The Walking Dead season 11, episode 4 recap
Like “Find Me”, “Rendition” is also Daryl-focused, and like “Hunted” last week, it’s also largely predicated on the relationship between two people.
But Daryl’s beau, Leah, turns out to actually be a Reaper, so rather than taking away from the overarching plot this latest installment is able to pull double-duty, both character and plot-focused.
There are some obvious logical leaps designed to get everyone into position — we’re basically redoing Negan’s infiltration of the Whisperers — but the quasi-romantic angle is compelling and the Reapers’ leader, Pope (Ritchie Coster), is clearly unhinged enough to be a threat, even if his God-bothering cult leader vibe hardly strikes as new.
But that religiosity is the big takeaway from the entire Reaper setup. After a brief scuffle out in the woods, Daryl is separated from Dog and left alone, though quickly runs into both Dog and Leah, and finds himself a captive.
His angle is that he isn’t part of the larger group that the Reapers have been chasing. When he was shacked up with Leah he had been living alone in the woods, so this isn’t a ridiculous claim. But it means that Daryl has to deny all knowledge of his friends, instead tactically drip-feeding vague suggestions about their leadership — and exaggerated their size — in order to gain Leah’s trust.
He doesn’t break under waterboarding, at least in part because Leah cuts the torture short, and keeps up the ruse while imprisoned alongside one of Maggie’s people.
All the while, “Rendition” makes oblique reference to “the one we answer to”, though it hardly keeps Pope sidelined for long.
Having bought into Daryl’s story, Leah recommends that he sticks around and becomes a fully-fledged member of the Reapers, which Pope seems surprisingly agreeable to, albeit after a test that involves dragging Daryl to a shack and setting the place on fire with him and Leah both inside to see how he responds.
Still evidently being smitten, he saves Leah before himself, which means he passes the test. Baptized by the fire, Daryl is inducted into the ranks of the Reapers, which earns him a brief but backstory-heavy meeting with Pope.
Information is still pretty thin on the ground. The Reapers were once soldiers who, after experiencing profound physical and psychological losses in Afghanistan before returning home to a country they could no longer assimilate into, turned to lucrative though morally questionable mercenary work.
This continued until the end of the world, “The Fall”, as Pope describes it, and at some point between then and now he went bananas, coming to believe that the Reapers are God’s soldiers, doing holy work. Daryl remains understandably unconvinced.
But Pope is evidently not to be trifled with. Outside, while the group eats and enjoys each other’s company, Pope starts to proselytize, and you just know he’s going to do something crazy.
Lo and behold, he does. Given one of their number has recently died, he’s especially antsy and suspicious about the soldier who carried him — his “brother” — ten miles on his back. That back is injured, and by Pope’s logic, the only way one’s back gets injured is by turning it towards the enemy.
This isn’t the Reaper way, of course, so Pope throws the guy into the fire and holds him face-down underfoot until he dies in melting agony. It looks like Daryl is going to have some acting to do.
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