Daryl Dixon has been through a lot on his first solo adventure. Washing up on the shores of France, being thrust into a mission to help a young boy fulfill his destiny, and fighting walkers that are leaking acid took their toll on him. We learned more about Daryl along the way while seeing his ability to connect with the people he around him. This season finale episode, titled “Coming Home,” brings all the stories from this series to a mostly satisfying and somewhat surprising conclusion. But, before this season can come to an end, Daryl has one hell of a fight to make it to the finish line.
The episode begins in an unexpected way — a slow panning shot that looks like it came right out of Saving Private Ryan. Dead soldiers lie on the beach; the shot pauses on one in particular that we’ll learn about later on. After that, it picks right back up where the previous episode ended — Daryl in a pit about to fight a scientifically enhanced walker for the entertainment of Genet and a mass of spectators.
Daryl easily takes out this vicious walker and the challenge changes as Quinn is pushed into the pit and chained to Daryl as even more enhanced walkers enter. The two put aside their differences and just barely survive the fight just as Fallou and the rest of the group arrive and break up the party. Daryl and Quinn escape the pit only to discover that Quinn has been bit. Quinn makes Daryl promise to tell Isabelle that he tried to change for her in exchange for sacrificing himself to buy Daryl time to get everyone out.
Daryl catches up to Isabelle and Laurent, but there’s a gate in between them. Suddenly, the walker version of Quinn begins to attack Isabelle and Laurent is the only one who can save her. Daryl tells him it’s okay and that he will be forgiven, so Laurent takes down Quinn. Daryl is able to get everyone out and find a vehicle. He thanks Fallou for the rescue and says he’s going to The Nest now to finish this mission. When they are forced to stop due to car troubles, Codron and a few of Genet’s soldiers catch up to them.
The soldiers stab Isabelle and tell Codron to kill Laurent, which makes Codron do the unexpected — he kills all of Genet’s men and lets Daryl and the group go. They walk the rest of the way and finally arrive at their destination, a beautiful island that looks as if a village was built onto a mountain in the middle of a body of water. They are welcomed in with open arms as the inhabitants of The Nest are ecstatic with the arrival of their messiah, Laurent.
Isabelle is patched up and the rest of the group get settled into The Nest. Daryl seems to fit in nicely here and even teaches some of the villagers how to shoot. He gets time alone with Laurent and the two bond even more than they did on their journey. Even with this temporary peace and happiness, Daryl knows his mission is over and it’s time for him to find his way back home. During this time, it’s revealed that Daryl’s grandfather died during the invasion of Normandy and is the soldier that we saw in the cold open of the episode.
After a tough goodbye with Isabelle and unable to say goodbye to Laurent, Daryl is told where to meet the boat and heads off. Where Daryl actually ends up is the mass graveyard of all the fallen soldiers who died in the invasion of Normandy. In this field, Daryl finds the tomb of his grandfather. He looks to the sea and sees the boat, but then is suddenly surrounded by walkers from every angle. He fights his way to the beach and is about to go to the boat when he hears Laurent yell his name.
The episode should be over now, right? Nope, we return to Maine where Daryl was before he got on the ship that started this whole story. A car chases a man on a familiar motorcycle — Daryl’s. The man stops and disables the car and forces the driver to get out. It’s Carol who steps out of the car. She asks the man where he got the bike. After attempting to rob Carol, she knocks him out and puts him in the trunk. When he wakes up, she points his gun at him and gets him to reveal the camp Daryl was at before. She gets on his motorcycle and takes off to follow the trail. Season 2, which is being called “The Book of Carol” looks to be a mix of Daryl back with his friends in France and Carol tracking him down. This is going to be good.
As far as season finales go, this was a solid one. My only real complaints had to do with the villains. The whole show paints Genet and Codron as the dark force that’s going to cause havoc for Daryl and his friends. As the story progressed, the writing for these two got weaker and less important and made the stakes much lower for Daryl in the end.
The writing for Daryl, however, was so much better in this series than it was in eleven seasons of the original series. Daryl felt like a human being with depth and feelings and thoughts. Giving him new people to interact with and a new purpose is what made this show feel so well done and meaningful. I’m genuinely looking forward to the reintroduction of Carol next season and seeing how this new and improved Daryl interacts with this woman who is really the only person left that feels like home to him. Overall, this series was just as enjoyable to me as The Walking Dead: Dead City was, and I can’t wait to see what Season 2 brings!
Featured images courtesy of Emmanuel Guimier/AMC
'The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon' Season Finale - 8/10