The Walking Dead - What We Become - Review By Lisa Macklem (March 28, 2020, 4:30 am)
The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead “What We Become” was written by Vivian Tse and was directed by Sharat Raju, whose other credits include Criminal Minds, Fear the Walking Dead, and The Good Doctor. This was Danai Gurira’s swan song, and I found it disappointing in many ways. First of all, why didn’t Angela Kang write this episode? Or Greg Nicotero direct? Why didn’t she have scenes with any of the regular cast? Even the scene with Judith (Cailey Fleming) was only via walkie talkie. And honestly, she isn’t going to reach out to anyone else to let them know she’s going? And she’s going to essentially abandon her children?? I’m glad they didn’t kill her, but it seems like having her right back where she started and just fading off into the sunset is just a shoddy way of saying ‘see ya.’
The episode starts where we began with Michonne, with a flashback to her finding Andrea (Laurie Holden) in the woods. Instead of going to help her, however, Michonne simply turns away, leaving Andrea to die.
We pick up with Michonne and Virgil (Kevin Carroll) as she uncuffs him only when they reach the island. It’s immediately clear that something that is off. Virgil insists on stopping to pick flowers (look at the flowers! – it’s never a good sign) because his wife wouldn’t like it if he showed up empty handed. Meanwhile, they don’t run into a soul – not even in an empty playground, which Michonne remarks her kids would run riot in. Michonne notices that there is laundry for one hanging up and a chair for one around the fire. Virgil is babbling on about his kids – and Michonne pulls the katana on him and tells him to “cut the bullshit.” Virgil finally takes her to his family’s – empty – graves.
Michonne is clearly not happy. Virgil tells her that he has a hard time talking about it and doesn’t like to bring people because he doesn’t trust them. It would be nice to think he was also thinking about the people he’s holding prisoner when he insisted he had to come back, but it’s doubtful. Michonne finally asks if there even are any weapons, and now Virgil says that he’ll help her “check” the way he promised. Which does not sound promising at all….
Virgil finally admits why he needed Michonne to come. His wife and children are walkers and locked in the building with the other walkers. Michonne is good with a sword, so he needed her to come and do what she does. While we get a great final scene of Michonne with her sword, this entire scene was stupid. She has a natural choke point and instead of calling the walkers to come one at a time, she goes in after them, allowing Virgil to stupidly close them in. It makes no sense for Michonne to be able to push the walkers back only to have them fall once they reach the room at the end of the hallway – but it makes for good drama.
In the end, we actually spend more time watching Virgil behind the cot than Michonne single-handedly clearing the room. They find Virgil’s family hanging in another room – as if it couldn’t get more horrible. It’s not really hard to see why he snapped. I did think that Virgil was a nice callback to Morgan. Michonne does feel sympathy for Virgil.
Michonne presses Virgil that she has to get back after they seemingly really bury his family. Virgil tells her that his wife talked him through his hard times and without her, he doesn’t know who he’d be. This is of course, the entire point of Michonne’s “trip” in the episode. Who would she have become if she hadn’t saved Andrea and met Rick (Andrew Lincoln)? Michonne doesn’t want a thank you, she just wants him to hold up his end of the bargain. He tells her that it’s getting dark, the tide’s going out, and some of the buildings aren’t safe after dark. Michonne agrees that they can do it first thing in the morning.
Michonne clearly can’t sleep, checks the radio, and goes snooping around – and when does that ever end well? She ends up in a room that seems to have empty crates that might have held ammunition, but does hold cages full of dead lab animals. She wanders into a room and think she hears something and then Virgil locks her in – and apparently somehow gasses her. It’s the only explanation for a close up of the dripping faucet and Michonne clearly having been drugged.
Once Michonne wakes up, she finally makes contact with the three former lab workers – Celeste (Eve Gordon), Jeremiah (Taylor Nichols), and Lucy (Olivia Stambouliah) – who Virgil has been keeping prisoner. They tell her that they didn’t speak before because Virgil blows up at them sometimes when he gets in one of his moods. They tell her she’s been there for about a day already. They also tell her not to try to escape because the whole place is booby-trapped. They also tell her that Virgil comes around as little as possible because he doesn’t like to see them. They were his colleagues at the lab and then people came, food got short, and a fight started. Virgil ordered all the doors locked – and he didn’t know his wife and kids were inside. It’s only then that Michonne realizes that Virgil snapped at that moment. She insists that she’s not staying long. They tell her to eat the food – it’s ok.
Michonne eats and then ends up really drugged. Virgil tells her that the Island has a gift and it can help her the way it helped him. He says he makes a tea from some plant on the Island. Michonne appeals to Virgil to listen to her and to think about her daughter and her son, and Virgil knows by heart what she’s going to say because she’s already said it three times, begging the question of just how long she has been there. It’s never really clear how he does drug her or if the others knew and were helping him do it. He tells her that everything he did was to protect his family. He tells her that she’s no angel. It’s a terrific performance from Gurira.
