This week’s episode of The Walking Dead sees a little time jump back to where Episode 2 ended. The Reapers have attacked and now we get to find out what happened to Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus).
Spoiler alert: It’s a world of pain and a surprise reunion with Leah (Lynn Collins).
Also, nothing new crops up regarding the Commonwealth. So, those wanting to catch up on how Eugene’s (Josh McDermitt) first meeting in person with Stephanie (Margot Bingham) goes will likely have to wait until next week’s installment of The Walking Dead.
Daryl Dixon is running for his life
When the Reapers attacked in Episode 2, there was a flurry of activity as everyone quite literally ran for their lives from an attack that saw many members of the group fall. Daryl attacked as best he could, then called Dog and off they went in order to save their own skins.
Daryl ended up in an attack that saw him throw his crossbow as a defense mechanism that I bet saw a bunch of Walking Dead fans gasping in shock at using his iconic weapon in such a manner. Then, Dog is getting thrown through the air, and there are much more serious issues to gasp about.
Don’t worry, Dog’s okay, but it takes a while for viewers to discover this.
In the meantime, Daryl is covering himself in a sludge of walker guts to keep himself safe from the walkers as he looks for Dog. On a side note, can we just pause for a moment to think about how often Daryl doesn’t wash and how long it takes for walker guts to wear off in such a situation? Honestly, gross.
Then, Leah turns up — something many fans have suspected for a while now — and Daryl is completely surprised at the fact that she is a Reaper. But, at least I’m no longer contemplating just how terrible Daryl must be smelling right about now.
Remember back to those six surprise episodes that AMC sprung on us as bonus fodder during the coronavirus pandemic and you’ll remember Leah. She was the surprise girlfriend that no one knew Daryl had.
Daryl was still devastated by the loss of Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) at that point in time, so it was never going to work. Needless to say, Leah left, and Daryl got to keep Dog. So, not the worst divorce settlement ever.
Now, Leah’s back and not quite ready to kill Daryl even though he appears to be a member of the group they are intent on destroying — namely Maggie (Lauren Cohan) — for reasons, as yet, unknown. However, I suspect Maggie is not quite as innocent as she is letting on in whatever led the group to want her dead so badly.
Daryl gets tortured
While Leah is still p*ssed that Daryl chose searching for Rick over her, she’s still not ready to give up on him entirely.
And so, the torture begins.
First, Daryl is dragged back to the Reaper’s headquarters. He is tied up and has a bag over his head but still manages to make a headcount.
He gets dumped in a cell alongside another member of his group but makes it pretty clear that he’s just someone the guy knows from trading, and they both come to the unspoken agreement not to mention they know each other.
Waterboarding is used on Daryl as well, but he’s not giving up any trade secrets.
All the time, Daryl has been maintaining that he doesn’t belong to the group the Reapers are after (he’s heard Maggie talk about them, after all), but Leah is determined to find out the truth of the matter.
Daryl pulls the “I’d never lie to you” card while completely lying to her. So, this episode of The Walking Dead is definitely a battle of wits as each tries to call out the other’s lies.
News comes in that a member has been returned dead, and viewers get to learn a lot more about the Reapers as a whole.
The Reapers are religious fantics
When the Reaper called Turner is returned as a corpse by another member, Bossie (Michael Shenefelt), it becomes apparent very quickly that the group, as a whole, contains a bunch of religious fanatics.
Pope (Ritchie Coster) leads the group and they are all returned soldiers who served in Afghanistan. And, the death and horror that they saw over there have touched them in horrible ways. Then, the zombie apocalypse has taken that mess and redesigned it into something truly hideous.
And Leah is totally one of them.
Daryl works within the constraints, though, and can see that Leah is the weakest link because of the relationship they once had. So — still lying to her — he lets out some of the truth in order to gain her trust. He speaks of his group’s leader being a woman, a guy that doesn’t shut up, and of Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam), all the while maintaining that he is not a member of the group, merely trading grain with them sometimes.
Leah falls for it and tells Pope that Daryl is exactly the type of person their group needs.
Forged by fire
Daryl then wants to meet Pope — although I’m not entirely sure that anyone has used Pope’s name in front of Daryl up to this point and I wonder if Leah has noticed that and might have filed it away for later use. However, for the time being, things are looking good.
But, nope, there’s more torture for Daryl.
It’s high-stakes torture too, as he and Leah are locked in a room, and the entire place is set ablaze. While Pope may spout all this nonsense about how the Reapers are all brothers that look out for each other, this is totally a planned attack.
Leah is in on it as well, but Daryl has no idea and sets to saving them both. He manages to keep Leah safe and getting her out of there first, which cements his place as a member of the Reapers.
Oh goodie, what a prize.
Pope refers to the event as Daryl being forged in fire or of a holy baptism by God.
Meanwhile, it has also come to Pope’s attention that while Bossie may have carried Turner’s body home on his back, he also may not have been as upfront about how he may not have done everything within his power to save the guy.
And so, an example must be set to show Daryl what happens to cowards in their group.
Bossie is plunged headfirst into the fire and is quickly cooked. As Entertainment Weekly points out, it is likely Bossie’s charred body that Maggie, Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), and Alden (Callan McAuliffe) encountered strung up under a sign that read “Judas” in last week’s episode of The Walking Dead.
As for what is next in store for Daryl remains to be seen and viewers will have to turn in next week in order to find out more.
Season 11 of The Walking Dead is currently airing every Sunday night at 9/8c on AMC.