This review contains spoilers for The Walking Dead season 10, episode 13, “What We Become.”
Like with Andrew Lincoln, Danai Gurira’s departure from The Walking Dead didn’t end with her character Michonne’s death — it ended with her signing a movie contract. Michonne’s survival came after an unconventional episode that kept her away from her friends and family, but despite some deliberately loose threads, it provided a decent goodbye — or rather see-you-soon — to a fan favorite.
The early moments of the episode felt like a video game side mission. Michonne, having landed on Virgil’s (Kevin Carroll) island where he has promised guns for the Alexandrians and company, instead finds only long, heartfelt diatribes and chores from Virgil the quest-giver. Michonne’s quest got much more complicated when Virgil turned semi-heel, locked Michonne in a cell, and revealed he lost himself when his wife and kids died.
It was great to have Kevin Carroll do spot duty on The Walking Dead, and it’s disappointing to see he seems to have already wrapped up his appearances on the show. And keeping with the video game theme, when Michonne started tripping on whatever Virgil put in her tea, it felt like it came right out of Far Cry, but it also gave us our best scene of the show.
Echoing Judith’s words to Mary two weeks ago, we lived an entire life with Michonne if she hadn’t met “the right people first.” She left Andrea to die after Hershel’s farm fell apart, was ignored by Daryl escaping the chaos, got rescued by Negan himself, and eventually became the one to perform Negan’s Lucilling to our heroes. It was jarring and totally believable, like a Marvel What If issue. I have to give credit to the writers for doing that extended scene, mixing in new and old footage in a way that didn’t look out of place at any point. It was also a lot of fun to see so many old faces, like Glenn, Andrea, and Maggie (the last of whom is apparently returning).
All of this led to the big conclusion that Michonne will continue on into spin-off adventures for AMC. On her way out, back on the road as a solo survivor, she encountered two injured survivors in danger of being left behind from their group. Remembering how Rick took her in when she was hurt, Michonne’s mercy prevailed over her wrath, only for her to stand in awe of their massive, marching army.
Does this huge group hold teases for the show, the movies, or both? It’s hard to say. If you read the comics, you know who Eugene is talking to on his radio and it’s possible that’s the same group we saw at the end of this episode. But since Michonne is done on The Walking Dead on TV, it’s hard to see how they’d tell a story where she would drop them off with their group before returning to her quest to find Rick.
The road ahead was made murkier when Michonne found an old smartphone with a picture of Michonne and present-day Judith drawn onto the black screen, along with a Japanese message that translates to “Believe a little bit longer.” It was addressed to Rick too, so someone is in contact with Rick and knows what Judith looks like today, some six years after Rick’s disappearance. Where they’re going with all of this, I have no idea, other than to say it’s clearly all for the big screen. With a long-running show like this, sometimes the behind-the-scenes direction is as interesting as the actual plot, and that’s never been truer than it is with “What We Become.”
In the end, it feels like another delayed emotional response has been brought on by the writing choices of the show. I didn’t want to say goodbye to Rick, but when I was told I had to, I found my peace with it and looked forward to the closure. But the writers still keep that in their pocket for now. The same is now true for Michonne. I felt little at the end when she said her presumed see-you-soons to Judith and RJ because the movies are years away, especially now with COVID-19 delaying all sorts of projects. This episode, while done pretty well, felt more like a long trailer for a movie series I’m skeptical will ever arrive. Still, I’d hope the project sees the light of day eventually, because Rick and Michonne deserve the character closure. For now, I’ll take the phone art message to heart and have a little faith.