The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon - 1x04, La Dame De Fer Recap

The Walking Dead: Daryl DixonThe beam of a flashlight shines through a stone doorway. Footsteps approach. It is Daryl (Norman Reedus), and as he reaches us, the camera pulls back and we hear the rattle of a chain. He is locked behind an iron gate. Growling draws his attention, and he shines the flashlight through the bars, revealing a group of walkers. Laurent (Louis Puech Scigliuzzi) wanders into view, and Daryl clutches the gate, knife in hand, calling the boy’s name. As the walkers overtake Laurent, he bows his head and puts his hands together, praying, and then he is hidden from view by the staggering figures. Daryl screams his name, but Laurent doesn’t move. Eventually, losing hope, Daryl falls silent. The walkers move back the way they came, and lo, Laurent is standing there, still praying, unharmed. Hallelujah amen.

Daryl is underwater. The opening scene, we realize with weak-kneed relief, was a dream sequence, and perhaps we can try to forgive the implausibility of it – even within a story about the dead walking, mind you – on that basis. Daryl opens his eyes and looks around. A walker grabs at him from below. Daryl seizes its wrist and stabs it in the head. Another tries to bite his ankle, and he stabs it too, kicking upwards and breaking the surface of the water. Hauling himself out of a pool, he lies panting on the tiles and stares up at a hole in the roof overhead, through which he fell. What a remarkable stroke of luck to have his fall cushioned by water. God and plot armor work in mysterious ways.

Roll credits.

The Walking Dead: Daryl DixonDaryl walks across a bridge, heading to Isabelle (Clémence Poésy)’s apartment to meet her. He’s dried off nicely. Climbing a flight of stairs, he hears music and looks up. In an apartment overhead, a woman practices the cello. In the building opposite, an elderly couple eat breakfast together off fine crockery. The woman leans forward to touch her partner’s face affectionately. In America, meanwhile, people are chopping Stradivari in half and killing horses for lunch. Walkers growl. Daryl takes one last look at the cellist and continues up the stairs. As he nears the top, a motorbike drives past, and Daryl hides. Once it is gone, he crosses the road to an old street map, but it has faded into illegibility. “Fuck,” he says, and I pop a dollar in my Daryl Swear Jar. I’ll be using the contents to purchase a yacht or a modest home once the season ends.

Codron (Romain Levi) is questioning Sonia, the widow at Fallou’s settlement who found some post-bereavement joy at the feet of the boy messiah. In the background, a baby cries. Codron shows Sonia a map. “He came from the south?” he says. “Why?” Sonia tells him Daryl came in service of the union, to deliver the boy. Codron asks, amazed, if she means Laurent. “He has a greater destiny,” declares Sonia fiercely, and Codron looks like he’s had enough of this conversation.  

A woman’s voice says “So it’s true!” in French. Genet (Anne Charrier) comes to stand behind Sonia, and the widow turns to look at her. “He actually exists,” says Genet. The baby cries louder, and Genet gives the mother a withering look. “I heard about a special boy from Lourdes,” Genet tells Sonia. “His birth was deemed a miracle.” Sonia nods, and the leader of Pouvoir says she thought it was a rumor, a lie for those who want desperately to believe. Sonia looks her up and down. “The fools are the ones who put their faith in you,” she declares. Genet chuckles, and asks what Sonia means. “Laurent will save us all,” the widow replies. “Even you.” The baby cries on and on. Increasingly, as a result, the scene feels like an experiment in psychological torture. Genet looks down at Sonia. “The weak, the submissive, the credulous. It’s people like you who got us into this mess.” I honestly don’t know what she’s talking about. The baby won’t stop crying. Genet goes to the mother and it looks, based on Genet’s expression, like she might kill the child. Codron hovers nervously. Genet reaches for the child as the mother pleads with her, but the leader of Pouvoir doesn’t harm the baby. Instead, she tries to comfort it, as Codron asks whether Laurent is dangerous to her. “He gives them false hope,” she says. “It’s a disease that must be rooted out.” Codron says he will find both Daryl and Laurent. I’m sure they’ve left a trail of hair across Paris. 

