Who Are the Reapers? The Walking Dead Premiere Puts Scary New Villains on the Hunt

A killer new enemy is on the hunt in the extended Season 10 of The Walking Dead. In Sunday's season premiere, "Home Sweet Home," Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Hershel Rhee (Kien Michael Spiller) return home for the first time in seven years with Cole (James Devoti) and Elijah (Okea Eme-Akwari). Maggie and her son lived with Cole and Elijah's people until the recent loss of their village, which impelled a trip back to the Hilltop colony — which, as Maggie quickly learns from Carol (Melissa McBride), was burned down by Alpha (Samantha Morton) and Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) at the height of the Whisperer War.

When Maggie confesses to Daryl (Norman Reedus) why she left home years ago and stayed away, she's unable to bring herself to reveal what happened to her village. While en route to pick up Hershel and rendezvous with the rest of her people, Maggie and Daryl race toward a plume of smoke that Cole knows is them: "They found us.'"

As a distraught Maggie scours a burned-out hideaway for Hershel, finding nothing but ash and a pair of smoldering corpses, Cole reports: "They must have followed us, Maggie. We were so damn careful I don't know how, but it's them. They're out here." When Cole points out that two of their people are dead and the others haven't come back despite the extinguished fire, he knows the culprit: "It's the Reapers."

Maggie and Cole reveal the Reapers are people who attacked their home, coming out of nowhere and wiping out anything in their wake. Spotting signs that the fleeing survivors scattered and headed north, Daryl leads the group in that direction and comes across Maya (Brianna Butler), Ainsley (Haley Leary), and Gus (David Atkinson) — but no Hershel.

The group identifies Jen and Billy as the burned bodies, telling Maggie "something in the woods took out Matty." A frantic Gus says the Reapers are hiding in the woods, hunting them one by one, and Ainsley tells Maggie her son is somewhere nearby with Kim.

Without warning, Gus is gunned down. Another shot fells Ainsley. A third bullet strikes Maya. Taking cover behind a tree as the Reapers try to flesh them out by picking them off one by one, Daryl and Maggie figure out there's a single shooter perched somewhere in the woods.

When Maggie sneaks away to flank the shooter, a camouflaged Attacker (Mike Whinnet) goes in for the kill. Maggie steps into a snare trap as the seemingly unstoppable Attacker shrugs off attacks from Maggie's blade and Daryl's bolts, halting only when Kelly (Angel Theory) strikes him with a shot from Daryl's bow.

The Walking Dead Attacker Reapers
(Photo: AMC Studios)

Maggie interrogates the silent Attacker under threat of death, demanding to know who he is and why he killed her friends and family. "Pope marked you," the Attacker says indifferently, revealing the pulled pin from a grenade that detonates seconds later — killing no one but himself in the explosion.

Fearing more Attackers, the group will take the long way back to Alexandria and cover their tracks to make sure nothing follows them back home. With the Hilltop in ruins and an unknown number of Reapers still out there, Maggie and Hershel must live inside the same walls as Negan when their group calls Alexandria home.

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"Pope" and the Reapers do not exist in the comics, but Whinnet did previously portray an unnamed Savior in Season 7 of The Walking Dead. Could he be an old enemy out for new blood years after Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) ended the war against the Saviors? It remains to be seen whether the Reapers will return in the remaining five bonus episodes or Season 11 of The Walking Dead.

New episodes of The Walking Dead extended Season 10 premiere Sundays at 9 pm ET/8c on AMC. Follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter for all things TWD.