The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon Premiere Recap: “L’âme Perdue” (The Lost Soul)

The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon‘s “L’?me Perdue” premiere — translated from French to mean “The Lost Soul” — opens with Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) strapped to an overturned lifeboat adrift at sea. Months after he last saw Carol (Melissa McBride) and Judith Grimes (Cailey Fleming) at the Commonwealth in The Walking Dead series finale, Judith’s words echo over the lost soul lost at sea: “You deserve a happy ending, too.” Daryl washes ashore in Marseille, France, and scavenges for supplies: A map. A knife. A harpoon. A pocket-sized French-to-English translation book. A tape recorder.

“My name’s Daryl Dixon. I come from a place called the Commonwealth. It’s in America,” the fish-out-of-water American says into the recorder. “I went out looking for something, and all I found was trouble. If I don’t make it back, I want them to know I tried. Hell, I’m still trying.”

Daryl treks through the ruins of the seaside town and past graffiti reading, Pouvoir des Vivants. Power of the Living. More French words on the outside of a market in red spray paint are an unheeded warning: Attention affam?s ici. Hungry here. Daryl rummages for food, but finds only lurking walkers within. Daryl, wielding his harpoon and knife, swipes and slashes at the lurkers, spilling acidic blood. He howls in pain as a walker with melted flesh reaches out and burns him with its touch. The realization hits: he’s not in Ohio anymore.

The weary American makes the expedition to the French countryside marked with fliers: Dieu Vous Aime. Daryl translates and scoffs at its meaning: “God loves you.” It’s 15 kilometers to Lourdes, 28 to Montaut, and 55 to Pau. A hooded figure pins the gospel posters to telephone poles, silently observing the lost soul.

Lourdes is a bastion of spirituality where soldiers make an annual pilgrimage to heal in its sacred waters. Daryl happens across the quaint encampment of French girl Maribelle (Carmen Kassovitz) and her blind grandfather Guillaume (Bernard Bloch), whose “small English” allows for a trade: Daryl’s medical kit in exchange for apples and rabbit.

Dubbing Daryl “Yankee,” Guillaume says he was once a soldier for La R?sistance who fought alongside American GIs. “Your country, my country, like friends,” the old man says. Daryl responds, “Ain’t no countries no more.” There ain’t no friends, either.

Daryl saves Maribelle from the Guerriers — “warriors” — French soldiers dressed in military camoflouage. Their native language is alien to Daryl, but one word needs no translation: “American.” After a scuffle with the Guerrior Michel (Paul Deby), Maribelle instructs Daryl not to shoot the Guerrior with his flintlock rifle. “Save the powder,” Maribelle says, impaling and killing Michel with a staff. “Merci.” With that, Maribelle and Guillaume drop the act, attack Daryl, and loot his pack. They’re scared off by a gunshot just as Daryl loses consciousness.

Memories flood Daryl’s mind. He remembers riding down the road away from the Commonwealth. He remembers the last thing Judith said to him: “You deserve a happy ending, too.” He remembers making a promise: “I’ll find them,” he says of Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Michonne (Danai Gurira). “I’ll bring them home.” He remembers a goodbye between best friends: “It’s not like we’re never gonna see each other again,” Daryl recalls telling Carol. Thousands of miles away from home, the Atlantic between them, Daryl’s mind is flooded by promises.

Waking up in the Abbey of Saint Bernadette, Daryl is strapped to a bed. Nuns have a bind in his mouth and cauterize his hand-shaped burn mark with a red-hot poker. Looking over him among the multi-faith images is a figure of Jesus and the nun Isabelle (Cl?mence Po?sy), the hooded woman from the road.

Isabelle explains that Daryl had a wound from “the br?lant” — a burner — and that the nuns had to cauterize his wound to prevent the spread of infection. Here, the undead are called “les affam?s.” The hungry ones. Saint Bernadette’s is a small community of nuns — very small 12 years into the apocalypse — but the mountainside abbey survives from farming, gardening, scavenging, and a well-stocked weapons room loaded with medieval accoutrements that the nuns have trained themselves to use “just in case.” When Isabelle asks the quiet American how he came to be in France, Daryl responds, “A bunch of bad decisions.”

Sinking into his bath, Daryl’s mind is flooded by images of floating in water and sinking into the ocean. As he’s cleansed, he learns that the non-denominational abbey is part of a group called Union Del’Espoir — Union of Hope — and is open to all messages of faith and perseverance. “We believe humanity is enduring a test, from which we will soon be delivered,” Isabelle says. When Daryl admits he never put much stock in God, the nun replies, “Well, He put stock in you.” Asked about the scars on his back, Daryl tells her, “Daddy was a smoker.” He had a brother. She had a sister. But now the sister-less Sister Isabelle has scars on her wrist, reminders of a past she doesn’t wish to talk about. “Parish priest used to say that our scars show that we have suffered, but more importantly, that we have healed from our suffering.”