Daryl wanders the city streets, which are filled with bicycle wreckage, as though perhaps the apocalypse interrupted the Tour de France. He stops to look at some graffiti and hears the squeak of wheels. Running across the street, he hides. Antoine the pigeon man (Dominique Pinon) appears on a bicycle, a box of birds strapped to the handlebars. Daryl leaps out and stops him, nearly sending the old man into cardiac arrest. Antoine congratulates Daryl on still being alive and asks where the boy and the nun are. Daryl says he is on his way to them. The guerriers want the boy, Antoine tells him. The soldiers came back to the settlement during the night and took some people prisoner while the rest fled. “We are their enemy,” the pigeon man says. “And Laurent, Laurent is our hope. You must go to them.” 

Daryl confesses he is lost. This is his first truly heroic act, since men of his ilk will usually not make such an admission under any circumstances. Antoine offers to show him the way. They hear a jeep approaching and Daryl tells the old man to get off his bike, as Antoine protests, concerned for his pigeons. Daryl props the bike against a wall, and they flee on foot, hiding behind some old crates. The jeep stops. The driver climbs out and takes the box of birds. I’m pretty sure he’s planning to slow roast them with a little gravy and maybe some pommes frites on the side. Distressed, Antoine runs out and stands in front of the jeep, begging for his pigeons. “Dammit,” says Daryl, and conceals himself more fully to watch the old man meet his fate. This is very much not a heroic act on his part, but no one is perfect, and he’s probably still regrouping after admitting he was lost. One of the men in the jeep stands up and tells Antoine his pigeons are going to taste great (told you so) and shoots him. 

Somewhat belatedly, Daryl throws a knife at the shooter and charges for the jeep, smashing the driver with his tiny flail. He runs to Antoine and kneels beside him. “Sorry I was too cowardly to fight them before they shot you, Pigeon King,” he says. Actually, he doesn’t. He says “oh shit” – his bedside manner could use some work – and Antoine uses his dying breath to ask Daryl to release the birds. I would have used mine to cuss him out. Daryl releases the pigeons, and they fly away as Antoine dies.

Isabelle stands alone, looking très shellshocked, in her old apartment. The door opens and Daryl comes in. “You okay?” he asks. She nods, and then walks to him and hugs him tightly. Hesitantly, he hugs her back. As she steps away from him, he asks where Laurent is. She doesn’t know. She’s searched all night. Daryl reassures her that the boy will be fine. “He doesn’t know Paris,” she says. “Where would he go?” I would expect her to have a better sense of this than Daryl, given that she actually raised Laurent, but evidently, she considers Daryl a Laurent-whisperer of some kind despite condescending to him because he doesn’t have children. And what do you know? “I have an idea,” Daryl says. “Come on.”

In the Demimonde, Quinn (Adam Nagaitis) sits at the bar making notes. Anna (Lukerya Ilyashenko) comes over and tells him about a man with whom she wants to trade for some truffle pasta. Back in America, people are seasoning their horsemeat lunches with fresh dirt. Quinn dismisses her proposal irritably and with little interest. Anna says, “She’s gone, Quinn. For good.” She means Isabelle. She goes on to tell him that women need a damn good reason to come back and a damn good reason to stay. Daryl should be hearing this advice. One of Quinn’s men comes to tell him that the American got away. He is still in Paris and the guerriers are hunting both him and Laurent. Quinn asks what they want with the boy as Anna listens. 

Laurent is wandering the streets of Paris. He sees some walkers and heads in the opposite direction. Elsewhere, Daryl and Isabelle stride purposefully through the city. “What if he’s not there?” asks Isabelle. “He will be,” Daryl says. Generously, he tells Isabelle that their current predicament isn’t all on her: “I said some shit back there that I shouldn’t have said, and I know he heard me.” Isabelle says Laurent ran away because he’s confused. “I should have been honest with him long ago,” she says, and Daryl only just manages not to do a victory dance and crow, “I told you so.” 

Laurent runs across a ruined garden to stand at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. The metal creaks in the wind. It is leaning like that other famous tower. He takes out the photo of his mother and smiles to himself beatifically. At the base of the tower is a wall of sandbags. He goes closer, grinning at the tower, and then peers through a gap in the bags. A walker stares back at him, growling, and an overhead shot reveals that the area behind the sandbags is full of the dead. They break through, drawn, apparently, by Laurent’s entirely noiseless presence. Soon, the horde has pushed over the wall, and Laurent is surrounded.

