Season 1 of The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon comes to a close with “Coming Home.” It’s the first episode not titled in French and a bit of a tease. Those looking to see Daryl (Norman Reedus) reunite with the gang back in America will be disappointed. Instead, Daryl Dixon 1×06 ends with our hero seemingly conflicted. That’s a problem in itself. While Daryl has undoubtedly formed connections with Isabelle (Clémence Poésy) and Laurent (Louis Puech Scigliuzzi), his decision to return home seems unnecessarily difficult.
Twelve years with his Walking Dead family versus a short time running errands for a cause he barely believes in should be no contest. It’s a disappointing conclusion further wounded by half-formed villains and a nonsensical plot twist. While the scientifically-altered walkers remain terrifyingly fun additions, Season 2’s promise primarily stems from Carol’s long-anticipated cameo.
Six Episodes Isn’t Enough for Character Development
Daryl Dixon has an ambitious storyline for a six-episode run. With only Daryl familiar to Walking Dead fans, the spinoff had to balance character introduction with plot. More importantly, the spinoff was billed as a standalone story. However, like the Maggie and Negan spinoff, The Walking Dead: Dead City, that isn’t entirely the case.
Season 2 will likely give Genet (Anne Charrier) more screen time, but her motivations in Season 1 are murky. Why is she in charge? Why is she experimenting on zombies? A former museum clerk doesn’t just become the leader of a major political party overnight, nor does it make her adept at identifying liars, as she boldly claims. She must have a story, but Daryl Dixon doesn’t give enough details to invest in her character.
The same can be said about Codron (Romain Levi). He finally has the chance to kill Daryl but executes his colleagues to spare him instead. It’s quite the twist, but one that lacks motivation. Understandably, he’d have difficulty killing a child, but Daryl? Doubtful. Codron’s been hellbent on avenging his brother’s death since his introduction. Fans reading between the lines might notice similarities between them. Daryl’s relationship with his own brother was no walk in the park, but this connection remains unknown between the two characters.
Likewise, Quinn’s (Adam Nagaitis) preoccupation with Isabelle never made the most sense. His involvement ends in Daryl Dixon 1×06 with a redemption story that feels more like a plot device than anything else. Did Isabelle care about his sacrifice? No. Did Laurent? Nope. In fact, the boy quickly points out that Quinn was never really his father. It’s a fair observation. One wouldn’t expect Laurent to form a paternal connection with a man he just met, although that’s precisely what he does with Daryl.
Anna (Lukerya Ilyashenko), Quinn’s scorned lover, turns Quinn over to Genet with relative ease. Quinn’s a jerk (no argument there), but Anna is another victim of an underdeveloped story. She sends her lover and two innocent people to certain doom because of jealousy.
Daryl’s Hard Choice Feels Forced
At the Nest, Losang (Joel de la Fuente) informs Daryl of a boat offering passage to England, a step closer to getting him to America. “I got family waiting for me back at home,” Daryl says, to which Losang replies, “You got people here who’ll hope you will stay.” It’s far from the first time Daryl Dixon 1×06 tries to establish this Sophie’s Choice scenario. Not long after, Daryl and Isabelle have a similar conversation. She’s angry at Daryl for leaving Laurent, saying, “Are you going to abandon him like your father did to you?” Daryl is right to shut down the comparison. It feels like a low blow, especially with audiences knowing Judith and RJ are waiting at home.
It’s not entirely Isabelle’s fault. Daryl has been notoriously tightlipped about the people he left behind. He didn’t even mention Judith, RJ, or Carol until Daryl Dixon 1×05. Still, the episode ends with Daryl standing on the beach, his stare bouncing between the boat and Laurent as if his choice is still in question.
For Walking Dead fans, it feels a bit insulting. It already seemed far-fetched for Daryl to leave Carol, Judith, and RJ behind in the first place. For him not to return—or even question not returning—seems preposterous. At this point, Daryl’s relationship with Laurent feels derivative. We already witnessed his paternal journey with Judith and RJ. That, too, involved valid feelings of fear and uncertainty. Thus, it seems the most likely solution is a Brady Bunch merging of sorts. Laurent and Isabelle may accompany him to America (who knows what that will mean for Laurent’s wishy-washy prophecy?), or Carol will join them overseas.
Daryl Dixon 1×06’s Best Moment Is Carol
Melissa McBride’s Carol cameo marks a bright spot in an otherwise underwhelming finale. Daryl Dixon 1×06 dedicates his final minutes to Carol tracking down Darly. It entails typical Carol antics, such as cracking an intimidating-looking man over the head and leaving him tied up in the trunk of a car. It all feels very Carol, and it’s something the spinoff is better for including.
Carol’s limited involvement in these past episodes has drawn some of the most excitement. Fans are eager to see the pair reunite, and Daryl Dixon 1×06 suggests that will be the case. Whether you’re a “Caryl” shipper or not, there’s no denying her importance in Daryl’s life. Daryl’s reluctance to even mention her name felt like a missed opportunity to create more unity between the spinoff and the flagship series. Maybe that was on purpose. Maybe it wasn’t. Regardless, Carol’s inclusion in Season 2 is sure to be the main reason fans will tune in.