The grunts and frowns have taken a backseat. The menacing demeanor has tapered off with time and experiences he wouldn’t trade for anything. The Daryl we hopelessly float to the French shore with is the picture of a man battered by the losses life has inflicted on him. But in a morbid world devoid of hope and abundant with threats, both dead and very much alive, life’s all Daryl has to hold on to. Aboard the pilot of AMC’s The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon, the one spin-off that unhesitantly promises to outshine all the others and maybe even eclipse the original, the terror has mutated to take a graver form. Let’s see how Daryl’s being treated in France.
Does Daryl Come Across A New Zombie Variant?
All the way from Virginia to the gloomy shores of France, Daryl’s bad decisions have dropped him right into dreary terrain he’s yet to find his way through. Ravaged by fatal bites and suffering from a severe scarcity of anything resembling hope, France has unsurprisingly succumbed to the same fate that has destroyed what once was the world. It’s quite ironic of you to end up where it all started, isn’t it, Daryl? How did he even get here? When we last saw Daryl’s aching departure from the embrace of the people who’d become his family, he was on a lone mission to locate Rick. Now, with Judith’s naive wishes still ringing in his ears, he has to make do with the supplies from a boat—a boat that was once the closest thing to a home for a family that’s long gone.
The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon has a grim surprise in store for us and Daryl. An avid slaughterer of the undead, Daryl expected his bleak journey to Biarritz to be bloodied by a brush with walkers. What catches him off guard is the sizzle on his skin that’s been grabbed by a new variant, one whose blood looks to be what I can best describe as acid. The old Daryl wouldn’t have spared a second thought before robbing Maribelle and Guillaume and leaving them behind. And if he were still the same Daryl, he wouldn’t have stuck out his own neck to save them from the Guirriers, a cutthroat group of armed thugs that’s taken over the streets of France.
But the Daryl we’ve come to love is now a man who probably wouldn’t be able to sleep at night, knowing he’d left two seemingly innocent people to die. And if you looked past your bias, you would likely realize that screwing over a friendly stranger is the new normal in a world where death lurks in every corner. Thankfully, with the two goons dead and Maribelle and her grandpa on their jolly way, wounded Daryl could be covertly rescued and brought to the convent by Isabelle, the formidable nun wearing a cryptic look of inexplicable calm on her face.
Who’s Laurent? What’s His Significance In The Story?
Complete with an arsenal that betrays their meek facade, the sisterhood of nuns runs a pretty tight ship on behalf of the Union of Hope. And as Daryl is treated to his first touch of normalcy and kindness in a long time, we are reassured of the reliability of Isabelle and the self-sustaining abbey she’s found her home in. The immediate sense of eerie familiarity and comfort between the two can be chalked up to the scarring pasts they’ve both been fighting tooth and nail to leave behind. It’s through Isabelle that we’re informed of the newer, far more fatal variant of the zombies, the brûlants, and rest assured, we’ll be seeing far more of them in the upcoming episodes of The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon.
While Daryl’s seen too much to be overwhelmed in a strange convent that exists as though it’s forgotten the world has gone to hell, he’s quite intrigued by the presence of Laurent, an odd little orphaned boy who’s grown up around the nuns. From the moment we lay eyes on him, everything about Laurent exudes a hint of spooky mysticism. And that only increases tenfold with him casually reading Daryl’s mind as though it were an open book. But Daryl’s not fazed. What he is dumbfounded by is that the convent is still safeguarding Father John, even though he’s turned, in the hopes that faith will resurrect his soul. It’s all a bit much for Daryl. Since there happens to be a kid in the mix, especially one with special abilities, you can practically see The Last of Us comparisons pouring in as soon as fans connect the dots.
When Daryl’s pushed to add another mission to his already full plate, you bet he’d hardly be intrigued by the claims made by Isabelle. There’s no way he’s gullible enough to be convinced that Laurent could be the new messiah capable of delivering mankind from the endless chaos it’s been sucked into. Even when he’s presented with the absurd belief that Laurent has somehow foreseen his arrival as “the messenger” who’d safeguard his passage to the north, Daryl’s a long way from being convinced. Is he justified in his cynicism? From what we’ve seen of Laurent, the boy who’s supposed to be delivered to the northern base of the Union of Hope, where they hope to guide him until he attains his full potential, there’s something undoubtedly uncanny about him. But Daryl’s not as quick on his feet as he once was. Neither is he the same Daryl who’d make sure that testing him was the last mistake his enemies made. The grueling passage to the north, marked on the board by Father John, is too big of a risk for Daryl to take on. Even with the possibility of locating ships at the port of Le Havre, Daryl is in no position to assume the role of Laurent’s protector. His imminent departure cements the Mother Superior’s lack of faith in the man. And Daryl pays no heed to Isabelle’s futile pleas for the flickering flame of hope that she desperately wants to believe is still alive in him.
