War! Pope (Ritchie Coster) is out for blood, and his holy war against enemy Maggie (Lauren Cohan) claims another casualty on the Season 11A finale of The Walking Dead. Spoiler warning for Season 11 Episode 8, "For Blood." A marked woman since Pope and his masked mercenaries commandeered Meridian from the Wardens, Maggie's mission to save Alexandria turns her old community into a battlefield when she herds a walker army to its front gates. But Pope and his Reapers, his squad of soldiers forged by fire and chosen by God, will win and end their war with sacrifice — and a killer weapon forcing their enemies to face a reckoning.
As Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Elijah (Okea Eme-Akwari) walk with the dead through a minefield, Maggie and Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) infiltrate Meridian to raid its food storage. On the roof, Daryl (Norman Reedus) must convince ex-flame Leah (Lynn Collins) to call off an attack from the hwacha: a multiple rocket launcher capable of firing off hundreds of rocket-powered arrows.
An obsessed and increasingly paranoid Pope put Bossie's (Michael Shenefelt) face to the fire before sending Wells (Robert Hayes) to die in the hunt for his enemy, waving away the deaths of Leah's brothers-in-arms as necessary sacrifices of war. When walkers led by the enemy breach the walls, Pope orders Ancheta (Dave Davenport) to fire on the courtyard — and his people on the ground.
"God will protect them," Pope preaches of a boots-on-the-ground Boone (Zac Zedalis), Carver (Alex Meraz), Deaver (Jacob Young), and Fisher (Branton Box). In his righteous fury, Pope commands Ancheta to unleash the wrath of God with the hwacha.
A Death in the Family
Daryl draws his blades, but it's Leah stabs her father figure in the throat to save what's left of her brothers. Daryl kills Ancheta and cuts the fuse just in time, sparing Maggie, Negan, and Elijah a fiery death from above.
Leah pins Pope with her boot and finishes him off with a stab to the back of his head. But there's blood on Daryl's hands: Ancheta, another dead brother.
"Pope is dead. Dixon murdered him," Leah radios to the Reapers. "He's with the enemy." Leah killed Pope because "he forgot about what mattered," she tells Daryl. "Not war. People. My people. You'd do anything to protect your family. So would I." She gives Daryl just enough time to escape before telling her Reapers: "We're going to kill everything inside these walls."
Leah orders her people to retreat as Daryl joins Maggie's war on the ground below. From the roof, Leah looks down on the battlefield as the hwacha fires off rocket-powered arrows on her enemies — ending Season 11A in a cliffhanger.
Pope's Death Explained
"Leah does kill Pope, and Daryl was right. Leah was at a place where she was willing to help him with that because Pope was too far gone," explains showrunner Angela Kang on The Walking Dead: Episode Insider.
"But when he threw that knife into the heart of Ancheta's chest, it became this reminder for her of, 'Yes, he was right about Pope, but how many of my people have died because of this Maggie coming back into these walls? How many more of my people are going to die?' And she cannot bear that, because at the end of the day, Daryl chose his family and she chose hers."
Leah and Daryl don't fight to the death, killing only the rekindled flame they might have had. "Where is Leah going to end at the end of all of this? I think [that] is just the question we've got to see when we get into Episode 9," teases Kang of the Season 11B premiere airing February 20.