A fear of losing Uncle Daryl (Norman Reedus) prevented Judith (Cailey Fleming) from revealing the real reason mom Michonne (Danai Gurira) isn't returning to The Walking Dead. When Michonne sailed with Virgil (Kevin Carroll) to Bloodsworth Island to collect weapons needed to turn the tide in the Whisperer War, her search for munitions turned up empty-handed until she discovered proof Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) survived a seemingly fatal bridge explosion some six years earlier. When Michonne radioed Judith and son RJ (Antony Azor), Judith gave her mom the blessing she needed to follow the lead on Rick and bring the Brave Man home. Michonne was last seen headed north in search of answers when she stopped to help a pair of stragglers catch up with a large caravan of migrating survivors.
"I talked to her after the fire. And I'm worried maybe she won't come home," Judith said when off in the woods with Daryl in episode 15, "The Tower," explaining her mother "went to go help some people she met. Needed her. I didn't want to tell you." Asked why she kept that a secret, Judith confessed, "Because maybe you'd leave, too."
Daryl isn't going to leave, but it's not a promise he can make.
"Because I can't lie to you. I don't know what's gonna happen. And there ain't no one that can tell you that they do. But there's one thing I know. There's a whole bunch of people back there that'd do anything for you," he told her. "And one day when you're older, they're gonna need you to do anything for them. You got a whole lot of family. Nothing can take the place of someone you love being gone. But that doesn't mean that everything that follows is gonna break your heart."
After losing Rick and then Michonne, Daryl is "all she has left," Fleming said on Talking Dead when explaining Judith's decision to withhold the whole truth.
"When Judith tells Daryl her mom left, she kind of lets it all out. She kind of tells him why she's been so different lately and everything that's been happening," Fleming said. "But I think she doesn't tell him about Rick because Daryl and Rick were best friends, like brothers. Maybe if she did tell him that's what [Michonne] was gonna go do, then maybe he would leave to help her go find him. And I don't think she wants him to leave, because that's her uncle. That's all she has left."
Daryl and Judith have a "very unique relationship," Fleming added. "I don't think she has a relationship like that with anybody else on the show. Because that's her Uncle Daryl, he's been there since the beginning."
The Walking Dead next airs "A Certain Doom" as a special episode later this year. For all things TWD, follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter.