Who are the Reapers in The Walking Dead Season 10?

February 22, 2021
Jonathon Wilson 0
Weekly TV
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The Walking Dead is back after a delay, a hiatus, and various pandemic-related production woes, and the Season 10C premiere, “Home Sweet Home”, not only brought Lauren Cohan’s Maggie back into the fold but brought a potential new threat with her. Who are the Reapers? What do we know about them? And what do the planned bonus episodes have planned for them? Well, since information is a little thin on the ground, we might as well do some informed theorizing.

Before we start, though, let’s just acknowledge that these bonus episodes are intended as a bridge to the climactic final season, mostly intended to lay some groundwork and smooth out lingering subplots and issues caused by production problems and scheduling conflicts (Lauren Ridloff, for instance, remains “missing” in large part because she went to film Marvel’s Eternals.) With that in mind, there’s every chance that the Reapers have nothing to do with anything and are just going to be a temporary problem for some immediate drama. But that’s no fun at all, and would actually be a waste of valuable storytelling real estate, so let’s just pretend that’s not the case, for argument’s sake.

So, what do we know already? The truth is very little. The Reapers don’t have a comic book analog, and we’ve only met one of them thus far, who promptly blew himself up with a grenade rather than reveal any information. From incidental dialogue between Maggie and her new associate, Cole, we can suspect that the Reapers have been following them around and destroying the communities they attempt to uplift, though why they’d bother remains a mystery. Maggie intimates to Daryl that all her efforts at helping and leading her fellow survivors have gone a bit pear-shaped, with one collapsing very shortly after Georgie left it. In “Home Sweet Home”, the Reaper we see is very explicitly hunting down remaining members of the latest group that Maggie has joined (the one that includes Cole and Elijah), so it stands to reason that there’s something about these groups that has relevance to the Reapers.

That gives us a clue, sort of. When you’re dealing with an operation that can eradicate entire communities, you’re also dealing with one that can subsume those communities, which means you’re dealing with something large-scale and developed. What we see of the lone Reaper in Home Sweet Home supports this. He’s equipped with high-powered sniper weaponry, camouflage, and tactical gear. That stuff isn’t ten-a-penny in the post-apocalypse. Any group sending armed-to-the-teeth representatives out to burn down entire settlements has a lot of resources and influence, and really, there are only two potential groups who fit that bill: The Civic Republic Military, and the Commonwealth.

The 10B finale of The Walking Dead seemed to introduce the Commonwealth, and that would make sense given that the final arc of the comics includes them. It’s hard to argue the resemblance:

Scott Gimple has seemingly confirmed that the Commonwealth and the CRM are not the same entity, though whether that’s true or Scott Gimple true is anyone’s guess at this point. But in the comics, Rick is embroiled in the storyline, whereas in the show, he was spirited away with Jadis in a helicopter with CRM insignia. That same insignia has also shown up in Fear the Walking Dead and, notably, The Walking Dead: World Beyond, during which we saw the CRM expunge the campus colony where that show’s characters began their adventure. Eradicating an entire colony that doesn’t toe the line sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

The CRM having a similar MO to the Reapers doesn’t actually mean much at this point, since the implication is that the CRM is uniting the spin-offs — presumably including the planned films that Andrew Lincoln will reprise his role of Rick Grimes in — while the main show is building towards the Commonwealth storyline. That would suggest that the Reapers make more sense as the setup for the Commonwealth, especially since Maggie’s return and obvious mention of Georgie resurfaces as old fan theory that she is a renamed version of the Commonwealth’s leader, Pamela Milton. Again, it’s hard to deny the resemblance:

Thanks to Gimple’s emphatic insistence that these two groups aren’t related, it’s hard to say where the Reapers fit. It would actually make more sense if the CRM was just the on-screen version of the Commonwealth, since then we could have the best of both worlds. Georgie could be the leader, everything we’ve seen involving the CRM thus far would take on renewed significance, and we could easily explain away the Reapers as a kind of paramilitary force that is dispatched to the middle of nowhere to wipe out bothersome settlements. I like that theory, and I’m happy to run with it, even if the likelihood of it being true is close to nil.

Another interesting thing to consider is that in the latest episodes of Fear the Walking Dead, Ginny is quite explicitly building an army with the morally flexible Victor Strand at its head. This seems totally irrelevant at first blush, but remember, while the spin-off started in the same timeline as the main show so that Dwight and Morgan could cross over, it never skipped several years forward in time. If Ginny is successful, there’s no reason why her fighting force couldn’t expand to become either part of the CRM, the Commonwealth, or indeed the Reapers. There are lots of intriguing possibilities here — so many that it truly would be a shame if it all amounted to nothing, which it probably will.

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