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TV review: The Walking Dead: Season 11, Episode 4 (Rendition)

5 / 5 ( 1 vote )

Written by Arthur

Review Overview







Rating 5/10

Rating It’s a case of history repeating in this Daryl-centric episode.

Rendition gives us an insight into the latest villains to invade The Walking Dead, The Reapers – and, it turns out, we’ve known some of them longer than we thought. The episode returns us to the woods when the survivors were first attacked at the end of Acheron Part II, but this time we follow Daryl (Norman Reedus) as he and Dog make their escape. Alone and trying to stealthily navigate his way to safety, Daryl covers himself in zombie guts as camouflage to avoid the Reaper who is hunting him. This proves in vain (and seems to only serve the purpose of a joke later in the episode) – despite his best efforts to avoid them, Dog betrays his master and gives Daryl up as the Reapers take them both in for questioning.

It appears the zombie apocalypse either turns you into moral survivors planting crops and trying to rebuild society or it turns you into a psychopath. The Reapers are the latter, but they are no different from the Whisperers, the Saviours or any of the other villainous groups our survivors have encountered. The Reapers’ highly skilled military training makes them incredibly dangerous, but each group has had its threats, some more unique and imaginative than others. For one of the final season’s antagonists, and an original, non-comic entity, it feels as though the show has run out of ideas.

What makes Daryl’s encounter with them slightly different is that he knows one of these Reapers personally. Their presence does feel a little shoe-horned in, their being there a way to save Daryl from being executed on the spot like some of the others in his party. Their connection doesn’t save him from being tortured for information but Daryl, being the hardened survivor he is, oozes cool and calmness.

His perseverance throughout affords him an audience with their mysterious leader, Pope (Ritchie Coster), but not before Daryl must pass one more trial by fire. Pope then fills us in with the backstory to the Reapers and how, as former soldiers, they felt their country turned their back on them, which led them to become mercenaries. When the world fell and they survived certain death, Pope believed they became a higher power doing God’s work. The speech does a fair job of warning Daryl how dangerous the Reapers are, but Pope goes on to show rather than tell, brutally emphasising the mantra and rules that Daryl must abide by if he is to become one of them.

The episode focuses solely on the Reapers and makes us wait to learn more about the Commonwealth. It feels as though there is lots of story left to tell in this world but not an awful lot of time left to tell it. Rendition could easily have shared the time with other stories, as spending an entire episode with a group who are the typical enemies we’ve come to expect does feel wasted. Daryl-centric episodes are always nice to have, but he is an original character surviving from Season 1; we’re not going to learn anything new about him. Rendition really is about the one Reaper we’ve met before and we learn very little about them.

The series runs the risk of repeating itself with this revelation and so soon too. We’re specifically thinking about Negan’s infiltration and disposal of the Whisperers – and this episode does open with Daryl covering himself in blood, something he would have done to avoid the Whisperers. Maybe the writers are getting confused? It would also be hard to believe that Daryl would sell out his family just because he once shared bread with a Reaper and, as the episode proves, they may end up being their own worst enemy anyway. 

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