‘Ship-Shape: French twists, flashback frights and coming soon… Carol?

It's a firm case of 'How we got here' and 'How it's going' as Daryl Dixon flashes back to Stateside drama...

Daryl and Laurent are heading for the sanctuary known as the Nest, but their voyage downstream faces some unscheduled problems courtesy of the undead, Genet’s forces and even Laurent’s own ill-advised actions.  Meanwhile Isabelle bides her time at Quinn’s chateau, hoping to ensure Daryl makes a clean getaway.

Unfortunately, no-one’s plans go well and Daryl is left contemplating the actions that originally brought him to France and his last communications with an old friend…



“They say that beyond the seas, there under the clear sky, there is a city. To the enchanted stay and under the big black trees, nightly. Towards her goes all my hope…I have two loves: My country and Paris.” –   ‘J’ai Deux Amours’

–  Josephine Baker

Most people know that, originally, The Walking Dead spin-off was due to feature both Norman Reedus and Melissa McBride but was then reworked when McBride looked at how long would be needed to be away from her family while filming in Europe and gracefully exited with apparently no ill-feelings on either side. There’s no doubt that the series would have been significantly different in that original form and a treat for a fan of the on-screen soul-mates, but it’s rapidly proven itself to be an enjoyable drama with Reedus as the lone Walking Dead refugee and given a strong supporting cast including Clemence Posey and Adam Nagaitis.

But there’s always been a yearning for some of that previously laid groundwork to resurface and this episode would service the loyalists well. Not only do we get some flashbacks to show how Daryl ended up aboard a ship bound for Europe, but also how he escaped that predicament… and a cameo of sorts from McBride. Well, let’s be accurate, it’s her vocal debut on the show, only heard at the other end of a dodgy radio transmission… but we takes what we can gets. It’s meant to placate long-time fans but also offer a tease. We hear Carol say that ‘somebody’ has come back, but the specifics are lost to the static. Some have speculated that she means Rick or Michonne but that seems like the kind of news that you’d begin with rather than casually add. My money is on Lennie James’ Morgan – currently in Fear the Walking Dead and perhaps more firmly aligning the time-frame of each of the Walking Dead series, but I suspect we’re not going to find out in the upcoming finale – and it could be well into the next (now confirmed) season before there’s any kind of real pay-off to that.

We learn that Stateside Daryl was originally off looking for fuel resources when he ended up with a group who were corralling ‘fresh’ zombies for some kind of scientific experiments. When one of the fellow hunters clearly killed a young man trying to earn some money of his own, a fight ensued and the combatants all get shang-hi’d onto a science ship headed for… yes, France. We see Daryl work out an escape but one in which he witnesses a far faster and more aggressive zombie.

In the French side of things, Daryl and Laurent are trying to get to safety with their guide Azlan (Hassam Ghancy). Sadly – if a little predictably – Azlan isn’t destined to complete the journey and ends up impaled on a tree during a zombie encounter (though the moment is, weirdly – off-camera). For a minor character, Azlan was interesting and the series, which has highlighted aspects of religion, impressively has scenes with the character, a Muslim, discussing his own faith. Daryl understandably erupts when it’s revealed that Laurent un-moored the barge and let it drift off so that Daryl wouldn’t leave. It seems a stupid and reckless move, but ultimately Daryl recognizes that familial need he never received as a kid and understands the ill-conceived actions. It’s not the last of Laurent’s bad-moves… he fails to run and hide when Daryl is captured, essentially delivering them both to Genet.

Isabelle (Clemence Posey) has decided that to stop Quinn’s pursuit by giving him what he wants most of all: her. Of course, the days of serious partying are long over and Quinn’s attempts to win her over tend to backfire, though her Plan B, to possibly kill Quinn, are also put on the backburner when she wonders if he could be redeemed (and, again, she did abandon HIM all those years ago). Of course, it doesn’t end very well. Isabelle may be the ‘plus one’ when Quinn gets invited to the event organised by Genet (Anne Charrier) but neither get what they expected from their host thanks to the efforts of the spurned Sylvie (Laïka Blanc-Francard).

Certain things don’t work logically. How, exactly, does one lose a barge and wouldn’t it be easier to find it downstream that try an entirely different land-based route? The set-up of the French scientist collecting specimens joins some necessary dots but makes one wonder why he’s scavenging the coast of Maine for a commodity that must be just as plentiful in Europe. Last week, we also Quinn was beaten to a pulp by Daryl during the escape and here he appears with nary a bruise or mis-step.

The eventual climax promises much – a gladiatorial confrontation between our hero and a crazed zombie in an arena, though presuming the series isn’t planning to kill off its title character, the most it can deliver is spectacle rather than high-stakes. (I was half expecting Daryl to cry: ‘It’s my friend…from work!‘ in Thor-like delight?).

Just as this review was going up came news that the next season of Daryl Dixon will actually have a tweak to its full title, perhaps indicating something that could be further seeded into the show next year. It will now be called The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon – The Book of Carol… and with an indication that some of the characters that might survive the coming season finale…

“I’ve known there was much more to be told of Carol’s story as I felt her so unsettled when we last saw her, as she watched her best friend, Daryl, ride away,” McBride said in a statement “Apart or (hopefully!) together, their stories run deep, and I’m so excited to continue Carol’s journey here. This team of storytellers have done amazing work to land these two established characters in an entirely new world to them, and I’m loving the discoveries!”

'Daryl Dixon  S01 EP5 ∙ Deux Amours'  (AMC review)
'Daryl Dixon S01 EP5 ∙ Deux Amours' (AMC review)
  • Story
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  • Direction
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