She’s visited by Siddiq (Avi Nash) who accuses her of letting him die – and Rick and Paul. It was great getting to see so many of the characters who we’ve lost – some in new scenes like this. Siddiq asks what happens now to his family, and Michonne insists that he IS her family, and he tells her this is what it feels like to be your family – and when she draws back we get an over-dramatized shot of her bloody hands. I found a lot of the episode was really just a shade more than it needed to be. We get a slow motion shot of the Ghost of Christmas past as the old Michonne hands present day Michonne the chains of her walkers, transporting her back to watching Andrea get eaten and walking away…
And then we get the whole, this is what your life would have been like after that. We see Michonne running after Daryl (Norman Reedus) who turns away and drives away, leaving Michonne to be found by Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), Laura (Lindsley Register), and DJ (Matt Mangum). Negan is impressed by her lady-balls and Laura throws her an apple – just like the ones she’s been eating from Virgil. Is this a clue to how he’s drugging her – or the apple from Eden that leads to her downfall?
Next we flash to the raid on the Saviors outpost. Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Heath (Corey Hawkins) sneak into the room, and Glenn is about to kills Laura, but Michonne shoots both of them before they can kill her. She escapes, and she’s there at the circle. Of course, in the new footage, Morgan’s hair is all wrong. Negan isn’t going to be the one doing the killing – it will be his right-hand woman – Michonne. It looks like they may even be more than that. He lets her use Lucille! It’s a pretty good blending of old and new footage. It seems that in the end, Michonne kills herself.
In the next sequence, she’s running through the woods in the final confrontation and Daryl shoots her with an arrow, but it’s Rick who kills her.
Michonne is puking, and Virgil is looking after her, and she manages to stab him and disarm him. He runs away, but she releases the others and they run to the boat, only to find it on fire. Michonne chases Virgil and takes him down. He says he’s sorry, but not surprisingly, the others aren’t impressed. He tells Michonne that his wife always told him the right thing to do, so he didn’t know what to do. They others want to kill him, but Michonne can’t. She tells them to look at him – he owes them more than he can ever repay. If they take his life, they will lose more of themselves. Mercy will give them peace.
In the end, they knock him out and then lock him out. Michonne comes to him, furious. She’s checked everywhere and there are no weapons. He tells her that he told her that he’d help her look – he never knew one way or the other if the weapons were actually there. Michonne insists that she’s not going back empty-handed. He tells her that she took the risk – and she insists that she had to. She asks him what he sees when he trips – he sees his family in happier times. She tells him that she say Hell – it took her family from her. He doesn’t know how to go on without his family, and she tells him to try like everyone else.
Michonne goes to look through what he has to take anything valuable that she can to settle his debt with Oceanside – and she finds Rick’s boots! In point of fact, they don’t look worn enough to be Rick’s actual boots…. But we’ll let that go.
Virgil takes her to a military ship. She finds a bunch of useless papers and then under that a phone with a likeness of her and Carl carved into it. The writing says “rick” but the other names seem to be in Asian characters. Michonne accuses him of knowing who she was, but Virgil insists that he never saw the phone before. He insists that the boat just washed up, and Michonne finally accepts that he doesn’t know anything. And really?? Rick left in a helicopter. I don’t see how this is ever going to dovetail with the story of Rick – assuming that movie ever comes out.
They get the boat going, and Virgil is shocked that Celeste, Jeremiah, and Lucy are willing to let him come. Michonne tells him, sometimes the most injured are the most forgiving. It’s the last boat – he leaves now or he doesn’t. Virgil tells her that he promised his wife flowers every day – he’s staying. And as they sail away, she watches him on the shore – and honestly, it looks like a huge island as they sail away…. That should have been shot or CGI’d better…
Michonne is finally in range again and calls Jo-Jo as Dido. Judith tells her that she’s been trying to get her. Michonne tells her that she’s missed him. RJ (Antony Azor) jumps on and Judith has to tell him to use call signs for safety. He identifies himself as Little Brave Man. I loved how even Michonne’s voice changes as she talks to her children – it’s wonderful performance, but it makes the writing which takes her away without even a goodbye even more ridiculous. Judith tells Michonne that they got the Whisperers and Alpha can’t hurt them anymore.
Michonne tells her that she found something. Fleming and Gurira are both fantastic here. Judith asks if Rick is alive. Michonne says she doesn’t know, but Judith insists that Michonne has to go – even as she’s crying. She tells Michonne that they’re fine – and what if Rick needs her more? What if he’s trying to come home and needs her help? And Michonne decides right then that she’s going to try. She’s going to head north and check in for as long as she can on the walkie – which given that she couldn’t make contact from the island likely won’t be long.
We see Michonne make herself some new guard walkers. She comes across two people in matching animal skin ponchos – Aiden (Breeda Wool) and Bailey (Andrew Bachelor). One of them is wounded, and they tell her that “they” won’t wait for them. Michonne remembers Rick helping her at the prison. The “they” they are referring to is a huge caravan in military formation. We never get any more information than that – are they good guys or bad guys? Don’t seem very good if they won’t wait for their own people. Michonne kills her guards and helps the others – it’s a final testament to how Rick has changed her.
I can’t help but be dissatisfied with this final episode for Michonne. I’m glad they didn’t kill her, but I knew that there couldn’t be a satisfying way for her to leave her kids behind. And what about Daryl who was also so committed to finding Rick? It would have made so much more sense to go back and form a party to go look. There is no denying that Gurira was fantastic in the episode – especially getting to play an evil version of herself – and my problems with the writing itself isn’t meant to diminish that. What did you think of the episode? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!