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Saturday, October 28, 2023

Anton |8x07| Fear The Walking Dead

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The reunion between Madison Clark and Victor Strand -- whoops, I mean Anton -- didn't go as smoothly as most of us would've hoped. Victor fulfilled Alicia Clark's wishes the only way he knew how: by burying his past and himself for the last 7+ years. But what will Madison do as a result of Troy Otto exhuming all her skeletons?
Since this episode was livestreamed, there is no unedited episode recording; however, consider rewarding our hard work by tipping us AND/OR joining a membership tier on either Ko-fi or Patreon for as little as $1 /month!

David Cameo:
Rachael Burt:
Sherrandy Swift:
Bridget Mason-Gray:

  • This weekend, only! We've got a sale in our merch store: $16 classic t-shirts and up to 35% off everything else! It's a perfect opportunity to nab our latest designs covering our discussions on Fear The Walking Dead's 8th and final season and both our discussions on the inaugural series of The Walking Dead: Dead City and The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon!

  • We kick this episode off with Sherranday's first impression: she stopped watching the episode after 30 minutes into her first watch, but Dave encouraged to keep watching. June Dorie shows up in the episode, which she liked. Wanted to throttle Madison Clark. Thought Troy Otto was funny. Daniel Salazar's line about not being friends with Victor Strand made her laugh. She questions the quality of the writing in the first half of the season, suggesting it may have been written by five-year-olds or Artificial Intelligence. Dave reminds the audience that the last half of the season was written by Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg. This episode continues the trend of a lack of show, don't tell -- wanting more visual representation of events, rather than via (poor) dialogue...

  • Especially the expressly vague language Victor used to describe the possible fate of certain characters (that the wiki's have already decided are confirmed-dead). Victor may be a liar but we question why he would lie about the fate of these characters: Strand's statement about some people going to Padre and the some traveling with him may not account for the entire group.

  • Bridget was a fan of this episode, but not Madison, due to her self-sabotaging behavior. She's happy to finally see Strand this season (missing since the end of Season 7 and praises Colman Domingo's performance. Troy certainly chewed the scenery wherever he appeared. And, my stars and garters, Victor's husband, Frank, is a good-looking man.

  • Congratulations, Fear The Walking Dead! The German community didn't completely fall apart, despite the fact that they're forced to relocate. Not losing Frank and his son, Klaus, ends the ongoing trend (since Season 7) of newly introduced characters dying in the episode they were introduced. Seeing a character that resembles Sarah Rabinowitz on TWD: Daryl Dixon brings us back to Victor's line of the people who died: we're split in half on whether this specifically references her fate and the fates of Rabbi Jacob Kessner, Charlie, Maya Vazquez, and others.

  • Given that fact, since Troy being alive seems so impossible (the only noticeable damage being a change in eye color and some janky face prosthetics), it makes the absence of more prominent characters additionally insulting. Rachael didn't enjoy the episode overall, but enjoyed seeing Victor and Madison reunite. She has some issues over the possibility Madison and Alicia Clark reuniting. If Victor is specifically referencing the deaths of the aforementioned characters, it makes their roles in the series feel so meaningless: why would they choose a slow death over accepting help from Strand? We're not minimizing Strand's horrible nature throughout Season 7, only the other characters succumbing in such a nonsensical manner.

  • Turning our attention to actual filmcraft, Danay Garcia's directing and Colman's acting were fine, but the issue lies with the script and overall writing. Dave questions whether the showrunners knew how many episodes they were going to receive and had to drastically compress their vision, which could explain a lot of things (much like the final season of The Walking Dead). Many of us feel as though the last season was haphazardly cobbled together and AMC/showrunners couldn't care less about how well it would be received. The difference in quality definitely shows when stacked against the two most recent introductory series premieres into The Walking Dead Universe. Dave is still looking forward, given the sneak-peeks into the next episode and the look-ahead teasers into the remaining episodes.
  • We take a moment to discuss Madison and Strand's similarities. Though they are both characters who have more than made questionable decisions, people often side with Madison and excuse her actions, even though she should be held accountable for them. Strand is compared to Carol Peletier due to their troubled past and manipulative behavior. Frank is seen as a better match for Strand than Cole was, whom we met in Season 4 (with a brief hello-goodbye in Season 6). Rachael, who is probably the most distrustful of Strand, felt that he was being genuine about putting his past (behavior) behind him and truly finding happiness, but Madison's arrival changed everything. The turmoil over seeing Madison is really centered on what to do about her: she threatens to take away his steps toward living a meaningful life.

  • Everybody deserves a second chance is a line that Victor introduced to this community, which they wholeheartedly adopt - including the way they greet visitors and potential residents - but it's one that's been said by Althea Szewczyk-Przygocki to Madison after giving her a second chance in episode 4x08. Dave suggests that, if there's even a little part of the old Victor left, he was merely planting the seed of his own redemption by emphasizing this principle, in the event any of them discover their past. Everyone is bothered by Madison's negative attitude towards Victor and how little she knows of his (windy road and complex) love for Alicia. Mostly, we were all aghast at Madison threatening to take away happiness from her old friend without knowing the whole story. We thought her negative hostility towards Strand was because she knows what happened at the tower and assumes he will ruin this community, eventually, but the conversation they have at the end of the episode shows how little she actually knew. Mostly though, it was her lack of faith in Victor's ability to change, considering her own past actions.

  • It was recently announced that the final two episodes of the season would air on the same night (Nov 19th) to avoid competing with the Super Bowl the following weekend. This was frustrating because we were thinking of throwing a final episode viewing party, which now occurs on a weekend where no one would be able to travel. But it goes deeper than that: given the poor writing, important characters missing from the show, in addition to the final episode date change, it validates our concern that the powers-that-be can't wait to bury FearTWD and don't care how it's received.
  • Anton, short for (the latin) Antonius, means priceless or praiseworthy, which says a lot about how badly Strand wishes to finally find acceptance (be it with others or with himself). Sherrandy managed to spot the title of one of the box in a stack in the library scene: Still Life with Breadcrumbs by Anna Quindlen. Summary of the novel's plot: seizing control of one's life. Victor Strand's voice is different from Coleman Domingo's real voice and that has never been more evident than the difference in the way Victor speaks as Anton. The way Victor's full name is being used when others are speaking about him already lends a sense of notoriety: as if one ought to already know who this person is.

  • Frustrations are expressed with characters not turning off lanterns at night while Troy's army is searching for them. This jumps us directly to the name of the German tour bus, Marsh Light Tours, which is a tongue-in-cheek reference to will-o'-wisps. These ghost lights are basically gaseous compounds combining, which produce energy in the form of photons. They've willed fishermen astray, thinking they were heading towards the shore. It could represent these German tourist's voyage and subsequent proverbial running aground in The U.S., but it can also be a cheeky nod to Victor misleading them, as well. Regarding the bus itself, it is being used as the only point of entry from the street side of the hotel, much in the way the school bus was the only point of entry to La Colonia in the show's second season. The hotel, itself, feels like a nod to The Rosario Beach Hotel, which was also in the second season. We took a moment to explain that Victor's Tower might've also represented this, considering the lights at the top are turned off and on to lead (undead) travelers to it.

  • Sherrandy questions why producers decided on introducing the German language to the show, as it doesn't seem to serve a real purpose in the story. Being stranded in a foreign country forever is extra terrifying for these tourists, as it was for Daryl Dixon in France. We take a moment to acknowledge the words of Warrant Officer Anne "Jadis" Stokes, who said (on The Walking Dead: World Beyond) that (creating a) language binds a people.

  • It was frustrating watching Strand refuse to reveal his true identity. It brings us to why Madison may have narrow-mindedly revealed Victor's identity: hating in others what you hate in yourself. Madison just resents Victor's ability to reinvent himself, since she is having a hard time doing that for herself, not having the option of (or having chosen the truth over) hiding behind a well-constructed lie. It should be noted that Victor and Madison haven't seen each other since the fall of the Dell Diamond, which has to be over 9 years - longer than they've known each other.

  • Dave initially thought that Victor held onto the raft he sailed in on in the event this new community found out who he was so that he could bug out with supplies, much in the way he had prepared to do so at the Dell Diamond, but it turns out that it really was just remnants of his past that he shed to form a new version of himself. We remind the audience that Madison adopted Victor's just in case strategy after chewing him out (back in Season 4). We dive a little deeper on what Morgan Jones exactly informed Madison on about Victor's shenanigans in Season 7. We converge on the idea that he not have relayed that much, given how sensitive Morgan tends to handle situations involving Alicia: he may have given Madison a clue, but not enough to paint enough of a detailed portrait of how horrible Victor really was.

  • We also dive a little deeper on how pissed off some of us are about Madison, given a lot of her behavior throughout this season (and the final episode of last season). On top of that, her ability to constantly engage in self-sabotaging behavior throughout the series doesn't help her case. It's certainly true that people tolerate her given that she was the main protagonist from the onset of the series, so it certainly feels like a Stanley Milgram (shock) experiment: how much more unpalatable can you make your protagonist until the audience is finally forced to reject them?

  • But on top of the poor storytelling this season (let alone the last season), that the series couldn't concoct a new villain and had to resurrect an old one from the dead feels even more lazy: yes, even lazier than the visual conception that went into Troy's discolored eye and lack of facial disfigurement. There's also the question of Troy's level of aggression towards Madison and why it has persisted for over a decade. Dave thinks that this may be attributed to brain damage: a direct result of the injuries Madison inflicted on him. Bridget doesn't think so, considering her own recovery from brain damage: the brain is a miraculous organ that can reroute neural pathways when clusters of them are damaged.

