The Walking Dead spin-offs have had their highs and lows. From the first 2 episodes, I was confident that Daryl Dixon was firmly in the former. I thoroughly enjoyed episodes one and two (more on that in my reviews) and was excited for my weekly visit to France in The Walking Dead Universe. This Sunday, I was left feeling a little underwhelmed. While I’m still invested, Episode 3, “Paris Sera Toujours Paris” failed to hit the highs of the first act of The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon‘s first season.
In marketing, AMC focused heavily on our crew arriving to Paris. Last week, we saw the outbreak. This time around, we step in to the fashion capital of the world over a decade after the world has fallen to the dead. Again, France proves itself as one of the most interesting settings in the franchise to date. Daryl Dixon’s supporting cast has been a highlight for me, but this week they don’t have a whole lot of development. That being said, the episode still has its moments and was a decent time to watch.
Paris Will Always be Paris
Daryl at an overlook of the Parisian skyline – screenshot from @PortalWalking
After a brief detour, most of this episode takes place in Paris. Paris exhibits some of the best scenery in the series thus far; even if the budget shows its limits at times with some weak CGI backgrounds. We’re taken to opposite extremes. There’s a lively, wholesome community which welcomed its newest member – a baby girl – living on the rooftops. In stark contrast is Demimonde; a speakeasy nightclub with a prohibition era vibe. This seedy underbelly – entered from Paris’ catacombs – is home to folks who trade in illicit goods. Daryl and the crew go there as a hub for trade, seeking a boat. It is such a unique, lively scene for The Walking Dead. It’s made even more special by Laurent’s childlike wonder at his first taste of nightlife.
Some of the people of Paris also make for exciting additions. We see more of Genet and Codron, as the villains inch closer to catching up with the heroes. At the nightclub, audiences are introduced to another antagonist. They’re a far more compelling entry than the two with the Guerriers. I’m hoping they stick around more, as the human enemies in Daryl Dixon have been lacking. The nightclub is also home to an emcee Drag performer who really steals the scene in her brief time on screen at Demimonde. I can see through her charisma here why Paloma won the first season of Drag Race France. As you’d expect in any club of this sort, there’s also a lounge singer with a beautiful voice. She has a moment with Laurent here that is very tender and sweet, adding much-needed depth to him this episode. The elder leader of the community who live on Parisian roofs doesn’t have much of a presence this episode. He seems to be yet another one-off character. Some of his dialogue is really memorable though, as he describes the history of the French people and how “Paris is crying” with metal groans.
Highlights and Lowlights
The clip above is one of my favorites in the series so far. A man finds a way to keep music alive by doing all sorts of nasty body horror things to walkers in order to turn them into his own personal orchestra. The effects here are incredible. The set piece is disgusting yet so visually interesting I can’t look away. I also absolutely love the chaos of the nightclub which I gushed about earlier. There’s also a moment where the new Variant Walkers seen in France spice up the action. The Walkers from episode one, whose blood literally boils, are used to burn through shrubbery that’s blocking Daryl and Isabelle’s escape. These moments were the highlights for me.
What wasn’t working for me this episode was some of the writing. I felt like at times, some characters progression had almost regressed; Laurent especially. He was making some poor choices that felt like they fit the needs of the plot over being coherent with his growth this season. There’s also some dialogue that falls flat in this episode but it is at its worst toward the beginning. When they arrive in Paris, Daryl is excited to stumble upon Jim Morrison’s grave. No one else there knows who he is, and he has this really awkward clunky moment where he explains who Jim Morrison and The Doors are. It took me out of the moment, and it feels like it belongs more in Ride with Norman Reedus than it does here.
For more Daryl awkwardness, check out 10 Things AMC Wants You to Forget about The Walking Dead’s Daryl Dixon.
A Variant Walker with Burning Blood – Image from AMC+ on Twitter
While this episode was a low point of the series so far for me, I still had a decent time and see how it sets up for a compelling latter half of the season. While there were moments that will definitely stick with me – like the Walker Orchestra and Paloma’s cameo – the episode reminded me of some of the more average episodes in The Walking Dead. This week the spinoff committed some of the sins of its flagship show, most annoyingly ending with a shoehorned cliffhanger that abruptly stops the action.
The action ramped up this week, but I did still find quite a bit of joy in some of the quieter moments. Aside from that, it served me fine as another episode in the massive TWDU. However, it felt like a bit of a let-down compared to the season’s stellar first two. I expected more from the half-way point of a show that so far has kept me on the edge of my seat.
- THE GOOD
- Set Pieces
- Production Design
- Cameo Characters Make for a Lively World
- THE BAD
- Character Regression
Daryl Dixon‘s third episode brings some excitement, but struggles to find substance.
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