Isabelle and Daryl run up with impeccable – some would say miraculous – timing. Daryl gives the nun his knife and swings his tiny flail. With remarkable consideration, the walkers hang back and come forward one by one to be killed, which makes it a very slow and extremely low-stakes fight. There are periods when Daryl is swinging his flail like a lonely fire-dancer at an island resort, surrounded by walkers swaying in place at a respectful distance, drunken tourists enjoying the show. (Cross off an epic setting wasted on a ludicrous scene on your Daryl Dixon bingo card.)

Unbeknownst to them, Laurent is hiding under a sheet of corrugated iron. The fight continues with all the verve of a state funeral. A walker crouches and peers at the boy, its mouth opening hungrily. A knife stabs it through the head and the sheet of iron is pulled back. A strange man grabs Laurent as the boy calls for help. Another man shoots walkers as the first man carries Laurent to a car. Laurent screams for Daryl. Isabelle screams for Laurent. Daryl ducks and dives his way to the car, hurls aside the men, and reaches for Laurent, but the car drives away with the boy still in it. Amid the horde, one of the kidnappers is being eaten. Isabelle points a gun at the other one while Daryl spends an unnecessarily long time staring after the car. 

In a workshop of some kind, the kidnapper is tied to a chair. Isabelle stands in front of him, Daryl to one side of her. The nun introduces herself, using the title Sister. The man’s name is Armand. “Is that what we’re doing?” he asks Daryl in French. “Pretending to be something we’re not?” Unfortunately, Daryl has no idea what he’s saying, and stands there blankly. Noticing a small religious medal around Armand’s neck, Isabelle observes that he is a disciple. “Used to be,” he says. She asks whether he is working for Pouvoir. He doesn’t respond, so she pivots into pastoral mode: “The violence and the killing…they must take quite a toll.” Daryl appears to be listening, but for all he knows they could be discussing the best place to buy cheese in Paris. Armand says he sleeps at night. Isabelle offers him a chance to repent: tell her where Laurent has been taken, and in exchange he can rejoice that he is still capable of grace and mercy. Curious interrogation method but go on. 

Armand addresses Daryl, telling him in French that he was given to understand it was a “real party” with old Issa. Daryl listens politely, thinking of the piquant flavor of Roquefort. Armand is annoyed because all he is getting is “bullshit about God and Jesus.” “The joke is,” he says to the nun, “I know you’re just a thieving little slut.” He collects a blob of saliva to spit at her but stops himself, spitting it onto the floor instead. Isabelle watches him, her expression hard. “What is it?” asks Daryl, as though waking from a brief coma. “I know who has Laurent,” she replies.

Laurent sits in Quinn’s office unwrapping a candy and looking miserable. He complains because the candy looks a bit old. “An old one is better than none at all,” Quinn says. Anna tries to lighten the mood. Quinn asks whether Laurent knows who he is. “You used to be friends with my Aunt Isabelle,” the boy replies. “And my mother. You’re my father.” Quinn is impressed, but Laurent doesn’t reply when he asks how the boy figured it out. The man wants to know if Isabelle told Laurent about him, and Laurent regurgitates Isabelle’s old lie about his father being a hero for France who went far from home to fight the hungry ones. We become aware, hearing it for the second time, that this description now matches Daryl, whose walker-killing skills Laurent admired last week. 

Quinn reminds Laurent that he saved him from the walkers at the Tower, but the boy says he didn’t see Quinn there. “Well, that was me,” says Quinn, lying so blatantly that everybody including the audience is hella confused. Quinn seems to find Laurent quite irritating. Relatable. He tells the boy he wants to make up for lost time by taking care of Laurent. “What about Isabelle and Daryl?” Laurent asks, as though a strange American who has been quite mean to him is on a par with the woman who raised him. “Isabelle will join us,” Quinn replies. Anna looks sad.

