In “The Walking Dead” recap, Daryl finds himself captured by the Reapers and that’s where he runs into a familiar face…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
When “The Walking Dead” returned for several bonus episodes in season 10, there were a couple of truly impactful moments lost amongst several that just felt like a waste of time without much happening.
The two biggest episodes, however, played a major part in shaping the final season of “The Walking Dead’ with Negan’s backstory finally being revealed, which gave a better example of the kind of man he once was before he transformed in the brutal leader of the Saviors. The other major episode involved Daryl’s relationship with a woman named Leah, who met out in the woods while he was living on his own for the better part of five years while searching for Rick Grimes following his supposed death.
Daryl not only made a connection with Leah but it appeared he was ready to leave his friends behind to perhaps start a new life with her. Unfortunately, Daryl decided too late and by the time he made it back to Leah’s cabin, she had already left and he was torn with his hesitancy to be with her and then her subsequent disappearance.
When Daryl encountered Leah, she told him about her military past and how she had been separated from her family. Daryl also ended up with her pocket knife with the initials ‘F.S.’ carved into the handled, which was also reference to a tattoo on her arm that read ‘Fortitudo Salutis,” which the writers from “The Walking Dead” had previously teased would show up again in the series.
That phrase is a Latin translation from the book of Pslams in the bible, which roughly means “O Lord, strength of my salvation, you have protected me on the day of battle.”
That phrase comes up again in the latest episode as Leah is revealed as one of The Reapers — the maniacal group that essentially dismantled Maggie’s entire bunch of survivors while taking a town she had set up as a supply drop for food and weapons. Convinced The Reapers were highly skilled but low on numbers convinced her she could launch an offensive against them and take back the town, which would then help to feed the survivors at Alexandria.
Sadly, Maggie underestimated her enemy and the Reapers laid waste to the survivors with a few deaths and just about everybody suffering some kind of injury. After Maggie, Negan and Alden escaped last week, the latest episode follows Daryl’s journey after the initial ambush as he not only runs into Leah again but he soon meets the leader behind the Reapers and the resolve with which his soldiers follow him.
With that said, let’s get to our recap for “The Walking Dead” season 11, episode 4 titled “Rendition”…
Escape and Capture
Following the initial onslaught launched by the Reapers, Daryl gets separated from the group as he attempts to flee to safety. His attempts to get away work at first until he’s finally surrounded by several members of the Reapers, which forces Dog into action as he attacks one of them to save Daryl.
While the bite works momentarily, the Reaper eventually grabs Dog and tosses him down a hill in the woods, which obviously sends Daryl into a panic as he attacks and evades in order to go after him.
After covering himself in zombie guts, Daryl continues to chase after Dog until he finally hears him barking in the distance. Daryl gives chase but finds that Dog has found someone on his own — a member of the Reapers but there’s no attacking this time.
A moment later Daryl finds out why Dog is so docile because the person under the mask is none other than Leah, who was his original owner before she disappeared. When Dog refuses to heed commands from Daryl, Leah is admittedly surprised because she always thought the animal preferred him to her anyways.
While Daryl is understandably shocked by this reunion, he’s perhaps even more taken back that Leah is so cold to him while more members of her group surround him.
Soon, Daryl is tied up with a bag over his head as he’s taken back to the headquarters where the Reapers are living. The group is demanding details about the people Daryl was with the previous night, but he pretends that he didn’t know them all that way.
Instead, he makes up a story that he was trading with them and got caught up in a fight that he didn’t want.
Of course, Leah knows he’s lying and so does everybody else so Daryl is soon subjected to torture through waterboarding as they attempt to procure information about the survivors who were traveling along with him to Meridan. Daryl refuses to break and eventually Leah gives him a momentary reprieve while warning him that if he refuses to comply, her band of brothers are not going to be kind to him in the end.
Daryl eventually gets dragged back to his cell where he runs into another member of his group, but he keeps up with the charade that he doesn’t know those people as he attempts to give his friends a bit more cover while also trying to gain the trust of the Reapers.
Still, Leah knows that Daryl is holding out some kind of information, no matter how much he’s trying to hide it, and she knows if he doesn’t give it up soon then she’s not going to be the one interrogating him any longer. Leah is then called away after more members of the team return except one of them is dead — a man named Turner died during the fighting and his brothers are none too pleased by this event.
