(Spoilers for ‘Home Sweet Home,’ the 17th Episode of the 10th season of The Walking Dead, will be found below.)
“Pope marked you,” a nearly unkillable super soldier with an arrow through his chest says to Maggie on The Walking Dead before pulling the pin on a grenade and blowing himself up. Who is Pope? What does he want? And why has he marked Maggie?
Those are some of the questions that The Walking Dead will confront over the remaining five bonus episodes in Season 10. The six bonus episodes are meant to act as a sort of bridge, setting the stage between the tenth season and the long-running series’ final season. Pope is likely the leader of The Reapers, a new threat introduced in “Home Sweet Home.”
It’s not clear who they are, what they represent, why they are after Maggie, or what their motivations are, but they’re not happy with Maggie. Cole and Maggie describe the Reapers as people who attacked their home, came out of nowhere, and “wiped out anything in their way.” Maggie also attributes the kidnapping of Hershel to The Reapers, although it’s not entirely clear that the super-soldier in this episode is one of the Reapers, although it is likely. (Pope, likewise, is likely the leader of The Reapers.) Maggie accused the soldier of “being one of them,” which is to say, one of the people who “attacked our home, killed my friends, our family” for no apparent reason.
The Reapers do not exist in Robert Kirkman’s source material, so it’s likely they were created in order to give the bonus episodes a main antagonist group, although the way they are described, they are similar to The Wolves, in that their motivations are vague and that they just like to destroy indiscriminately. The Reapers may serve a number of functions. Besides giving these six episodes someone to shoot at, run from, and fight with, they will probably also help to fill in Maggie’s backstory, since it is clear that her group ran from The Reapers and toward Alexandria. Maggie wasn’t ready to talk about what happened, so that’s likely to be explored in subsequent episodes. It’s possible, too, that The Reapers may give Negan an opportunity to earn Maggie’s trust. They might also will bleed into the final season, should Maggie, Daryl, Negan and Company not be able to eradicate them.
I would not be surprised, either, to learn that the Reapers are tied to Georgie, with whom Maggie separated under circumstances that are, at best, unclear.