Episodes Watched: All Episodes – No spoilers are shared in this review.
Joining Reedus includes Harry Potter alum Clémence Poésy who plays Isabelle Carriere, Chernobyl star Adam Nagaitis as Quinn, Romain Levi as Stephane Codron, and Louis Puech Scigliuzzi as Laurent, among others.
As confirmed by the cast and crew of the series, Reedus’ Daryl Dixon travels to France but doesn’t fully understand why or how he got there. Just like he typically does, Daryl sets out on a Middle-earth-like journey to explore the new territory and try to figure out a way to get back home to the new Commonwealth.
Daryl Dixon Season 1 Review
If you told me that the people behind The Walking Dead would be sending Daryl Dixon to Paris, I would have probably been confused, but now that they have, well I was still confused.
However, that seems to be the vibe that this new spinoff series wants viewers to have as it plays on the mysterious element which is ‘how did Daryl actually get to France?’ Something that even Daryl doesn’t seem to know, this makes for one out of a dozen interesting parts of the series.
Zombies, Walkers… Variants?
Let’s not forget one of the key elements of this universe though, zombies aka the many additional names they are labelled by this universe’s characters. Reedus’ Daryl Dixon series, without a doubt, introduces the most terrifying zombies yet such as the already confirmed “burners”, a new variant zombie that can literally burn your skin just by touching you due to a unique “mutation”.
It’s no secret that fans of the franchise have been anticipating variant zombies for some time now since it was heavily teased during the final episodes of the main series. Despite the Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Lauren Cohan-led Dead City spinoff being positively received by fans, one thing it didn’t have was the pre-teased variants… something the Daryl Dixon definitely makes up for.
Good Casting, Even Better Performances
Something that The Walking Dead has always played on most is the relationships between human characters, as opposed to the post-apocalyptic story just focusing on people fighting the undead. This new spinoff to the franchise doesn’t change that as it places Daryl in a much more talkative environment as seen in past episodes of the main series, in fact, Reedus probably has more lines in these six episodes than multiple seasons of The Walking Dead – finally.
The entire cast proves in each scene that they are the people for the job, with all performances being exceptionally convincing, immersing you into this new setting and captivating you with every word. Some scenes may feel like they drag out a little in terms of dialogue, however, this is justified due to each supporting character being developed with backstory and character-driven storylines.
Poésy shines as Isabelle and captures the character brilliantly, Nagaitis is so convincing that it’s easy to fully believe that he is indeed this Quinn character. Romain Levi’s performance as Stephane is the best out of the entire series, despite his motives, he will soon become a fan favourite – that’s for sure.
Daryl’s Mental Health
Most importantly, Reedus’ performance doesn’t fail to deliver the Daryl Dixon that fans of The Walking Dead have grown to know and love over the years. You do get a lot more of him this time around, along with a lot more dialogue, but Reedus still manages to pull off the same defensive and closed-off character traits.
Daryl’s mental health has always been a concern simply due to how much the character has been through, dating back to before the zombocalypse all the way to his younger years. Daryl’s pain, backstory, and everyday struggles are what made him one of the most relatable characters in the entire series to begin with. His spinoff doesn’t forget that, it harnesses it and explores it possibly more than ever before seen in the past – but no major spoilers on that!
On top of the amount of trauma Daryl has gone through in the past, he now has all of this newfound stress of being stuck in France, facing new threats, and being tasked with things he never asked to be tasked with in the first place.
Lastly for this non-spoiler review is the setting aka the location that the series was both set and filmed in, France.
The locations used in these episodes were genius, most locations that Daryl journeys across will genuinely give you Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings vibes.
It’s no secret that France is home to many beautiful locations, but this series really hones in on the ones that may be overlooked, however, it also shines a light on the more popular locations such as the catacombs and Eifell Tower.
In summary, the first season of the new Daryl Dixon spinoff series stays true to the lead character’s past while also paving an extremely interesting future. Everything from the setting to the performances will keep you watching. It may feel slow at times, but it’s extremely rewarding when it picks up the pace.
There are plenty of surprises, twists, and turns that will keep any fan of the franchise engaged – but you’ll have to watch to find out all the fun details. I can safely say this is the best version of Daryl Dixon seen yet, and one of the best spinoffs of the franchise produced so far.
One thing that becomes more apparent with each new spinoff is that these stories are made for true fans of The Walking Dead, and for that, I am grateful.
I’d like to take a moment to congratulate the cast and crew of all departments who worked on bringing this beautiful series to life, these worlds would not be what they are without the effort made by the people on both sides of the camera.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon premieres on September 10 on AMC and AMC+
This review was written during the 2023 WGA (now resolved) and SAG-AFTRA (ongoing) strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the series/movie being covered here wouldn’t exist.