Review: The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon is TWD at its finest

Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon - The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon _ Season 1 - Photo Credit: Emmanuel Guimier/AMC
Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon - The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon _ Season 1 - Photo Credit: Emmanuel Guimier/AMC /

The Walking Dead is bigger, badder, and better than ever in new spinoff series Daryl Dixon.

The world of The Walking Dead just got bigger.

Following in the footsteps of The Walking Dead: Dead City, we have The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon; which (as you might have guessed by the title) reintroduces us to the fan-favorite character that Norman Reedus previously played for over a decade on the main show.

The series follows Daryl to France, as he has somehow ended up there after leaving the Commonwealth. He tells us that “a bunch of bad decisions” took him out there, but the people he comes across would beg to differ. Those people are nuns and they are in search of a messenger to deliver a young boy named Laurent to safety.

It’s a compelling premise, but the question with all of these Walking Dead spinoffs is whether they manage to justify their existence for taking place beyond the main series. Dead City pulled it off, but can the same be said for Daryl Dixon, whose main character was essentially the lead of the final few seasons of The Walking Dead? A simple “yes” would be an understatement.

The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon review

The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon doesn’t just exist as an extension of the original series, it’s its own monster and that is clear from the beginning. It’s bigger than The Walking Dead, setting itself apart instantly with expansive overhead shots of the beautiful and eerie landscape of post-apocalyptic France. That presentation never leaves the show throughout its six-episode run, making for a larger-than-life feeling throughout.

It’s stunning, making full use of its setting through incredible establishing shots of the French landscape and that unnerving visual of the truncated Eiffel Tower we all saw in the trailer. The Walking Dead has never been more cinematic than it is here and Daryl Dixon wears that look extremely well. Its beautifully-filmed.

The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon
Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon – The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon _ Season 1 – Photo Credit: Emmanuel Guimier/AMC /

Norman Reedus is as badass as they come. He has outdone himself here, making Daryl Dixon an even stronger leading man than he was in The Walking Dead. It sounds silly to say out loud given the title of the show, but this is the long overdue showcase for Daryl Dixon we’ve been waiting for. And it’s wonderful, presenting the character with a host of new dilemmas (and personalities) to deal with. This is the most in-depth character work he has had in some time (maybe ever) and Reedus is incredible, delivering a performance that is every bit as nuanced as it is subtle.

While Dead City‘s strengths lay in its familiarity, Daryl Dixon thrives on its differences. Daryl is searching for a way back to America, back to the Commonwealth, back to his family, and he comes across a new mission: Protect Laurent. The whole “lead the revival of humanity” of it all might sound very The Last of Us but the AMC series does its own thing with that premise, setting itself apart from its peers in the zombie genre and establishing itself as a compelling, new part of it.

It also presents Daryl Dixon with something that The Walking Dead didn’t have: An endgame. Thus, it exceeds where its predecessor failed, boasting a clear and concise story that doesn’t meander along the way. Giving the characters a purpose beyond mere survival lights a fire under it as every moment, development, and character propels the story forward. There is no wasted time here. Every moment counts. And Every moment is unmissable.

The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon, TV shows
Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon, Louis Puech Scigliuzzi as Laurent – The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon _ Season 1 – Photo Credit: Emmanuel Guimier/AMC /

Speaking of characters, the supporting cast are refreshing additions to this universe. Clémence Poésy is a standout as the determined Sister Isabelle, while Louis Puech Scigliuzzi is a scene-stealer as Laurent. Both share some amazing scenes with Reedus, too, as the whole cast have just fantastic chemistry right off the bat – and that guides the series through each episode really well.

Now this is the TWD Universe, so there are threats beyond the walkers that Daryl and his new group of survivors must contend with. They aren’t the best villains we’ve seen from this franchise, but they are strong enough to be taken seriously as they do a solid job of raising the stakes with their vendetta against Daryl placing a clock over the season’s arc.

The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon isn’t completely unrecognizable but it is the refresh that the TWD Universe needed, resurrecting a franchise many thought was past its glory days and gifting it with one of its best chapters yet. Its six-episode run means there is plenty of room for more, too, and if season 2 is anything like the first, then we’re in for one heck of a ride. And a visually stunning one at that.

Verdict: Daryl Dixon is a gripping new chapter in The Walking Dead story that expands the horizons of the universe while also delivering enough thrills, chills and spills that will keep long-time fans of the franchise happy. It’s a breathtaking spectacle that reinvigorates the TWD Universe. Norman Reedus has never been better. Daryl Dixon has never been better. And as a result, The Walking Dead has never been better.

Grade: A+

The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon premieres on AMC and AMC+ on Sunday, September 10.

Next. All 11 seasons of The Walking Dead ranked from worst to best. dark