  • We discuss the kitchen sequence that is shown in the beginning, as the old man with the infected wound is brought into the community. It is a shot-for-shot reconstruction from The Holding (episode 6x11). It was so convincing, there was a debate on whether it was just a callback or whether they literally reused the footage and applied some visual tweaks. Another interesting visual note that pairs nicely with this scene: one of the other books in the stack found in the library is a cookbook.

  • Rachael takes us to her initial thoughts as she witnessed the opening scenes: how did Strand make it to Germany?!

  • We all expresses disappointment that Troy's return was spoiled, musing on how mind-blowing his reveal would've been. This is no different than any other time a character's return or introduction is promoted, rather than revealed organically. Speaking of spoilers, key points in the latter half of the season were spoiled for Dave by someone in entertainment journalism (who had already seen the final episodes of the season). Many on our show stopped watching the sneak-peeks and promotional materials for FearTWD because of how much they've actually spoiled their episode watches. That being said, Dave is a little relieved that some of the spoilers he received he can finally talk about, now that Troy's army has finally been introduced (revealed to him several months ago by a background actor on the show).

  • Troy killing Alicia? BS. Right? Troy's motives are strong and his weird infatuation with Madison have probably twisted itself into making revenge his life's sole ambition. But why or even how when so much time has passed? Sherrandy brings up how vengeance was the driving force behind the protagonist's will to survive in the movie The Revenant. We recap some of Troy's psychopathy seen in Season 3 of the show and how he was mostly responsible for both Broke Jaw Ranch's and The Otto family's demise. While Sherrandy and Bridget try to explain how people like Troy often try to shift blame onto others to avoid feeling responsibility for their actions, Dave explains that Troy is incapable of feeling guilt because he's a psychopath: it's just a way for him to rally a faction of parents whose children were kidnapped in PADRE's name and don't believe Madison has changed. Troy will say whatever it takes to get them to join his army, even if it means burying some of the truth within his lies.

  • But in spite of the vitriol some of us have towards Madison, intentions really do matter: Troy reuniting these parents with their children is only important to him in as much as they serve his malicious purpose. Misguided or not, Madison has only ever done what she's done to protect her children and (most of the time) the people in her charge. Still, some folks prefer Troy's story over Madison's: after reflecting on the poor storyline, it's easy to see why.

  • Troy using what he did to Ophelia Salazar as a prop to infuriate Daniel created a massive amount of delicious tension. This line prompted us to recap her demise and though it's true that the herd Troy unleashed contributed greatly to her being bitten, it was also her use of anthrax in the coffee drunk by TEOTWAWKI's residents, killing and reanimating them, provided by Qaletaqa Walker and his people at Black Hat Reservation.

  • But what we all might've liked most about this episode are the similarities among some the characters who have committed more heinous acts on the show: Victor, Madison, and Troy. Victor is the first character we see who, in recent memory, inflicted extremely horrible acts on people he once considered friends. Madison jumps in and attempts to upend the new life he had been living for the past 7 years, which irks us greatly and adds to her pile of misguided deeds. But if you thought that was bad, enter Troy: who's intentions, at best, were nebulous or, at worst, were bereft of any measure of redemption. The tension his mere appearance creates only accelerates the binding of Madison and Strand.

  • But we all believe Strand has changed and now genuinely cares about people and their value. We compare his love for his husband, Frank, and his son, Klaus to something we said about the potential of Daryl having a relationship with Isabelle Carriere and Laurent Carriere: the fear was that having someone to lose would mess with Victor's/Daryl's risk assessment, but it may motivate them to take bolder and more decisive action than before.

  • Putting the interrogation lamp on Dave, he expresses how much he loves Madison, but criticizes how her character is being written; however, it's possible that the writers are highlighting Madison's flaws, intentionally, to force the audience to understand the uphill battle she is facing against the parents of kidnapped children at PADRE: that we, too, should feel that disgust that they must be feeling. Our hope is that these children don't meet the same (possible?) fate as the Camp Cackleberry kids (Annie, Max, and Dylan).

  • Dave tries to assure the audience that they aren't always be as spicy in their episode discussions... or at least he isn't. Hopefully, this series will pick up some momentum and it will end with quite the bang, despite the fact that it will never end the way we want it to without characters like Sarah & Wendell in tow.

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Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Coming Home |SEASON ONE FINALE| The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon

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If home is where the heart is, what happens when your heart is torn in two? There's breaking the cycle (of melodrama) and completing a long broken circle in the Dixon line. Where Daryl Dixon goes from here is anyone's guess!
Since this recording was livestreamed, there's no unedited version of this podcast; however, support our work! Tip us or consider joining a membership tier on either Ko-fi or Patreon for as little as $1 /month!

