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Spoilers below for The Walking Dead's latest episode, so be sure to watch before reading on.
The Walking Dead has many questions left to answer about this post-Rick world, but one has quickly risen above the rest, to a little over waist-high height. Of course, I'm talking about those big "X" scars that have popped up in the two most recent episodes. The first one we saw was on Michonne's back, and we now know that Daryl has two of them (at least), along with a host of other non-X scars.
Showrunner Angela Kang has offered up some vague crumbs for fans to chew on, saying that an explanation is coming later. Here, we're going to break down some questions we now have about the "X" scars and more.
Did They Come From Fighting Another Group?
Let's get something out of the way immediately. Nobody gets a giant X-shaped scar on their back because they tripped and fell on some tree roots, so those wounds were nothing but intentionally delivered. The first thought would be that the communities ended up fighting another villainous community, such as the non-reformed Savior squad that Carol put a quick end to recently.
Carol's vengeance in that situation was most certainly swift and deadly, connoting something else lurking beneath the surface. However, if someone else was responsible for giving the protagonists those injuries, I can't imagine Michonne & Co. would have let them live long enough to attack anyone else. So who else could it be?
The comics didn't really specify any major villain groups between Negan and the new-to-television Whisperers, so it's hard to use the source material to guess what's happening. Still, it's pretty easy to conceive at least one more sizable survivor group serving as a big threat in the six years between the Then and the Now.
Or Was It Just One Or Two Trusted Outsiders?
Because the X-shaped scars have been seen on both Michonne and Daryl, it's easy to think that multiple people would be responsible. However, those scars presumably came from up close and personal conflict, as opposed to a projectile like a bullet or an arrow. So perhaps a trusted someone who gained access to these characters' inner sanctums is to blame.
We know that Alexandria now has official council meetings to accept or reject new survivors, and Michonne has been extremely sensitive about the arrival of the new group. Magna has gained the most suspicion, while everyone took a shine to Luke for geeking out over artsy things. That's just the character dichotomy needed to fuck a community over -- the innocent distraction and the unseemly threat.
Will we hear legends of someone who brought a new kind of havoc into Alexandria? Could that reveal possibly tie into the long-theorized-upon Alexander Davidson, who'd been exiled from Alexandria by Deanna at one point. He was thrown out for his chaotic actions, and it wouldn't stretch the timeline too much to buy into him (and possibly his cohorts) to lie in wait until a point when they could return with new identities. Then again, maybe Dwight came back and did it, because where is Dwight these days?
Who Else Has Those Scars?
Two episodes into the time jump, two characters revealed themselves to have suffered such X-shaped injuries. There's only one more episode left before the winter hiatus, so should we expect to see at least one more character's marked-up back in the midseason finale? I certainly hope so, not that I want a ton of characters to have lived through the potentially horrifying situation that led to all that.
I'm most curious to learn whether or not Maggie has such an X-shaped scar on her back, since viewers are still in the dark about what specifically made her leave the Hilltop to join Georgie's crew wherever they are. Her rage against Negan's survival seemed to dissipate when she saw how broken and miserable he was in his cell, so could she have been driven out by whatever caused the specific scarring? Or was it just limited among those in Alexandria?
Since Michonne and Daryl have them, one might easily assume that all the major characters have them, such as the aforementioned Maggie, Jesus, Aaron, Tara, Rosita, Gabriel and the rest. That's not necessarily the case, though, and discovering who else has those scars could be a big clue about where they came from. I doubt Judith and new arrival R.J. have them, for instance, although I can't even be sure of that.
Are Everyone's Scars The Same?
It was pretty surprising to see that Daryl had two different X-shaped scars on his back, along with others slashes that made me wonder if he had a side gig fighting bears during the time gap. We only got to see the lower part of Michonne's back in the previous episode, so it's unclear if she only had the one, or if her upper back was similarly covered in past injuries.
It's not very feasible for Michonne to share the exact same scars as Daryl, but even the one X-shaped similarity already throws general logic into the wind. The exactness of the lower back as the main location could be as much of a clue about what happened as the identities of the other characters who share them.
Could it be that whoever was responsible actually did the whole "stolen organ" urban legend? Probably not, since that would be silly. But what if Michonne, Daryl and others didn't have something taken away, but had something implanted inside them. This is about the time the arguments start up about the government being responsible for the walker outbreak, so let's drop that one.
Were The Scars Self-Inflicted?
Once again, because Michonne and Daryl's scars share such a specific shape and location, it opens up the realm of possibilities about their origins. It's vaguely possible that the protagonists themselves were responsible for the X marks.
The back scar sort of matches up to where Rick had gotten impaled on that rebar. In lieu of colored ribbons or easily accessible tattoo guns, perhaps everyone decided in solidarity to get matching scars or brandings to remember Rick's bridge-exploding sacrifice. Seems a bit more extreme than hanging handprints on the wall, but it's possible.
It's also possible that Daryl and Michonne are the only two people with those scars, and that they were the result of voluntary organ donation. (As opposed to the urban legend angle.) Could it be that someone needed some kind of a transplant at one point, and Michonne and Daryl offered up their organs to save someone's life? Somebody interrogate Siddiq and Enid!
Let's hope we learn more about these scars sooner rather than later. The Walking Dead airs Sunday nights on AMC at 9:00 p.m. ET, with just one episode left to go in the first half of Season 9. To see what shows you can get invested in once the walkers are hibernating, head to our fall premiere schedule and our midseason TV guide.