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Saturday, October 7, 2023

La Dame De Fer |1x04| The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon

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It's always difficult to watch our characters saying goodbye to one another. This series has received overwhelming positive feedback from fans and critics. We take a seriously unprecedented peek into Daryl Dixon's subconscious, exploring deep-seated feelings towards Laurent. Was there at least one walker variant? Are some fans fabricating a potential romantic relationship between Daryl and Isabelle? The significance of Genet calling Impressionism "degenerate art" and how Cyclical Melodrama is the reason why Daryl and Isabelle will always stumble into people with similar backgrounds to their own. We seek answers amidst concerns over a possible anticlimactic conclusion to this season of The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon.
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David Cameo:
Rachael Burt:
Sherrandy Swift:
Bridget Mason-Gray:


  • First thing's first, we not only released our logo-based design representing our podcast discussions on The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon, but the night before we premiered the episode on YouTube, we published the art design, as well!
  • Takeerah express sadness about characters being separated and not knowing whether we'll will see them again. Dave mentions the post Takeerah dropped on how this series is on track to be rated higher than even The Walking Dead, at its peak, and why that might be.

  • Rachael is getting antsy and would've preferred more answers due to fears over whether we'll receive a satisfying enough conclusion to the series to warrant this much character development. Sherrandy, too, felt that though this episode was really good, it did not grab her as much as previous episodes. Certain scenes felt contrived, like the walkers at The Eiffel Tower only now freeing themselves from the barricade they were behind after who knows how long they've been behind it.

  • To that end, Takeerah wonders whether at least the initial walker Laurent sees through the barricade (which subsequently spots him under the sheet metal he was hiding under) was a walker variant. Alternatively, Dave explains that it could just be because of some variants we've seen in the last episode and also because of how the walker was looking directly into the camera.
  • Bridget and Dave express how much they love to hate Quinn and find him to be a representation of multiple things that have traumatized them in the past. And speaking of forced relationships, there have been fears that the show might be angling for one between Isabelle and Daryl Dixon, despite what she says to Sylvie near the end of the episode. We discuss both possibilities, mostly on the side of why it might be more advantageous for the show to explore why it means more to us that they end up close friends, rather than lovers, with half of us ending up ambivalent about it either which way.

  • To dovetail, we turn our attention to why Isabelle breathes such a sigh of relief that Daryl is OK. At the end of the day, we conclude that, throughout every episode - even though Daryl makes his intentions about getting home super clear - that he continues to help Isabelle, Laurent, and many people along the way has demonstrated his altruism. Bridget compares this to Good Works or Fruit of the Spirit, in Christianity: the result of the Holy Spirit living in a person, rather than a means to earn a place in heaven. Bridget also brings up that the reason why Daryl & Isabelle at least appear to be attracted to one another is because of Cyclical Melodrama: their traumatic backgrounds dictate that they will continue to find people like themselves, out in the world. Though Daryl has broken out of his, Isabelle repeats the cycle by going back to Quinn. The cycle-breaker for Daryl may have been Judith Grimes and, for Isabelle, it could end up being Laurent.

  • If you thought it was out of character for Daryl to torture someone, we don't blame you for forgetting his past, considering how accustomed we've become to seeing Daryl's softer side. Dave is surprised that many of his fellow hosts found Daryl's story about Jimmy and the Piglet to be true and based on Daryl's personal life experience. The way Daryl paces around the room as he tells this story can be seen as a way to redirect Armand's attention to him, rather than Isabell, and build suspense. Sherrandy believes that Armand's words broke Isabelle down enough to make her decide to go back to Quinn right in that moment (who is torturing whom?). The way Armand couldn't even be bothered to spit on Isabelle might've been indicative of demonstrating her lack of worth to him, as a human being (not worth of even being spit on), or more likely fear of retaliation from Quinn.

  • But maybe it's not about repeating cycles: it's possible that Isabelle says she's going back to protect Laurent (Quinn's relationship with Pouvoir Des Vivants and making it so Laurent and company can make it to the nest), but maybe it's actually more about breaking the cycle and tackling her trauma, head-on. Bridget talks about similar fears she's had about returning to Milwaukee: facing her abuser and reverting to her former self while friends involved in that situation may continue to have the same image of her from that period of time. Meanwhile, it's unclear whether Quinn desires Isabelle because he loves her, wants to use her pre-apocalypse talents, is maybe even seeking revenge for abandoning him at the fall, or just wants to control her for the sake of controlling her: after all, as Genet says, he is a transactional man.

