According to Kang, Leah was always meant to be a Reaper, and her introduction would have been very different if it wasn’t for the pandemic. Initially, the plan was to combine the present narrative of Daryl meeting Leah and the Reapers with the pair’s relationship in the cabin in the woods. “The origin story of the cabin and the episode where he meets her, which is this one, was all one story,” Kang said.
When filming for Season 11 had to be delayed due to COVID-19, “The Walking Dead” creative team came up with the idea of using bonus episodes for Season 10 as a stopgap. The small scale plotline of the pair falling in love and then separating made for a natural fit.
Kang admitted that Daryl and Leah’s love story received a mixed reaction from fans, but said the truth of where their arc is headed makes that easier to swallow. “In some ways I was like, ‘Well, if people don’t like her, that’s okay, because she is actually a villain and there’s a toxic element to that relationship.'”