Daryl is once again a fish out of water: there are no men allowed in the abbey, except for one little boy. He is Laurent (Louis Puech Scigliuzzi), an 11-year-old orphan who grew up raised by the sisters of Saint Bernadette. Inside the office of the priest P?re Jean is a CB radio that Daryl wants to use, but Isabelle says she hasn’t operated it since she made contact with a Spaniard a few months ago. When Daryl remarks that Isabelle’s English is “good,” she reveals that her parents worked for M?decins Sans Fronti?res (Doctors Without Borders). They traveled to Bosnia, Chechnya, Rwanda, and she and her sister finished their schooling in Paris. “How’d you end up here?” Daryl asks Isabelle. The nun answers, “A bunch of good decisions.”

The shy Sister Sylvie (Laika Blanc Francard) avoids eye contact with Daryl as she drops off a tray of food. Across the courtyard, Daryl catches the eye of Laurent, who looks at him curiously as he mimicks the American’s actions. Meanwhile, the abbess Mother V?ronique (Catherine Arditi) scolds Isabelle: “This man does not belong here.”

“What good are we if we can’t offer shelter to a wounded pilgrim?” Sister Isabelle asks. To that, the abbess says, “You think this man is the one.” Isabelle saw him fight the Guerriers. She saw his strength. “He belongs out there, with the faithless and the violent,” says Mother V?ronique, who is awfully unforgiving for a nun. “He is not like us. He is a person who lives without God.” Isabelle reminds her: “So was I, once.”

The precocious Laurent introduces himself to Daryl and hands over a handmade Rubik’s cube, a riddle he solved in a record 3 minutes and 12 seconds. “I’m not really good at shit like that,” Daryl admits. “I’m quite good at shit like that,” the French boy says. “Math problems, science, music, geography.” P?re Jean taught him all he knows. As confident as he is inquisitive, Laurent ponders of the world outside the abbey’s walls: “How many people do you think live within the boundaries of what was once France? Starting from 67 million people before the fall, I speculate current French populace of fewer than 200,000.” It would take six generations, perhaps seven, to repopulate that many people.

“Do you have children, Monsieur? A wife? Parents?” With a wistful shrug, Daryl says no. “But you’re homesick. I see it in your eyes.” What are you, a shrink? “I feel things. In my stomach,” Laurent explains. “I feel your sadness. Not to despair, Monsieur Daryl. But you deserve a happy ending, too.” The phrase doesn’t go unnoticed. As Laurent is called away for r?citations with P?re Jean, we return to a road outside Lourdes, where the Guerriers catch up with Maribelle and Guillaume.

The Guerrier in charge is Codron (Romain Levi), a brawny soldier whose faith in the cause is tattooed on his face. He’s looking for two soldiers who failed to report back after going out on this road days earlier. Maribelle lies: a man tried to rob them, until two Guerrier came to their aid. Codron bludgeons Guillaume and leaves the dying old man in the dirt as he forces Maribelle to take them to where they last saw the thief.

Back at the abbey, Daryl’s attempt to break into P?re Jean’s office is interrupted when he hears Laurent reciting poetry to a zombified priest locked behind a caged door. “This is P?re Jean. We are waiting for him to rise again,” Laurent remarks before Isabelle takes over. “You got a lot of witchy shit going on around here,” Daryl grumbles as he goes to leave. “Dead priest in a closet and a creepy kid? No thanks.”

Isabelle impedes his way. “You can’t leave. Not without us. We’ve been waiting for you. You’re the messenger,” she explains. “To deliver Laurent.” She hands Daryl a crayon drawing of a bearded, scraggily long-haired man on the beach. It’s Daryl… and Laurent drew it three weeks ago. Isabelle urges Daryl to deliver Laurent to The Nest, L’Union‘s base up north. Their leader, the Buddhist monk Lama Rinpoche, sees Laurent as “an answer to the prophecy.” The Nest will “raise and nurture him to be who he was born to be.” P?re Jean was supposed to escort Laurent, but he died and turned.

“Laurent is special. I think you see that,” Isabelle tells Daryl as he helps himself to a morning star, a spiked mace weapon he’s wielded before. “He’s shown abilities, perceptions, compassion beyond any child. He sees into people. He needs teaching, guidance we cannot provide. He’ll be safer there, nurtured, until he’s ready.” Daryl asks “ready for what?,” to which Isabelle says: “To be the new messiah. To lead the revival of humanity.” Daryl’s mission, according to Isabelle, is why he’s here. Why he washed ashore in France. “This is why I was on the road that day. This is why you were saved. Everything happens for a reason.”

But Daryl doesn’t believe in God, and he sure as hell doesn’t believe in a prophecy that he’s preordained to deliver humanity’s messiah to the promised land. Daryl fiddles with P?re Jean’s radio, only to learn that the tube broke about a month ago.

