‘The Walking Dead’ needed a healthy dose of France.
The Big Picture
- Moving the series to France brings a refreshing change of scenery and architecture, creating a completely different show and revitalizing the future of The Walking Dead universe.
- The French backdrop gives the show a new “vibe” and serves as a “reset” for Daryl’s character, addressing the repetitive and predictable nature of the previous seasons.
- The move to France introduces new characters, new perspectives, and the potential to uncover the origins of the apocalypse, offering seismic implications for the universe and the opportunity to delve into walker lore.
Season 1 of The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon gave us a brand new apocalyptic flavor, largely thanks to Daryl crossing an ocean. With all the hints of the outbreak starting in French labs, we always knew eventually The Walking Dead universe had to expand to France, and the premiere of Daryl’s spin-off fimally does so. The whole of the original series was located within America, and as effectively as they used different regions of the country, it was still very limited. Each country’s unique habitats and residents create distinct ways of surviving and exploring these other possibilities can only benefit the show. Moving the series to France not only revitalizes the show’s future, but also has wider ramifications for The Walking Dead universe. Daryl Dixon’s premiere shows promise for fulfilling the potential of finally addressing the French origins of the apocalypse.
‘The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon’ Thrives in France
As enthralling as the plains and valleys of America were in The Walking Dead, the distinct change of scenery to romantic architecture and French landscapes is refreshing, to say the least. As Norman Reedus’s Daryl walks through the decaying timbers of the dismal port town, there’s a marked feeling of dread and anticipation, only accentuated by the fact that we know we’re now in foreign territory. But the scene that makes the most impact in this regard features a colossal stone bridge that is collapsed halfway into the vast greenery below. The European architecture and backdrops are completely different from anything we’ve seen in the original series. It grandly and proudly orders us to buckle up and brace ourselves for a completely different show.
In fact, in an Entertainment Tonight interview, even Reedus explains that the French backdrop gives the show a different “vibe,” while also calling it a “reset” for his character. After the repetitiveness and predictability of the last couple of seasons of The Walking Dead, having this reset was definitely significant for the revival of the universe. The lack of familiarity in the French backgrounds, music, and even language echoes how we felt during the first season of The Walking Dead as we were tossed straight into the barren streets and undead torsos of the apocalypse. The French dialogue itself is only sometimes subtitled, enhancing the atmosphere of unfamiliarity and disorientation. Embracing French dialogue, new characters, and new walkers also breathes new life into the pacing of The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon, completely contrasting the sections of either constant violence or not nearly enough action in The Walking Dead. Moving away from America allowed the show to fix The Walking Dead’s previous issues, giving enough thrilling bouts of action to bloodthirsty fans while also constructing a coherent storyline.
Daryl’s spinoff re-invigorates the atmosphere of suspense and jumpiness, as we realize we don’t know the rules of this new place. Foreign locations tend to invite different stakes and introduce new ways to interact with the environment. As a smaller country, it makes sense that the ports are actually in use (unlike in the apocalyptic America) and that border crossings would be a lot more frequent. Daryl’s The Last of Us-like journey with Laurent (Louis Puech Scigliuzzi) could quite realistically take him anywhere, from the sea to a completely different country with new conditions. This once again starkly contrasts the predictability in the latter seasons of the original show, and the potential and unfamiliarity in France breed more engagement and thrill.
‘The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon’ Might Actually Give Us Answers
A new location also means new characters that value different things and hold different perspectives. Although there are some universal traits humans tend to share, as we’ve seen with the antagonistic groups having a penchant for pillaging and violence like others in the original series, the premiere also introduces the first characters to genuinely believe the outbreak can end, as well as have deeply religious beliefs. As the first episode slowly builds on characters like Laurent and Isabelle (Clémence Poésy), we realize that there is a sense of hope that is markedly different from that of the original series.
The Walking Dead characters only really ever had hope for survival, while these characters have the cataclysmic hope of changing the world. It almost feels unrealistic after 11 seasons of fighting tooth and nail, but the authenticity in which these characters believe in their endeavors coupled with the foreignness of the idea and place almost makes us believe, too. Apart from the belief of ending the apocalypse, expanding to France also invites more grounded aspirations of understanding how the outbreak began in the first place. From Dr. Edwin Jenner’s (Noah Emmerich) comments about the French labs being the last ones standing in Season 1 of The Walking Dead, to the more explicit post-credit scene of The Walking Dead: World Beyond, it is abundantly clear that France is ground zero. On top of that, with the introduction of the variant walkers and the implication of the French labs’ meddling in it, France is most definitely the most viable location to learn more about walker lore.
By re-locating the show to France, The Walking Dead’s universe finally has a credible shot at delving into the nuances of the walkers and the outbreak, and thus could possibly establish a way to end it. These are significant ramifications for the cinematic universe, especially since The Walking Dead failed to directly address these problems. The stark distance between America and the origin point in France probably contributed to this, so closing up this distance in a spin-off show was definitely beneficial for the series and for the audience. Although we can’t say for sure that Daryl’s spin-off will alleviate all our burning queries about the walkers and the outbreak, the premiere certainly indicates that the show will head in that direction. At the very least, it does guarantee that we will be treading together with Daryl and Melissa McBride‘s Carol into uncharted territory in Season 2, filled with new hopes, threatened by new foes, and back-dropped by enrapturing French scenery.