David Cameo:
Rachael Burt:
Sherrandy Swift:
Bridget Mason-Gray:


  • Bridget just returned to North Carolina after staying at Dave's place to attend New York Comic Con. You can listen to the news we broke that came out of The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon panel (including the general release date for the upcoming The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live, more news about TWD: Daryl Dixon's 2nd season, and much more), here:

  • Although this episode discussion was livestreamed, Sherrandy extols the value of streaming our unedited episode recordings and interviews when you tip us or join a membership tier on Ko-fi or Patreon.
  • Once again, don't miss out on wearing our new art design based on our discussions on TWD: Daryl Dixon's first season. Will we make another one for The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon, The Book of Carol (what the second season of this series is being called)? We might not have to if you take a peek at our merch store!

  • Here's the Twitter exchange about the long title for the second season:
  • Takeerah starts off her first impressions by saying she was right (in our last episode discussion) about her prediction that the season finale would be the best of the season, compared to the last episode. Along with seeing different sides of Daryl that she hadn't seen before, she fears the name change from TWD:Daryl Dixon to The Book of Carol threatens to diminish the wonderful character development we've seen from Daryl Dixon.

  • Dave takes the opportunity to pat himself on the back for choosing to livestream this episode on a different day than we would've (pre-recorded it) the day before, since Rachael wouldn't have been able to make it, otherwise.
  • Walking Dead Eternal really liked that Daryl go his own walk-off music (U2's Seconds), similar to Rick Grimes (Space Junk by Wang Chung) at both the end of The Walking Dead's pilot and episode 9x05 What Comes After.
  • Rachael expressed much enjoyment as a result of watching this episode and is waiting in anticipation for them to address unanswered questions in the next season, considering the trepidation she expressed about receiving an unsatisfying end (a residual effect stemming from her sadness over the TWD ending less than a year ago). Though, she does admit she was dissatisfied with the ending, particularly with Daryl not going home.
  • Speaking of the ending, considering the 58-mile long journey from The Nest / Mont Saint Michel, how did Laurent manage to both sneak out and follow Daryl all the way to the Normandy American Cemetery without being noticed? Many suggest it may have been a hallucination or and expression of Daryl's present emotional state (while Dave jokingly thinks it's Laurent's telepathic abilities manifesting). Seriously though, if  Laurent is a hallucination, was the grave scene even real?

  • Sherrandy appreciated that it took some time to find (Daryl's grandfather) William T. Dixon's grave (considering 2,501 Americans died on the shores of Normandy). The graveyard scene is a way for Daryl to complete an even larger circle and maybe even reflect on how his life would have been different if his grandfather had not enlisted (or whether he would've existed at all). If you watched the making of the first season special, Norman Reedus believed the graveyard scene was meant to make Daryl want to return home, faster, since he didn't want to end up like his grandfather, disconnected from his loved ones before he dies.

  • And then there's the decision Daryl ultimately makes to stay in France, which we know because the filming of the second season is very much underway. Even though one can see Judith Grimes and RJ Grimes as his own children, there is a strong, almost father/son connection between Daryl and Laurent throughout the season (and heavily emphasized in this and the last episode). Regardless, Laurent still needs Daryl's protection from Pouvoir Des Vivants, unlike Judith (who is already fairly capable) and RJ who are much safer. Daryl also might feel that he his purpose in America is fulfilled and there's greater purpose with his newfound family in France, even though it must gnaw at him that he would be seen as just another person who disappeared from Judith and RJ's life, just like their  father, Rick (when Judith was too young to remember), and their mother, Michonne (only recently). Maybe he could use the boat to send a letter home, instead?

  • There's a bit of confusion about how Daryl traveled to the location where the boat would pick him up considering that he was told by Losang to follow the water. We pull up a map to show that it's only 58 miles, as the crow flies, but following the coast would probably take twice as long. Dave mentions that there are many waterways he could have used to reach the cemetery (rather than water meaning the coast) and it does show him traveling through cliffsides, tall grass, and marshland.