Never mind the fact that the Reapers were attempting to kill Maggie and all of the other survivors, these soldiers are obviously single-minded of purpose when it comes to their own ranks. This also introduces the leader named Pope (played by the criminally underrated Ritchie Coster) and he’s seeking blood for blood as a result of this death.
Into the Fire
With Pope ready to kill, Leah tells Daryl that he has to give up something or she won’t be able to protect him any longer from the wrath of her fellow soldiers. Daryl finally concedes — not really of course — but he tells her that a woman was leading the group but never mentions Maggie. He says there’s a skinny one who never shuts up — obviously referencing Negan but never saying his name. And there’s a priest who carries a shotgun — and that would be Father Gabriel.
He also mentions that they were headed to meet three dozen more of their fighters, which means the Reapers with 15 soldiers are vastly outnumbered. Again, Daryl doing his best to hand over information while still protecting his friends.
Leah then reports this information back to Pope, who seems somewhat suspicious about the information while also fully understanding that she had a prior connection with him. Of course, Leah says those feelings died after she reconnected with her “family” but that doesn’t mean Daryl couldn’t be useful to them.
She vouches for trusting him but Pope wants to put Daryl to the test to see what he’s made of.
After being pulled out of a prison cell and placed a random building, Daryl finds himself reunited with Leah once again as she frees him from the restraints but as she goes to leave the room, the door is locked. A moment later, gasoline starts to flood in from under the door and then a flame is lit as the whole room is set ablaze.
Daryl leaps into action to break open a window that’s been boarded up while Leah tries to survive the smoke and fire. After finally breaking through, Daryl helps Leah escape before he jumps out of the window where he’s greeted by Pope and the rest of the Reapers.
The burning building was a test for Daryl and he passed with flying colors.
With that, Pope invites Daryl into their ranks while Leah reveals that she was part of this entire scheme to find out if he could be trusted as well as knowing if he could be useful to them. They salute him with the “Fortitudo Salutis” and welcome him as a brother.
Later that night, Daryl ends up in a room all alone with Pope where he reveals the origins behind the Reapers.
It seems this particular unit of soldiers once served on the battlefields in Afghanistan but after their tour was finished, they were sent back home without much more than a pat on the back. That’s when Pope and his team became a group of contracted soldiers for hire — some might call them mercenaries — but they got the job done.
When the world fell apart, Pope’s team was once again called upon by the United States to help save the day and the things they saw out in the world was beyond anything previously witnessed during war. But once again, the government abandoned Pope and his team when a last ditch effort to stave off the zombie apocalypse included dropping bombs across America no matter how many soldiers or civilians became collateral damage.
Despite bombs falling from the sky and the world being set on fire, Pope and his team somehow found refuge in a small church and they survived without a scratch on them. That convinced Pope that this must be a sign from God that he and his men walked through fire and came out clean on the other side.
Pope saw Daryl exhibit the same traits by not only rescuing Leah before escaping himself but he came away from that fire without a single burn on his body. That’s all the evidence that Pope needs to know Daryl is one of them.
He then offers Daryl some food as they go back outside and rejoin the rest of the group at dinner.
There, Pope hands Daryl a plate with food while he turns his attention to another member of the group named Bossie. It seems Bossie was the one responsible for carrying Turner on his back for nearly 10 miles to ensured he got home to his brothers in arms.
There’s only one problem — Bossie’s only wounds are on his back, which wouldn’t be possible if he had been fighting to save Turner until his death. That means, Bossie was running away at the time he was wounded and that’s not how the soldiers under Pope’s commands are expected to perform.
He reminds Bossie that the Reapers don’t run — even in the face of certain death.
Pope then tells his team that God tests them through a baptism of fire but he can also use the flames as punishment — and with that he tosses Bossie into the fire. As Bossie’s skin begins to blister and boil from the inside while he’s screaming in pain, Pope preaches to his team while Daryl watches in horror.
“We are the chosen ones. We run into the battle. We run into the fire. Always.”
Daryl may be doing his best to prove his worth to the Reapers in order to gain their trust and hopefully help his friends survive but he just learned crossing Pope can result in a fate worse than death.
Will Daryl be able to pull Leah out of this group and return to his friends in Alexandria before anyone else gets killed? Will he have to prove himself to Pope on the battlefield before truly earning his trust? We’ll find out when “The Walking Dead” returns for a brand new episode next Sunday night at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.