As predicted, this fourth episode of Season 11 mostly follows the path of Daryl and Dog, but I was way off on picking up those hints about an old friend coming back to see Daryl. I had no idea who it was and I had my biggest DUH! moment when the character was revealed. But let’s take a look at this latest episode a bit deeper to see how everything went down.
Warning: This article contains major spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 11, Episode 4: Rendition.
This episode starts out with the big Reaper brawl we saw at the beginning of Episode 3, but this time we see exactly where Daryl ran off with man’s best friend.
I imagine Daryl wanted to get to the heart of these people and hit them where it hurts, so he turned up his stealth skill and made his way to their HQ. He’s eventually discovered, and, after a bit of a struggle, we see one of the Reapers grab Dog in a way that made the poor little guy yelp. This is the same yelp we saw during the season premiere trailer that led everyone to believe that Dog was in some sort of danger as Daryl yelled out “No! No!”
So Daryl gets away from the group through the cover of darkness, but the next morning he runs into a masked Reaper holding Dog by the collar. Daryl is rightly concerned for Dog’s safety, but this is when we get the big reveal.
The Reaper pulls off the mask to show a blonde woman who looks oddly familiar. She’s not a main character… I don’t even know… WAIT! That’s the woman who lived with Daryl in the cabin! That’s Dog’s original owner! That’s Leah!
— (@ll1_u1) September 6, 2021
Yes, Daryl’s long lost love is back and this time she’s part of a group of wackos who take special pleasure in dishing out the torture. And poor Daryl got to experience that first hand as he was overpowered by Leah’s group and brought back to the Reapers’ base for intel on his group.
Daryl stuck to his guns, though, and refused to let the waterboarding affect his secret about the rest of his companions. He insisted that he was traveling alone and the people they saw him with were only temporary acquaintances whom he met for trading purposes only.
Even throughout this torture, I feel like Leah may still have strong feelings for Daryl. She’s fighting those feelings, but I think they’ll surface soon enough.
In a particularly heart-felt scene (as heart-felt as you can get on TWD), Leah tells Daryl that she was a mercenary soldier before everything went down. She fought alongside many of the other Reapers “in the hills of Afghanistan” as their leader later reveals.
Leah then confronts Daryl about leaving her at the cabin, but he insists that he didn’t leave her. He came back for her, but it was too late.
“It doesn’t matter. We wouldn’t’ve worked anyway,” she says through her tears. “Couldn’t’ve been happy. Not in a world like this.”
And then we get it: the confession. Whether it’s real or all part of her plan to get more info out of him, she tells him “despite everything, I still care about you and I don’t want anything bad to happen to you.” Ouch, too late.
And Daryl went right along with it (in his own way). He told her about Maggie being the leader of the group and he told her about Negan and he told her about Gabriel. He did leave out the fact that he was part of this group, but it was surprising that he gave out so many details about who’s who. Still, he wants Leah to feel like the Reapers aren’t prepared for Maggie’s group and that’s a little questionable.
Introduction of Pope
Soon enough we’re introduced to Pope, the leader of the Reapers and our main antagonist for this first half of Season 11. I was getting some big-time Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore (Robert Duvall’s character in Apocalypse Now) vibes from Pope, but not in a good way. His accent alternates between South African and Forest Gump, for some reason, and I’m not sure that he’ll be well-received by TWD fans. He’s certainly no Negan.
Pope is a militaristic faux-religious leader who rules with an iron fist. We saw this during a campfire gathering where Daryl was being inducted into the Reapers. Pope figured out that one his men was injured in the back while fleeing the battle, so he threw him into the bonfire and held him down until he sizzled to death.
I believe the main reason Pope did this was to show Daryl that he doesn’t appreciate cowardice. Pope asked Daryl earlier about his lack of scratches or burns after the big battle, and Daryl just told him that he’s been through worse. I feel like Pope caught on to the fact that Daryl jumped ship on his comrades and he wanted to show him how serious he was about loyalty and bravery among his people.
That message was loud and clear for Daryl: these people are nuts and he might be in a little over his head by befriending them. But I don’t honestly think that Daryl meant to hold hands and sing campfire songs anyway. Now he knows that the situation is a little more dire than he expected. The question is: will he take Leah with him when he makes his escape?
What’s Coming Next?
As much as I enjoyed this Daryl-centric episode, it will be nice to catch up with Carol’s and Eugene’s groups. In Episode 5: Out of the Ashes, it looks like we’ll be back to Alexandria, Hilltop, and the Commonwealth: “Aaron, Carol, Lydia, and Jerry go to the Hilltop ruins for blacksmith tools and nearby game,” the IMDB synopsis reads. “Eugene’s group goes through orientation at the Commonwealth; Maggie and Negan trudge through the woods; Judith and the kids clash with teenagers.”
If you enjoy these write-ups, you may also enjoy a new mini podcast I’ll be doing as a companion of sorts. We’ve decided to separate my usual spoiler-filled segments of our usual podcast into its own thing. So you can look for that on our podcast RSS or on our YouTube channel starting on Friday.