The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon full season review: Poetic Promise

The Walking Dead Daryl Dixon season 1 key art
The Walking Dead Daryl Dixon season 1 key art /

The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon is a highly anticipated series that provides an international treat for fans of all ages, backgrounds, regions, and religions. History comes to life in this whirlwind of a journey for Daryl Dixon.

There is an artistic flair that we’ve never seen before in the TWD universe that leaves you asking for much more. Spoilers ahead!

The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon is a series that comes right on time for The Walking Dead franchise. The finale of The Walking Dead in 2022 was seen as lackluster in the eyes of many fans.

The future of the universe was hopeful at best. The emergence of Maggie and Negan in The Walking Dead: Dead City put the franchise back on the map.

With over a decade of The Walking Dead, it was unclear how an intriguing story of a post-apocalyptic world could continue to be written. The second spinoff since the mothership’s end, brings a story of redemption and hope in a confusing world for Daryl Dixon.

The lone wolf archer must battle the toughest elements he’s ever faced in a land where he doesn’t know the language and understands their religious culture even less. The series will mark its premiere on Sunday, September 10 at 9PM EST on AMC.

Following the Daryl Dixon premiere is a brand-new season of Ride with Norman Reedus. Norman Reedus is about to own September nights.

The French adventure takes place shortly after the events of The Walking Dead series finale, when Daryl rides away moments after telling Carol he loves her. This is the only time he has ever expressed love for any character on the show in over a decade.

Genesis 12:1: The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I show you.”

The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon consists of 6 episodes for its freshman season, opening up with “L’ame Perdue”. The most prominent feature throughout this brand-new series is Daryl’s happy ending.

In the very first moment, we see Daryl drifting onto shore, holding on by a thread as Judith’s words ring out, “You deserve a happy ending too.” He is breathless, dehydrated, and exhausted.

He nearly collapses in his weakened state, as his body hits the tan, delicate sand. The backdrop of the azure ocean was picturesque against the light blue sky and the green hues of the trees just a touch away.

His vision is shaky at best as he manages to find water in a child’s pale. It is evident it had been days or even weeks since his body had any hydration as he’s near delirium.

From then on he finds the strength to move forward and figure out his surroundings. At this moment in time, he is oblivious to his location and nothing looks familiar as he walks through the ruins of Paris.

It takes no time before Daryl finds himself on a boat at an abandoned Marina for refuge and recuperation, listening to a man’s story who came before him. He was a man who once had a full life: a wife, daughter, and dog.

A life similar to the one he had. It’s unknown what became of the man but Daryl uses his recorder to leave his message.

"“My name is 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. Hell, I’m still trying.”"

Since the fall Daryl has spent his days fiercely protecting his pack. Putting others before his own importance.

And as Carol always says, he’s a man of honor. Daryl is a unique soul in a treacherous world, even in the days before, you could rarely find men like him.

Upon his arrival in France, it didn’t take long for the nuns to see what kind of man was brought forth to them. The leader of the Union of Hope, Isabelle (Clémence Poésy) a nun, immediately believes that Daryl was brought to them for a spiritual reason.

He is to be the messenger they have prayed for who will deliver Laurent (Louis Puech Scigliuzzi) to his destined location, to take his rightful place to revive humanity. Daryl is anything but religious and Isabelle’s words were met with bewilderment.

The only ambition Daryl has at that moment is to return home. While he’s appreciative of their help, this is not his problem and not his fight.

His physical body may be in Europe but his heart very much remains at the place he is in dire need to get back to. Because he is a man of honor, after leaving he has a moment of revelation and returns when they find themselves in danger.

Ultimately, Daryl decides the best present option is to make a deal with Isabelle to deliver Laurent across a brokenly beautiful but resilient France to a place called the Nest. In return, Isabelle will set up a way for him to return home.

At first, Daryl wants no part in it. But after some contemplation, he chooses it for a path back home.

Isabelle carries a very interesting backstory that led her to become a nun. The fall is what saved and guided her to a life of faith after tragic events.

She found sanctuary at the time when she needed God the most. Years later, Isabelle created the Union of Hope; an alliance of religions of all kinds who unified for the greater good.

If you like stories of strong women who have lost themselves in a previous time and emerged from the ashes to take back their lives, you will enjoy Isabelle.

Clémence Poésy as Isabelle, Laïka Blanc-Francard as Sylvie – The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon _ Season 1 – Photo Credit: Emmanuel Guimier/AMC
Clémence Poésy as Isabelle, Laïka Blanc-Francard as Sylvie – The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon _ Season 1 – Photo Credit: Emmanuel Guimier/AMC /

Poesy’s portrayal of Isabelle spreads a message of hope and perseverance. Even on the brink of death, it is possible to have a light at the end of the tunnel, just like a lot of apocalypse survivors, she became a leader far after the fall.

It took the world ending to find her true destiny. Before the turn, she was a mess of hopelessness in a lost world.

The world may not have been broken but it was internally. Poesy is a tremendous actress who shines with firepower in this series.

