A real priest or not, God couldn’t have found a better, more valiant messenger than the one who singlehandedly takes on a horde to save a child he’s known for a day or two. The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon‘s astute understanding of savior and protector Daryl’s organic arc soars as we’re treated to the new role he’s undertaken. It’ll be a while before his ulterior goal transcends the one he’s allowed to fuel his journey—going home to his family. But he does take a walk with Laurent, even when he doesn’t have to—already a better father figure than his abusive degenerate of a dad could ever be.
A Bruised and Battered France
The signs of a darker past haunting Isabelle were first hinted at in the pilot of The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon. The very same signs that have spent long enough in hiding are given the entirety of the stage as the second episode rolls in, with our nun snorting coke in a pre-apocalyptic France. The darkness Isabelle has run from is a purse full of stolen watches that belong to the patrons of the bar. You may not yet know the reason behind the loud thud that sends the crowd into a screaming frenzy, but as Isabelle’s eyes reveal the first look of dread at the sight of a subway crawling with walkers, you know France has fallen. She can’t possibly make a run for it without her secretly very pregnant sister, Lily. And when every subsequent action exudes the same selfless determination you’ve come to admire in the present version of Isabelle, things do start to fall into place.
A preschool brimming with life
Are you missing Carol yet? For Daryl to be bossed around by Isabelle, she has to have such a formidable aura that even a guy like him would think twice before questioning her. Their Angers-bound journey resulting in the loss of their mule allows for the narrative to branch out in multiple directions– lacking urgency but significant nonetheless. We’re given a sneak peek into just how lovingly coddled Laurent has been by the nuns and how wonderfully they’ve still given his upbringing a touch of normalcy in a world that has no hope of ever regaining the same. What comes as a freak attack soon provides the group with passage through a little place where hope is still alive, albeit flickeringly.
For 18 kids who’ve only known a post-apocalyptic world, Lou and her group sure know how to create and sustain a safe terrarium where survival doesn’t come at the cost of genuine human connection. Of course, they have Madame Dubois to thank for that. It’s in these homely ruins of a school, graced by the smiling faces of the kids who may never know what life was like before humanity’s fall, that Daryl and Isabelle’s stark dissimilitude in morals and purpose takes center stage. Both are valid in their own ways. Yet, one’s had a far harsher brawl with life to know it isn’t inherently wrong to give Lou the false hope of her teacher’s survival if it means they get a horse to go north. While the other, the more insistently sentimental one, mourns the loss these kids have endured without even knowing they’ve lost anything at all.
Is Codron Still After Daryl?
Whether you’d warm up to the brand-new style the franchise has been trying to acculturate The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon to depends on myriad factors. The most essential one is why you’ve been religiously following the franchise for more than a decade in the first place. If it’s the mother series’ signature grit that you’ve acclimatized yourself to, you may just find The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon‘s approach to the scruffy warrior a tad on the softer side. But just a little deeper attention to the emotional nuances of Daryl’s journey so far makes it readily convincing that the man of the show is exactly the man he’s worked toward becoming. The warm and reassuring coexistence of tenderness and savagery underscores the hopes his fans have been harboring ever since he booked a permanent spot in our hearts.
Nevertheless, it’s still a little concerning that Daryl would still not flinch and would take advantage of crestfallen Lou to get his hands on a horse that would make the journey Northwards somewhat easier. But even then, you know his motivation is far more personal than Isabelle would’ve liked it to be. But that doesn’t mean Daryl’s cold. All he wants is to get back to the few people he’s come to embrace as his family on the wounded planet he resides on. Your faith in Daryl’s admirable heroics is reaffirmed when he tricks Lou into staying back and lets himself into the castle so that whatever danger awaits there doesn’t touch the kid he’s come to be fond of. His time with Isabelle may have nudged him a bit toward the realm of faith, but the patriotism people invariably associate with Daryl time and again is understandably nonexistent. This time, though, it’s wicked fun watching the “fellow American” RJ Gaines being feasted on by the horde of the hungry. And yet, you can see why someone would plummet into the gloomy pits of lunacy in a world like theirs, especially when they haven’t seen the only people they care about in ages and can’t bring themselves to accept that they’re most likely dead.
Daryl’s seen enough losses to not get fazed by the one that’s made RJ Gaines the madman that stands before him today. And maybe he would’ve even lived if he hadn’t made the mistake of endangering Daryl’s life. But death is the only constant in the cruel landscape taken over by flesh-eaters and living monsters. Looking out for themselves is the only way Daryl and Lou could not only bring back the supplies that’d ensure comfortable survival for a while but also the kid who’d been taken hostage by RJ. Madame Dubois was already beyond saving. And no matter how desperately Lou’s been fooling herself with the prospect of her survival, how quickly she comes to terms with her beloved teacher’s death is a testament to the depressing reality of the world she’s gotten used to. Existential dread walks hand in hand with Laurent and Daryl, as now, with a stable carriage and a horse, they make their way to the city of Angers, where a man with a radio might help them connect with the Union of Hope’s northern base.
The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon didn’t string us along for too long before revealing the cryptic origin of our “special child.” Through a haunting recollection of the dreadful night that saw France get eaten alive by the dead, we now know that Isabelle set foot in the convent for the first time to save Lily. Unfortunately, Lily’d been bitten already. Fortunately, the baby that Isabelle named after St. Laurent not only survived but might’ve even acquired special abilities, as his mother had already turned before the umbilical cord was severed. Sounds a bit too much like some other miracle child, doesn’t he? Here’s to hoping Laurent thrives just like Ellie did in The Last of Us. But as a limping Codron is seen traipsing through the deserted halls of the convent, episode 2 of The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon ends with a gong to announce the arrival of a formidable adversary. With Genet and her crew already on his tail, the last thing Daryl needs is Codron’s vengeful fury joining the team.