This is it! This is the last episode of 2021, so I was really hoping it would be a good one. Considering how happy I’ve been with this season so far, I’d say that this one did its job as mid-season finale quite well. There’s intrigue, backstabbing, a bit of a twist, and even a cliff-hanger right at the end. It’s a good time.
Warning: This article contains major spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 11, Episode 8: For Blood.
This episode starts out with Daryl and his new Reaper buddies watching a horde of undead circle around their walls. Pope gets suspicious of their formation and asks Daryl if he’s ever seen that before. Daryl gives some embarrassingly stumbled answer, which seems to reinforce Pope’s suspicions of him, as we’ll see come to a head later in the episode.
The folks at Alexandria are facing an epic storm that begins to not only take its toll on the house they’re hiding in, but it also knocks out some of the protective wall, allowing a whole lot of walkers to make their way in.
The crew boards up the windows but it’s not enough to keep both the storm and the walkers out, so most of this group’s onscreen time in this episode is fighting those elements. That is, until Rosita has had enough. She walks out onto the front porch and lets out all of her last starved energy to kill every last zombie out there.
Judith and Virgil also have quite a moment as he tells the young girl that he respects the way she handles the other children and how she deals with the problems all around them. Virgil doesn’t seem like he’ll make it much longer (lingering injury from the haunted house episode), so it’s nice to see him reinforce Judith’s positive attitude.
Maggie, Negan, Elijah, and Gabriel have successfully herded the walkers to infiltrate the Reapers, just as Pope guessed. While Maggie eventually makes it past Pope’s defenses and into the compound, Negan and Elijah get injured along the way. Her story continues within Daryl’s story.
Daryl, Leah, and the Reapers
This group holds the big plot point, and the best parts, of the episode.
Daryl, Leah, Pope, and the other Reapers are holed up behind the fortifications of their compound, watching the walkers get closer and closer. Pope orders Wells to lead the undead in a different direction, but soon admits that he was testing the waters to see if Maggie’s group was out there directing the horde. And he was right!
But when Leah confronts Pope on using Wells for bait, you get a sense that Leah’s trust of the man is dwindling even further. This continues later when Pope gives the order to barrage the courtyard full of zombies, even though a couple of his men are still down there.
And this really is the first turning point. We see that Leah is finished with Pope’s antics and we also see that Daryl sees this as his shot to let her in on his little secret.
“You ever think what it’d be like if we never left the cabin,” Leah asks Daryl, adding to his hope that they’ll run off into the sunset together. “It’s hard to watch something you care about change when they’re hurting other people you care about, too.”
Now that part got Daryl thinking. So he took his shot, which is the second big turning point of the episode. This is where he finally spills the beans, letting Leah know that he was actually a part of Maggie’s group. He pleads with Leah for mercy on them. But she is more upset that he’d been lying to her this whole time. If he told her the truth at the beginning of his capture, do you think things would have gone differently?
I LOVE THE WALKING DEAD SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO MUCH ❤❤❤❤
— 🦄Angelina Jean🦄 (@Angelin52659191) October 4, 2021
“They’re here for the food Pope took from them,” he confides. “They’ll starve without it, and they’re good people. Please, you can’t let them die like this.”
The “like this” he’s referring to is a final onslaught of artillery from Pope’s secret weapon: a fifteenth century rocket launcher known as a hwacha that fires dozens of explosive arrows at once. Pope was ready to take out everything below them with this monstrosity: the undead, Maggie’s group, and his own guys as “collateral damage.”
But just as he argues with Leah about that collateral damage, and as Leah sticks to her guns about saving ALL of her family, Daryl tries to make his move in on Pope.
Surprisingly, Leah takes the lead on this one, stabbing the man in his neck instead. Daryl takes this as a sign that she’s on his side and ready to high-tail it out of there, but that’s when the third turning point hits.
She lifts up her radio and tells the rest of her men that Daryl just killed Pope and he’s getting away. Daryl’s face contorts into a look of utter surprise (just kidding, he always has the same expression), and he takes off before the other men arrive.
But what’s interesting here is even after that epic backstab, neither one of them make a move to hurt the other. He just runs away and she lets him.
And with the large group still battling it out down in the courtyard, Leah gives the order to unleash the explosive arrows down below and the scene fades to black with the arrows leaving the hwacha.
So. Will Maggie, Negan, Gabriel, and Elijah survive the onslaught? That, my friends, is the cliff-hanger that we’ll need to wait until 2022 to answer.
But there’s another question I have for these remaining episodes: With Pope dead (thank you, TWD writers), will Leah take over as the main antagonist of the show? Wouldn’t that just be a kick in the pants?
I want to give a special shout-out to the Written Undead group on Facebook. If you’re into zombie fiction, you’ll love this group of like-minded folks. It’s run by a host of published authors in the genre and they regularly spotlight new and upcoming zombie fiction writers. They also do regular giveaways if you’re interested in grabbing some free books!
And if you enjoyed this write-up, be sure to also watch the video version (or listen to the audio version) during our Spoiler Special podcast coming this Friday. You can find that on our podcast RSS or on our YouTube channel as a companion episode to our regular podcast.