This review contains spoilers for episode 1108, “For Blood.”
On this week’s episode of The Walking Dead, the Alexandrians struggle through a storm while the Reapers prepare to battle an oncoming horde. At the heart of both fights is a desire to protect families made through blood or by bond.
ROTTERS ON THE STORM
A severe storm has kicked up in Alexandria, but it is oddly nowhere near a windless Meridien. With the fencing already precarious, a few gusts of wind have knocked a hole in the wall. Added to that, a fire has started in the windmill, drawing the attention of any nearby dead. Most if not all residents are holed up in one house to ride out the storm. Aaron breaks the people into three groups: fire brigade, wall repair, and house defense. Carol offers to handle the wall repair, and her first volunteer, to Magna’s dismay, is Connie. Carol is clearly grateful for the olive branch. While Kelly joins Carol and Connie, Magna heads off with Aaron.
Virgil wants to be of use, but Rosita asks him to stay behind and help her defend the house from the elements. Judith takes over babysitting duties per usual. Judith warns Gracie not to practice swordplay by the window right before a walker reaches through a broken window to grab her. While Judith hacks off the walker’s arm, Virgil pulls Gracie away, reinjuring himself in the process.
Rosita notes that there is likely another breach in the wall. Unable to reach anyone, the group attempts to hold the door closed as long as possible. Even after Rosita goes outside to thin the herd, the walkers keep coming. Eventually, the group decides to send everyone to the second floor for safety.
During the evacuation, Judith notices that Gracie is missing. Gracie is downstairs looking for a weapon. Gracie had a wooden sword five minutes ago before she got grabbed, so I’m not sure why she was looking for a weapon in the basement now. Regardless, Judith breaks a broom and hands it to Gracie. Upstairs, Lydia has ceded the front door as the last one to evacuate upstairs. When Judith and Gracie go to the first floor, it is already overrun with the undead. Judith and Gracie retreat to the flooding basement, and they wait as the dead pound against the flimsy door lock holding them back.
The Reapers stand watch on the wall observing the odd behavior of an oncoming horde. Pope asks Daryl if he has ever seen rotters behave this way before. Daryl says he has, but he lies and says he does not know why. It isn’t long before Daryl spots his people mixed in with the dead Whisperer style. Daryl suggests that he go out and lead the horde away. Pope agrees to the plan, but he sends Wells out instead. Wells plays the role of pied piper, but he is ambushed in the woods. Negan and Maggie stab Wells quickly, and the undead finish off the evidence.
Leah wants to go after Wells, but Pope guesses correctly that Maggie has already killed him. “You thought that woman was out there and you sent Paul in? What was he, bait?” Leah asks. Pope calls Wells a soldier that God had called home. Frustrated, Leah reminds Pope that Wells was family, and Pope counters that Leah has gotten awful mouthy since her boyfriend joined up.
In this scene Pope says that he knows Leah better than he knows himself. However, if Pope thought calling Leah mouth was a good line of attack, I’d say he doesn’t much about anyone. And women in particular. Pope says that Wells was a necessary blood sacrifice in this war against Maggie.
Pope questions Darl about Maggie, but Daryl does not have much to say. Annoyed, Pope asks Daryl why they should keep him around. “You said God chose me,” Daryl says. Pope laughs. Not a great sign. After a quick story from Pope about how he once strangled a beloved dog, Leah prompts Daryl to give up something useful. Daryl says that Maggie was a good shot and that they should look in the trees.
Outside the walls, another wave of rotters approach. There is quite literally a minefield to cross. With focus on the explosions, Gabriel and Maggie run around to the back of Meridien. Daryl slips away from the group up front, and he heads to the back to dispatch the Reaper on watch there. As the body lands outside the wall in front of Maggie, Daryl points her in the right direction. Daryl then returns to the front wall with a fresh quiver of arrows as his excuse for his brief disappearance.
Maggie and Gabriel slip into the compound through a hidden entrance. The area is basically the town dump, so there are no Reapers in the vicinity. Maggie sends Gabriel on a mission, and she goes to hotwire a truck. Deaver spots Maggie, but not before she is able to drive the truck into the front wall. With Reapers racing to the breached wall to handle the dead, Gabriel takes shots from the second floor of a building with his new sniper rifle.
Up top the wall, Ancheta preps his new weapon. It is a grid of dozens of arrows shot out by fireworks. Essentially, the weapon can take out a sea of foes in one shot. Daryl is understandably worried about the live people mixed in with the dead. After a brief conversation about God and beliefs, Leah admits that all she wants is to help the people she cares about. Daryl confesses that some of his people are mixed in with the dead. Daryl explains that his people are starving and that includes good people with families. Shocked, Leah whispers, “You lied.” Leah adds that she had wanted to trust Daryl, and he says he felt the same way about her. Daryl pleads with Leah to join him and his people. His family.
A blood thirsty Pope returns to the rooftop, and he orders Ancheta to fire his weapon into the courtyard. Horrified, Leah points out that their men are still in the courtyard. Pope refuses to pull the men out. Apparently if it is God’s will, the men will be spared. Pope is real selective about what is and isn’t God’s will.
When Pope says that the Lord speaks through him, and he cannot be questioned, the light goes out of Leah’s eyes. Pope orders Ancheta to fire his weapon, and Daryl draws his blades to fight. While Pope is focused on Daryl, Leah slides a blade in under Pope’s chin. Pope drops to the ground, and she stabs him one more time in the base of the skull to finish him off. Confused, Ancheta raises a knife to attack Leah. Daryl intervenes and kills Ancheta. Leah stares at the body of her blood brother, then she grabs the radio to report that Pope is dead. “Daryl did it,” Leah adds. Daryl asks Leah why she killed Pope.
“He forgot what mattered. Not war. People. My people. You’d do anything to protect your family. So would I,” Leah says. With one last longing look, Daryl hops off the roof to escape. In the courtyard, the rest of the Reapers retreat. While Negan chuckles in disbelief, Maggie grows suspicious. The Reapers light the fuse on Ancheta’s weapon, and the flaming arrows rain down into the courtyard.
Action packed and exciting, this is definitely an episode to watch. There is not much character development, but the expected turn from Leah finally happened. It was unlikely that Leah was ever going to turn her back on the rest of her brothers for Daryl, so her actions were not a surprise. Will Leah take up Pope’s thirst for blood? Most likely. First, Daryl has betrayed her. Second, Leah has already said that you can’t let your enemies regroup for an attack. The rest of the Reapers will want blood, and Leah has already given them Daryl to focus on.
As for Alexandria, I trust in Judith’s ability to think on her feet. If the dead get past the basement door, I’m sure Judith will have a plan. More likely, the group upstairs have realized that she and Gracie are missing. Rosita and Lydia will be fighting like hell to get to them.
Things are looking exciting for the end of this first third of the final season. Will the Reapers be a foe beyond this first section? Hard to say. The Reapers are not the most interesting antagonists, so I hope we move past them by mid-season’s end. There was a lot of talk about Michonne this episode, so you have to figure she will return at some point in the season. Will it involve CRM? It is likely that Rick is with CRM, so we will have to wait and see.
ODDS & EGGS
- Was Gabriel sent to retrieve the rifle? Or was that a byproduct of his errand for Maggie?
- Was the Alexandria sequence just the inhabitants of the one house? Or was the same thing happening all around the town? This season has not made clear the population left.
- How did Maggie plan to carry the food home when she wrecked the only truck?
- Pope was awfully eager to let his men die despite their very limited numbers.
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