In the sixth episode of the current (tenth) season of The Walking Dead, Daryl and Carol are hanging out, throwing rocks at a can, and amiably chatting, as they sometimes do. Carol had noticed that Daryl seemed to be interested in Connie, and she was teasing him about it. Daryl, however, told Carol that “it wasn’t like that.” Carol wondered why not, especially since there are so few people out there with whom he could have a romantic connection.
“Then why not?” Carol asks.
“What’s it matter?” Daryl responds.
“Cause it does,” Carol continues. “You don’t have to be alone. Years pass, Daryl. You don’t have to hide out here with her dog forever.”
If one reads the closed captions, Carol says, “You don’t have to hide out with your dog forever,” but listening to it, it’s clear that she says, “her dog,” but at the time, viewers didn’t pay the your/her distinction any mind. However, in this week’s 18th episode of this season, “Find Me,” we finally understand the importance of that distinction. It was “her” dog, and in this episode, we find out who she is.
Her name is Leah (Lynn Collins of X-Men Origins: Wolverine and True Blood fame), and she and Daryl met during those years in which Daryl had alienated himself from everyone else while in search of Rick (or his remains). During those years by himself, Daryl saw a dog, and that dog led him to Leah’s cabin, introducing the two. That dog, obviously, was “Dog,” and Dog belonged to Leah.
It took many, many, many months, however, before the two forged much of a relationship because the two are so much alike. They’re distrustful of others, they like being alone, and they had both lost someone very close to them. For Leah, it was her sister’s kid, who she called her “son,” and for Daryl, it was Rick, who he referred to in this episode as “his brother,” a powerfully poignant moment that reinforced the true meaning of family in the zombie apocalypse.
Leah and Daryl, all the same, bonded, and yet in spite of that, Daryl couldn’t stop searching for Rick, which continued to take him away from Leah. At one point, however, Leah gave Daryl an ultimatum: “Stay with me, or continue searching for Rick.” At the moment, Daryl decided to continue searching for Rick, but after spending some time alone again, Daryl decided that he wanted to be with Leah. Unfortunately, when he returned to her cabin, Leah was gone. He left a note for her saying, “Find me,” but Leah never did, and Daryl eventually had to move on with his life with both Rick and Leah’s fates unknown.
In the present, however, Daryl and Carol are still sorting through their issues. The two go out into the woods to spearfish, and while they initially have a great time, old concerns resurface. Daryl still blames Carol for Connie’s absence. Carol tells Daryl that she should have gotten on the boat and Daryl stopped her from getting on, and Daryl accuses Carol of consistently running from her problems, which is in fact a lifelong issue for Carol. By the episode’s end, Carol and Daryl have had another falling out. “I stopped you from running, and I shouldn’t have,” Daryl tells her. “Wanna run? Then run! … I won’t stop you this time.”
— The argument notwithstanding, it’s another great Daryl and Carol episode, and it’s clear that their spin-off together is going to be great, if only because of their chemistry together.
— I seriously doubt that Leah has disappeared for good. There are three places where she’s most likely to resurface. Either she’s joined The Reapers, and we’ll see her again this season; she was picked up by CRM, and we’ll meet her again on The World Beyond; or she moved to The Commonwealth, and she and Daryl will be reunited there in the final season (which could create some romantic tension if Connie is still in the picture).
— The episode, directed by David Boyd (who began his career as a cinematographer) includes a few impressive visual feats that we’re not used to seeing on The Walking Dead.
— I would finally like to note the irony of Daryl (who basically left Alexandria for 5 years and lived by himself in the woods) calling out Carol for “running away.”