  • A concern emerges that Daryl might leave Laurent in the safety of The Nest in order to go back and rescue Isabelle: Rachael in particular would view this as edging us closer to relationship territory, but also making Daryl a sort of white knight. Sherrandy thinks that, whether he tries to save her or not, he might find that she saves herself. Either way, Isabelle might be the catalyst for Daryl's involvement in stopping Quinn's machinations.

  • The boatman's name is Azlan, which means lion in Arabic, which reminds everyone of the same character from the beloved The Chronicles of Narnia series of books/films. We're also jealous of Laurent, as his protector, because would very much love this attractive man guarding our bodies. And speaking of beautiful men, Sherrandy was moved by the scene where Antoine (the pigeon man) sets his pigeons free before dying, Adieu Camarades. This reminds Bridget of Dominique Pinon's role in Amélie and the significant impact this film had on both her and Dave's lives. Of course, Takeerah has to cap the subject of adorable men by mentioning the only French words Daryl has uttered in the series (to Armand, before he's mercilessly torn apart by walkers), bon appétit.
  • La Dame De Fer/ The Iron Lady reminds Sherrandy of the Statue of Liberty (even though that's copper) and what folks commonly called Margaret Thatcher (coincidentally, a movie exists by the same name, depicting her life, played by Meryl Streep); however, this is another name for the Eiffel Tower and why it's called this is due to its resemblance to a woman wearing a skirt.

  • On the subject of Iron Maidens, we turn to Isabelle's fortitude over the years and how Dave thinks that the convent was a drastic means for her to achieve sobriety from her pre-apocalypse life (both from addictive substances and the cycle of abuse) in order to do better for Laurent than the manner in which she raised Lily. Bridget somewhat disagrees: her substance abuse wasn't the root of her problems; however, she admits that she might be projecting her own experience onto Isabelle.

  • We turn back to the beginning of the episode: Daryl's brief dream sequence. Rather than interpret it, we attribute it to deep-seated feelings towards Laurent. Daryl may subconsciously feel that there is actually something more to Laurent. While we joke that Laurent turns away from Daryl because he's mispronouncing his name, we noted that one of the walkers in the dream seemed to look towards him, which was jarring. If it's true that he feels that there's something more to Laurent, maybe this dream is meant to describe Daryl's awe: that forces beyond his comprehension actually exist. It could also simply mean that he cares more about Laurent than he understands and wants to see him to fulfill his task, whether it's real or imagined. It may also mean that he fears there may come a point where he won't be able to assist him in that task and/or is forced to let go of him. Even more simply put: getting to know Daryl more than a decade, considering he is a man of few words, this scene was a rare opportunity to receive a high-resolution window into his mind and emotional subconscious. The desire to give Laurent a chance at surviving this journey is seen as a reflection of Daryl's paternal relationship with Judith, too.

  • Which actually brings us to thoughts on what the second season might look like, since they are still filming in France. We jokingly mention that the series might takes us to Northern Africa: a reference to a conversation we dedicated to Melissa McBride's exit from what was then supposed to be the Carol & Daryl spin-off. We described a scenario in which Carol Peletier would enter the series, but only to shepherd a walker Daryl through the arid wilderness (hence the art design in our merch store).
  • After the dream sequence, Daryl achieves consciousness submerged in a pool of water and is literally bit by a walker. Though most of us rewound that scene many times, we concluded that the walker merely bit his boot. But, come on, why do it in the first place?! Just after Daryl possibly acknowledging that there may be something more to Laurent, Bridget and Rachael express reservations about Laurent being the cure to what could've been an infected Daryl. But Bridget does go on to explain why, as goofy as Daryl looks with the bandanas covering the holes in his clothes and between his pants and boots, it makes sense that he survived a walker bite; besides which, there are various dangers in the woods, such as snakes, mosquitos, and poison ivy, so covering exposed skin on the lower half of your body prevents many dangers. This instantly reminded Takeerah of when Jerry was bit, but thankfully it was just the boot (too), in TWD episode 10x09, Squeeze. Though Dave thinks Daryl would've just walked it off or powered through, both he and Rachael wonder why he didn't check to see if he was actually bit afterwards. Many thought he wouldn't have hesitated cutting his leg off, while Dave and even Takeerah mention that maybe he would've thought an able body, though doomed, Daryl would be more effective at finishing the task at hand.

  • We shift over to the scene where Genet and Quinn parlay for Daryl's exchange. Genet makes a seemingly random offer of 20 bushels of corn, which may be a nod to a William Faulkner's short story Barn Burning, wherein a tenant farmer ruins a very expensive French carpet belonging to his landlord who is willing to let the matter go in exchange for twenty bushels of corn (in lieu of actual currency, which he knows the tenant farmer does not have). Genet also offers Calvados: an expensive apple brandy, but also one of 83 departments created during the French Revolution (the region which was the former province of Normandy). But in the end, Quinn wants Monet's Japanese Footbridge, a painting which illustrates the harmony between humanity and nature amidst the dawn of the industrial revolution.

    Monet's Water Lilies (not Japanese Footbridge)

  • There is some speculation as to whether this was meant to woo Isabelle and/or to memorialize her sister, Lily; regardless, Bridget gives context as why Genet refers to Monet as degenerate art by explaining the advent of the Modernist Art Movement and Impressionism as an alternative or even response to traditional art. Dave had researched the exact words Genet uses and it perfectly describes The Nazi Party's stance on Impressionism: referred to as Entartete Kunst, impressionist paintings were taken out of museums and tossed in the street or hung in exhibitions next to graffiti because it was an insult to German feeling. Late 19th century art critic, Max Nordau, who had popularized the term Entartung (degeneracy), had called Impressionism as a sign of a diseased visual cortex.
  • With this overwhelming fact in mind, it allows us to view the moment where Genet attempts to coo and hold the crying child near the start of the episode under a whole new, scary light. Obviously, the scene is meant to hold you in suspense, regardless, but on first watch, Dave felt a twinge of sympathy towards Genet and perhaps the toll the attempt at ridding the world of walkers since the outbreak's start has taken on her. The baby might be a reminder and motivator to push onward. However, with thoughts of Nazis dancing in our heads, it really adds loads more comments on the response she had for Sonia, about being weak(minded), after Sonia was standing up to her line of questioning and Pouvoir Des Vivants as a group.

  • As he is being kidnapped by Quinn's men, rather than calling out for Daryl to save him, it sounded and appeared as though Laurent was telling him to let him go. Dave wasn't on board with this at first, but as the ladies describe the way he was gripping his headrest and the manner in which he called out for Daryl, he was further convinced (despite basically always being right).

  • After recovering from the shock of Daryl actually being bitten (but not really being bitten), we examine the very odd scene with the cellist playing Johann Sebastian Bach's Cello Suite 1 and older couple casually having coffee and doting on one another in the windows of their own apartments. Sherrandy questions where all the undead went in a big city like Paris after 12 years, to which Takeerah believes - between the military and groups like Pouvoir Des Vivants - they took out the majority of them. How are the people Daryl observes enjoying life in their apartments while others - both in this series and in countries abroad - simply cannot? We broach last week's subject of individualism versus collective good, including the French axiom of Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité (Liberty, Equality, Fraternity), but that doesn't fly with Bridget, who is convinced people are equally horrible, everywhere. Takeerah tries to defend herself by saying it's possible that the American military focused more on protecting their own families, than performing their duties, especially after we bombed our own cities, whereas it's very possible that France, at the very least, may have done the opposite and didn't bomb their major cities.

  • Going back to the scene, it was at least interesting to see individuals trying to find their own happiness without the desire of relinquishing their autonomy to a larger group or authority to survive, taking their lives into their own hands especially after the camera pans to the walkers just below them to remind them that the dangers still exist. The cello piece by Bach was also performed by famous cellist, Yo-Yo Ma, in a 2011 riverside concert in New Zealand in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake and said, just before startingThat piece, in some strange coded way that culture does, represents in many ways the water that is flowing right in front of us... It also represents when something very violent and tragic interpreted the flow...Then this piece also includes the rebuilding and the re-imagining of the better version of the very first.  All of this suggests that these people are making the world better than before by living the way they want and being a better version of themselves, the way they see fit, in much the same way we idealize ourselves and imagine inhabiting a better version of ourselves in a zombie apocalypse.
  • Isabelle, yet again, is sacrificing herself for the well-being of someone else by the end of this episode, but we doubt that she will be able to rejoin the ones she loves once Laurent is safe. Isabelle doesn't know that Genet - and perhaps Quinn - is also after Laurent for her own reasons, so she can hardly be blamed for her poorly thought through logic. And although some of us have reservations about where the last two episodes of this season will ultimately go, we're excited for the next one.

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