Daryl and Isabelle are still interrogating Armand. He wants to know if Daryl knows what kind of girl Isabelle used to be, and he badgers her to tell Daryl. She refuses to translate. Armand says to Daryl in English, “She very bad girl.” The show is really going hard on the nun / whore dichotomy, almost like they couldn’t write a complex female character without falling back on offensive stereotypes. Daryl ignores the remark and tells Isabelle to ask what Quinn wants with the boy. Armand refuses to talk. Daryl gets up, and without removing his throttling little scarf or unbuttoning his coat, he punches Armand twice in the face. Then he delivers a lengthy monologue while torturing Armand with a sharp metal poker repeatedly. The monologue goes like this, and Daryl sounds less and less like himself the longer he speaks: “You know, where I grew up, there was this little boy. Lived down the street, his name was Jimmy. Jimmy was a runt. They always picked on Jimmy for being so little. His dad – his dad was a drunk. I don’t think I ever saw that guy sober. One Christmas, Jimmy got a piglet as a present. It used to follow him around like a little dog. Even waited for him after school. And then, one Christmas, his dad says he wants him to kill the piglet and eat it for church dinner [stab stab, Armand shrieks]. Says if he doesn’t do it, his brother’s gonna get a beating. So, he takes the piglet, ties it up to a tree in the backyard. He wants to make it quick and painless [stabby stab stab stab gurgle]. The thing is, by Jimmy not trying to hurt the pig, he ends up hurting him worse. Stabbed it in the belly, in the back, in the legs, until it just bled out. And that pig screamed all night long. All the neighbors heard it. No one ever fucked with Jimmy anymore.”           

Isabelle, who has watched this with the sweaty look of someone suffering constipation but determined to overcome it, tells Armand to give Daryl the information he needs. Armand says all he knows is that Quinn thinks he can use the kid to get what he wants. Isabelle immediately concludes that this means her. “He’s using Laurent to get to me,” the nun tells Daryl. “Well, we can’t go through the front door,” he replies. Isabelle asks Armand for help. He won’t cooperate. “I think you might wanna leave,” drawls Daryl. “Unless you wanna hear this pig scream.” Kill the pig, Daryl! Cut his throat! Isabelle says she’ll stay. Daryl weighs a metal rod in his hand, and Armand gives up and agrees to help.

Outside, Daryl ties Armand to a stair rail. “That little boy in the story, that was you, wasn’t it?” asks Isabelle. “No, I made all that shit up,” Daryl replies. They go to stand with Sylvie (Laïka Blanc-Francard), Emile (Tristan Zanchi), Fallou (Eriq Ebouaney), and two others from the settlement and they go over their plan. Isabelle and Sylvie will go to Pont de la Tournelle to meet a man named Azlan from the Nest, who will be waiting for them with a boat. Fallou gives them a brief motivational speech.

They split up. Sylvie and Emile confess to each other that they are scared, and Sylvie kisses Emile. Isabelle goes over to Daryl as he unties Armand. “There’s something I wanted to tell you,” she says. “Why don’t you tell me at the river?” he replies. Sylvie watches them. Daryl shoves Armand ahead of him and leaves, Isabelle staring after them.

Isabelle and Sylvie walk down towards the Pont de la Tournelle, where they see Azlan waiting for them. “Have you ever had romantic feelings for anyone…since you took vows?” Sylvie asks Isabelle. “No,” says Isabelle. Sylvie continues, “Back there, with Daryl…?” A beat before Isabelle replies, “What you saw was concern. For him. For Laurent.” She asks whether Sylvie likes Emile, and the younger woman smiles and says she kissed him; it was nice, but also confusing. I can confirm it was very confusing for the viewers, who assumed that it would take a nun longer than 24 hours to decide monogamy with God wasn’t worth passing up on a Parisian bae. “First kisses often are,” says Isabelle.

Sylvie announces that she might stay in Paris with Emile, in the community he is building with Fallou and the others. Let’s just take a moment here: she grew up in the abbey believing wholeheartedly that Laurent, who is like a brother to her, was the savior of humankind. But this boy she met yesterday has persuaded her through his scintillating chit chat and fetching curls to give all of that up, and wave goodbye to Laurent and the gang. Can we have just one moment of emotional realism in this show? Sylvie asks whether Isabelle is disappointed in her, when really she should be asking God how he’s feeling. “No,” replies Isabelle. “I had a lot of life before I took my vows. You…you’ve never gotten to live in a normal world.” Azlan approaches and asks where Laurent is. 