  • Bridget finally joins us! She was previously in the chat because it took her a while to get back home from the airport.
  • Sherrandy initially expected to hate the series but has been pleasantly surprised and has loved every episode. And, come on: this episode started out with a great walker fight scene! She does note that the color palette of the show looked washed out and overcast, which seemed to be intentional.
  • Even though the ending confused some viewers, Bridget believes it simply represents the struggle in Daryl's mind between coming back to The Commonwealth or leaving behind another family, similar to his grandfather (on both fronts): in other words, not a hallucination. Speaking of the song playing at the end, while Bridget recanted her experience of watching the season finale at NYCC, she particularly enjoyed the moment when the song came on and watched an adorable man (who resembled her father, in a way) rocking out to it.
  • Some quick points from the chat:
  • Sherrandy asks the all-important question of whether Carol Peletier will let the biker out of the trunk of her old Ford Mustang because she believes anyone horrible enough to shoot up a Mustang in the apocalypse deserves to die. Dave mentions the model pairs well with the U2 song playing because they're both from the 80s. And we learned from The Last of Us that 80s music is code for trouble. Speaking of the scene in Freeport, Maine, Rachael takes a moment to mention a Sarah Rabinowitz look-alike in the last episode, who was seen herding walkers into the back of a semi-trucks. This reminds Dave of an observation that 🤫WHISPERERS Tier Member, Aidan Atkin, mentioned in our Discord server: how the flashing strobe lights reminded him of how The Wolves herded walkers in a similar fashion on TWD 5x16 Conquer.

  • Bridget briefly discusses their first impressions of this episode and finds the ending satisfying. Yep, that's the take.
  • Sherrandy imagines a humorous scenario where Daryl and Carol pass each other on the ocean, going in opposite directions. This brings up the 2.5 sided love triangle involving Daryl, Carol, and Isabelle Carriere. As you may have seen throughout the episode, Daryl and Isabelle were frequently beaming at one another. We note how heartwarming it was that Sylvie was comfortable enough asking Daryl whether he's ever been in love before (a variation on a question she asks Isabelle two episodes ago): yet again, he doesn't respond. Daryl's discomfort with the question may be due to his past and complicated relationship and with Leah Shaw. Rachael speculates that Daryl may not recognize or understand his own feelings of love. Dave muses on how well this show is finally, in some meaningful way, is trying to address the complicated feelings he had with Leah (because the main series quickly wrote her off the show due to time constraints). Takeerah points out that Sherrandy was right about how Isabelle was able to save herself. But Dave steps in to respond to Rachael: Daryl is painfully aware of his feelings, but doesn't respond because he's weighing being honest about them with the promise he made to come back home - not to mention the struggle of leaving Isabelle, Laurent, Sylvie and L'Union De L'Espoir behind, which leaves them vulnerable.

  • Some don't have strong opinions on the topic of Daryl's romantic entanglements, but know that Judith and RJ are safe at the Commonwealth and don't need him, while Laurent is still in a vulnerable position and needs his help. We note the scene where Daryl was teaching arms training and the smiles both he and Isabelle exchanged with one another. Dave also notes that Daryl slept next to Isabelle as evidenced by the mace on the mattress beside her bed, but Bridget swiftly covers for that by saying that he is the kind of person who would put down someone he cares about if they turned into a walker. It's also noted that Daryl's feelings towards Isabelle visibly changed as soon as they arrived at the nest since he could finally let his guard down.

  • Daryl is happy at the nest but feels a sense of loyalty and obligation to go home. Bridget compares this melancholic happiness of having to leaving your friends after having so much fun at a convention, but feeling the pull of the people you love beckoning for your return. Dave acknowledges the brilliant comparison, but the notes the slight lack of equivalence: the people he loves back home would've told him to stay if he explained how much he feels he has purpose, belonging, and even love in France. He could also get another dog, too. Rick would've also made the decision to stay, if he was in Daryl's position, in order to finish the mission of keeping someone safe, especially knowing that his children were safe at home; however, some people feel that even though Laurent and crew should be prepared for what's coming, Daryl wouldn't want to put anyone through the heartache of thinking he was dead like Rick did.

  • We highlight the moment Laurent dispatches walker Quinn in order to save Isabelle and how it directly reflects Daryl's dream sequence at the beginning of La Dame De Fer (being helpless in being able to assist/save Laurent). We know that Laurent and The Union of Hope hesitate putting down walkers, so it's significant that he not only goes against this rule (because there's no other option, as Azlan said in the prior episode), but does this to effectively put down his own father, having never killed a walker before, and all to save Isabelle. Laurent emphasizes that he didn't have a close relationship with his dad, anyway, so that wasn't the main issue for him. Dave did express a sense of dread in this scene and how it is totally plausible, given Laurent's lack of experience and how heavy his weapon must've been, that he would've accidentally killed Isabelle in this moment.

  • It was also noted that walker Quinn did seem a lot more agile, which might've been a side effect of being bitten by one of the aggressive walkers in the arena. Everyone enjoyed the scene where the head of one of the aggressive variants exploded shortly after being injected. The one variant viscously tearing the jaw off the other walker felt similar to the behavior of a ferocious animal. The shackles chaining Daryl & Quinn reminded us of the one walker dragging a corpse behind it by the shackles in beginning of Alouette, just outside the symphony. We believe that this makes that scene not only super relevant, but illustrates Genet's scheme was to pit two antagonists who would've otherwise surely fended for themselves (throw in the fact that Quinn is most likely English and Daryl is American - one being an ex-colony of the former).

