So far, The Walking Dead season 11 has taken us all over the place. From Alexandria to the huge new community called the Commonwealth, there are so many places to explore. Episode 4, “Rendition,” takes us deep inside enemy territory as Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Dog are captured by the Reapers.
That’s right, “Rendition” is exclusively a Daryl-and-Dog episode. Unlike the previous installments this season, there’s no subplot. We’re stuck with Daryl for the entire duration, but that’s not a bad thing. Norman Reedus shines on his own, delivering a superb performance as Daryl finds himself in the harshest of environments.
The Walking Dead: What is “Rendition” about?
This episode begins during the Reaper attack from “Hunted,” only now we switch perspectives to follows Daryl and Dog. While other members of the group manage to escape, Daryl is captured and taken deep into Reaper territory, all the way to their home, Meridian, where he meets an old friend.
Before we get into the details, here’s your SPOILER warning.
Daryl is captured by the Reapers
Something I’ve enjoyed since the Reapers were introduced is how mysterious they’ve been. It helps that they weren’t involved in the comic books; they are completely original to the show. Throughout a lot of “Hunted,” we heard them more than saw them. And when they did show up, they were wearing masks.
“Rendition” is basically a formal introduction to the Reapers. We learn who they are, get a look at their base, and meet their leader Pope (Ritchie Coster). The Reaper who captures Daryl provides the first twist because it’s Leah (Lynn Collins). She was the lady Daryl fell for in the season 10 episode “Find Me.” She was the original owner of Dog and now is revealed to be a key figure among the Reapers. It’s a nice little twist, albeit completely predictable.
Leah is pretty much the only reason Daryl isn’t killed on the spot. Instead, she leads him into Meridian, where he’s put in a cell. He’s tortured by way of waterboarding and forced to give them information about Alexandria. Daryl cleverly deflects their questions, giving inaccurate answers. He makes it seem like he doesn’t know much about Alexandria.
One thing I liked was how Daryl goes through the whole interrogation process with a kind of nonchalance. He’s been in this situation so many times before — both as the prisoner and the interrogator — and he’s pretty much an expert as to how these things go down.
Daryl and Leah
Throughout the episode, it’s evident that Leah is very much on the side of the Reapers. Despite that, you don’t get the feeling that she’s necessarily against Daryl. She convinces Pope that Daryl could be a good asset. It’ll be interesting to see what she does with Daryl now back in her life.
Who were the Reapers on The Walking Dead?
This episode pulls back the curtain on the Reapers. For instance, we now know that they don’t have anywhere near the numbers of Alexandria or the Commonwealth. However, before the apocalypse they were military in Afghanistan, and after that essentially worked as mercenaries. They’re all battle-hardened soldiers, and their experience could count for a lot if they’re tested against more numerous foes.
As for their leader, Pope, he looks to be a fantastic villain (with an awesome mustache). He’s highly religious, driven by God. He uses his religious views as a means to do bad. He could be seen as the opposite of Father Gabriel; the Reapers seem a bit like a cult, not unlike Teddy’s group in season 6 of Fear the Walking Dead.
“Baptism by fire”
Pope’s way of bringing Daryl into the Reapers is quite strange: he locks him in a room with Leah and sets it on fire. Because apparently, the best way to initiate someone is to try to kill them and see if they survive. In Daryl’s case, he gets out quite easily, which essentially means he’s now a Reaper. Is it a good idea to immediately trust someone you just tried to kill? We’ll see.
Later on, when the group is having their evening meal, Pope shows how brutal he really is. When he realizes that a member of the group isn’t pulling his weight, he throws him into the fire. He reiterates that the Reapers must always face the enemy and never run away from their “brothers and sisters.”
Again, this shows how brutal Pope is, but it might not be the best move; the Reapers don’t have huge numbers, so even losing one person could hurt them.
“Rendition” puts Daryl in an interesting position for the rest of the season. Having lied about who he really is, he’s still managed to become a Reaper. Not only that, but he has Leah, who’s a potential love interest, with him. This sets up the possibility for him to destroy the Reapers from the inside. Whether Leah is prepared to join him remains to be seen.
Pope is already a terrifying villain. He’s hard to predict and unafraid to turn against his own men if they don’t play by his rules.
Overall, this episode provides some fantastic insight into a new group of villains. Between Alexandria, the Commonwealth, and the Reapers, this season is shaping up nicely!