The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon: There are reasons everywhere

The famed locations are what is going to set The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon apart from all the rest. You see the Catacombs and are reminded of the history of all the tribulations France has been through.

It gives the audience hope that even in the face of entire annihilation, the French can get through anything. They have a history of preservation that is present in their walls, a generation that is made of phenomenal stock.

The Walking Dead: Dead City may have this one beat in the opening credits but TWD: Daryl Dixon takes the gold in cinematography.

Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon – The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon _ Season 1 – Photo Credit: Emmanuel Guimier/AMC
Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon – The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon _ Season 1 – Photo Credit: Emmanuel Guimier/AMC /

This is a spinoff all about hope. Hope comes in many different forms in TWD: Daryl Dixon. 

The hope to survive against insurmountable obstacles. The hope to triumph in a defeated world.

The hope that Daryl has to get back home and the hope to fulfill a promise he made a long time ago. Hope is Daryl Dixon’s North Star.

Whatever happiness he is looking to achieve, hope is the propulsion behind it.

“Hope is the North Star. Let it guide you.”

In the duration of the series, Daryl proves time and time again that he is not better off alone. Isabelle, Laurent, Daryl, and a young nun Sylvie (Laika Blanc Francard) truck their way across France to deliver Laurent.

Although Laurent is not conscious of the knowledge with Daryl not liking the fact they are lying to him. Being a “Messiah” is not an easy task for a child.

He may not want the job. God only gives us what he thinks we can handle.

Daryl thinks they should be honest with him and at the time, it seems Daryl is the only one who doesn’t look at him like an icon. I believe it’s why Daryl and Laurent connect as quickly as they do.

There is a sense of forcefulness. From the moment Daryl arrives they expect him to automatically be some kind of father figure.

You can’t teach a child how to be a man in a matter of days. As much as it’s too much pressure to put on Laurent to be a savior, it’s also too much pressure to put on Daryl to be the father figure of a child he just met.

Daryl Dixon is someone who takes years to trust and to become comfortable enough with another person to consider them family.

Louis Puech Scigliuzzi as Laurent – The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon _ Season 1 – Photo Credit: Emmanuel Guimier/AMC
Louis Puech Scigliuzzi as Laurent – The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon _ Season 1 – Photo Credit: Emmanuel Guimier/AMC /

Laurent is a child but seen as a miracle, who just wants to be a regular kid. When they come across an orphanage, he has the time of his life just being a kid.

He is an extremely empathic child who can see into the soul of a person and know what they’re feeling. Even in the first instance he met Daryl he knew he was saddened and homesick.

And somehow knew that like Judith, he deserved a happy ending too. Only he can know what his happy ending is and throughout the series, there are delicate hints of his happy ending which has a lot to do with his promise.

Daryl Dixon: What is impressive about TWD: Daryl Dixon?

The weaponry. If you loved Daryl in The Walking Dead’s season 10 episode “Morning Star”, you are going to love this series from start to finish.

Beyond that, there are a lot of old-school weapons that were used in previous wartime. You will witness some antique pistols, calvary pistols, percussion riles, and even a blunderbuss.

And as always, it wouldn’t be a Daryl Dixon spinoff without a handful of bows and arrows. Don’t come into this spinoff thinking you are going to see a lot of modern-day warfare.

Far from it. But sometimes simplicity is best.

They are effective and impressive to watch. The artistry is very prevalent in France.

There are going to be some locations with a particular piece of art following. And it has to do with what the piece represents to Daryl.

There is a tremendous amount of subtext throughout the show, and you must pay attention to what this specific art represents to Daryl and who.

It speaks volumes without saying a lot. Daryl is involved in some of the best action we’ve ever seen but it really doesn’t become full throttle until the final episode.

Many characters outshine him as he struggles facing danger on his own. Not to mention this is the clumsiest version of Daryl I’ve ever seen.

Towards the end, we see an unprecedented history of Daryl Dixon. You won’t see it coming and it will define his entire future.

Evil comes in many variations. It will leave you with a deeper understanding of the Dixon origin and unveils how history has a habit of repeating itself if you’re not careful.

What worked:

  • Daryl’s promise: His heart still remains back home.
  • The catacombs of The Black Death.
  • The magnificent beauty of France and its locations.
  • The underground nightclub called Demimonde. Yes, there is so much going on there, but in a post-apocalyptic world seeing phenomenal performers is quite miraculous.
  • The Union of Hope: Bringing various religions together for the greater good.
  • Respecting Daryl as a leader and a capable man to get Laurent to the Nest.
  • Daryl and Laurents awe of the Eiffel Tower.
  • Isabelle’s backstory: It tells a great story to those of us who have lost ourselves and can still overcome and persevere.
  • The walker variants in France.
  • The French artwork and architecture.