  • Daryl picking up and throwing the decapitated walker head was the favorite moment of many. Bridget mentioned how, in the NYCC panel, Greg Nicotero mentioned how the teeth were filed-down to make these already dangerous walkers seem even more menacing. In making-of video, Anne Charrier (who plays Genet) expressed her love for The Walking Dead. She was is excited when Norman threw a head at her, but quickly started freaking out when she realized how real it seemed.

  • Sherrandy praises Anne for playing such a fantastic villain and appreciated the scene where she divulges to Stéphane Codron how she worked in a museum at night and learned to reading the eyes of every painting to gauge when someone was lying to her. The way Codron paused after Genet flat-out told him he shot her men was described as very French. But, of course, what was she supposed to think having returned without a scratch?

  • Dave agrees with Rachel's initial belief that Codron may not be the bad guy, but is most-likely still bad person and still wants revenge for his brother's death. Which brings us to why he decided not to shoot Laurent, spared Daryl his wrath, and then went out of his way to report to Genet when he could've flown the coop. Maybe it was one thing when he didn't have to shoot Laurent himself (similar to how World War I & II changed how wars were fought, with bullets, airstrikes, and even trench warfare) and/or perhaps couldn't bear to separate him from someone he loved, like Daryl did to him. Or, perhaps, it was also Laurent saying that, even if he did shoot him, Dieu Vous Aime / God loves you, which changed something in him (similar to how Laurent was able to give comfort to a mourning Sonia, who had lost her husband). It's possible that he went back to Genet to even throw her scent off of them, though some have their doubts and it might just be that though he hates Daryl, he hates that Genet manipulated his fury to achieve her own ends. Dave does also admit that we don't know too much about him since all we've ever seen of him is a man driven by emotion (AKA not smart, similar to Carol going after Alpha in TWD's 10th Season). It's also possible that, having spared Laurent, for whatever reason, he was emboldened to protect them because Mont Saint Michel, The Nest's location, was his brother's namesake. Codron's mercy is sort of a mirror for Daryl when he spared Dwight and Sherry in TWD episode 6x06, Always Accountable.

  • Dave remarks on the crowd's response to Daryl's actions throughout the walker arena match, comparing it to a wrestling match. More than a story of two opposing sides fighting against each other, people prefer stories where enemies cooperate against a greater enemy and become friends, like the American-British alliance in World War II or even The French Revolution where America fought alongside them against The British. Quinn's alliance with Daryl is also a sly callback to Daryl and Merl fighting in Philip "The Governor" Blake's walker pit, in Woodbury, while shackled at the wrists. And the more dangerous adversary here could also be seen as these manufactured variants, who are not only aggressive, but also burners, something Dave was not happy that he predicted. Dave shares a personal story: two middle school underclassmen were bullying a bunch of kids and he urged them to pick on someone their own size (they were much taller than him). After he let them kick him in the balls a few times, they relented and, later on, not only were the bullies a lot nicer to the others they picked on, he and they became friends. As great as it is when enemies become friends, Rachael finds this implausible in real life.

  • Sherrandy references the lone walker Daryl passes on his way to the boat, which reminded her of Shane Walsh spotting the lone walker in a field in the original series (a theme that was repeated across the seasons). The scene at the cemetery where Daryl finds his grandfather's tombstone highlights the emotional impact of completing a bigger circle and his connection to home. Think of the odds of such a connection happening, here in France, which might get someone to believe in something bigger than oneself. Isabelle admits to manipulating Laurent into drawing a prediction of Daryl's arrival, but Daryl is not mad about it and it seems as though he was about to suggest that everything happens for a reason and he is here now because of it (until he was rudely interrupted by Codron). But shifting back to Bill Dixon, Daryl might've also been expressing feelings of gratitude to him, too, and less about his service and more that, in spite of all the hardship for most of his life, it brought him to this moment.

  • The conversation shifts to discussing Carol's return and how it might negatively impact Daryl's development, especially after all the trauma that was revealed throughout his journey through France and the growth he has achieved along the way. Bridget expresses frustration with the focus on romantic relationships in the show and wants to see Daryl grow as a person. Rachael defends the current, supportive platonic relationship between Daryl and Carol feels Carol would embrace and support his growth. That aside, keep Carol away from Laurent!

  • Sherrandy takes a moment to mention the company name on the semi-truck in the end scene with Carol and the biker: Mansouri. It at least reminds us of Alexa Mansour, who played Hope Bennett on The Walking Dead: World Beyond. Mansouri, in Arabic, means to whom victory belongs.

