Rendition could have only worked with Daryl, one of two characters that absolutely doesn’t need the focus of any spotlight episodes in the final season of The Walking Dead.
You know the drill by now. Daryl and Carol storylines don’t matter as they have to survive in order to make it to their spinoff of even less suspense and drama. Throw Rosita or (checks notes of long-ish term characters that matter)…Yumiko or Magna in this episode and it could have been pretty memorable.
But no, it doesn’t matter what happens here tonight. No one’s readying their collar shirts and pitchforks for a riot. Daryl is in no danger of dying no matter the predicament.
Back to where we started from two weeks ago with the Reapers mowing down everyone from Maggie’s party with arrows, axes and any other weapon that starts with the letter A. Daryl and Dog get separated from the others and Daryl loses track of Dog.
This seems hard to do since Dog is not exactly the silent ninja of this duo. Fast forward again through any nighttime suspense to Daryl deciding it makes sense to throw on a little walker guts on the off chance a swarm of walkers was nearby. This was odd and felt more like Daryl slathering on some musty cologne for old time’s sake especially since he didn’t bother otherwise trying to pull off a walker imitation. It wasn’t like solely smearing it on his face was going to hide the scent of his AXE body spray anyway.
All of Daryl’s disguise techniques don’t matter since a Reaper has Dog and reveals herself. It’s Daryl’s old flame, Leah, from that one episode last year. That totally still doesn’t make that episode worth it in hindsight.
Like the Whisperers, the Reapers lose about 85% of their intimidation factor when they lose their masks. They beat, pummel, waterboard and otherwise torture Daryl for intel on Maggie’s crew. Sensing an infiltration opportunity, Daryl says he just used to trade with them.
Leah shares that The Reapers are her old unit from Afghanistan that became a private military contract squad. That still doesn’t explain why they start stalking Maggie’s group and the need to deck out in Halloween masks.
Maybe Leah’s commanding officer/spiritual leader, The Pope (Ritchie Coster, The Dark Knight), will have some answers? No offense to Coster, but this felt like the perfect stunt casting gig for Lost’s Terry O’Quinn. He wouldn’t even had had to shave!
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Leah wants Pope to bring Daryl into the fold. And he reluctantly agrees for a meeting by way of setting the torture room ablaze and Daryl having to save Leah before it ignites. Ah, it was all a test from the Pope. That guy is always kidding around. It did seem like a dumb waste of resources.
Pope explains their renewed faith in GOD to Daryl. Like most religious folks on TV, Pope comes off like a complete zealot. Worse, he’s extremely long winded and boring. Pope doesn’t make the most convincing sales pitch to Daryl, but Daryl plays along to see what other intel he can get.
Here’s one: Pope is heated. Convinced one of his soldiers didn’t do all he should have to help another Reaper, Pope tosses him in the bonfire and steps on him to ensure he burns. Where’d Pope get the asbestos boots though?
Hey, look! It’s another crazy leader of the group of bad guys. That’s something radically different for this show. It really makes one appreciate the quiet dignity of Gareth and the rest of the Terminus crew. The Governor offered civilization. Gareth offered food that tastes like chicken. Alpha Wolf let his crew run wild. Negan was pretty chill assuming your spouse wasn’t hot. Jadis encouraged recycling. Alpha just needed folks to speak fluent walker. What’s the appeal for the Pope?
Who knows? And at this stage in the series, who cares?
Demystifying the big bad new group with a spotlight episode on Daryl felt like the wrong call. Hopefully the shift next week to more expendable characters will bring back some element of suspense and danger.
Rating: 5 out of 10
Photo Credit: AMC