In this week’s episode of The Walking Dead, we focus on Daryl and the Reapers.  While this episode would be much improved with a band of that name, instead we just have a lot of talking and posturing.  Let the interrogation begin!

Daryl and Dog stand in the woods.
Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Dog run from the Reapers in the woods. (Photo Credit: Josh Stringer/AMC)


The episode opens much like last week, only this time it is Daryl in the Blair Witch spotlight sequence in the woods instead of Maggie.  Daryl escapes the woods with Dog.  Hidden behind a building is Daryl and Dog, but the nearby Reaper is unable to hear Dog’s panting.  This is surprising since I don’t think Dog is even mic’d up for this scene and it sounds like he is on the couch next to me.  Daryl throws a rock to distract the Reaper, and it appears to work.  But not for long.  The Reaper catches up with Daryl, and Dog goes in for the leg bite.  Daryl is uncharacteristically laid back in this moment.  Instead of tackling the man, he gives the man ample time to attack Dog.

Throwing Dog is finally enough motivation for Daryl to finally go on the attack.  Daryl is less John Wick and more a low energy wrestler in this moment.  Still, Daryl escapes and runs after an apparently injured Dog.  One of the Reapers appears to recognize Daryl, and she goes in pursuit.  On the run, Daryl lathers himself in the guts of the undead for unknown reasons.  There is no horde around, so I’m not sure how this helps with his current Reaper situation.

When Daryl follows Dog’s barks, he finds Dog sitting next to one of the Reapers.  Dog will not come with Daryl calls.  Either that Reaper has some delicious Snausages in her pocket, or Dog knows her.  No surprise, the female Reaper is Daryl and Dog’s long lost love, Leah (Lynn Collins).  Leah asks Daryl if he is “with them.”  


Leah questions Daryl privately in an oversized wooden shed.  “I came back for you.  I looked everywhere for you,” Daryl says.  Unimpressed, Leah notes that her soldier family also looked for her.  “They found me,” Leah says.  From the look on Leah’s face, she has not forgiven Daryl for taking a few days to think about whether he wanted to stay with her.  Leah says as much.  As far as Leah is concerned, Daryl left her.  Whether Daryl came back is irrelevant.

When the other Reapers return, there is an old-fashioned round of waterboarding.  This is not Daryl’s first interrogation rodeo, so he repeats the lie that he had only known the group for a week.  The Reapers toss Daryl into a cell across from Frost (Glenn Stanton), who was also captured in the woods.  Daryl is savvy enough to make a speech to both enforce his lie for his captors to overhear, and to communicate to Frost what the cover story is.  Frost plays along.

When Leah visits Daryl’s cell, they reminisce a bit about their shared love of being stubborn.  “I never lied to you,” Daryl says.  Leah looks she does not quite believe Daryl, but she desperately wants to believe him too.


The two Reapers that Maggie and Negan injured have returned to camp.  The bottle neck guy was named Michael Turner.  Turner’s “brother” Bossie (Michael Shenefelt) carried him ten miles back to camp.  Someone says some intense prayers over Turner’s body.  The leader of the Reapers, Pope (Ritchie Coster), tells Leah, “God is here.  He’s angry.  I’m angry.”

Leah returns to see Daryl and fills him in on her life with the group.  Prior to the apocalypse, the Reapers were soldiers in Afghanistan together.  After that, the group worked as mercenaries.  The group was her family, and Turner had been like a little brother to Leah.  When Leah asks Daryl why he left her, he says he had been scared of letting go.  Leah proves she has the same fear when she stresses that they never would have been happy together anyway.

Like any good interrogator, Leah has made an emotional connection with the prisoner.  Next, it is time for “good cop.”  Leah promises to help Daryl if he gives her information.  Like I said, not Daryl’s first rodeo, so he passes along a truth and two lies.  Daryl notes that the leaders of the group are Maggie, Gabriel, and Negan.  The Negan lie is an interesting choice.  On this mission, Negan has repeatedly proved that his instincts were right.  But Negan is also the last person the group would listen to.

Daryl also says one of the men let slip intel that there were three dozen soldiers in the group.  Leah dutifully takes the info back to Pope, and she pitches the idea to add Daryl to the Reapers.  “I believe in you.  More than the others,” Pope says.  Pope tells Leah that he trusts her judgment.

Reaper Leah stares at the woods.
A female Reaper takes an interest in Dog and Daryl in “Rendition.” (Photo Credit: Josh Stringer/AMC)


Leah tells Daryl that Pope has agreed to meet with him.  When Leah attempts to open the door to leave the shed, it is locked.  A puddle of flammable liquid gushes under the door, and Leah jumps back.  In seconds, the room is engulfed in flames.  Daryl acts quickly, and he manages to punch through a boarded up window.  Daryl shoves Leah out first, and then he follows.

Outside the window is a circle of Reapers standing around a bonfire.  That seems a little bit of overkill with a whole shed in flames not five feet away, but I’m not going to tell these guys how to handle their rituals.  “Forged by fire.  Ordained by God.  Welcome him,” Pope says.  Apparently the group staged a very elaborate initiation to see how he would react.  Leah seems fine with her family’s attempt to burn her alive, which is red flag city.


Pope gives a speech about the group’s time in Afghanistan, and how the politicians did not care about the soldiers.  When Pope calls the politicians godless, it all kind of clicks into place.  This guy is a little bit abusive daddy, a little bit Kurtz.  After the undead apocalypse, the government firebombed a large area while the Reapers bunkered down in a church.  Everywhere around the church burned.  The Reapers escaped without even a bruise.

“We were the chosen ones,” Pope says.  The religious fervor in his eyes practically has a cuckoo clock soundtrack to it.  “God chose you tonight,” Pope tells Daryl.  To Daryl’s credit, he has zero response to Pope’s statement.  With a new sheep in the flock, Pope turns his attention to Bossie.  Unsatisfied with Bossie’s briefing about the Maggie fight, Pope questions why Bossie has wounds in his back.

As I recall from last week, Bossie was attacked from behind and not while in flight.  Pope clearly believes that Bossie fled the fight.  Instead of clarifying, Bossie stammers a non-explanation.  I don’t know whether Bossie was tongue tied with fear or if we are supposed to believe he was actually injured when he ran, but Bossie does not clarify what happened.  The moment Pope starts in about cleansing fire, you know Bossie is about to meet the business end of some.  Pope pushes Bossie into the bonfire, and he holds him down with his foot.  All the better to get that full face roasting I guess.


The episode gives you an introduction to the Reapers, so it is worth it for background.  In terms of quality, no.  Although Angela Kang and Jim Barnes are good writers, a lot of the dialogue in this episode was painful to listen to.  It felt very cliched and generic.  Additionally, every actor was very stilted in their performance.  It felt a little like a Hal Hartley movie, minus the philosophy and deadpan humor.

Pope is a generic religious nut kind of bad guy.  The Reapers are supposed to be a badass group, but they cower in front of Pope.  No one so much as made a dramatic sigh when Pope pushed a member of their FAMILY into the fire.  I don’t quite understand how this man holds so much sway over the group.  No one else in the group appears to have Pope’s zealotry.  So why does this group let Pope still call the shots?  Fear?  Loyalty?  I guess we will have to wait for those answers in future episodes.


  • Dog chooses Leah over Daryl.  Is Daryl feuding with Carol AND Dog?
  • When the Reapers waterboarded Daryl, did all the undead guts he smeared on himself wash off directly into his mouth?
  • If Leah’s nephew Mattew died after the Fall, was he also with this group?  Were there other civilians?
  • Pope wants to kill the godless, but Daryl admits to him that he does not believe in God.