"Pope marked you." That's why the Reapers are hunting Maggie Rhee (Lauren Cohan) and her new group in Season 11 of The Walking Dead, which reveals Ritchie Coster will play the villain leader name-dropped in the extended Season 10. In last season's "Home Sweet Home," a silent sniper (Mike Whinnet) murders what's left of Maggie's friends — the Wardens — and keeps quiet when Maggie interrogates him about the attack on their home that few survived. "We did nothing to you," Maggie growls with a bolt ready to fire, but the camouflaged killer gives up only three words before blowing himself up with a grenade: "Pope marked you."
Who is Pope on The Walking Dead? The character, who doesn't exist in the comic books, is part of an original storyline this season pitting Maggie and the survivors against the Reapers: the frightful masked villains seen stalking our heroes in first looks at Season 11.
"There will be a lot we reveal over time about them, but we wanted to leave the audience with the mystery of 'Who is Pope, and what does it mean to be marked by him?'" showrunner Angela Kang previously told TVLine about the mystery man from Maggie's dark past. "There is intentionally a bit of a mystique around the Reapers, because I think that's part of the ethos of this group. They operate in shadowy ways."
Kang added that "as a group, they clearly have some background in militaristic fighting techniques," another clue that one of the Reapers will be unmasked as a character we've already met. One we haven't met is Pope, seen below in a first-look image revealed by AMC ahead of the Season 11 premiere on August 22:
Kang announced Coster (True Detective, Happy!, The Flight Attendant) alongside other series newcomers at virtual San Diego Comic-Con but declined to say what role the actor would play.
"They are incredibly skilled. And not skilled like they had to pick it up along the way," Kang said of the Reapers. "They were skilled coming into the apocalypse. So every single one of them is like an incredibly brutal, organized warrior … These are the pinnacle of human killers. It's just a very formidable type of enemy to go up against."
Kang added: "They don't rely on numbers and volume of people to fight against in order to kind of survive, so they're a tight-knit group, and they're just really formidable in a way that our characters don't often come across."
Episodes of The Walking Dead Season 11 are streaming early all season long on AMC+, starting with "Acheron: Part I" on August 15. The season premiere airs August 22 on AMC. Follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter for all things TWD.