The boy in question is still in Quinn’s office, sitting on the couch gazing at Lily’s photograph. Downstairs in the Demimonde (or upstairs; the layout of this place escapes me – all I know is that no one who works here is getting enough vitamin B), Quinn pours Genet a drink while Codron lurks nearby. Quinn wants to negotiate with her for the American. Genet assumes he has Daryl, and offers weapons, corn, and Calvados in exchange for him. Ridiculous! Does she think she’s in the cultural wasteland of America? Instead, the nightclub owner demands a painting by Monet, Japanese Footbridge. She agrees. Impressionism, she says, is degenerate art. As Quinn gets to his feet, she asks about Laurent, but the man denies having him. Genet tells Codron they cannot let Laurent out of Paris. They leave.

Anna tells Quinn, who is behind the bar, that he could get more than “a stupid painting” from Genet. She accuses him of keeping the kid to get Isabelle back. “I only told you about his Eiffel Tower thing so we could get the reward,” she says. Like Daryl, Anna and Quinn figured out that Laurent was going to the Eiffel Tower on the basis of only a few minutes’ interaction. Seems Isabelle was the only one who just had no idea where the boy might go. Quinn gives Anna a handgun and tells her to guard Laurent.

Daryl and Armand are on some overgrown train tracks. They stop at a metal trapdoor that leads underground, and the sound of growling rises from it. “What is that?” asks Daryl. I don’t know, Daryl. Maybe it’s a duck? Maybe it’s a choir of nuns gargling communion wine? Good thing you asked. “Las Affamés,” says Armand. The hungry ones. “Fucking great,” responds Daryl. 

Back in the Demimonde, Anna asks whether she’s supposed to babysit Laurent while Quinn goes to find the American. “I won’t have to find him,” the Brit says. “He’s coming to me.” And indeed he is, via a gloomy tunnel. 

Fallou, Emile and their two comrades arrive across the train tracks from the entrance to the Demimonde. They fire on the guards and throw a Molotov cocktail at them. A gunfight ensues, and I rest my eyes briefly because it’s boring. The Demimonde guards are not equipped to deal with incendiary devices, and Fallou’s people rapidly gain the upper hand. 

In the dark underground, Daryl makes Armand walk ahead of him, picking up their pace. Bombs and guns continue to go off at the entrance to the catacombs. Daryl and Armand run around in the dark. Guns! Bombs! The Cranberries’ “Zombie” is playing in my head.

Armand tries to escape from Daryl and is injured. Daryl calls him an idiot and Armand shrieks “Fuck your mother!” He wins the macho cursing competition for this episode, but the joke’s on him, because Daryl’s mother is dead. Armand is afraid the walkers will get him, and he asks Daryl for help, telling him which way they must go. Leaving him to the walkers, Daryl says “Bon appétit.” Hilarious! The walkers munch on Armand.

Guns, bombs. Emile gets shot in the thigh. Fallou wants them to leave, but Emile says they must finish the job. Quinn’s men are getting closer. Bombs, guns. Fallou’s team leaves.

Daryl passes through a trapdoor behind the bar of the Demimonde. On the bridges overhead, guards are running to help the men fighting at the entrance. Daryl hides.

Laurent is holding his Eiffel Tower necklace like a rosary in Quinn’s office. “It doesn’t look like it used to, does it?” says Anna, meaning the actual Tower. “It will be beautiful again,” says Laurent piously. “Someday.” Anna says she hopes he gets to go home soon, to which, somewhat churlishly, he replies, “You don’t want me here?” She looks at him for a moment. “I want you where you’re the happiest,” she replies. Laurent looks thoughtful, and she asks what he’s thinking. “You’re nice,” he says. “But you don’t want people to know that.” Anna refuses to engage with him in his weirdly affected way, and instead continues to treat him like a child, which I find very satisfying. “You’re a good kid, but I bet everyone knows that,” she tells him. The door opens and Daryl comes in. Laurent leaps up and runs to him, asking where Isabelle is. Daryl is watching Anna, who is pointing the handgun at them. She has tears in her eyes. “Just go,” she says, and slowly lowers the gun. “Go!” Daryl and Laurent leave.

