Well, the good news is Dog is still okay. The bad news is, Daryl is the one in some trouble. After spending plenty of time with Maggie and Negan last week, “Rendition” finds The Walking Dead setting up the big bad for at least this portion of the final season. It took a little torture before Daryl was finally able to meet him, but here we are with a leader of the Reapers, and it’s not exactly a group I want to volunteer for.
I’ll be curious what the reaction is to Pope. There’s nothing wrong with Ritchie Coster’s performance as the character. The lack of a comic book origin makes it all the easier to connect with, given the lack of anything to base this guy on. Really, it comes down to whether or not he seems too familiar to our past villains. As of now, this is a guy who clearly understands how to strategize and lead. He’s intimidating and intelligent, with a group of trained mercenaries who also know their asses from their elbows.
If Pope has an advantage, it’s that he’s been heading down this deadly road for a long time, like before the world ended. Compared to other groups of evil that seemed to be ordinary people who rallied around someone seemingly more charismatic and cunning enough to hold onto power, Pope is a guy who can lead and make it work with the people he has working for him. All of this is a plus, but do you get the feeling I’m building to something else?
Well, you’re kind of right. As of now, I don’t know what to expect with this. Most of the options for how I see this playing out feel like riffs on what we’ve seen already. It’s not as though Daryl is about to convert to Reaperism or whatever, so he’s just a guy gathering intel and waiting for an opportunity. Does that sound familiar? It should. Negan has done it. Even Eugene has done it. What else can this show do? Well, I’ll be happy to find out.
However, there is one wrinkle. Daryl’s ex-sorta-girlfriend Leah (Lynn Collins) is apparently a reaper. If my speculation is correct, these season 11 episodes were in the works (or at least outlined) before the bonus season 10 episodes, so it’s actually neat that we already have the backstory. It at least makes this episode less of a bore when trying to find ways to make a pure Daryl adventure continually interesting.
Not that Norman Reedus doesn’t deliver, but I’ve seen episodes of him being torture before. At least here, in addition to learning about the Reapers, we are dealing with conflicting feelings Daryl has over how to get out of this situation and if Leah is actually going to mean something for his character or the show in the long run.
Really, there’s only so much to dig into, given the straightforward plot that is presented. Waterboarding aside, the episode takes a few stops to hear some nicely acted monologues that fill in a few gaps as to what these people are about. Daryl finding ways to lie about his situation is neat. Since everyone seems to be aware that no one is entirely on the level, I can only imagine the ramifications of all of this. That said, setting fire to a building that also contains one of your closest disciples can’t be the most effective choice when things eventually get heavy for all involved.
- Zombie Kill of the Week: Wait, was there a zombie kill this week? Let’s just assume Daryl did something cool during his night looking for Dog.
- Yeah, this is a shorter write-up than I expected too. When there’s only one main character to deal with, there’s only so much to say.
- I also see this as a week of setup more than anything.
- Does Pope have a real end game in all of this? He certainly talks plenty, but what does a win for him look like?
- Does Leah add anything to all of this? Daryl obviously has conflicted feelings, but is she due to be a new Alexandrian at some point? Signs point to no.
- “God’s here, and he’s angry.” – Yeah, that’s not the kind of thing you want to mess with.
- “Chosen ones.” – Seriously, religiously driven mercenaries sound like the worst.
- That was a pretty severe burning, wasn’t it? Even Negan held back for mere mutilations.
- Thanks for reading, and feel free to hear what me and a few other fans of the show have to say about the series on The Walking Dead TV Podcast.