For Honor. For Family. For Darkseid.
The episode begins with the Reapers observing a walker herd just milling about. Pope asks Daryl if he’s ever seen rotters move around like that before, which Daryl confirms that he has. No reason given, though. Carver suggests mowing down the herd, like the Reapers did at a hospital in Rockville. Pope accepts Daryl’s suggestion of leading the herd away, but he assigns it to another Reaper, Paul Wells, played by Robert Hayes.
Wells does indeed lead away some of the herd, but then more walkers appear from the forest. He starts taking a few out, before two walkers catch him off guard and stab him, leaving him to be devoured by the herd. With the walkers distracted, two masked walkers move onward…
Meanwhile, it’s literally a dark and stormy night at the Alexandria Safe Zone. The residents board up as many windows and doors as they can, but one door is rotted to the point where the wind could blow it open. In fact, that’s exactly what happens because Mother Nature has a sense of humor.
Leah continues trying to radio Wells, but gets no response. Pope figures that Wells is already dead, not because of the rotters, but because she killed him. Indeed, she has returned. Leah is livid that Pope would send Wells out as bait, but as far as Pope is concerned, God decided Wells’ fate. But God didn’t send Wells out- Pope did. Well, that is true.
Pope notes that Leah has had a lot to say since her boyfriend showed up, so he offers her the floor if she has something else to say. She doesn’t. Wells may have been a brother to Leah, but he was a son to Pope. The enemy is close, and Pope promises that they will not escape this time.
Aaron informs some of the others in Alexandria about the storm’s damage so far. One of the wall’s panels has been blown down, and there’s a fire. How lovely. The plan is to divide into three groups: one will handle the wall, one will handle the fire, and the last will protect the others. Rosita volunteers for that last group because she’s a lazy ass.
Despite just getting back, Connie volunteers to go with Carol. You know, because that worked out so well last time. Okay, so Kelly will be joining them, leaving Magna and a weary Virgil to go with Aaron. Since Rosita will obviously need all the help she can get, Virgil relents and opts to stay behind to protect the others.
Judith wants to go with Carol, saying that she’s not scared, even though she was just cowering with the kids a few minutes ago. Either way, Carol wants Judith to stay behind and help the kids feel less afraid.
Of what? Have they never experienced a thunderstorm before? Anyway, Aaron tells Gracie he can’t stay behind because it wouldn’t be fair of him to ask someone to do something that he could do himself. Hard to argue with that.
While the Reapers continue the search for their enemy, Daryl confirms to Pope that he didn’t travel with Maggie for long. Pope wonders why he keeps Daryl, and he tells the story of a dog that he found on the side of the road. He was starving, but the thing about rescue dogs is that they don’t trust. Pope would reach for the dog- named Tick since he was a Bluetick hound- but Tick couldn’t decide whether to lick or bite Pope’s hand.
Pope has nothing to worry about since Daryl won’t lick him, but Pope doesn’t want to be bitten, either. Tick did, and Pope strangled him as a result. Well, that’s disappointing. Leah brings up that Daryl is an excellent tracker, and Daryl admits that this woman is a great shot. So that’s probably how she took out Wells. Since she’s good with a bow and arrow, Daryl suggests they keep their eyes towards the trees.
The three head up to see the herd has returned. Pope laughs upon realizing that his enemy has turned the dead against the living. The Reapers’ gate is strong, but the walkers won’t get that far because of the landmines.
Time for a mini-episode of Rugrats. While Stu makes chocolate pudding and the others board up the windows, Gracie laments that she’s not more like Judith, as in never afraid. But Judith’s learned to use her fear, like how you can run and fight faster when you’re scared.
Virgil tells Judith that her mother would be proud of her, though he has no idea where she went. Judith, like the rest of us, wishes her mother was here. But Virgil sees Michonne in Judith based on how she fights and teaches the other kids to believe in themselves.
Gracie stupidly practices her sword swings in front of a window, giving a walker the perfect opportunity to grab her. Judith slices off the walker’s hand and stabs it in the face. The others realize that there must be another breach, so they decide to radio Carol.
I mean, after “No Way Out,” a herd breaching Alexandria should be nothing.
Back with the Reapers, Pope asks if Leah blames him for the people they’ve lost. He reminds her that they’re going through tribulations right now. Every war has its sacrifices. It’s why they were chosen in the first place: they didn’t run from the fire, and they for damn sure don’t run from their enemies. The Reapers who have been lost did not die in vain. Rather, it shows that they are still worthy.
Daryl spots two walkers- nay, Whisperers- moving away from the explosions. Indeed, Maggie and Gabriel make their way to one side of the wall while Daryl tells another Reaper that Pope told him to walk the perimeter. He offers the Reaper a cigarette, but when he “drops” his matches, he uses the distraction to stab the Reaper in the head.
