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The Walking Dead’s New Villains Are A Psychotic Christian Militia

The Walking Dead is…going some places here in its final season. While one half of the show is adapting the end of Robert Kirkman’s books with the Commonwealth arc, the other half has invented a new plotline entirely from scratch, a new enemy group called The Reapers who are stalking Maggie’s old crew and now Rick’s group, since Maggie has reunited with them. They are terrifying, mask-wearing killers, and for the first time this week, we finally learned who they are, really.

The big reveal of the episode was that Daryl’s old flame Leah is actually one of them. We learn that she wasn’t adopted into that group, she was always apart of them, and somehow got separated. She left because they found her again.

The group, as I thought might be the case, given their tactics, are a bunch of ex-soldiers. They talk about serving in Afghanistan together, but then eventually, they went and became a PMC, a Private Military Corporation, a frequent favorite villain choice of TV shows, because no one wants to actually portray US military members as bad guys, even in fiction, a lot of the time. So they are “mercs.”

But they’re not just normal mercs, they are essentially a hardcore Christian cult of mercs who believe that god baptized them in fire and ordained them to survive. And I don’t think this is…entirely an accident, given our current political situation.

The Walking Dead is generally not a very political show, other than being occasionally progressive with depictions of same sex couples, or doing cool things like having Michonne be Rick’s love interest over Andrea in the comics. But here we are about to get a double whammy of commentary, between both this and the Commonwealth storyline.

The Commonwealth storyline is Robert Kirkman’s way of going after the rich and powerful, inventing a society where the wealthy from before the apocalypse stay rich, with the society organized by what jobs everyone had before. This does not go over well with most of Rick’s group, and eventually, revolution is afoot.

But here, it seems like The Walking Dead may be making a more immediate point with its God-fueled militia here. The first thing I thought of were the Proud Boys, though there is no white nationalism seen among this group yet, and they do have black members (and a woman!). But it’s also pretty easy to look at an army of mercenaries in tactical gear believing they’re doing the lord’s work and imagine that this idea didn’t just appear out of thin air.

I’m all for it, I just find it interesting that The Walking Dead is going there, and doing so essentially twice at once, with the Commonwealth storyline extremely political, so much so that it jumped out of the comics to me as a bit over the top. But we’ll see how it’s handled onscreen. Now that Daryl has infiltrated them, I don’t expect the Reapers will last too long. These bad guy groups really have to stop trusting Daryl already, this is like the third time this has happened.

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