The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon 1×01 is finally here, and with it comes some positives and negatives. While the return of everyone’s favorite crossbow-wielding survivor is welcome, Daryl Dixon doesn’t entirely escape the tropes that have continued to plague the long-running franchise. Comparisons to The Last of Us have also concerned fans since Daryl Dixon‘s first look released in July 2023, and 1×01 “L’âme Perdue” proves some of those right.
The first episode picks up with Daryl’s mysterious arrival in France. As with many premieres, most of Daryl Dixon 1×01 “L’âme Perdue” is spent introducing new characters and laying the foundation for the season. In this case, the series offers a promising mystery centered around Daryl’s journey up until this point and his involvement with Laurent (Louis Puech Scigliuzzi), the boy said to be the key to humanity’s revival.
Daryl Dixon Is Perfect for Walking Dead Fans That Stopped Watching
The Walking Dead is often divided into sections: before Glenn’s death and after. For many, the former marked their departure from the series. Others stuck around only to leave after Rick (Andrew Lincoln) or Michonne (Danai Gurira) departed the show. Still, many lapsed fans returned to check out TWD’s final episode in November 2022 just to see where the franchise left its main players. Daryl Dixon is no different, with many curious about how the fan-favorite character’s story will continue in a foreign country, whether they are caught up with the flagship series or not. The good news is the spinoff is perfect for this very thing.
Daryl’s arrival in France offers a fish-out-of-water scenario. He doesn’t know the country, the people, or what exactly is going on with the never-before-seen variant walkers. As a result, the audience can learn with him without having to know every detail of what happened in The Walking Dead’s later seasons. This is markedly different from TWD’s first character-centric spinoff, where fans who fell off after Glenn’s death would be at a loss in understanding why Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), the man who killed Glenn, would be sharing questionably longing glances in Dead City.
Daryl Dixon 1×01 Teases an Engaging and Unique World
With Daryl thrust into a new country, The Walking Dead brings something a little different to its universe with sprawling castles and a convent of nuns. The latter of which becomes an integral part of Daryl’s adventure in France. This is where Daryl meets Isabelle (Clémence Poésy) and Laurent, who look to become important allies. The religious undertones and Laurent’s prophesized destiny offer something unique to a franchise that usually just rinses and repeats the rise and fall of a singular villain. That said, Daryl Dixon might not escape that formula entirely, with the Big Bad and goons feeling like antagonists ripped straight from the flagship series.
Daryl Dixon Turns Daryl Into a Side Character
Dead City’s six-episode run was well-received but suffered from limited character development, especially for its side characters. While it’s still early, Daryl Dixon may fall into the same trap. What’s interesting is Daryl seems to be the one suffering to stand out in his own show. He gets a bit lost in 1×01 “L’âme Perdue.” However, it has nothing to do with Norman Reedus, who still delivers a superb and reliable performance. Instead, it’s the pacing and vast amount of characters introduced in the first episode that detract from the titular character.
Aside from an opening that sees Daryl alone and trying to figure out his next steps, he flits in and out of later scenes. He remains tight-lipped about his past, and while this isn’t necessarily out of character for the typically untrusting Daryl, it seems to negate his former character growth. In TWD’s final season, Daryl became the main paternal figure to Rick’s children, Judith and RJ. Yet when the French survivors ask if Daryl has children, he makes a clear point of telling them no. Daryl never mentions Rick by name, only that he left America to find “something,” despite recounting some details about himself, such as his involvement with the Commonwealth, on a recorder. Thus, Daryl’s disconnected attitude about his past feels a bit jarring.
While Daryl Dixon offers strong performances in an intriguing new part of the world, the premiere episode feels a bit rushed. With only six episodes to tell a promised “standalone” story, Daryl looks to fall victim to the issues that plagued Dead City. Even in 1×01 “L’âme Perdue’s” big climax, Daryl’s presence evokes an “Oh, yeah, I forgot about him!” response. So, here’s hoping Daryl doesn’t get lost in his own series.