SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched “The Walking Dead” Season 10 Episode 13, titled “What We Become.”
“The Walking Dead” said goodbye to another longtime cast member in this week’s episode, with Danai Gurira officially exiting the series after seven seasons of playing Michonne. It was first announced last year that the current season would be Gurira’s last on the show.
In the episode, Virgil (Kevin Carroll) and Michonne arrived at Bloodsworth Island, a former naval base that Virgil claimed contains a cache of weapons he would give to Michonne and Oceanside.
The episode was largely comprised of Michonne taking a drug-induced trip back through her past, seeing how her life could have been radically different had she not made one choice — saving Andrea.
“As an artist it was very satisfying,” Gurira tells Variety about the alternative history flashbacks. “But in another sense it was very chilling because it really does raise the idea of how one choice could make someone such a different person. She made one choice to help one woman, and that choice puts her on a journey.”
Once Michonne and Virgil arrived on the island, Virgil continually delayed showing Michonne where he claimed the weapons were. He then said he needed her help before he would deliver them as promised. That help turned out to be clearing a building of walkers, three of whom were Virgil’s wife and children. Once Michonne dispatched them all, Virgil buried his family and told Michonne they should spend the night to avoid further walker encounters, to which Michonne reluctantly agreed.
Unable to sleep, Michonne wandered around the rest of the facility. She found what appeared to be a cell, and when she stepped inside, Virgil appeared and slammed the door behind her, locking her inside.
Once she was locked down, Michonne heard three other people in the cell next to her. They explained that Virgil had kept them imprisoned for some time. He suffered a mental break after a decision he made led to his family’s death. Her fellow prisoners encouraged Michonne to eat, as she would need her strength if she was going to escape.
After she ate the food Virgil provided, she began to feel strange. Virgil then informed her that he drugged her with jimson weed, a powerful hallucinogen, and that set her off on the flashbacks.
“How do you get Michonne that vulnerable?” Gurira says. “The answer is you have to drug the heck out of her. I had never heard of [jimson weed] before. Then I looked it up and I read some stories from people who had taken it and I was like, ‘Holy goodness, what we show is very mild.'”
In Michonne’s alternative history, she decided not to save Andrea, which led to her continue to wander the apocalypse alone. Wounded and alone, she eventually crossed paths with Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and a group of Saviors. Impressed by her fighting spirit, Negan invited her to join them.
She then flashed forward to the assault on the Savior satellite outpost led by Rick, in which Michonne killed both Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Heath (Corey Hawkins) before escaping. She was then present as Negan’s closest ally in the infamous scene in which he originally killed Glenn and Abraham (Michael Cudlitz), only this time he passed Lucille off to Michonne to do the deed.
As the Savior War escalated, Michonne saw herself running through the woods before she was eventually hit with one of Daryl’s arrows, with Rick finishing her off with a bullet. Michonne also experienced a vision of Siddiq (Avi Nash), who died earlier this season.
“The writers came up with the whole architecture,” Guirira says. “Angela [Kang] talked me through it and then she was very generous in letting me collaborate with her on aspects of it.”
Michonne did eventually escape, freeing her fellow prisoners and chasing Virgil down. She and the others prepared to kill him, but Michonne had a change of heart and counseled them instead to choose the path of mercy.
By now Michonne knew there were no weapons as Virgil promised. She made him show her what supplies were available, where she was stunned to find Rick’s old cowboy boots. She angrily demanded to know where Virgil found them, so he took her to an abandoned Navy ship off the coast. There, she found an old iPhone with an image of Michonne and Judith etched into the screen along with “Rick.”
Michonne, Virgil and the other prisoners were able to get the ship up and running again. While at sea, Michonne was able to raise Judith and R.J. on a walkie talkie (but if they were zombies it would be a walker talkie). She told them that she believed Rick could still be alive, leading Judith to tell her that she owed it to herself to find out the truth.
The episode ended with Michonne alone on the road yet again. She happened upon two people, one of whom was injured. They said they needed her help getting back to their group, as they would not wait for them. Michonne looked off in the distance and saw what appeared to be a massive group in a nearby field. She offered them her hand in friendship and they moved toward the group together.
With regards to whether or not fans can expect to see more of Michonne — like they will Andrew Lincoln in his upcoming “Walking Dead” standalone movies — Gurira would only reply, “We’ll see.”
“I’m very thankful for the aspects of how [Michonne] got to evolve,” she says. “In the beginning, that person with a heart was peaking through the armor a little bit going, ‘Hey, let me out.’ Something about Andrea made her open it up a little bit, and then a little bit more and a little bit more. She had to go through so much trial and error before she could be someone who was trusted in this group and loved in this group.”
Gurira also says that although she has left the show, she will never truly leave the friends she has made along the way, referring to them as “family.” She also says her sendoff from the show included a Michonne cake “complete with her holding a sword” and a fireworks display.
“The Walking Dead” airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC.