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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!
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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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