This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the TV show being covered here wouldn’t exist.
The second episode of The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon, “Alouette,” solidifies this series as the most original and fresh premise that this franchise has ever attempted. While Daryl is technically the lead, this episode gives the character of Isabelle the most detailed and cinematic backstory of any supporting character that I’ve seen in recent memory. The icing on the cake comes when Daryl utters the most Daryl Dixon line ever: “Shut up, I don’t speak French.” All of this and more made this a fantastic second episode, so let’s break it down!
It’s the end of the world as we know it
It begins with a very different Isabelle who is living in Paris pre-apocalypse. She’s going to night clubs, dancing, doing drugs, stealing from people and definitely not being the nun we know her as in the present day. She begins to notice strange behavior around her. It soon becomes clear that this is the night that the outbreak began in Paris, meaning she was right in the middle of it.
Isabelle runs down to the metro, where she sees one of the most horrifying and incredible visuals of any zombie media I’ve seen: a train speeding by the platform as the dead are raging against the living passengers trapped together inside. As Isabelle roams the increasingly dead streets of Paris, she is picked up by a man seems to know, named Quinn. They go back to her apartment and gather some of her things as well as her sister, Lily.
Daryl Dixon, father
Meanwhile in the present day, Daryl and his new traveling companions encounter a group of armed teenagers who take them captive. Daryl is brought to their leader back at a former preschool and realizes that this group of kids were left at this school when their parents weren’t able to pick them up when the world fell. The leader, a young girl named Lou, explains to Daryl that their teacher is very sick and needs medicine. Isabelle explains to the kids that they are just nuns and a priest (Father Daryl) and are just passing through.
The kids take in Daryl and his group and have a meal with them. Daryl offers to help their teacher and get the medicine from a local group of thieves who have been hoarding drugs and medical supplies in an old castle (even though Daryl knows that the teacher is way beyond helping). The kids are thankful and invite Daryl and the group to a television watching party where they put on an episode of Mork and Mindy.
It’s the first time in a long time where we get to see Daryl be happy and smile. He’s surrounded by a group of equally happy kids who can recite every word of the episode. Although it’s a happy moment, it quickly reminds Daryl of his family and friends back home. Daryl and the kids head to the castle and Daryl does what he does best and tries to take down the thieves by himself, but ends up being saved by the kids and are able to get the medicine. Sadly, their teacher still passes away but the kids are still thankful for Daryl’s help.
In the flashback, we learn that Lily is both pregnant and possibly sick. Quinn tries to convince Isabelle to leave her behind, to which Isabelle decides to grab Lily and leave Quinn behind for even thinking that. The sisters find an abbey and are taken in for months until Lily has the baby.
Unfortunately, Lily dies during the birth and turns before the baby is out. The nuns are forced to remove the baby just in time for Lily to be put down. Isabelle, now holding her orphaned nephew, decides to name him after a saint she sees in the abbey — Laurent. That’s right, the little boy that’s “the next messiah” is Isabelle’s nephew, who barely survived his traumatic birth.
I was blown away by the cinematic feel of this entire episode. We got a 28 Days Later meets World War Z style backstory that was traumatic, unexpected, and beautifully structured. We also got to see Daryl’s genuine connection with children on full display and how willing he is to risk his life to help them.
This show has given us so many gorgeous set pieces and locations so far and is really utilizing this new and vast environment that fans of The Walking Dead have never had before. And with the addition of a well-placed song (Blue Monday by New Order), this episode has something for everyone. If the rest of the season is anything even remotely close to the quality of these first two episodes, we’re in for one hell of a ride!
The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon airs on AMC at 8 p.m. Central every Sunday.
Feature image courtesy of Emmanuel Guimier/AMC
Rating - 9/10