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The Walking Dead Season 11 Episode 4 Ending Explained

Contains spoilers for "The Walking Dead" episode "Rendition"

There are a number of storylines playing out on Season 11 of "The Walking Dead" but the most intense is undoubtedly the ongoing confrontation between the Alexandrians and the Reapers. At the end of the two-part season opener, the masked group ambushed Maggie's (Lauren Cohan) mission to her former community of Meridian. Episode 3 followed Maggie, Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who may be getting his own spin-off), and Alden (Callan McAuliffe) as they tried to evade the violent group after being separated from the rest of their party. And in "Rendition," we follow Daryl (Norman Reedus) after he's captured and brought to Reaper HQ.

That setup alone would make for a pulse-pounding episode. But early on in "Rendition," the show drops a huge bombshell on us. The morning after the ambush, Daryl is being stalked by a Reaper, who eventually takes off her mask and reveals herself to be Leah (Lynn Collins). We learned about the existence of Daryl's one-time girlfriend who he shacked up with in the years following Rick's (Andrew Lincoln) disappearance back in the Season 10C episode "Find Me."

The two had an intense relationship built around their mutual grief for lost loved ones. For Daryl, it was Rick, and for Leah, it was a group of people she referred to as her family. Things came to a sudden end one day when Daryl returned from a scouting mission and found Leah's cabin deserted without any indication of where she went. The show left Leah's fate as a mystery that has now been solved. Unfortunately for Daryl, this probably was not the reunion he was hoping for.

Leah's fate is revealed

Even if you didn't have "Leah is a Reaper" on your Season 11 prediction card, when we look back at what we learned about her in Season 10C, there were a few subtle clues.

During "Find Me," Leah tearfully tells Daryl that in pre-pandemic times, she had become like a family with her military squadron. They were weathering the zombie apocalypse together until their camp was besieged by a cataclysmic walker attack, during which Leah became separated from the rest of the group. When Leah described the incident, it sounded like there were many casualties (Leah's son being one of them). Ultimately, though, the show did leave open the possibility that some of her family survived.

In "Rendition," we learn that the family that Leah was describing are the group known to us as the Reapers. She explains to Daryl that when she disappeared from her cabin all those years ago, it was because she had finally been reunited with the Reapers and chose to go back home with them.

There wasn't any reason for viewers to assume that Leah's long-lost family are the Reapers but it's possible that an astute fan may have suspected there was a connection. In the Season 10C premiere, we met one of the Reapers. He was a sniper fully decked out in military gear who remained steely and silent while being interrogated by Maggie. The show never drew a line between this military man and Leah's military squadron family but we now know that her backstory was some very subtle foreshadowing to the reveal in "Rendition."

Daryl is playing a dangerous game

Leah brings Daryl back to the Reaper camp and unfortunately, their prior relationship doesn't afford him many favors. The Reapers want Daryl to spill what he knows about his group so they waterboard him for information, fitting for a community of War on Terror era military contractors.

Like we saw Eugene (Josh McDermitt) do with the Commonwealth interrogators, Daryl maintains that he doesn't know Maggie or the rest of the Alexandrians. He claims that he met them recently and was traveling with them out of convenience, rather than loyalty. The Reapers, however, don't entirely buy this.

After intimidation doesn't work, Leah tries a different approach with Daryl. She visits him in his cell and the two have a heart-to-heart about their failed relationship. She then pleads for him to give her any information he can, otherwise she won't be able to save him from the wrath of the Reapers' leader.

So, Daryl feeds her a story. He identifies Maggie as the leader of the group he was traveling with, but notes that, "They were speaking in code because I was an outsider." It's an effective mix of half-truths and information that sounds more useful than it is, something that Leah can go back to the Reaper's leadership with, but that is unlikely to give them many tactical advantages.

Furthermore, he tells Leah that there is a second battalion of three-dozen fighters waiting to join Maggie's group. The Reapers, meanwhile, only have a little over a dozen members. It gives the Alexandrians an advantage on paper, but the Reapers aren't necessarily a group of people who would be deterred at the prospect of facing overwhelming odds.

What makes the Reapers so fearsome?

The Reapers may be small in numbers but they are obviously strong in spirit. That can be attributed to the group's leadership. The team is headed up by an older man named Pope (Ritchie Coster), who we learn was the leader of the mercenary operation that they all worked for after they left the actual military.

Throughout the episode, we see first hand what an encouraging, yet exacting, leader Pope is. The Reapers do think of each other as family and Pope is certainly a stern father figure for the group. When Daryl finally gets the chance to meet him, he also learns that there is a strong religious aspect to their devotion.

Pope tells Daryl a story about how the Reapers' religious dogma came to be. During a series of bombings after the fall of civilization, Pope's squad took shelter in a church. When the bombings stopped, everything around them was totally incinerated. The church, however, was intact and everyone inside made it out without so much as a burn.

To Pope and his followers, that was a sign from God that they are chosen. This extreme faith makes them all the more terrifying a foe to deal with. If they sincerely believe that are God's chosen ones, then they think of whatever actions they undertake as holy, even if those actions are ransacking and killing a community of innocents like they did at Meridian. The Reapers have a strong conviction that they are in the right to protect themselves and secure resources, which explains their merciless and violent approach to dealing with other communities. It also means they aren't afraid to fight and die for their cause.

Trial by fire

Leah works hard to get Daryl accepted by the Reapers but before Pope will let him in, he subjects him to a trial by fire. Literally.

After being locked in a shed with Leah, Daryl watches in horror as the Reapers pour gasoline under the door and set the building alight. He uses his quick reflexes to pry the boards off one of the windows and is able to get them both to safety. In making it out of the fire without being burned, Daryl has earned his place among the chosen ones. The fact that he helped save Leah, as well, further proves his loyalty to the group in Pope's eyes.

But being accepted into the Reapers doesn't necessarily mean he's free from danger. Later that evening while the group hangs out around a bonfire, Pope accuses one of the Reapers of cowardice during their skirmish with the Alexandrians. After explaining that God uses fire both to baptize and to punish, Pope knocks the man into the bonfire and holds him down while he burns to death. That incinerated walker we saw in the last episode now has a bit more context.

It also means Daryl is in an incredibly precarious position. His standing with the Reapers was gained on the basis of lies and if they are uncovered, there's no doubt he will face Pope's wrath. The Reapers already have one other prisoner from Maggie's group, who thus far has understood Daryl's plan, but there's a chance that the Reapers could break him with their interrogations. And, of course, Maggie and Negan are on their way to confront the Reapers. Will Daryl be able to head them off in time to keep up the charade and be an effective mole on the inside? For better or worse, we'll likely soon find out.