What didn’t work:

  • Laurent as the Messiah: I’m all for spirituality but to give a child that much power is perplexing.
  • Homing pigeons are used to send messages. Just as Daryl will tell you there’s no way it could work.
  • The Pilgrim attire.
  • Pressuring and guilting Daryl to stay in France.
  • Laurent’s mimicking of Daryl the first time they met. The relationship between the two was forced too quickly. He barely knows the child and there will also be men at the Nest who will give him a male influence.
  • Isabelle’s lying to Laurent and Daryl.
  • A very underwhelming plot.
  • The atmosphere feels like something out of Vikings.
  • Praying away walkers.
  • Characters trying to force Daryl to care more than he does.

Do not expect to hear a lot of name drops from Daryl. Keep your expectations limited about any information from back home.

You will hear a few obvious familiar names, but Daryl doesn’t go into detail about it. It may be a trust issue for the beloved archer.

It’s not for lack of being questioned. Those around him want to know about his people but he’s only willing to reveal so much.

There are specific personal questions asked that he’s not comfortable answering. Though I do like how it’s being asked.

Even in the years of The Walking Dead you never found many people asking who are the most important people to Daryl, or what he wants. What creates his happiness?

Who does he love? These are really simple questions asked by strangers that should have been inquired about a long time ago.

However, there is one almost name-drop in episode 5 that is going to break the internet. The antagonist group of The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon is a political group called The Cause, led by Genet (Anne Charrier).

Daryl has several run-ins with a soldier for the cause named Codron (Romain Levi). Upon Daryl’s arrival, he had a misfortune with Codron’s brother.

This is a world of survival and sometimes you don’t always know who you will run into or the consequences that come along with it.

Romain Levi as Codron, Elias Hauter as Philippe – The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon _ Season 1 – Photo Credit: Emmanuel Guimier/AMC
Romain Levi as Codron, Elias Hauter as Philippe – The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon _ Season 1 – Photo Credit: Emmanuel Guimier/AMC /

The Cause is not a group that stands by faith. They believe the faithful are the reason France got into this mess in the first place.

Laurent and his gifts are widely known throughout France and they don’t believe in it. He is a child who is destined for more than just survival.

However, not many have seen him in person and it all sounds like a fable to most. Seeing Daryl in the role of a father-like figure is no new thing, but the question you have to keep asking is when is it enough?

At a certain point, Daryl has got to be good for more than a glorified babysitter. He wasn’t put in this world to guide all the children as if he were playing Peter Pan in Hook.

There comes a time when Daryl is going to have to stand up and stop living for everybody else. It is okay to have your happiness and express what you want.

He has put in the time that karma should fade his way. For now, Daryl is a lone wolf who only wants to get back to his pack.

In this production, you’ll see some of the more interesting walkers we’ve ever had. Different variants are often called, “the hungry ones.”

Not much of a creative name, but there are many versions of them. One type is called “burners” and when they touch you, they will burn your skin with acid.

Others are incredibly fast and substantially strong. The Cause is responsible for doing testing and experiments on them, much like we saw in The Walking Dead: World Beyond.

I would have liked to see more detail and further information as to why and what they are testing. Is there information they have that the world doesn’t know?

If the fallout started in France and made its way to America, it would be interesting to see them come in contact with other countries. There is the technology to do it.

Seeing how far the spread has gone, it has been very interesting to see the differences between Europe and America. At this moment in time, Daryl doesn’t have any connection to the labs as his purpose is a religious one.

If the CRM and France have that connection, you’d think it would be the perfect opportunity to make a Rick connection. Though if you try to make too much sense in this world, it falls on deaf ears.

– The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon _ Season 1 – Photo Credit: Emmanuel Guimier/AMC
– The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon _ Season 1 – Photo Credit: Emmanuel Guimier/AMC /

The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon: The promise

Daryl’s promise is highlighted throughout the series. As you go further into each episode the promise becomes more prominent.

Episode 5 is the best episode of the series. All the questions you have rolling through your mind are heavily answered in this episode, when the promise is revealed.

Which is the reason he had so much will to get home and why he still does.

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”- Lao Tzu

We all have that one person in our lives who is that driving force. The most important thing I can tell you about TWD: Daryl Dixon is to pay attention to the subtle subtexts.

You will observe reminders of where Daryl’s heart lies. “Where your treasure is there will your heart be also.”

There is an artistry of connection and a nostalgic vibe that takes you back to the early days of The Walking Dead, where family was everything they fought for. The story has a powerful sense of poetic essence told through art, love, humanity, and conquest.

The end of the series will leave you feeling mixed emotions of purpose and jubilation as Daryl Dixon comes within a breath of his fate. The shining moment of the series comes within the last few minutes of the season 1 finale.

It leaves an abundance of high potential for season 2. The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon supplies fans of TWD with the hope of believing in something bigger than yourself.

When life has taken all it possibly can, there is a higher power who can be your saving grace. Along with a connection of unity that is a safe harbor in a desolate storm.

It depicts the story of a man who desperately wants to get back to the two people who are the reason why he fights. There are people and circumstances that threaten to occlude the destination of his heart, just like a soldier in Normandy.

All in all, The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon shows you that even without faith there is always a reason to believe.

Next. Norman Reedus says The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon is art in the making. dark

The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon premieres on September 10 on AMC and AMC Plus.