  • But speaking about Carol's return and our concerns over how that will impact Daryl's story, moving forward, Takeerah criticizes Isabelle's flirtations since she is a nun. She also comments on the fact that Daryl seems to perceive the four women (Connie, Carol, Leah, and Isabelle) the audience considers as possible love interests for him in different ways. We all agree that the love one shares between both friends and love interests, generally speaking, tends to be unique from relationship to relationship. Sherrandy jokes that Daryl sees them as different female archetypes: Mom, Sister, Aunt, and Dead (in the case of Leah). Dave criticizes Takeerah for supposed-to-ing Isabelle because she has her own agenda of wanting Connie and Daryl to couple-up (and even Rachael for her occasional relapse into wanting Carol and Daryl to have a thing). Sherrandy expresses support for Daryl having romantic love, but in addition to brotherly, sisterly, and friend love, similar to Ted Lasso befriending Rebecca Welton and never exploring the possibility of romance. Dave's argument is that Isabelle and Daryl should couple-up, if it's in the cards, and it would be the positive and natural next step in completing a long overdue broken circle in a string of circles Daryl has continued to complete in order to become a whole person. Bridget clarifies that she doesn't want Daryl to be miserable, but maintains the desire for him to remain his own person. Did we see what we wanted to see when it came to any of the 4 women we typically ship with Daryl? It was most likely intentional that the writers walked us down this path in order to bait the hook and get us to pay closer attention, too. Dave stated his case for a relationship (in general) in the comments section of the following Reddit post:

  • Comment
    byu/welshman222 from discussion
  • What we can say for sure is that Daryl's growth and journey with Isabelle and others have allowed him to connect with others on a deeper level and resolve underlying issues that were never addressed. The primary issue he is resolving by staying in France, Dave believes, is that he's starting to living for himself and not for or through others. A romantic relationship with Isabel is a positive one, so long as it continues to help Daryl be happier and more true to himself. Rachael's concern is that a romantic relationship might change Daryl's outlook and impair his assessment of risk, but Dave response to this is showing how, even though he was helpless in being able to protect Isabelle and Laurent, he was able to encourage the people he cares about to move forward and fight for themselves. Rachael, however, still doesn't care to see Daryl in a romantic relationship with anyone, but Sherrandy thinks he deserves to have someone else to come home to at night (that isn't Dog Dixon), despite the inherent risks of doing so in this universe. Takeerah is still bitter about Connie and Daryl not being a thing (due to scheduling issues with Lauren Ridloff), even though Executive Producer Angela Kang was rooting for it.

  • A song called Le Vent Nous Portera is what's playing as Daryl et al arrive at The Nest and was originally created by a French band named Noir Desir, covered here by Sophie Hunger. The tone of the song matches the overall mood and even themes this episode tries to explore: the idea that life doesn't care about one's genes or relationships, and everything (good or bad) eventually fades away and is taken away by the wind like dust. It is supposed to signal to the listener to live while you are alive: take more chances and explore new experiences.
  • While you are here, and this was mentioned in our discussion just before both Rachael and Bridget left for the night: Vote for Rachael in the Face of Horror competition. It's an opportunity for her to win a cash prize (that she desperately needs), a photoshoot in Rue Morgue magazine, and meet the man who played Jason Voorhees in the Friday The 13th franchise: actor/stuntman Kane Hodder.

  • Before she leaves, Rachael was super excited she was to see Carol's boots climb out of the Mustang at the end of the episode. Paul Zies played the biker that was trying to shake down Carol: you may have recognized him as a background actor on Mayans M.C., a spin-off of Sons of Anarchy. It's interesting because Ryan Hurst who played Beta on The Walking Dead was on Sons of Anarchy. The interaction between Carol and the motorbiker guy was seen as goofy and predictable. Carol's aggressive approach towards the motorbiker guy was also noted and largely expected. Carol knocking him out with a wrench is an interesting callback to, just earlier on, Codron knocking Daryl out when he finally catches up with him.

  • And speaking of that tense scene where Codron is urged to kill everyone off, starting with Laurent, you would've easily missed Sylvie's desperate prayer. What she recites is Psalm 57:3: He shall send from heaven, and save me, when he that would swallow me up reproacheth; Selah [Forever/until the end of all things], God shall send forth his mercy and his truth. Laurent's response to Sylvie's call emphasizes God's love to Codron.

  • Bridget expresses gratitude for this series and its renewal for a second season. During the NYCC panel, Norman Reedus expressed his willingness to continue playing Daryl for as long as possible. With that Bridget and Rachel depart for the evening, leaving Sherrandy, Dave, and Takeerah to wrap up this discussion.
  • We were in awe of the cinematography during the B-Roll showing Daryl journey to the boat: climbing rocky terrain, wading through tall grass, and the exterior of the stone cottage where he stayed the night. It pairs with what Sherrandy was saying before about the washed out colors throughout the episode. Daryl's hallucination of Laurent could also be poetic license by the writers to express the emotions he was feeling, but combined with the shots of scenery and color grading, the visual storytelling conveys more of his emotions and inner conflict. France, itself, feels like its own character on the show, which hails back to the way Dave described the landscape on Fear TWD as the ultimate adversary in Season 4.

