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The Walking Dead 11.04 Review – ‘Rendition’

September 13, 2021 | Posted by Katie Hallahan
The Walking Dead 11-4
7.5
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The Walking Dead 11.04 Review – ‘Rendition’  

This week on The Walking Dead, Daryl accidentally joins a cult!

The plot: After the attack, Daryl and Dog escape into the woods and find some buildings, complete the QTE to distract the guard, fight some Reapers and are separated. Daryl wanders through to the next morning and finds dog sitting with a Reaper who reveals herself to be Leah, his supposedly lost love! Leah’s missing family turns out to be the Reapers, however, and they found her again, hence why she vanished from that cabin. He’s captured and interrogated quite aggressively, but repeatedly claims he had only known this group for a week after crossing paths with them and trading. Another person from the group is there, but Daryl manages to get him to play along with the story. Leah tries to tell their leader, Pope, that Daryl could be useful to them but this only really works once Daryl gives them some vague information about who the leaders are and their numbers. Soon after, Daryl and Leah are trapped in a building that’s lit on fire intentionally and barely manage to get out–only to find that this was Daryl’s ‘rebirth’ of sorts and his initiation into the group. He has a sit down with Pope, who talks about the group’s time in Afghanistan, his faith wavering after the Fall, and then a miraculous night that revived his faith and made him believe his people are the Chosen Ones. At a bonfire meal after this, Pope suspects that one of them, Bossie, who carried a fallen brother back with him, may have run from the fight that killed the other, and shoves him into the fire, holding him down until he’s dead, declaring they always run into battle and into the fire.

I suspected when Leah mentioned having been in the military and the Reapers were shown to be somewhat military that she would end up being one of them, and sure enough, here we are! And we now see that the religious aspect of the group that was hinted at last week is a very big deal here indeed. It’s…wow. Well. The survivors have faced fanatics of varying kinds before, but never ones quite lik> this, much less ones with the advanced military training and experience like these folks have. The Reapers, and Pope, are not going to go down easily.

While he's clearly dangerous in a number of ways, though, Pope is fascinating and has charisma, alright. His portrayal by Richard Coster is excellent, compelling, vicious, delivered with an utmost conviction. I don't know how much we're going to see of Pope–I originally had the feeling the Reapers would be around a few episodes and then gone, but he's being introduced with a lot of focus and screentime, so maybe he'll be around longer than that! Which I'm currently all for. His conversation with Daryl about faith, his military experience and everything he saw through it, the bonds he formed with the others, and how he became this wrathful zealot is unique among the characters we've encountered before on TWD. I like the contrast of him against Daryl, who says very little given that this episode is entirely his. Daryl calming saying he doesn't believe in God, then saying nothing to contradict this clearly dangerous man was great. I don't expect Daryl to convert or even to start believing in the wake of this, but I just enjoy their opposing demeanors a lot. I look forward to this guy contrast with many of the cast, but most of all I can't wait to see him and Gabriel throwdown about God and wrath and whatnot.

And it’s notable that Daryl resists this torture, gets a corroboration from the other guy (sorry, I could not figure out who the other captive was, if you could, let me know in the comments!), and convincingly sells the lie to everyone there, including Leah and Pope. He’s smart and he’s tough, which we know, but these are also people who aren’t–or shouldn’t be–easy to convince. They clearly have plenty of experience torturing and breaking people. The zealotry and fixation on physical valor and toughness blinds them to some things, I think. Though Pope says the fire wasn’t the only step to joining their group, the fact that Daryl survived unscathed and got Leah out unharmed as well–and got her out first–speaks volumes to him. At the same time, this group is interesting in how it values many of the same qualities our survivors do, but they twist them into this violent zealotry.

There are still a lot of questions unanswered, though. If the Reapers are the Chosen Ones, what are they Chosen for, exactly? Pope talks a lot about running into battle and having done dirty work for others before, but it’s unclear what their goal is. They’ve got this settlement, Meridian, locked down with only about 15 people, and Maggie’s told us that they kind of obsessively burn and kill everything and everyone they come across. The Reaper who blew himself up at the end of Season 10 said essentially that once Pope has his sites on someone, he tracked them down and took them out. But why? To what end? They aren’t exactly preaching their good word of being forged in fire here, nor do they seem to be the types to stay in one place. Are they literally aiming to burn it all down, the whole damn world?

And then there’s Leah. Where will her loyalties ultimately lie? While she obviously grew close with Daryl in their time together, trust is slow with her. She mentions that it was Pope who found her again, not vice versa, and I wonder if, had Daryl been with her when that happened, she would’ve stayed with him or gone with Pope again. It doesn’t seem she left them by choice but got separated, but I think this guy takes deserters lightly. As we see, even a potential, unconfirmed display of what might have been a totally understandable instinct to run when facing death leads to him brutally killing one of his own men. There’s some real Targaryen-fire obsession going on with Pope! Seems like whatever Leah might have wanted to do, leaving with him once found was the smart call for her survival. Still, while Daryl knew she had a military background, she’s never come off as violent or reactionary, or even religious. She’s loyal to Pope and her found family, but how much does she actually believe in this Chosen One business? It’s hard to read her look at the end. Is she unperturbed by what’s happened? Does she agree with Pope, she’s just more even-keeled about it? Or is she uneasy with what’s going on but, like Daryl, smart enough to not let it show in front of the others?

I’m not sure, and I’m not sure where I want her to land on that scale either. I’m not a big fan of her and Daryl as a couple. They’re not my ship, so to speak. I prefer Daryl sans romantic entanglements, though I did like his growing relationship with Connie and wouldn’t mind more of that.

The Reapers, however! I know exactly what I think of them and it’s Bad News! What about you? What do you think of Pope? Of Leah, now that she’s returned as one of them? What side will she pick when it comes down to it? And what else might Daryl be forced into while he’s among the Reapers? Sound off in the comments and see you next week!

7.5
The final score: review Good
The 411
A solid focus episode; exploring this new group with Daryl was the only way give us this inside look, thanks to his connection with Leah. I enjoyed getting to meet Pope, a great job by Richard Coster with this role, and the group's threat level is well-established through what we've already seen of them in fights. I wasn't sure at points how interested I was in the Reapers, I admit, but after this episode, yeah, I'd like to learn more!
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The Walking Dead, Katie Hallahan