Will Daryl Agree To Accompany Laurent? What’s Going On In Le Havre?
Albeit rather subtly, The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon has impressively strayed from the path that the mother series has established for a whopping 11 years. It’s got to be a giant risk to blunt the rough edges of a dark hero whose charm has consistently relied on that very attribute. Thankfully, the risk pays off, and despite the ache you feel when you see Daryl’s considerably weakened, less agile state, you can’t help but appreciate the bold choice the series had to make in order to add a layer of authenticity to the narrative. It’s only normal that Daryl would be completely enervated after spending God knows how long on a ship amongst adversaries.
Add to it the days he must’ve spent floating toward the shore, withering away from hunger and dehydration, and you couldn’t help but sympathize with Daryl, who’s easily incapacitated by the old Guillaume. But The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon isn’t stingy with the bloodbath we associate with the franchise and keep coming back for. If anything, the gory deaths have now been infused with a dose of moral turmoil. When Codron, the ginormous and frankly quite terrifying member of the Guirriers, catches up to Maribelle and Guillaume, the last two people to have seen his brother, you can’t help but expect the two to pay for betraying Daryl. Yet, the sight of Codron bashing the old man’s brains in for so much as speaking over him fills you with a morbid sense of guilt for wishing harm upon Guillaume. Maribelle might have just evaded her demise by leading Codron to the walker who was once his brother, but she can only go so far now that she’s completely on her own.
Although it seemingly means a world of trouble for the convent now that Codron believes it was Daryl who killed his brother, Codron’s bone-chilling arrival at the convent is what starts off the grander chain reaction that would eventually, and hopefully, revive the world. Daryl’s not one to sit on his hands and watch as a convent full of nuns and a child are attacked by Codron and his people. Isabelle wasn’t kidding when she mentioned the nuns being trained in combat. Dropping the tame veil that hides their true capacity, the nuns take up their weapons and valiantly defend their home. But even their combined efforts prove to be insufficient when faced with the unpredictable threat posed by the Guirriers. Even Daryl’s timely intervention couldn’t stop the convent from being drenched in the blood of the nuns who stood up, fought hard, and ultimately succumbed to the wretched reality of the circumstances. The world is no longer what it once was. The nightmarish existence that humanity has fallen victim to drives a man to stick a spear into a walker’s skull, a walker who was once the priest the man took guidance from as a child.
The volatile arrival of the strange American in France has ravaged the fabric of peace between the Union of Hope and the Guirriers. The only good that’s come out of it—not that it’s not crucial to the very survival of mankind—is the change of mind Daryl’s about to undergo. As the grief-stricken convent mourns the unfathomable loss of life, hope dawns in the unlikeliest way. It took unimaginable bloodshed for Daryl to make up his mind about escorting Laurent to the north, a place that hopefully holds the key to unlocking the treasure chest of his world-saving gifts.
The ending of the first episode of The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon, however, promises that Daryl and Laurent’s journey will be anything but easy. Genet, the formidable woman who seems to be the leader of the Guirriers, is on the lookout for the American prisoner who’s escaped the ship and destroyed the research that was being conducted. While it won’t be a stretch to assume that this was the very ship that brought Daryl to Le Havre and that these were the bad people who were holding him captive, we’d still have to wait for the upcoming episodes to shed light on this research that Genet seems to be concerned about. For now, there’s a creepy doctor, talk of an uprising being prevented, and a horde of zombies whose purpose on the ship seems to be related to the enigmatic experiment. Considering Daryl doesn’t seem to recall ever being in Le Havre, he was likely unaware of where he even was when he escaped. Now that Genet and Codron are out of his head, Daryl’s journey ahead will have far more roadblocks than he expects. But knowing Daryl, he wouldn’t exactly make it easy on his enemies either.