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Home > The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon Episodes 1-3 (2023): A Review

The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon Episodes 1-3 (2023): A Review

The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon Episodes 1-3 (2023): A Review

Sometimes Dead is Better

When The Walking Dead originally aired, the series grabbed audiences by developing the world of a zombie apocalypse more than any previous two-hour movies had allowed. Similarly, the series focused on the characters, their survival, and their past, demonstrating the various ways people will try to navigate through a fallen civilization. Sure, criticisms claimed the series was a “soap opera with zombies,” but the vast array of characters gave audiences a host of people to latch on to. Going further, the constant case of killing off characters randomly added to the terror of living in a post-apocalyptic world, with the series being able to leave viewers devastated when a fan favorite was killed off. It may sound like a horrid experience, but it made for great television.

During the first six seasons of the original series, The Walking Dead was coasting along as one of the most popular series on television. The show was able to continue to find new ways to test the characters, as well as provide great character moments that served as a crutch for the series. However, around the seventh season, it quickly fell apart. It kept rinsing and repeating the same storylines, introducing new characters and acting as if the audiences cared about these new poorly introduced and written characters, only for their quick demise to ultimately not mean anything. 

Ending the original series was like chopping the head off a Hydra in Greek mythology. They ended one series, only to springboard three more. It came as no surprise that a Daryl Dixon spin-off was greenlit, as his character has remained a fan favorite since his original debut. A little under a year since the series finale of The Walking Dead, AMC has launched a more promising series from the continued expansion of their zombie universe. 

Promising Set-Up

While the first half of the series doesn’t do anything extraordinary, it seems to send a promise that what follows will be unique. There are differences in the setting and some of the themes that set it apart from what The Walking Dead has done before. Overall, the series isn’t a complete 360-degree turnaround for the Walking Dead universe, but it still makes the spin-off have its own unique voice.

Right out of the gate, there is a mystery surrounding how Daryl ended up in France. A mystery at the center of the story makes sitting through the tedious moments less painful. While other series have incorporated mysteries throughout their stories, the enigma surrounding Daryl adds a unique feel to this series. Whether or not the mystery pays off in the end remains to be seen; however, it makes the first few episodes interesting enough when trying to decipher clues sprinkled throughout.

The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon Episodes 1-3 (2023): A Review

Religious Undertones

From the beginning, an aspect of the Daryl Dixon spin-off is the religious themes. The Walking Dead has had religious undertones from the beginning, with characters such as Hershel and Gabriel addressing religious topics, especially in regards to how religion can still play a role in the apocalypse. However, the Daryl spin-off series has taken religion and dove headfirst into the subject, allowing the series to explore various themes and ideas of religion. From the start of the series, it promises to explore his character on a deeper level than the main series allowed. Since his character hasn’t changed too much since we last saw him, and with Daryl having a more agnostic viewpoint that counterbalances the rest of the cast, it adds an element to his character that hasn’t been explored yet, providing room for character growth. During certain scenes that demonstrate his struggle with faith, or lack thereof, the show is able to represent his inner demons within his new setting. 

Included in the cast of characters is a group of nuns pushing religious elements to the forefront of the series. Some of these characters address interesting perspectives on how religion can still be relevant, if not more so, in an apocalypse. This provides a different viewpoint from those seen in the original Walking Dead series, as characters like Hershel and Gabriel struggled to maintain their faith amidst the world’s collapse. The new characters introduced are shown to have an opposite reaction by having their faith strengthened, which worked as a counterbalance for what’s been shown before.

Slow Pacing

While there are moments where the show is bursting with action and excitement, there are too many dull moments that feel more like the filmmakers stretching out the runtime rather than having a well-thought-out plan. The dynamics between characters are not that interesting, which makes conversations among them quite uninteresting. On top of that, the new characters introduced are not compelling, and with Daryl being the most interesting character from the start, everyone else feels lesser than in comparison. Since the series relies on the characters, rather than the story, it makes the pacing very slow-going. 

Lack of Character Growth

As the original moved along, later seasons suffered from underwhelming and underdeveloped characters that were difficult to embrace. The series acted as if audiences would automatically latch onto characters, only to kill them off as quickly as they were introduced. However, these deaths never meant anything, and they were simply placed in the series as walking meat bags for the zombies to eat. The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon suffers this same fate by introducing a slew of characters in this first half. The characters lack the charm that would make audiences gravitate toward them, setting them up in a way that if they were to be chewed up by zombies, no one would be upset.

The only character that audiences are able to hold on to is Daryl; however, the series heavily leans toward audiences already having an attachment to the previous series. The first half of the series doesn’t provide a purpose or reason for him having his own solo series, other than being a fan favorite character. Norman Reedus still plays the character perfectly, but upon watching the first three episodes, there doesn’t seem to be a clear objective for him being involved in the story setup. 

New Settings

Since the new series is set in France, this provides a much-needed breath of fresh air that made the original series and other spin-offs grow stale. The majority of the other series occur in woods or American towns, all providing little variety. Although the new location doesn’t make the series feel completely original, it does provide enough of a change to give off an almost gothic feel. From the architect of the buildings and cities, the French design gives it a distinct look. 

The first half of The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon doesn’t make any radical changes to improve upon the drop in quality the last few seasons of the main series suffered, but it does establish the potential for where this new series can lead. 

The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon premiers on AMC on September 10, 2023.

The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon Episodes 1-3 (2023): A Review

The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon (2023) Official AMC+ Trailer

Source: Dead Talk Live

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Mason Kupiainen is a recent Butler University graduate with a degree in Creative Media and Entertainment. His work has been published in Butler Collegiate, The Mall, and Byte BSU. Along with written work, he has a videography portfolio with Indy Blue Video, Byte BSU, and Ball Bearings.
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Cailen Fienemann is a current student at Le Moyne College pursuing her BA in English and Communications with a film studies minor and a creative writing concentration.  Though uncertain about her career end-goals, any job that allows her to write is a cherished one indeed.