  • The big question: how do we feel about Quinn, having sacrificed himself to make sure both Daryl, Isabelle, and everyone else made it out of Maison Mère safely? Dave thought Quinn was trying to atone or make things right with Isabelle: his actions in this episode spoke louder than words. Both Sherrandy & Takeerah think he did not redeem himself, stating that he only did what he had to do to survive. Quinn freely offered his wrist, to free Daryl from him, as well as his body, in order to attack the soldiers in the hallway so Daryl could escape, showing his willingness to contribute to their success, to which he wasn't in any way obligated. Dave also reiterates that, rather than seek revenge for being pummeled by him, Quinn did not turn on Daryl during the match, but Dave also acknowledges that, as a transactional man, it was to likely in order to maximize self-preservation. Still, many other characters in this universe have typically chosen to advance their own selfish agendas in their final moments, rather than cooperate, in contrast to Quinn's decisions. Takeerah cites that Quinn's pride might've played a role in his decision-making, not wanting to go out like a coward.

  • Addressing the big argument about whether Isabelle was just guilt-tripping Daryl into staying: Isabelle says Daryl is repeating history by leaving and not facing his feelings. Daryl defends himself by saying he respects Isabelle's perspective, but strongly disagrees. Isabelle brings up Laurent and questions if Daryl will abandon him like his father did to him. Takeerah disagrees with Isabelle, saying Laurent is not Daryl's child, even though their bond is acknowledged. Dave thinks true friendship is the kind where they can say hard truths and, rather than crumble, it makes their friendship stronger. Daryl could be seen as, at least, a father figure to Laurent and leaving him could be seen as similar to what his own father did to him.

  • In an earlier scene, Isabelle does try to say, out loud to Daryl, that Laurent is probably lucky to have grown up without a bad father, like Quinn or Daryl's dad, but Daryl stays silent. His silence, in itself, is the appropriate answer, since it has to be complicated to properly address in Daryl's case: there might've been something redeeming about Daryl's father despite his flaws and it's really hard for Laurent to (as Daryl says in Alouette, about the lost children) miss what you never had. But Isabelle might be right about the way Daryl was at least attempting to leave: regardless of whether Laurent is his son or not, leaving a child without even saying goodbye sticks with them, regardless of any logical reasoning they accept now or further down the line.

  • Sherrandy questions whether Isabelle is right to be angry at Daryl, but also acknowledges her desperation for him to stay. Takeerah is adamant that he has deeper relationships with the Grimes children, whom he has already acknowledged as his own kids. Dave acknowledges his own conflicting feelings about the situation: there's the initial reaction to her words, but they make sense under examination. Sherrandy fears Daryl going back home may undo all the growth he's achieved throughout his journey through France. Dave takes this further: both Isabelle and Daryl acknowledge, in that moment, that he was searching for something to make his life worth living. Maybe paired with the scene of seeing the grave of his own grandfather, who died so early on in his life (Daryl is more than 3x older than him), maybe all this time he's been reflecting on his own mortality and the sacrifices he has made in his life - not for himself, but for others. Taking it back to Daryl leaving Laurent without saying goodbye, Dave explains how much he understands that feeling since, for most of his life, his father wasn't around. He would leave in the morning, before he woke, and come back after his bedtime, every day. And though his father would always kiss his forehead before he left and when he came home, what stuck with him most is when his dad stopped this practice. And though it's not stranger for Daryl to disappear from any given group, as we've seen over time, the one thing we all agree on is that Isabelle ironically embodies the audience's desperate desire for Daryl to come back to the family waiting for him in the United States, saying whatever they can to get him to come home.

  • Brining up Seconds by U2, again: it suggests the potential for global conflict, down the line. There may be a connection between Daryl's decision to stay in France and the CRM (Civic Republic Military).
  • Carol's introduction to the series may lead to a regression in Daryl's character growth. The question is raised about how the series would have been different had Carol had been involved from the beginning. Dave, in particular, is grateful that she wasn't in the first season, as someone who wasn't a particular fan of Daryl: it allowed him to get to know him better. And besides, having Carol on the show with Daryl would've made it really exhausting to deal with a certain contingent of the fandom who are obsessed with them being together as a couple.

  • We all express our satisfaction with not only the season finale, but our deep conversations we've had on the series thus far. And though Dave didn't feel the most satisfied with the cliffhanger ending, he liked that it forced us to confront the possibility of him staying over the natural desire for wanting him to come home. We do muse on how silly it was for Daryl to call to the boat, especially since it alerted the lurkers - despite whether the entire scene may have been an illusion.

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