The Walking Dead universe is continuing its grand expansion with its newest spinoff, The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon. After viewing the entire first season, similar to The Walking Dead: Dead City, the series can be described as an incredible breath of fresh air. With Daryl Dixon predominantly taking place in the countryside of France, audiences will get to witness an entirely new dimension of the zombie apocalypse.
This series sees the return of original The Walking Dead veteran Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon. While the later seasons of the original series put Daryl in the spotlight as the new lead, this brand-new series takes that aspect to new levels. Joining Norman Reedus in the show are Clémence Poésy, Laïka Blanc-Francard, Anne Charrier, Louis Puech Scigliuzzi, and many more. Continue on for my complete thoughts about the newest The Walking Dead spin-off!
[Warning: Light spoilers and impressions from The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon are below!]
Taking the zombie apocalypse to France with Daryl Dixon
As some may notice, the majority of the cast outside of Norman Reedus are French. About 60% of the spoken dialogue is in French as well. While the change in dialogue may be distracting for some at first, it becomes quite easy to settle into. With the show being set in France, the production made sure to make great use of the beautiful French countryside. The show itself is incredibly multi-dimensional with a range of topics to discuss throughout the duration of the first season.
Daryl Dixon puts a huge emphasis on its characters and the character development throughout the season. Much of the first season can be considered to be a methodical slow burn with an emphasis on developing relationships and the dynamics within the show.
Right away the writing does terrific job of introducing its main characters and their intentions. Clemence Poesy becomes an instant standout and brings a ton of heart to the show. After spending 11 seasons with Daryl we know almost everything about him, so Poesy’s character Isabelle is given the brunt of the development and backstory.
Isabelle’s backstory quickly becomes one of the highlights of the season and her outbreak day experience may be up there with one of the best in the entire franchise. Outbreak day experiences for our characters have sort of become like the Order 66 flashbacks of The Walking Dead universe per se, as they are used as defining moments for characters.
In the present day, Isabelle belongs to a sisterhood of Nuns at an Abbey in the countryside of France. It is there we learn that this sisterhood has been raising a young boy by the name of Laurent (portrayed by Louis Puech Scigliuzzi). The story revolving around Laurent becomes essentially the main arc of the season and is therefore too much of a spoiler to talk about. What can be said though is that Laurent sort of takes on a Judith Grimes type of role within the show and Scigliuzzi’s performance serves as both the comedic relief and the heart and soul of the season.
The main villain of the season goes by the name of Genet (portrayed by Anne Charrier), who is sort of a pseudo-military general/political leader in post-apocalyptic France. The story for her is similar to the Croat and the Dama in The Walking Dead: Dead City, as leaders who are looking to govern territory and keep control of the people and resources in post-apocalyptic times.
While her story can be a bit simple at times, the writing covers for that as she develops multiple meaningful dynamics with our characters. Overall, for TWD: Daryl Dixon the characters are by far the strongest aspects of the show.
The highs and lows of AMC’s newest Walking Dead series
Another incredible aspect of the first season is the cinematography. In more scenes than can be counted, there are visuals and shots that are far superior to anything we’ve seen in any of The Walking Dead shows. The finale features shots that rival Rick Grimes’ entrance into downtown Atlanta in the pilot of The Walking Dead. The show manages to take advantage of natural light as well and there are many moments where it appears the show is shot at either dusk or dawn to capture the surreal lighting.
It is by far the most stunning season of The Walking Dead visually, something that was anticipated based on the trailers. As someone who has grown to love cinematography and visuals as an adult, it was incredibly rewarding for this season to put so much emphasis on visuals and camera work along with its writing. Hopefully, the show can continue to expand on its brilliant camera work in future seasons.
There are only a few minor downsides to The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon. Midway through the first season, the show falls into some stereotypical tropes that Dead City also struggled with. There was certainly a lull in pace and adrenaline at the midway point as well. Luckily the show’s first two episodes and last two episodes are by far its best, delivering a great entry point into the show and a great entry point into season two.
There also needs to be some more depth to Genet added to the show. So far she feels like your stereotypical evil main boss and I would like to see some depth and backstory added to the character in season two to truly instill her as a compelling villain.
Should you check out The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon?
Overall, the show delivers a compelling script about the wonders of humanity, hope, and faith combined into one. It introduces the idea of a found family and how at the end of the day we are all just looking for a reason to survive.
It’s not a surprise the show was already renewed for a season two before the first season premiered, as AMC has what I consider to be a hit on their hands. The series has the potential to truly develop and flesh out into something special. The character of Daryl Dixon has already been a beloved character with many layers, he now has multiple characters with that sort of complexity to them joining him on this journey.
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