He drops the body over the wall and directs Maggie and Gabriel on which way to go. He then picks the lock off of one of the doors.
Elijah and Negan, meanwhile, are in the middle of the herd, catching a bit of shrapnel when a landmine goes off not far from them.
Daryl returns to the others, but Leah tells him that he won’t need his arrows since the walkers are scattering. However, Pope knows that their enemy never gives up. He wants the wall secured, while Leah is to ready the hwacha.
Okay, I can buy these guys having landmines, but where the hell did they find a hwacha? They had to have built it, right?
Anyway, Maggie and Gabriel breach the wall and go over their plan. Once Gabriel arrives at his destination, he’s to wait for Maggie’s signal. Once they get the food, they can leave.
Rosita decides to be a badass. That or the spirit of Michonne decided to take over. With the door not holding up well, she quickly rushes out and takes down a handful of walkers before returning inside. She suggests that everyone stay away from the windows. Probably a good idea.
Leah and another Reaper unveil the hwacha, which looks like it has enough rockets to level every walker in sight. Daryl then apologizes to Leah for Wells’ death, but she blames herself for not protecting her people. At least, they used to protect one another. Leah knows how it sounds when Pope says that God chose them, but when they had nothing, Pope gave them something to hold onto.
More than that, they’re alive now because they believed in it. As for now, it doesn’t matter whether Leah believes, but it does matter to Daryl. Leah asks if Daryl ever thinks about what it’d be like if they never left that cabin, and he does. It’s hard to watch someone you care about change, she says. Not to mention when they’re hurting other people that you care about.
With the hwacha ready, Pope radios that he’s on his way. Daryl admits to Leah that there are people down there, walking among the dead. His people, and they’re here for the food that Pope took from them. They and their families will starve without it, so Daryl pleads with Leah to not let them die like this. Shut up, Daryl! I wanna see this hwacha in action!
Leah is crestfallen that Daryl lied to her, but he did it to protect his people. Pope doesn’t have to know any of this if Leah comes with Daryl.
Pope arrives for the moment of reckoning. Leah informs him that she and Daryl were just talking about family, which is the only real thing they have left in this world. Pope then tells Daryl that when this is over, he wants him to bring the woman to him.
This woman, meanwhile, heads into one of the Reapers’ vehicles. Finding no keys, Maggie hotwires it and gets it going before a Reaper can stop her. She speeds off and throws herself from the truck just as the vehicle crashes into the wall, bringing down one of the panels.
Carver radios to Pope that the enemy is inside the walls. Pope orders one of the Reapers to aim the hwacha at the courtyard, but Leah pleads with him to reconsider. After all, their people are down there, so they can just be called back. But Pope is confident that God will protect them. If he doesn’t? Then it’s their time to die. They will win this not their way, but Pope’s way. The Lord speaks through him, after all.
Gabriel should’ve been consulted on this.
Before Daryl can attack, Leah stabs Pope, while Daryl kills the other Reaper and gets rid of the lit fuse. Damn it, Walking Dead! Don’t introduce a rocket launcher and then not use it!
Maggie rushes through the compound and gets some help from Gabriel and the sniper rifle that he found. I guess it’s a good thing that he’s only got one good eye.
Leah delivers the killing blow to Pope, but refuses to leave with Daryl. Instead, she radios to the others that Dixon killed Pope. When asked why she did that, Leah tells Daryl that he forgot what mattered: not war, but her people. Just like Daryl, Leah will do anything to protect her family.
Daryl flees just as others arrive. Leah instructs Carver to close the gate. After that, they’re gonna kill everything inside these walls.
Oh, good. We may see the hwacha used after all.
Back in Alexandria, the walkers continue banging on the walls. The survivors can’t radio Aaron and the others because it’s more important to secure the walls and put out the fire. Okay, so Lydia suggests everyone heading upstairs while some hold off the dead. Everyone heads upstairs, but Gracie is in the basement. Judith joins her to see that the water is pouring in through the windows.
But Gracie’s down here because she wanted a weapon like Judith and Rosita have.
She gets half of a mop. Or a broom. I can’t really tell. They head back upstairs, but walkers are already streaming in, so they’re forced to retreat to the flooding basement.
Kids are stupid.
You know who isn’t stupid? The Reapers, because they fall back at Leah’s order. Negan is initially overjoyed, but then Maggie sees a woman standing atop the wall.
Indeed, Leah watches from above next to the reignited hwacha. The rockets fire into the courtyard as the episode comes to a close.
