Did The Walking Dead Spoil A Big Daryl Reunion In First Season 11 Trailer?

daryl with a flashlight in the sewer on the walking dead season 11

The Walking Dead stoked interest for its final season by dropping its first big Season 11 trailer, which gave fans a good look at the villainous threat that will make life hell for Lauren Cohan's Maggie and the rest of the protagonists. (At least the ones that aren't being put through the motions by the Commonwealth soldiers.) The trailer features a big introduction from The Commonwealth as well as several big returns, including Lauren Ridloff's Connie and Kevin Carroll's Virgil. But there appears to be a more unexpected character return that could mean big things for Norman Reedus' Daryl.

As seen in the trailer, there's a big group of masked marauders coming to Season 11 dubbed The Reapers, and they look like quite the formidable force. Speaking of masked characters, fans do get a quick shot of Maggie's friend Elijah (Okea Eme-Akwari), but there's yet another mystery character whose identity is obscured that shows up a couple of times in the trailer. While it's not explicitly clear if that person is actually part of the Reaper group or not, their identity is seemingly easier to figure out.

Considering this person is standing around in the background with Dog while Daryl (I assume) is in the foreground, it seems almost too obvious that it'll be Lynn Collins' Leah under that mask. As fans no doubt remember, Leah was introduced in the Daryl-focused Season 10 episode "Find Me," in which fans learned that she was Dog's original owner. Fans also witnessed her and Daryl's time-lapsed relationship evolve into a full-blown romance, which was one of the most shocking moments with the Walking Dead universe that didn't directly involve a death. (It technically didn't even show any kissing.) That episode ended with Daryl discovering Leah's disappearance just as he was willing to accept her ultimatum, with Dog left behind.

At this point, Lynn Collins' return as Leah hasn't been announced or confirmed by AMC or anyone involved with the show, so these are just educated guesses happening. And had the trailer not used a close-up of the masked person's face, particularly those eyes, it might have been more of a guessing game for that character's identity. Or if Lynn Collins had dark brown eyes, but that one seems harder to change on the fly.

So I'm fairly convinced that's indeed Lynn Collins' Leah under there, but I'm still curious about where her loyalties will lie. On the one hand, she's standing there non-threateningly, as Dog appears to be fully comfortable, and Daryl's position wouldn't necessarily make it hard for him to see Leah and Dog. So it's not being overtly set up as "Uh-oh, better watch out, Daryl!" Plus, I might be totally wrong here, but I don't think Leah's mask matches up with any of The Reapers in that big group shot, and the rest of her clothing also looks less heavy and layered than the Reapers' protective gear.

Do I have any amazing, brain-melting theories behind why Leah would be masked up and NOT part of the Reapers? Not really, but Elijah's presence at least sets a precedence for it, and he's clashed with the villains before. It's certainly possible she was with them and defected, or that they took her and she's on a revenge mission. By all means, there are plenty of ways for the creative team to justify these assumptions if they're indeed reflective of reality. I guess the biggest question is: are we about to see Daryl get his heart broken all over again?

While keeping tabs on all the other big shows coming to 2021 Fall TV, remember The Walking Dead will no doubt have lots of other surprises in store for fans that weren't teased in the big Season 11 trailer when the premiere hits AMC on Sunday, August 22, at 9:00 p.m. ET.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.