Quinn arrives at the entrance to the catacombs in the aftermath of the fight. He asks where the attackers are, and realizes it was “a fucking diversion.” He runs back to the Demimonde and up to the metal bridge over the stage. At the opposite end of the bridge, Daryl and Laurent emerge through a doorway. “Wait right here,” Daryl says to the boy as Quinn calls Laurent’s name. The American and the Brit face each other with the bridge between them. They fight while Laurent watches. Their hair looks incredible under the lights of the club, flashing and shimmering as they punch each other, and I order some haircare products online while I watch. Daryl knocks Quinn down and draws a knife, holding it to the Brit’s throat. The American looks up and sees Laurent watching. Instead of killing Quinn, he knocks him out and tells Laurent to come. The boy dawdles, stopping next to his unconscious father. Daryl waits at the end of the bridge, a hand outstretched. The symbolism – a choice between his biological father and the strange American man on whom his aunt has fixated as a possible father figure – is heavy-handed and obvious. The boy leaves with Daryl.

Isabelle and Sylvie wait at the river, and Sylvie sees Fallou and Emile coming, the younger man helped by the older. While Sylvie tends to Emile, Fallou tells Isabelle that Genet is posting guards at the city limits. Soon there will be no way out. Daryl and Laurent arrive. Isabelle embraces the boy while Daryl watches. It’s a tired repeat of Carol reuniting with Henry in season 9, and a tired contrast to Carol’s loss of both Sophia and Henry during the flagship show, moments which Daryl witnessed. This spinoff’s inability to create an arc for the characters that isn’t just a rushed and emotionally vapid copy of Daryl’s previous arcs is really wearing me down. 

Isabelle thanks the American as Laurent goes to talk to Sylvie. “That’s your ride, I guess you gotta get going,” says Daryl. Isabelle tells him she needs someone with influence to make sure Laurent can get out the city. “What are you talking about?” asks Daryl. “He knows how to make things happen,” Isabelle replies. “He’ll do it for me if I stay.” She means Quinn. Daryl says he’ll go with her, but she says it isn’t about him. “I’ll take care of Quinn,” he tells her. She says it’s not about her, either. It’s about Laurent. “Well then get in the fucking boat!” Daryl yells. Isabelle declares that no one except Daryl can get Laurent to the Nest safely, even though this isn’t the American’s fight. I reckon Fallou could manage, or maybe Azlan, or any one of Fallou’s team of accomplished fighters, but okay. “Please,” she says softly. Daryl answers, “You can’t stay here with him,” and she says she’ll figure out a way once she knows Laurent is safe. “I guess this is it then,” Daryl says. “I hope not,” she answers, and tells him she hopes he makes it home. 

Laurent, of course, has been eavesdropping, and wants to know when he’ll see Isabelle again. She looks at him and then at Daryl, and you can tell she’s deciding whether to lie or to put into practice the valuable parenting lessons Daryl has imparted despite “not having children” (see Episode 2). She promises Laurent she will do everything in her power to get back to him, choosing the truth. Imagine leaving your child in the care of a man about whom you know virtually nothing, and who, just hours before, you thought had slowly tortured a pig to death when he was a little boy. Amazing. Laurent weeps, perhaps in the knowledge that none of his parental figures are particularly good in the role, and Isabelle tells him he will be safe with Daryl. The boy says he won’t go, and Daryl urges him to come. The boy begs Isabelle to come with them. Sylvie, who is staying behind with her new squeeze, hugs Laurent and promises they will meet again. Daryl looks at Isabelle as the boat departs. Isabelle holds back tears as she watches Laurent.

The boat passes through Paris, under the Pont Alexandre III and past the Eiffel Tower. Isabelle walks into the Demimonde, watched by Anna, and glances at The Water Lilies as she passes it. Quinn is at the bar, battered after his fight with Daryl. Isabelle comes to stand behind him, and he smiles slightly in satisfaction before he turns to look at her. Daryl and Laurent gaze at the Pont de Grenelle Statue of Liberty, which obviously reminds Daryl of home. They sail past it, symbolizing Daryl’s failure yet again to secure a passage back to the States. He blinks meaningfully, or maybe the sun is in his eyes, or maybe he’s regretting not buying that cheese. 

The episode ends. The Daryl Swear Jar clinks softly.

Latest Articles