NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “The Walking Dead” are present in this review
The Walking Dead’s six additional bonus episodes for Season Ten didn’t exactly get off to the best start last week. A trite Maggie storyline didn’t ultimately do the best justice to Lauren Cohan’s long overdue return to the series, even while trying to establish yet another all-new group of foes, before the show inevitably takes on the Commonwealth with its upcoming eleventh and final season. Fortunately, the second of these six bonus episodes switched gears this week, instead revolving around Daryl and Carol, after a routine hunting trip turns into an uncomfortable trek down memory lane for Daryl.
“Find Me” begins as if it’s aiming to be a backdoor pilot for AMC’s upcoming Walking Dead spin-off series that’s set to revolve entirely around Daryl and Carol, currently planned to premiere in 2023. It also has the advantage of being a better episode than last week’s offering, especially through actually contributing meaningful character development to Daryl in particular. Ultimately though, The Walking Dead still isn’t getting perfect mileage out of Season Ten’s bonus episodes. This is because the pacing and structure of this episode feels rather wonky, plus Carol might as well have not been featured during its present-day events at all. What’s worse, the ending of this episode is pretty problematic, setting up yet another unnecessary Daryl/Carol disagreement that once again has Carol’s story arc going in a big fat circle.
Carol has really been done dirty throughout The Walking Dead’s tenth season, and that sadly remains true throughout this season’s bonus episodes at this point. Sure, Carol has undeniably suffered following the death of Henry, and her subsequent divorce from Ezekiel, along with the wholesale fall of The Kingdom. Even so, Carol’s frustratingly idiotic actions and generally selfish attitude throughout Season Ten have been pretty hard to swallow. She’s simply being written as a transparent liability to the other characters at this point, and that includes Daryl. Then again, Daryl isn’t much better in this case, needlessly telling off Carol after they come across the deserted cabin of someone that Daryl used to know, in a way that makes Daryl look just as self-absorbed and unfairly aggressive as Carol has too often been throughout this season. Needless to say, this isn’t creating a ton of confidence for a whole Carol/Daryl spin-off series in the near future!
What’s nonetheless great about this episode however is how effectively it utilizes Daryl’s time away from Alexandria. Finally, we get some gaps filled in regarding what exactly happened while Daryl was off searching for Rick for several years, before the Whisperers would come to menace this show’s lead survivors. We even finally learn how Daryl met Dog in this episode, which is a straightforward, but fairly touching story. As it turns out, Dog has been attached to Daryl ever since he was a puppy, following a chance encounter while he was running around his original owner’s cabin. This cabin owner is a mysterious woman seeking an existence of solitude, one that initially holds Daryl at gunpoint after he stumbles into her living space, only to eventually let him go.
From here, Daryl and the woman have several more encounters with each other, which involve the woman saving Daryl from walkers, and Daryl occasionally bringing Dog back to her. The mystery woman originally refuses to identify herself, but eventually, following a tense walker encounter, she tells Daryl that her name is Leah. From here, Daryl and Leah continue to have a bit of a loose friendship, with both still seeking solitude most of all, and both punishing themselves on account of not being able to reclaim what they lost. Just as Daryl is unable to find any trace of Rick, leaving him without closure regarding the man he considers to be his brother (Daryl even tells Leah that Rick is his brother, refusing to even acknowledge the existence of the long-dead Merle by this point!), Leah was ultimately unable to save her adopted son, who is actually her nephew, after her sister and the boy ended up being killed during a walker attack.
Seeing Daryl and Leah gradually connect, and open up to each other, makes for a lot of rich, compelling character material. Likewise, Carol is actually used to better effect during this episode’s flashbacks, trying to appeal to Daryl as the representative of his old (now current) survivor family, while also starting to relay the early decline of The Kingdom during the post-Rick era. Daryl however refuses to abandon the search for Rick, ultimately leaving him lost and directionless. Daryl even refuses to abandon his tracking efforts after his friendship with Leah eventually appears to blossom into a romantic relationship to boot, thus finally quashing the longstanding fan theory that Daryl is gay. Sorry to anyone that was still shipping that theory, I guess. Regardless, Leah eventually gets fed up with Daryl’s behaviour, and forces him to choose between her, Rick, and Alexandria.
Inevitably, Daryl and Dog had to become separated from Leah, and wind up back at Alexandria. The uncertain fate of Leah, who’s not confirmed to be dead or alive at this point, is also pretty intriguing, Despite that however, the end of this episode ultimately feels very clumsy. The way that Daryl simply loses Leah, yet nonetheless ends up with Dog, is a bit unbelievable, even if Daryl’s note telling Leah to find him ultimately being discovered by Carol does feel a little more effectively bittersweet. What doesn’t work at all however are Daryl and Carol eventually blowing up at each other again, with Daryl blaming Carol for the loss of Connie, and Carol once again refusing to apologize for her actions against Alpha, even after they blatantly endangered the survivors, and have clearly left Connie MIA. I get that Daryl is emotional and frustrated after continuing to get no answers regarding Leah’s whereabouts, but frankly, both he and Carol are acting like children here. Like I said, this tired, pointless argument about how distant Daryl is and how stupid Carol has been throughout this entire season is not only really old now, but also fails to justify an innate appeal to these characters’ upcoming spin-off series. Is this most of what that show is going to entail? In that case, why should we bother with it?!
At least The Walking Dead delivers a better episode this week, after not exactly excelling with Season Ten’s first bonus episode last week. Even so, “Find Me” still has a few stubborn problems that sometimes undermine what’s otherwise a pretty great flashback storyline for Daryl. Daryl’s relationship with Leah, even if it does seemingly kill any speculation that Daryl may be an LGBT character, is interesting and well-developed, as is his initial meeting and early bond with Dog. Daryl’s and Carol’s interactions in the past are pretty enjoyable as well. Unfortunately though, Daryl’s and Carol’s interactions in the present are a lot more tedious, ultimately stuffing an unnecessary argument into an episode ending that already feels rather sloppy. The ambiguity behind Leah’s whereabouts does carry some potential for the upcoming Daryl/Carol spin-off series though, possibly allowing Lynn Collins to reprise the role of Leah after that series starts airing. Either way, we’ve got one of the best Daryl storylines that The Walking Dead has delivered in some time here! I just wish that Daryl and Carol could pull their heads out of their asses and stop taking their equally tired angst out on each other.
- Effective insight into Daryl's long search for Rick
- Daryl's and Leah's heartfelt relationship
- Daryl's early bond with Dog is adorable
- Daryl and Carol both need to get over themselves
- Leah's disappearance feels contrived
- Pacing and story structure feels wonky