Hell hath no fury like a Reaper scorned. When old flames Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Leah (Lynn Collins) reconnect after years apart on The Walking Dead, it's with a reveal that Leah is one of The Chosen Ones: the enemy group that Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and the Wardens call the Reapers. A squad of soldiers-turned-mercenaries commanded by the fiery-tempered Pope (Ritchie Coster), The Chosen Ones are the found family that lost Leah before her cabin courtship with Daryl in the Season 9 episode "Find Me." The episode, set during the six-year time skip where a woods-dwelling Daryl searches for the body of a missing Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), leaves Daryl with two things to remember Leah: her dog and an engraved knife.
After Daryl gave the blade to Carol (Melissa McBride) in "Diverged," a closer look at the knife on Talking Dead revealed the initials "FS," for "Fortitudo Salutis": the motto that The Chosen Ones recite when welcoming Daryl after his baptism by fire in Season 11 Episode 4, "Rendition." According to Talking Dead, the Latin phrase roughly translates to "strength of my salvation."
Nicole Mirante-Matthews, writer of "Find Me" and "Rendition," said on a previous episode of Talking Dead that Leah's tattoo teased her military background. "Rendition" reveals a matching tattoo on Pope's left forearm that resembles the "Grim Reaper" masks worn by The Chosen Ones.
"When we see the Reapers, they're in these crazy, scary masks. Our inspiration for these was a mish-mash of different influences," explained showrunner Angela Kang on The Walking Dead: Episode Insider. "Military can sometimes have tactical masks, and sometimes they do have things like skulls or interesting things on them. And then we were also looking at different kinds of post-apocalyptic concept art, video games, things that are written about people with gas masks and stuff. When we were thinking about, 'what is the look of this crew?' They're almost like these faceless people that come in like the Grim Reaper."
The Reapers return in Season 11 Episode 6, "On the Inside," premiering September 19 on AMC+ and September 26 on the AMC channel.
Follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter for all things TWD. The Walking Dead Season 11 airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.