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The Dog Theory That Has The Walking Dead Fans Worried About Daryl

Contains spoilers for "The Walking Dead" Season 11, Episode 2

The big hero of the second episode of the final season of "The Walking Dead" is the latest in a long line of supremely useful post-apocalyptic companions. 

Sure, Daryl (Norman Reedus) helps save (most of) his friends from a horde of walkers on a subway car, but without Dog, he never would have been in a position to do so. From Mad Max's blue heeler in "The Road Warrior" to Dogmeat in Fallout to Kojak in "The Stand," plenty of dogs have made themselves invaluable to people trying to survive after the collapse of civilization. "Post-Apocalyptic Dog" even earned its own page on TV Tropes, which has dozens of additional examples.

The "Walking Dead" franchise's goodest boy is no exception, as he helps the gang as they navigate the subway tunnels of the Washington D.C. metro system, but some fans are wondering whether Daryl's companion might still be somebody else's best friend, and whether that's going to spell disaster for Daryl later in the season.

Why fans think Dog may lead Daryl back to its original owner

In the Season 10 bonus episode "Find Me," audiences learn that when Daryl first met Dog, his owner was Leah (Lynn Collins), a former soldier apparently living by herself in the woods. Dog leads Daryl to Leah's cabin during his period in the wilderness, and the pair strike up the sort of relationship you might expect from two hard-bitten survivors meeting cute in the deep apocalypse.

But after the pair get into an argument, Daryl returns to the cabin to find Leah gone and the place trashed, with only Dog left behind. Dog has been by his side ever since, but some fans are convinced that Dog's ultimate purpose is to get Daryl into trouble by leading him back to Leah. "It's also gonna be used as a huge plot device when Daryl finally meets up with Leah again, Dog's real owner," wrote u/SRVIsGod24 on Reddit. "Since it appears that she's a Reaper."

While it's not been confirmed that Leah is a member of the Reapers, fans are pretty convinced she is by the promotional materials that have been put out for Season 11. Showrunner Angela Kang told Entertainment Weekly that the series wasn't done with Leah yet back in March. There are photos of a female Reaper wearing a mask standing with Dog, and images of a masked Reaper in trailers that are believed to be Leah. What's more, episode descriptions make it clear that Daryl and Dog will be in Reaper custody before the end of this eight-episode block.

Why fans are frustrated with The Walking Dead's Dog

Given Dog's penchant for running off and Daryl's habit of chasing after him, fans think that's how the pair will come to get captured. But even if that doesn't turn out to be the case, the Redditors have complaints about how Dog is being used this season, as a too convenient narrative shortcut to get Daryl in places where it turns out he needs to be. Call it canis ex machina.

"Not a big fan of bringing a dog into the 'cast' as is," wrote u/Jack-The-Stripper. "I feel like it's just going to be used as a cheap writing technique to get Daryl into sticky situations, and then of course lead to a tear jerking death later in the season."

As u/driftw00d pointed out, first Dog led Daryl to the paintings by the people who lived in the tunnels, then to the gun and the grenade that would prove handy later, then to the backside of the train car where his companions are under siege from a whole horde of walkers. "They just used Dog as an all knowing narrator type character and people overlook the silliness because, look, cute good boy doggo," u/driftw00d wrote.

Fans will have to stay tuned to Season 11 to see whether Dog will continue to save the day, or doom Daryl at the hands of the Reapers.