The Walking Dead 914, ‘Scars,’ unravels the mystery behind the matching ‘X’ scars spotted on Michonne (Danai Gurira) and Daryl (Norman Reedus). The episode, set during the first few months that followed the disappearance of Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), reveals an original story exclusive to the show and has no counterpart in Robert Kirkman’s comic books, where Rick was never presumed to have died in a bridge explosion when halting a horde of walkers.
Daryl, who in the present day timeline is taking the lead in the strife against walker flesh-clad enemy group the Whisperers, is a show-only character co-created by original showrunner Frank Darabont with no mirror in the comics. Also original to the show is Alexandria’s isolationism, a direct result of Michonne’s trauma to be uncovered in ‘Scars.’
In the books, the Rick-led Alexandria was already aligned with Maggie’s Hilltop and Ezekiel’s Kingdom; in the show, those bonds have been mostly severed, with Maggie (Lauren Cohan) quietly leaving Hilltop in the care of a since-killed Jesus (Tom Payne) while Ezekiel (Khary Payton) hopes to once again unify the splintered communities, in part to prevent the Kingdom’s extinction.
The story behind Michonne’s physical and mental scars is one of the bigger deviations from the books, putting television Michonne on a wildly different trajectory from her comic book counterpart.
While television Michonne emerged as the de facto leader of Alexandria, growing colder and more closed off during the mostly unseen years of the time jump as result of her shared trauma with Daryl — an attitude only reinforced by the emergence of a dangerous new enemy group that has already claimed Jesus as a victim — comic book Michonne only re-enters the story just as the survivors come to face their new threat in the Whisperers.
After the jailing of defeated Savior leader Negan, the books undergo a time skip of roughly two years, in which Michonne vanishes before later returning to the Virginia settlements working alongside Oceanside as a pirate-like fisherman. This story was not carried over into the show, where Michonne is mother to 10-year-old Judith Grimes (Cailey Fleming), who also gets a mostly original story of her own following the early death of her comic book counterpart.
“We will discover where those Xs come from. It’s a really f—ed up story,” former Walking Dead star Michael Cudlitz, who returned this season as director, previously told EW of the revelations to come. “It’s a big, really f—ed up thing that happened during that break ... It was bad.”
The Walking Dead premieres ‘Scars’ tonight at 9/8c on AMC.