The mid-season eleven finale for The Walking Dead delivers solid action, betrayal, and a surprise casualty. "For Blood" opens on the lookout wall in Meridian during the day. Pope (Ritchie Coster), Leah (Lynne Collins), and Daryl (Norman Reedus) watch walkers walking in a circular pattern outside of the gates. Pope knows something is wrong. Daryl volunteers to lead them away, but Pope sends Wells (Robert Hayes) instead. Who's surrounded by walkers in the woods. Then knifed by Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) wearing skin masks. Maggie picks up Wells' radio as he's torn to pieces.
A storm ravages Alexandria that night. Magna (Nadia Hilker) notices the hinges on the rattling door are failing. Judith (Cailey Fleming) keeps the other children calm as they huddle together. Suddenly, a tree branch crashes through the window. Kelly (Angel Theory) looks outside. A fire rages in the windmill. A piece of the wall is blowing down the street.
Pope knows the missing Wells has been killed by his "enemy." Leah is furious that he sent Wells outside if he thought "she was there." Pope confronts her, "You've had a lot to say since your boyfriend showed up." In Alexandria, Aaron (Ross Marquand) gathers everyone. They decide to split into three teams. He'll take care of the fire with Magna. Kelly, Connie (Lauren Ridloff), and Carol (Melissa McBride) will fix the wall. Rosita (Christian Serratos) and Virgil (Kevin Carroll) will stay to protect the house. Judith wants to go with Carol, but is asked to stay and care for the children with Gracie (Anabelle Holloway).
Pope asks Daryl for information about "her." Daryl claims to know little. Pope wonders why he keeps Daryl around. He compares Daryl to a "Tick dog" that he had to strangle. Daryl promises not to "lick him." They go back to the lookout. When Daryl asks about the strength of the walls, the walkers enter a minefield around the gates. They start to explode in chunks.
At the house, Rosita continues to board up windows with the furniture. Gracie tells Judith that "she wishes she were like her." Virgil smiles at the interaction. He tells Judith "he sees her mother in her." Gracie stands by the window and is grabbed by a walker. Judith chops off the arm then stabs it in the head. The walkers start to pound on the door.
The Reapers watch as the walkers continue to explode. Pope knows Leah blames him for their losses. He spouts bible verses in a rant. Daryl and Leah share a concerned look. Daryl sees Maggie and Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) in their skin masks veer away with his binoculars. He walks to the other side of the wall and offers the Reaper on watch a cigarette. He stabs him in the neck and tosses his body over. Daryl points Maggie to a gate. He runs down a stairwell and breaks the lock. Outside the wall, Elijah (Okea Eme-Akwari) is hit by mine shrapnel. He's steadied by Negan. Daryl returns to the lookout with his crossbow. Pope orders Leah, "Ready the hwacha!"
Maggie and Father Gabriel infiltrate Meridian under a garbage pile. She tells him to "wait for her signal." They split up. In Alexandria, everyone tries to hold the door. Rosita grabs a club and orders them to open it. Judith watches in awe as Rosita bludgeons the walkers on the porch. She comes back in exhausted, "Stay away from the windows.
Father Gabriel reaches the second floor of a building. He opens a panel behind a wall and searches. Daryl follows Leah to the roof. Where another Reaper is preparing the hwacha, a rocket launcher loaded with arrows. Leah is still distraught by the loss of Wells. She asks Daryl "what it would be like" if they had "never left the cabin." She's become concerned about Pope's actions. Pope radios that he's on his way to join them.
Daryl tells Leah the truth, "There's people down there walking with the dead...my people." She's floored by the admission, "You lied to me." Daryl was "protecting his family." He begs for her help. Pope arrives on the roof. Leah whispers "family." Pope believes there's "nothing more important." He then orders Daryl to "find the woman and bring her to him when this is done."
Maggie breaks into a red pick up truck. She hotwires it, but a Reaper sees her. Maggie floors it and the Reaper is knocked away. She drives full speed, and then rolls out. The truck smashes into the gates creating a breach. Walkers start pouring into Meridian.
The Reapers race to kill the walkers. On the roof, Pope orders them to open fire into the courtyard with the hwacha. The Reaper engineer is stunned, but readies the rocket launcher. Leah begs for him to stop. Their people are down there! Pope dismisses her, "God will protect them." He screams, "The Lord speaks through me! Don't question me!" The engineer lights the fuse. Daryl whips out his knives. When Pope turns to confront him, Leah stabs him in the throat. Daryl throws his knife and kills the engineer. Daryl quickly cuts away the burning fuse.
A hobbled Maggie tries to run. She's knocked down by a Reaper. Who is then shot in the head by Father Gabriel with a sniper rifle from above. Pope clutches his gushing neck as he tries to crawl away. Leah steps on his back, then plunges her knife through the back of his skull.
Daryl tries to lead Leah, but she refuses. She clicks on her radio, "Pope is dead. Dixon murdered him. He's with the enemy." Carver (Alex Meraz) responds "they're on their way." "Why would you do that?" Daryl asks in utter disbelief. Leah calmly replies, "You'd do anything to protect your family...so would I." Daryl jumps down from the roof as Carver's men arrive. Leah takes command, "We're going to kill everything inside these walls."
In Alexandria, the front door can no longer hold. Rosita tells everyone to go upstairs. The group makes a run for it. Judith doesn't see Gracie. She hears her yelling from the basement. Water is flooding in. She breaks off a piece of wood and gives it to Gracie as a weapon. They try to escape, but walkers are outside the basement door. Judith locks it as they huddle in fear.
It's a melee in the Meridian courtyard. Maggie and Negan are together fighting off walkers and Reapers. Daryl is alone doing the same. The Reapers suddenly fall back. Maggie looks up to the roof. Leah meets her gaze furiously as the hwacha fires. A fusillade of arrows rocket towards Maggie.
"For Blood" sets up an epic showdown between Leah and Maggie. Pope's death and Leah's refusal to leave with Daryl was a brilliant climax. Will he be forced to kill his love to save Maggie? It's doubtful that Gracie or Judith are in any real danger. But it's not known what happened to the other Alexandrians who went outside into the storm. The second half of season eleven will surely bring the Commonwealth troops into the fray. The Walking Dead returns for its final season next February on AMC.