Spoilers ahead for the mid-season finale of The Walking Dead’s 11th and final season.
Daryl Dixon is reminding fans that he hasn’t gone soft as the mid-season finale of The Walking Dead shocks viewers with a bang — or rather, a shot.
In a surprising twist, Dixon took the life of a character he saved just episodes earlier, but not just any character — his previous love interest Leah. Viewers knew something terrible would happen if she made it out alive, which came to fruition in the mid-season finale. Leah, hellbent on revenge, sets out to attack Maggie, and she succeeds.
Audiences watched in horror as Leah appeared to have the upper hand during the fight with Maggie, but before finishing her goal, she was shot and slumped on top of her rival. Fans see who pulled the trigger as the camera pans over; standing against the door frame is none other than Daryl.
While we’ve seen our central characters kill before — both walkers and those still living, this one meant a little more.
In episode 8 of season 11, Daryl made a choice that left us scratching our heads. When he had the chance to capture Leah, he instead let her go. Of course, fans of the series knew why he made the choice after a flashback episode showed the intense connection between the pair, but it didn’t make it any easier to come to terms with.
Daryl and Leah found something in each other — something like love, safety, and solace. The two spent days together with their dog, and if it were under any other circumstances, it would have been normal. Of course, they’d both been burnt before, and problems inevitably began to arise, because relationships can be hard enough as it is without also having to content with life in a post-apocalyptic wasteland.
When Daryl let Leah go just a handful of episodes ago, the last words he told her would come back to haunt him.
“It’s not what I wanted, you could have had a second chance – we both coulda. Go – go before I change my mind.”
In the moment, he didn’t have a chance to think. He knew he had to take out the threat, but in the seconds that followed there was a look on his face. Was it regret, pain, or a feeling of responsibility for what happened to Maggie? It was likely a mix of all three, and we’re sure it’ll come up in conversation between the two of them as the series picks back up for its final episodes.
You can see anything you missed from season 11 streaming on Prime Video via AMC Plus, and you can watch previous seasons of The Walking Dead on Netflix now.