“You’ve been f—ing with me,” Daryl says in disbelief. But Isabelle has unwaivering faith in God, and Laurent — and Daryl. She shows him a map that leads to Le Havre, a port up north that is rumored to still be active with ships that come and go. P?re Jean mapped out a route to get Laurent to The Nest, marking places where L’Union has friends who can connect them or plug into radio frequencies on their journey. “It’s a treacherous path north, hard to find your way,” Isabelle says. “Harder if you don’t speak French.” The map points the way through Orleans, then Paris, then Versailles.

Back in Lourdes, Codron calls out for Michel. His brother. The French soldier who died by Maribelle’s hand has reanimated and is put down by his grieving brother. “The man who did this?” Maribelle replies in English: “An American.” Nearby is the poster that the Guerrier recognizes: Dieu Vous Aime.

At Saint Bernadette’s, Daryl brushes off Isabelle’s attempts to get him to stay: he’s grown up with no friends, no father figure. “Staying alive is more important,” Daryl says. Isabelle responds, “He’s got a greater destiny than just surviving.” Just then, Laurent arrives to bid Monsieur Daryl adieu. “Nous nous reverrons. It means, ‘We shall meet again.'” Isabelle admits Laurent doesn’t know about her plans for him. He’s young, and it’s too much to put on him. Daryl’s got plans to get back home, and he’s not looking to make more.

“The world is lost. We know that. Hope fades gradually, and then all at once. If we’re wrong, at least you will have helped a boy get to a better place,” Isabelle pleads. “But if we’re right… why not bet on hope?” Because, Daryl answers, “It ain’t my problem.” As Daryl leaves the abbey, Mother Superior tells Sister Isabelle: “There’s no shame in wanting it to be so. But he left. He’s not the one.”

Daryl hides as he watches the Guerriers arrive at the abbey in search of an American at large. Inside its walls, Mother Superior instructs Isabelle to hide the boy and to get ready. The “killer nuns,” as Daryl called them, raid the weapons room as a half-dozen Guerriers search the abbey. When Codron comes across the zombified P?re Jean, Mother Superior explains that the nuns “have certain beliefs about the redemption of souls — even the hungry ones.” Codron has one of his soldiers put down the reanimated priest against the urging of Mother Superior and demands Isabelle tell him where to find the American who murdered his brother. Another order: take Laurent and “make him a Guerrier for Genet.”

Daryl appears just in time to wage war on the Guerriers as Isabelle flees with Laurent. The hunter becomes the hunted as Codron hauls after Daryl for a ferocious fist fight. Codron is bigger and stronger. Before he can shoot his brother’s killer, Isabelle swipes at the Guerrier with a sword. Daryl opens fire at the retreating warrior, but Codron escapes with a bullet in his shoulder. The battle ends with most of the Guerrier and the nuns dead, and Isabelle holding a mortally wounded Mother Superior.

“You don’t believe. Maybe you never saw a reason to. But one thing I know… reasons are everywhere,” she tells Daryl. To Laurent, she calls “the cure for a sick world.” And of Daryl, Mother V?ronique says with her dying breath, “Perhaps he is the one.”

That night, Daryl, Laurent, Isabelle, and Sylvie are the only survivors. “Are we lost, Isa?” the boy asks. “We’re never lost, mon chou.” As Sylvie commits their sisters to the Earth with a mournful song, the lost soul opens up to Isabelle.

“You asked me how I got here. I left home, looking for something. I figured there had to be something out there worth finding,” he explains. “And I ran into some bad people. They put me on a boat. That didn’t go well. And I washed ashore here, and I ran into a nun. You can take me to that place, right? That place with the port?” Isabelle assures him she can. “Alright, then,” Daryl replies. “I’ll take you where you need to go.”

The episode ends at the port in Le Havre, where a docked cargo ship is swarming with armed men. “We were in the Gulf of C?diz when the prisoners escaped,” the captain reports to a woman in black. “It was beyond our control.” She is Madame Genet (Anne Charrier).

“It’s your ship, captain. Who’s in control, if not you?” Her father fished these waters with a small troller, and he knew one thing: “crew is only as good as their captain.” Accompanying her is a Capo (Maxime Lefran?ois) and a French doctor (Fran?ois Delaive).

“Our research is largely destroyed. Some of the test subjects may still be of use,” the doctor reports. “Whoever did this made a real mess of things for us.” Aboard the cargo ship are restrained walker test subjects the doctor orders unloaded onto land.

“Three years to get this ship seaworthy. And now destroyed, because of what?” Genet says with venom. “One American?” The captain offers that they managed to stop the mutiny, and the man is presumed overboard. “Who was he?” she demands to know.

His name: Dixon.

New episodes of The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon air Sundays on AMC and AMC+.

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