Daryl and Leah reunite in The Walking Dead season 11, but the circumstances leave a plot hole around her initial disappearance from season 10.
Does Daryl and Leah’s reunion in The Walking Dead season 11 create a plot hole, or is something more sinister going on? The Walking Dead made a wise choice introducing Dog as Daryl’s post-time jump companion. The fluffiest, good-est boy among The Walking Dead‘s cast, Dog’s origin was finally explained in season 10’s auxiliary episodes, filmed early during the pandemic (the real one). Whilst searching for Rick Grimes, Daryl encountered Leah in a remote cabin. They struck up a romance, but Daryl refused to give up on Rick and wouldn’t settle with Leah and Dog permanently – a choice that came back to haunt Daryl when he returned to Leah’s cabin and found her gone. The shack was trashed, and Leah’s beloved dog had been sadly left behind.
Played by Lynn Collins, Leah makes her return in The Walking Dead season 11‘s “Rendition.” She’s one of the villainous Reapers who attacked Maggie’s Meridian settlement, and they take Daryl captive with hopes of getting him to join their club. Leah’s Reaper history was heavily hinted at during her Walking Dead debut – Leah recalled having military roots, and the Reapers were obviously well-trained combatants. But the signs of struggle at her cabin (and Dog remaining behind) strongly suggested Leah didn’t rejoin her old team willingly.
The Walking Dead season 11 seems to backtrack a little here. Speaking with the captured Daryl, Leah reveals how her Reaper “family” found her after never giving up their search. Leah describes returning to the Reapers as like “going home,” and when viewers get their first taste of Reaper HQ, she appears a trusted, influential member of their cult-like society. This doesn’t neatly align with how Leah’s story was left in The Walking Dead season 10. If the Reapers were Leah’s family, bringing her home after becoming separated, why would a fight have broken out at her cabin? Even more curiously, why wouldn’t Leah take Dog – especially since she reclaims him anyway upon reuniting with Daryl?
The trashed cabin is easier to explain away. Leah might’ve mistaken her Reaper pals for generic post-apocalypse baddies, fighting them before the truth was revealed and everyone started hugging. The Reapers may have also ransacked Leah’s home as a means of covering their tracks, which is very much on-brand for ex-mercenaries.
Harder to reconcile is why Leah didn’t take Dog with her. The mutt was incredibly precious to its original owner, with Leah relying on the dog for comfort after her son succumbed to a zombie bite. If Leah was simply returning home to the people she trusted most in the world, there’s no reason she wouldn’t take Dog along. Maybe Leah thought Dog would be better off with Daryl, but if there were concerns about the Reapers being pet-friendly, why would she take Dog back to them in the present day? The animal certainly seems happy enough trotting by Leah’s side, and Reapers aren’t queuing up for a Hot Dog lunch or anything.
There are two possible explanations for the discrepancy between Leah’s disappearance and her recent reunion with Daryl. While the character was always envisioned as a secret Reaper, maybe The Walking Dead initially planned for Leah to have been abducted by her old group, but changed direction while writing season 11, making her a more willing Reaper. On the other hand, leaving Dog behind could signpost Leah’s hidden distrust toward Pope and her old comrades. A concerning mix of ex-mercenary and deluded cult leader, Pope is a guy with very little chill. Not only does he risk burning Leah alive just to test Daryl’s mettle, he gives one of his men a fiery facelift as punishment for running away. Leah clearly isn’t on board with either act, and while she seems fully indoctrinated now, Collins’ character might’ve needed some “convincing” to rejoin the Reapers when they first knocked at her cabin.
Even so, Leah’s dialogue in The Walking Dead season 11 strongly gives the impression that she departed her cabin willingly, which sits awkwardly alongside her season 10 exit, and doesn’t explain why she (or, indeed, anyone) would leave behind such a good doggo.
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