The Walking Dead season 10’s latest bonus episode digs into what Daryl did during the season 9 time jump, revealing how he spent his years living in the woods. The current string of Walking Dead episodes are intentionally smaller, with each one focusing on just a few characters at a time. The first of these season 10 bonus episodes saw Maggie return to Alexandria after years of being away, while another will explore Negan’s backstory and tie into a decision he needs to make about his future.
The latest season 10 bonus episode is focusing on Daryl and filling in the gap of what happened to him during The Walking Dead season 9’s six-year time jump. Following Rick’s apparent death in season 9, Daryl chooses to live as a hermit in the woods, surviving off the land and spending his days searching the river banks for any sign of Rick. He meets the dog he affectionately calls Dog, bringing him along once he decides to return to Alexandria and rejoin the community. That’s pretty much all that’s been known about Daryl’s time jump years, but The Walking Dead has now revealed more of what happened to Daryl while out in the woods.
In The Walking Dead season 10 episode 18, “Find Me,” it is revealed that during those years Daryl meets a woman named Leah (Lynn Collins) who is also living a hermit-style life. She along with her dog, Dog, live in a small, rustic cabin, and as Daryl has taken up residence in the woods nearby, they begin running into one another. Initially, Leah is hostile towards Daryl for disturbing her, even tying him up and holding him at gunpoint when Dog first brings him to her cabin, but in time they grow close. Leah shares with Daryl her tragic story of how she lost her family and her son, and now only has Dog, while Daryl explains that he’s been staying in the woods to search for his brother, who he doesn’t want to believe is dead. As their relationship turns romantic, Leah presses Daryl to make a choice — either return to Alexandria or stay with her. Daryl, however, is struggling to decide where he belongs and still clings to the hope he’ll find some sign of Rick. He leaves on another search, but when he returns, Leah is gone. Clearly heartbroken, Daryl leaves a note for Leah in the cabin — “I belong with you. Find me.” — and leaves with Dog in tow.
It’s unclear if Leah left or was taken, but seeing as she didn’t take Dog with her, it’s most likely the latter. The suspicious circumstances of Leah’s disappearance and the obvious setup between her and Daryl seem to hint she will someday return, but it’s also unclear when that will happen. The Walking Dead season 11 is a possibility, with Leah perhaps being taken by the Civic Republic Military, but it’s just as possible Leah could return in Carol and Daryl’s spinoff series. Either way, the introduction of Leah is an interesting addition to Daryl’s story, adding to the tragic pattern of yet another person he loves going missing.
Another pattern that returns in “Find Me” is Daryl’s fraught relationship with Carol. Though The Walking Dead has moved beyond them becoming a romantic item, their friendship has been one of the show’s longest-lasting relationships. However, recent seasons have seen them growing apart, and during both this episode’s flashback scenes and the present day, there’s a tension between them that remains unresolved. During the time jump years, it appears this tension stems from Carol moving on with her life at The Kingdom while Daryl remains isolated in the woods. In the present, though, it’s Connie’s disappearance that’s driven a wedge between them.
With The Walking Dead finally revealing more of what happened to Daryl during the season 9 time jump, his state of mind since then makes more sense. Having lost both Rick and then Leah, it’s understandable why he’d be cautious about opening himself up to Connie. And now that she’s also gone missing, Daryl is again left with the one friend who’s always there: Carol. But is she the sort of friend Daryl wants to always have around? She’s become increasingly selfish, and as Daryl rightly points out, she doesn’t seem to care that her reckless actions have hurt others, including himself. As The Walking Dead season 10 continues to examine its characters through these bonus episodes, it appears that in addition to working through his past grief, Daryl will need to reevaluate his relationship with Carol before they set off on a new adventure in their spinoff.