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The Walking Dead: The Pied Piper leads us to the meaning behind the X
In This Episode...
"Scar" vacillates between the past and the present. In the present, Daryl, Connie, Henry, and Lydia show up at Alexandria, looking for care for Henry. Aaron is uncomfortable letting unknowns through the gate, but if Daryl trusts them, Michonne trusts them. Judith is pleased to spend some time with Daryl, but she is saddened that he can't stay. Because of that, shortly after Daryl and his group leave, Judith sneaks away from Alexandria, leaving her mother a note that she is going to help her friends.
The bulk of the story is actually set several years prior, when Michonne is pregnant with RJ. A group of Alexandrites find a woman and a few children and bring them to Alexandria. The woman, Jocelyn, is an old friend of Michonne's, and they are thrilled to see one another. Judith and the other kids in the community are happy to have new friends, and Michonne is thrilled to have her old one back. But in the morning, Michonne finds that Jocelyn and her kids have left -- and taken her kids with them. Judith included.
It turns out Jocelyn has been running some kind of kids cult, in which she teaches children to "mark their kills, and kill their marks." Michonne ends up killing Jocelyn, and a lot of the kids, in order to protect her fetus. She gets Judith and the other kids back, but it scars Michonne deeply, and makes her close off Alexandria to outsiders.
The story behind the X
Jocelyn teaches her kids to "mark their kills, and kill their marks." That is what the X branded on Daryl and Michonne's back is. Jocelyn kidnaps Judith and a few other kids. Michonne and Daryl go to get them back. They are beaten by Jocelyn's kids, and wake up bound and gagged. Jocelyn sits in a corner, regally directing her kids on how to brand them. (It doesn't seem like it is very hard -- take branding stick out of the fire, press into the skin.)
And the story behind why Michonne is so mentally messed up
After Michonne and Daryl break free of their bonds, they split up to find the kids. Michonne is accosted by a pair of kids in the hall. One of them slashes her pregnant belly. Michonne drops her pipe and grabs a sword as a weapon. The kids get scared and run, and Michonne is surprised by Jocelyn, who beats her with a plank of wood. Michonne grabs her sword, stabs Jocelyn through the thigh, and when Jocelyn drops, Michonne does not hesitate to drive the sword into her heart. A bunch of the kids see this, and they are both scared and angry. Things would have been okay if the kids accepted her offer to come live with her at Alexandria. But they attacked, and Michonne had to kill them. She gets all the Alexandria kids back, but for a moment, she thinks she has lost Judith. Judith just stares at her, eyes blank, and Michonne worries that she has been brainwashed. Judith snaps to, and runs into her mother's arms. But it's not enough.
And why Alexandria is closed off
Michonne decided to close ranks in order to keep Judith and her child-to-be safe. Being duped by her "friend" was a real eye-opener. In a surprisingly emotional current scene, Michonne (after finding Judith killing zombies with her kiddie-sized sword, making momma proud) sits with Judith and finally tells her the story, and explains that is why she closed ranks. Michonne is surprised that Judith remembers the whole incident, and explains that when Michonne rescued her, she didn't recognize her, covered in blood. Judith never mentions the incident because it would make mommy sad, and the two come to an understanding. Michonne agrees to be less closed off, and Judith agrees to be more cautious. The pair head off to the Kingdom for the fair, and pick up Daryl and his crew on the way.