this research facility after the zombie apocalypse had first started.

The group began welcoming more and more survivors who landed on the island looking for shelter but as time passed, food and supplies became scarce.

One night a fight broke out between the survivors and Virgil was late to arrive but in an attempt to stop the skirmish, he locked everybody inside. Little did he know that his wife and children were still in the building and once the fighting stopped, the dead came back to life.

After his family was killed, Virgil snapped and trapped the remaining scientists in the room next to Michonne while rarely coming to visit them outside of offering food or water.

Hearing this makes Michonne even more determined to escape but with days passing, she’s losing her strength so she finally decides to eat some of the food left for her by Virgil. Little does she know that Virgil dosed the meal with a psychotropic drug that sends her down a long, winding spiral into madness as she relives the choices she made since the outbreak first began.

She revisit the first moment we met her on “The Walking Dead” when a cloaked and hooded Michonne walked with a pair of jawless zombies as pets. That’s when she encountered Andrea for the first time as she fled through the woods with a group of walkers in pursuit. Unlike reality, this version of Michonne allows Andrea to be killed and eaten and when she finally discovers the remains, she just takes whatever supplies can still be used.

The nightmarish trip continues with a visit from Siddiq, who blames Michonne for allowing him to die at Dante’s hands. She’s haunted by the visions as Siddiq screams out for help yet she can’t help him.

The strange vision continues as Michonne sees herself trying to survive in the wilderness all by herself. She witnesses Daryl abandon her on the side of the road as she asked for help. Eventually as she struggles to make it on her own, Michonne runs across the Saviors and their charismatic leader Negan.

Rather than kill her, Negan adopts Michonne into his “family” and she ultimately becomes his right hand.

She revisits the night when the survivors attacked a satellite compound belonging to the Saviors when Rick, Glenn and the rest of the group slaughtered many of Negan’s troops. Michonne then fast forwards to the night when the survivors first met Negan with all of them lined up in a row as he sought revenge for all his people who had been killed.

Rather than swinging Lucille himself, he hands the weapon over to Michonne, who then dishes out a brutal brand of justice with several swings of the barbed-wire covered baseball bat. Michonne then moves forward in time again towards the end of the war when she’s running for her life, cutting down anybody in her path until an arrow plunges deep into her stomach.

As Michonne falls to the ground, she sees Daryl staring back at her with a crossbow in his hands. She desperately reaches for her swords just a few inches away but before she can clasp it, a booted heel steps down on her forearm. Michonne looks up and locks eyes with Rick Grimes, who has come to deliver the final blow.

He points his gun at her and fires as Michonne wakes up and pukes into a bucket as she comes out of the fever dream. She finds Virgil there staring back at her as he taunts her about finding out her true nature during the drug induced trip but Michonne takes advantage of the situation by grabbing the fork from her food plate and stabbing him in the leg.

Michonne is able to get the keys away from Virgil as he scrambles away and she frees the fellow researches that he had locked up for months since his family died. Michonne leads them out to the shore where she finds her boat in flames as Virgil has now trapped them all there without any plan for escape.

When Michonne finally catches up with Virgil, she’s ready to cut him down but after learning a valuable lesson from Rick and Carl Grimes, she allows her mercy to prevail over her wrath.

The Brave Man

The next day, Michonne wakes Virgil up from his slumber to tell him that she’s explored every inch of the island and didn’t find a single weapon inside. Michonne refuses to leave empty handed and Virgil tells her to take whatever she wants to clear his debt with Oceanside.

Michonne begins to dig through the supplies while also searching for her own backpack and walkie-talkie when she’s shocked to discover a clue to the past — she finds the boots that Rick was wearing on the day he was supposedly killed. Michonne is overtaken by emotion as she demands that Virgil tell her where he found the boots.

He leads her out to a different side of the island where another boat has been sitting in the harbor. Virgil claims the boots washed up on shore but she’s determined to find out more about this mysterious ship.

She begins digging through records and papers when Michonne finds a broken cell phone with a picture scribbled on the front of the touch screen. It’s an image of Michonne and Judith scratched into the surface with the name “Rick” on the top.

In the years since Rick disappeared, Michonne tried to find a way to move on but she never got past losing the man that she loved. Now she has discovered that Rick survived that explosion on the bridge and he’s out there somewhere.

Virgil offers to help repair the boat and give her safe transport so she can begin the search. Michonne gives Virgil an opportunity to come along with them but he refuses — he promised to bring his wife flowers everyday and he’s not going to break that vow.

Finally, Michonne and the researchers get on the boat bound for the mainland. Along the way as the boat gets closer to home, Michonne gets on her radio and calls out in hopes of reaching Judith and R.J.

A few moments later, Judith answers as they speak in code to each other as she offers an update to her mother on the current state of affairs. Judith tells Michonne that Alpha is no longer a threat — she doesn’t offer any further details but obviously she’s referencing Negan killing the leader of the Whisperers in the previous episode.

Michonne then tells her daughter about her discovery of “the brave man,” which is code for her father Rick Grimes. She began calling him the brave man in stories told to her little brother after Rick sacrificed himself to save the rest of the survivors by destroying the bridge that was going to allow the walkers to overrun them. She can’t be certain that Rick is still alive but Judith suggests that maybe he’s out there somewhere trying to find his way home but nobody is there to help him.

Judith tells Michonne that she needs to go look for him — she needs to go find the brave man.

With tears in her eyes, Michonne agrees to go on the hunt to find Rick but she will call back to Judith every morning as long as the radio will reach them.

Back out in the wilderness all on her own, Michonne returns to her roots with a pair of jawless zombies leading the way when she happens upon two wounded people walking through a clearing. Much like the choice she faced all those years ago when Andrea needed help, Michonne turns back to offer assistance.

A man and woman are stumbling through the clearing when they are shocked to see Michonne standing over them. The man has an injured leg and it seems they are trying to make it back to their group, which will leave them if they don’t catch up.

Michonne decides to kill her walkers and help the couple back to their feet. As they make it out to the top of the hill, Michonne looks down and sees hundreds if not thousands of survivors all marching in unison along the road. Will this be the group that will eventually lead her back to Rick?

She doesn’t know — but Michonne is determined to discover if Rick is out there just waiting for someone to find him.

“The Walking Dead” returns with a brand new episode next Sunday night at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.   

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