Daryl Dixon, what have you gotten yourself into?
The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon Season 1 Episode 1 reunited us with our favorite crossbow-wielding survivor of the zombie apocalypse.
After the success of The Walking Dead: Dead City, expectations were high that this France-set chapter in the expansive franchise would take things to a whole new level.
Thankfully, “L’ame Perdue” effortlessly transplanted Daryl in France, and it seems like he’s racking up enemies wherever he goes.
This isn’t the Daryl who went off to search for Rick and Michonne on The Walking Dead Season 11 Episode 24.
This man has been put through extreme trauma during his time on the road and, err — the high seas.
Daryl’s decision to leave the Commonwealth was huge because it meant he risked leaving the life he helped build behind, but sometimes, you need to see what’s out there.
My name’s Daryl Dixon. I come from a place called the Commonwealth. It’s in America. I went out looking for something, and all I found was trouble. If I don’t make it back, I want them to know I tried.
For the first time in a long time, most of his allies were safe, so it was time for him to carve out an adventure of his own.
The time away from everyone has changed him because he’s met some bad people on the road, and now, he’s in France, where he’s trying to make the right decisions to return home.
It seems the world isn’t as dead as the other shows in the franchise led us to believe.
If Isabelle heard rumors about ships docking further up France, then what else are people putting down to words that could be real-life?
There are many possibilities here, but I have to admit, I’m cautiously optimistic that TWD: Daryl Dixon might blossom into my favorite story in this sprawling universe.
It’s a change of pace in terms of the aesthetic and storytelling.
It feels like a whole new show, and it’s not a bad thing.
The main show struggled to balance all the storylines by the time it ended, but following Daryl Dixon in his quest to return to the Commonwealth is a nice detour for the franchise.
Daryl: Your country, my country, like friends.
Guillaume: You are no friend. There ain’t no countries no more, neither.
The best part is that Daryl has to reassess how he navigates zombies. From the moment he realized he was in France to the moment the variant walker almost melted his arm, it was evident that this was a location, unlike the others.
If we watch this story from Daryl’s perspective, it should set us up for the years to come, but by the end of the premiere, Daryl has not one but two enemies in France.
That’s not accounting for the people he met and crossed in the U.S. before he wound up on the freight ship.
If Genet has a doctor and zombie test subjects, I’m going to assume Daryl was supposed to be a part of an experiment and found a way off the ship.
Judith: You deserve a happy ending, too.
Daryl: I’ll find them. I’ll bring them home.
Judith: It’s not like we’re never gonna see each other again.
The more interesting question is how he got on that ship in the first place.
Given his look of shock when he washed up in France, he didn’t know where the ship was headed, which leads me to believe he’d been kidnapped or followed someone onto the vessel.
Thank god Isabelle was on hand to help him when he needed it the most. Maribelle seemed poised to become a key player, but her schtick with her “blind grandfather” probably painted her as a villain in Daryl’s eyes.
Maribelle is the reason Codron will be laser-focused on finding Daryl and the reason for the bloodshed at the Monastery.
Isabelle: Here we call them “les affamés,” “the hungry ones.” Burner is just one kind. Alright. May I?
Daryl: Yeah. What is this place? Like a convent or something?
Isabelle: We’re a small community of nuns. Very small now, after 12 years. We survive here, farming, gardening, scavenging. You’re from America? Place called Commonwealth, right? I found your tape recorder. How did you come to be in France?
Daryl: A bunch of bad decisions.
Isabelle: The cauterization is holding. Best to clean up, avoid infection. I’ll be back with the dressings, Mr. Dixon.
Daryl: Daryl. You can call me Daryl.
These women took Daryl in and helped nurse him back to health, so seeing the horror play out in the aftermath was disheartening.
Thankfully, Daryl sprung into action the moment he heard the commotion. Had he not returned, Isabelle, Laurent, and Sylvie would also be dead.
Isabelle is an interesting character because she clearly has a story to tell, and hopefully, she opens up to Daryl about her past.
Despite Isabelle wanting to appear as though she was protecting Daryl, it was apparent quickly that she envisioned something else in return from her new friend.
Asking him to help take Laurent further into France is a big ask, especially when Daryl knows he must get out of the country and back to his loved ones.
His apprehension was believable because, as Daryl knows, one wrong decision can lead to death in this universe.
But, by the end of the hour, he understands that these women and the child may be unable to reach their destination.
Daryl: You know how to use that radio?
Isabelle: It’s been a while since I managed to reach anyone on it.
Daryl: You mind if I give it a try?
Isabelle: Sure, once you get better. The last one was a Spaniard. A few months ago. Spoke a bit of English. I can try reaching him again.
Daryl: Your English is good.
Isabelle: My parents worked for Médecins Sans Frontières. They traveled all over. Bosnia, Chechnya, Rowanda. My sister and I finished our schooling in Paris.
Daryl: How’d you end up here?
Isabelle: A bunch of good decisions.
Does he want their deaths on his conscience? I don’t think so, so it’s a decent way of forcing Daryl to remain in the country for now.
I can’t be the only one eagerly anticipating the moment he gets a radio and communicates with people from the Commonwealth because I want updates about what happened after he left.
The most alluring part of this story is that we watched Daryl leave the Commonwealth, so he knows about as much as us viewers.
If the premiere is a sign of things to come, then The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon is a worthy next chapter for this ailing franchise.
What are your thoughts on the series painting Laurent as this savior?
Are you buying it?
Daryl: Look, I’ve already made plans. I ain’t looking to make any more. The world is lost.
Isabelle: We know that. Hope fades gradually, and then all at once. If we’re wrong, at least you will have helped a boy get to a better place. But if we’re right… why not bet on hope?
Daryl: It ain’t my problem.
Do you think Daryl will see the plan through?
What’s your take on the revelation that ships are still in the ocean?
Hit the comments.
Catch new episodes on Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC and AMC+.
Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.