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daryl-dixon.jpeg

Is 'Daryl Dixon' Reason Enough to Jump Back Into 'The Walking Dead' Universe?

By Dustin Rowles | TV | September 11, 2023 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | September 11, 2023 |


daryl-dixon.jpeg

The bad news about The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon is that the word readers are going to hear a lot in discussing the series is “derivative,” as it will be often compared unfavorably to HBO’s Station Eleven. The good news is: There are worse things than being compared to the phenomenal Station Eleven. Logan-Marshall Green , after all, probably doesn’t complain when he’s compared to Tom Hardy. It could be compared to Fear the Walking Dead, which would be the kiss of death. Based on the pilot, anyway, it’s easily the best of all the many The Walking Dead spin-offs, which makes sense: The Norman Reedus character is probably the most universally beloved character from the franchise.

With Daryl Dixon, showrunner David Zabel not only changes settings, he changes continents, relocating Daryl to France. Why? That’s not entirely clear yet, although there is a notion that he may be searching for his friend Rick Grimes. How he ended up in France is largely papered over. He says he made some poor choices, got kicked off a boat, and apparently floated to shore on a lifeboat, hilariously still wearing his Daryl Dixon getup. The boat he was kicked off of was operated by The Cause, which we later learn had kidnapped Daryl in America with a plan to subject him to human experimentation. Daryl, however, instigated a mutiny, destroyed the Cause’s research, and jumped overboard.

After Daryl jumps overboard, he washes up in France. He finds his way to a convent of nuns who know how to take care of themselves during the zombie apocalypse (think Warrior Nuns, but in the apocalypse in France). These nuns, led by Sister Isabelle (Clémence Poésy) have some unusual beliefs, chief among them the belief that an intelligent young boy, Laurent (Louis Puech Scigliuzzi), is the future Messiah destined to lead humanity to renewal (the Station Eleven comparisons here are unavoidable).

It’s the kind of crackpot group that Daryl Dixon typically avoids, but in Daryl Dixon, he’s on the bad side of The Cause. Not only did he instigate a mutiny, but once on shore, he is falsely accused of killing the brother of Codron, another leader of The Cause. Codron and his men attack the nun’s fortress in an attempt to get to Daryl, and most of Codron’s men are killed along with most of the nuns. Daryl manages to save Laurent and Isabelle and escape.

Thereafter, Daryl promises to take Laurent to where he needs to go if Isabelle helps Daryl find the port at Le Havre, which is where the ship he escaped is currently docked.

It’s a short six-episode season, and based on the scenes from subsequent episodes, it looks like a road trip to the port where Daryl, Isa, and Laurent encounter other groups while being pursued by The Cause. There is also the matter of the zombie apocalypse, and while Daryl has not yet encountered the fast-and-strong zombies in France that were teased at the end of The Walking Dead: The World Beyond, he has encountered burners, a fun new variant that is so acidic that their touch alone burns through flesh.

Speaking of The Walking Dead: The World Beyond, the Cause is also strikingly similar to the Civic Republic, the villainous group in The World Beyond that also experimented on humans and collected research, and was led by a Frenchwoman (Julia Ormond). It’s unclear if the similarities are intentional or coincidental. After all, the Civic Republic was responsible for capturing Rick Grimes, and Daryl Dixon may have encountered the Cause while in search of Rick. Daryl may be returning to the port of Le Havre to collect more information on Rick’s potential whereabouts. Or maybe not. At one point, The Walking Dead was meant to converge with the Rick Grimes movies, but it is unclear if reuniting the spin-off characters (Daryl/Carol, Maggie/Negan, Rick/Michonne, Morgan) is still in the works. The Walking Dead universe is still a mess, but Daryl Dixon may yet get it back on the tracks.