The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live – Become

“Become” is the most reminiscent of the original series. Perhaps it was Rick and Michonne encountering survivors in the woods or them finding the supply of ramen, which evokes S7:E12, “Say Yes,” when Rick and Michonne found a warehouse stocked with MREs (meals-ready-to-eat). The couple is still basking in love’s afterglow, but the apocalypse is relentless, and danger comes for them in the form of decorated Warrant Officer Jadis Stokes. Through flashbacks and flashforwards, “Become” concludes Jadis Stokes’s (aka Anne’s) story.

I enjoyed the flashback interactions between Gabriel and Anne. Through their exposition, we are introduced to the central conflict for this episode: Jadis’s identity conflict. I examine the intricate relationship between Jadis’s name and her identity. For example, in the Chronicle of Narnia series, author C. S. Lewis uses the character of Jadis to explore themes of tyranny, the abuse of power, and redemption. Do you see how these themes play out with Warrant Officer Jadis Stokes in the CRM? Anne, on the other hand, means ‘favor’ or ‘grace.’ Throughout this episode, note how Michonne, Rick, and Gabriel refer to her as Anne, not Jadis. As Anne, she maintains her lines of relationship with Gabriel, who serves as her spiritual guide, confessor, and redeemer. In doing so, he drives the plot forward. Tyranny or grace—you can feel Jadis’s conflict? 

There were other nods to the importance of a character’s name. For example, Michonne hates the named license plates because there is never one with her name. This situation symbolizes her uniqueness in the Walking Dead universe and Rick’s life. Rick asked if the “junior” license plate was a good gift for RJ. Michonne emphasizes that no one ever calls RJ Junior but that RJ insists on calling himself the ‘little brave man.’ In all these instances, the writers want us to understand that our identity, our name, carries our personal history, meaning, and expectations, underscoring the complexity of the relationship between individuals and the collective, between the personal and the public.

“Become” – THE WALKING DEAD: THE ONES WHO LIVE, Pictured: Danai Gurira as Michonne. Photo: AMC ©2024 AMC Networks. All Rights Reserved

The Walking Dead, at its core, is an opus to material, spiritual, and human loss. To deal with her losses, Jadis vacillates between saving her humanity as the artist Anne and saving all humanity as Warrant Officer Jadis of the CRM. Jadis waxes nostalgically about the life she lived as Anne. She regrets her cruel and difficult actions when she’s not with him. Father Gabriel challenges: “If you’re here expressing doubts, isn’t that a sign that that isn’t who you are?” She rebuffs him and hastens to leave. Because he continues questioning who she is, Father Gabriel gives Jadis a ring meant for Rick and Michonne’s nuptials. He tells Jadis that the ring is a symbol of faith. Of love, foreshadowing the ring’s importance in this story. 

In another pivotal flashback, Jadis has her gun trained on Gabriel. He calls her out, stating: “You’re lying. You don’t keep coming back. You never left. Go ahead. You should shoot me. Make me understand. Show me who you’ve become.” Jadis doesn’t shoot him. Gabriel concludes, “You came to me to find an answer. You just found it.” She becomes the artist Anne.

I thoroughly enjoyed this episode, “Become,” with caveats. First, Chief Content Officer Scott Gimple confirmed that someone from the original series would appear in The Ones Who Live. Fear the Walking Dead mentioned Rick Grimes, leading many of us to hope for a Morgan Jones instead of a Father Gabriel appearance. While mildly disappointed, I understood, as detailed above, why it had to be Father Gabriel. However, the pacing and frequency of these flashbacks bordered on excessive.

Second, the flashforward fight scenes between Rick, Michonne, Jadis, and the survivors were more problematic. For example, the survivors Rick and Michonne encountered are feeble, and it is hard to understand how they survived this long. Third, when Jadis catches Rick and Michonne sleeping, she behaves like a Bond villain (or maybe an Austin Powers-type villain) by over-explaining why she did not want to “leave things unsaid.” In her mind, Jadis delayed killing Rick and Michonne to thank them for dying, thereby preserving the CRM’s secrets and guaranteeing that Judith and RJ would have a better world in which to grow up. Jadis’s reasons sound like excuses to Rick and Michonne. In stereotypical villain fashion, all that talking gives Rick and Michonne the upper hand. Jadis gets wounded. There is a predictable double-cross that results from a negotiation between Rick and Jadis that is reminiscent of their negotiations over guns in Season 7. I found this interchange tedious. Eventually, Jadis comes out on the losing end of this exchange, bitten by the reanimated survivors she enlisted to help her.

“Become” – THE WALKING DEAD: THE ONES WHO LIVE, Pictured: Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes. Photo: AMC ©2024 AMC Networks. All Rights Reserved

As Anne died, she acknowledged that Gabriel had shown her who she had become. She says: “I wish I had died as an artist when it was never about survival. It was about truth. My peace.” Pollyanna McIntosh’s (Jadis/Anne) delivery was pitch-perfect here. It evoked emotions that ran the gamut between nostalgic longing and tragic grief. This scene reminded me of Nat’s death when he asked Michonne if she could tell if Rick was still Rick. 

Anne’s dying acts include telling Rick and Michonne where her dossier on Alexandria is hidden and asking them not to go after the CRM. But, Michonne says, “No!” “The CRM is not the answer, and it must end.” Finally, Anne gives Rick a ring Gabriel gave her, imploring, “Go ahead. Do what you said you would do. Please.” This declaration to Rick has a double meaning—to both kill her and marry Michonne.

Jadis believed the CRM was “about survival, about what comes after.” Rick acknowledges that Jadis had the grace and favor to leave them alive for a reason. Ironically, Rick and Michonne realize that they share the same goal. Michonne says, “I see how we can make it better. And if we can, we have to.” Michonne’s statement resonates with why Okafor chose Rick and Thorne to change the CRM from the inside. Okafor articulates that they possess what the CRM needs to become. In S1:E1, Okafor avowed, “If either of you had a chance to save the world, you would. You’d have to.” Do you see the parallel?

Regarding other commitments, Rick and Michonne exchange vows using the ring (a symbol of faith. Of love) that Jadis gave them. I know some viewers grow impatient with the ‘love stuff,’ but for me, the love Rick expressed in the following vow: “It’s a broken world. You are the only one who can put it back together (unlike Lori). ‘Til my last breath, I am yours,” distinguishes The Ones Who Live from other stories in the Walking Dead Universe. His words melt my bones. This is a love story, and others need to recognize and respect that. 

“Become” – THE WALKING DEAD: THE ONES WHO LIVE, Pictured: Danai Gurira as Michonne and Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes. Photo: AMC ©2024 AMC Networks. All Rights Reserved

Like most, I wanted Jadis to get her comeuppance for taking Rick away from his wife and kids. However, The Ones Who Live excels at completely defined characterizations, even for one-episode characters like Okafor or Nat. I empathized with Jadis’s struggle to reclaim her core identity as her story unfolded. In less than an hour, the writer brought so much depth, dimension, and dignity to her character’s arc that I felt a skosh uncomfortable with Rick staring down the barrel of his gun like he had when he put down the walker, Sophia.

Could anyone else relate to my review of the latest episode? What are your predictions for the finale? Please share your thoughts and feedback on my review. Also, let me know how you think the show will end. Thank you.

About the Author – Lynette

Lynette is a self-identified ‘woke boomer’ who hails from an era bathed in the comforting glow of a TV, not a computer screen. Navigating the digital world can sometimes leave her feeling a bit unsure, but she approaches it with curiosity and a willingness to learn. Patience and kindness in this new landscape are truly valued. Let’s embrace the journey together with kindness and a touch of humor!

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