Trust our survivors to learn a thing or two from their enemies. For how much Season 10C and Season 11 have built up the Reapers, it’s a shame that we lose Pope in this episode. The Reapers had potential to be an interesting group of antagonists who see themselves as the chosen survivors. Leaning into that angle could’ve been nice, but we don’t get that.
I think a lot of that has to do with us only spending time with Leah and Pope. The rest of the Reapers are just cannon fodder. You could argue that there’s more intrigue with the Reapers being shrouded in mystery, kind of like most of the Wolves were. I’d agree, but the show didn’t take that angle. Plus, with Leah being one of them, we have somewhat of a connection to that group due to Daryl’s connection to Leah.
So there’d be no point in making the Reapers mysterious, because why have Leah among them? Sticking with Leah, I’m curious about where she goes from here. She and Daryl could never have worked. Not under these circumstances. Both care about their families, so they can’t be together without abandoning the people they love. So they’re just incompatible due to their separate loyalties.
That approach I like, and there’s conflict to be had. Leah at least gives Daryl enough of a headstart to get the hell out of there because she doesn’t want to kill him. At least not yet. But she’s seen how far, in her eyes, Pope has fallen. He’s not gunning down his people, like the Governor did, but he sees his people as expendable. They’re in a war, and as he says, war has sacrifices.
Pope is off the deep end, but he hasn’t lost his mind. He’s just too deep into his beliefs. At the very least, I appreciate that he’s fighting for something, even if his principles are twisted. He’s not just doing it because he can, like Negan of the past would. If someone on his team dies, then it was their turn to die. Not because he sent them out and they wound up killed by the enemy. No. God ordained their death sentence.
You see how demented it sounds when saying it out loud? It’s madness, but again, he keeps it all in check. He only starts raving when it’s time to break out the heavy artillery. He doesn’t sense disloyalty among everyone. Yeah, he questions Leah’s loyalty, but only because she’s been more vocal as of recent. Plus, he barely knows Daryl, so it makes sense that he’d be suspicious of his motivations.
Though I will say that’s a crying fucking shame that now we won’t get a scene between Pope and Maggie. We won’t learn more about why Pope has it out for her, or what else there is to their history. Why did he have her marked? That could have been interesting to watch, but we’ll never get it.
I’ll say this about the Reapers: as much as the show dropped the ball on making them interesting, they’re at least shown to be skilled fighters. Had Gabriel not intervened, Maggie probably wouldn’t have made it out alive. Them having landmines makes sense since so many of them were soldiers. I question them having a hwacha because that seems like overkill, but hey, they’re in a war. Might as well pull out all the stops.
But on that, smart of the survivors to use the Whisperers’ tactics against their new enemies. “Evolution” showed how these characters were thrown off by people dressing up as the dead. If it worked well for them, why not use it against the Reapers? It just makes sense, even though Maggie and company put themselves in the line of fire in the process. But you knew they were never in any real danger.
Same goes for the folks in Alexandria. Again, after “No Way Out,” walkers invading Alexandria should be a cake walk, even with a thunderstorm. I don’t know what the hell the show was trying to do with Rosita. Yeah, she kicks ass, but she’s not Rick or Michonne levels of badass. So why she got that big, quick action moment is beyond me.
Was it just for us to get a glimpse of how Michonne would’ve done this? Was it Rosita’s fight-or-flight response kicking in? I get that she’s got a baby to protect, but I didn’t buy that from her. Carol, maybe. She’s at least done enough badass stuff in her tenure on the show. What’s Rosita done? Somehow best Dante in a fight? Get vomited on by Eugene?
I’m so sorry to remind you of that.
Even though I’m not the biggest fan of the stuff with the kids, I appreciate seeing Judith turn into a leader. She has shades of Rick and Michonne in her and has taken on a big role, despite still having a lot of growing up to do. Like the adults, she’s gotta be responsible for keeping these kids alive. Gracie, for example, could’ve easily gotten herself bitten.
Side-note, I find it odd, but not out of character, that Connie would want to accompany Carol. Considering it’s Carol’s fault that Connie went missing in the first place, anyway. Maybe Connie wants to show that there’s no hard feelings, which would be good news for Carol, but least Kelly will be there as well.
So this is where we’re left for the third third of The Walking Dead’s final season. Some interesting things done with the Reapers, but the show doesn’t go as far with them it could have been. Pope’s death rules out any chance we get a confrontation with Maggie, so all that buildup and history is out the window. Though maybe Leah will take over Pope’s role as the leader.
I assume we’ll check in on the Commonwealth when we return to see how that situation resolves itself. For now, there are fireworks in the air as the first third of The Walking Dead’s final season comes to a close. See you all sometime next year for the continuation of Season 11.