Episode 18 of AMC’s The Walking Dead Season 10C (also known as Ride with Norman Reedus, guest staring Dog) is yet another character development episode.
Although, to be perfectly honest, this feels more like fan-fic written by someone named Leah than true character development.
While last week delved into Maggie’s (Lauren Cohan) backstory during her time away, this week’s episode is centered firmly on Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus).
And, who knew that Daryl had a secret love affair hiding inside of him?
Carol (Melissa McBride) and Daryl have been shipped by many fans for a long time now. Connie (Lauren Ridloff) turned up for a while and shifted the balance between the pair. Carol also got involved with Ezekiel (Khary Payton). However, for many, the end game hope has always been for Daryl and Carol to wind up together.
Episode 18 defiantly threw another spanner in the works by way of Leah (Lynn Collins). And, considering that this was a flashback episode, the assumption by many was that Leah met with a grizzly demise.
Leah is, essentially, a female version of Daryl
While Daryl is out looking for Rick (Andrew Lincoln), he slowly comes into contact with a very reserved Leah by way of her dog, who is named Dog. It seems like Dog has gotten sick of having just one human around and manages to track down Daryl while he is out searching the waterways.
Or, you know, maybe Dog can just sense that Daryl is just like Leah, with both being the silent type and into living alone and carrying the weight of all their decisions on their shoulders.
Either way, Dog works hard at pulling these two together, and it finally works off. So now, instead of Leah pulling her gun on Daryl and tying him up, she winds up helping him search for his “brother,” Rick.
She also has a backstory that involves her losing someone. Matthew is her son by choice and not by birth. However, things went badly — as they seem to in the zombie apocalypse — and she has given up on humans again because of this loss.
The montage of awkward adorable
Right upfront, it seems inevitable that Daryl and Leah will wind up together. Dog seems determined to make this so, and there are some endearing moments as a result of this.
Leah saves Daryl from walkers, and they hide behind a tree doing the awkward “am I going to, nope, I’m not going to” shuffle between staring and kissing.
Then, Daryl throws a fish at her door. Because Daryl.
It’s all so endearing that it comes as no surprise that they wind up in the sack together.
While this looks like a cute love story that will probably wind up with the loss of Leah leading to Daryl becoming extra pouty, it actually turns out she simply got sick of his sh*t. After giving him an ultimatum and telling Daryl he has to pick between Rick and her, Daryl invariably makes the wrong choice.
So, at the end of the day, he’s still extra pouty. But, Leah may not have died.
So, it looks like Daryl has another person to search for now. He leaves a note in Leah’s secret floorboard hidey-hole that says, “I belong with you. Find me.”
This means this story might not be over just yet.
And, this is likely the reason why AMC asked viewers not to spoil the episode for others.
Daryl and Carol spend the episode being annoyed with each other
The whole episode flits between the present day and the flashbacks to Leah. Carol and Daryl seem intent on being perpetually annoyed with each other. It’s probably only to make the love story grow on you and get the viewer to forget about the whole Daryl and Carol canon.
It also gives Daryl a reason to tell Carol that he’s off doing “stuff,” which is a pretty cool reference to back when Rick was unhinged and doing “things” back in their prison days.
Fans also get a look into the everyday outings between the pair as they hunt and fish and find the cabin that once belonged to Leah. Well, actually, that’s all Dog, when it comes to finding the cabin.
Once there, Daryl starts recounting his relationship with Leah, and Carol is, basically, there for the ride. Although, at times, the two stories seem to copy each other, and it seems Daryl has to fix the same mistakes when it comes to his friendship with Carol as of those with Leah.
Carol gets included in the backstory as well, mainly as a plot device in order to help place time. Because of this, we know that Daryl had been looking for Rick for at least two years before Leah came onto the scene. She also helps to fill in a few tidbits about the Kingdom.
All the way through, though, they continue to be snarky with each other, and there is plenty of back and forth indicating that their relationship is on the rocks.
Daryl insists that Carol is always running; that’s her thing. And, it might be.
She counters with the fact that Daryl is always trying to save everyone. Once again, yeah, that’s kind of true. Or, more to the point, he always seems to want to carry the burden of his friendships on his shoulders.
Then, the latest episode of The Walking Dead ends almost abruptly, as if AMC suddenly decided that they couldn’t be bothered adding more to the story.
What we know is that Daryl and Carol may not be as shipped as many are hoping for. Although, as Entertainment Weekly points out, with a Daryl and Carol Walking Dead spinoff in development, it seems likely there is still some juice left in this friendship yet.
Also, it is implied that Daryl may not yet be done with his hunt for Leah. This means that this story might not yet be concluded. However, with Season 10C consisting of filler episodes, it seems unlikely that viewers will get a chance to see any more Daryl and Leah action until Season 11 — if at all.
Season 10 of The Walking Dead is currently airing every Sunday night on AMC.