Was it just me, or did The Walking Dead Season 10 Episode 18 feel like a completely different show?
That's not a bad thing because we got more character development for Daryl in one episode than in the ten seasons before.
If you watch The Walking Dead online, you know Daryl has been open to the idea of a relationship with Connie, even if he still worries that something bad's going to happen.
But, learning that he had a full-blown, heartbreaking relationship with a woman named Leah during the years between Rick's disappearance and his return to battle the Whisperers was simply fascinating.
As a character, Daryl has been an introvert, never really opening up about his feelings, but the moment he and Carol stumbled upon the present-day cabin, it was obvious that something harrowing happened there.
The impressive writing allowed viewers to understand Daryl differently while finally revealing the origins of the fan-favorite character, Dog.
We already knew that Daryl's search for Rick continued for years, but we didn't know that it cost him a meaningful relationship with a woman he grew to love in Leah.
The flashbacks introduced us to a much more vulnerable Daryl, but it was obvious from the get-go that Leah also struggled to show emotion, as evidenced by their highly hostile meetings.
You need to stay away from my camp.Daryl
Every time one helped the other, they also ended it on a bitter note until Daryl was truly out in the cold during a storm.
Who knew The Walking Dead would be able to craft such a convincing love story when the world is quite literally crumbling around these survivors?
The good news is that Leah didn't die in the episode, even if she and Daryl's relationship fell apart when he went searching for a lead on Rick.
Leah had some severe abandonment issues, and when you consider everything she lost, it was inevitable that she would struggle to keep it together if she lost Daryl.
I can catch my own damn fish!Leah
It certainly begs the question about whether they would still be together today if Daryl decided against leaving her for that handful of days.
This particular storyline could be the beginning of something more as Daryl searches for meaning. We know The Reapers and the Commonwealth are two new groups, but Leah could have found herself immersed in one of them.
A reunion would make for good TV, but if Leah left the cabin of her own volition, it was because she knew the emotional toll the relationship was taking on her.
It's also highly likely that she was scared out of the property or even kidnapped. There is a story here, just waiting to be told, but I hope it doesn't result in a dreaded love triangle when Connie inevitably returns.
Leah: Where do you belong, Daryl? Out there in the river looking for your dead brother day after day after day — or do you belong here with me?
Daryl: I don't know.
The biggest surprise was that Daryl fessed up about the relationship with Carol. Their relationship has been slowly breaking down for years now, largely due to Carol not thinking her plans of attack through before making decisions.
Now that Carol's been introduced to this side of Daryl, she knows for sure that their brother-sister relationship is rockier than she first thought.
Viewers know Connie survived, but I don't expect Daryl to automatically forgive Carol when she does return into the fold.
Carol still made a selfish decision that put many people in harm's way, and it's hard to imagine them just hashing out these issues overnight.
Carol: You should have just let me get back on the boat.
Daryl: I should've.
Carol made some great points when she told Daryl he should have let her return to the boat and leave, but he royally stuck the knife in when he admitted that he should have.
There's been much debate among the fandom over the years about whether Carol and Daryl should remain platonic, and I'm firmly in the platonic camp.
The extent of their relationship issues was unknown until "Find Me" revealed they couldn't be further apart.
I thought Carol's assessment about luck was in relation to them surviving, but it took on another meaning when she revealed she meant it was about whether they could continue to have a close bond.
Time heals all wounds, but too much has happened between them for them to merely brush this under the rug.
It seems likely Leah will return and Daryl will have to decide whether he wants to live life alone, with friends, or with Leah.
Unless Leah has realized that it's still possible to live some semblance of a normal life, she's not going to want him going from community to community in the fear that she might lose him.
"Find Me" was a valiant effort at shedding some much-needed light into the mind of Daryl, as well as his relationship with Carol.
I guess that they will repair their friendship over the next season because, well, we already know they will be the face of the next Walking Dead spinoff.
Still, credit where credit's due: the self-contained nature of the episode worked wonders, giving us a convincing storyline from the past, as well as showing how it will affect Daryl in the future.
I know these bonus episodes are set to be smaller in scale, but if they all live up to the high bar set by "Find Me," they will be worth the wait.
What did you think of Daryl and Leah's relationship? Are you surprised Carol and Daryl's relationship has broken down?
Hit the comments.
Catch new episodes Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC.
Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.
You May Like Also