The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon Recap: “Paris Sera Toujours Paris”

In Angers, France, Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) and Isabelle (Cl?mence Po?sy) seek Union de L’Espoir’s contact who can radio directions on where to go next as they deliver Laurent (Louis Puech Scigliuzzi) to The Nest up north. Their connection is The Conductor (Eric Frey), a wild-haired musician who has holed up in a theater for years. Des gens? Amis? Bienvenue. Des vivants. (“People? Friends? Welcome. Living people.”) He speaks Anglais. “La v?rit? est l’espoir,” Isabelle says. “Truth is hope.” The code word leads Daryl and Isabelle to a back room with radio equipment, the Conductor confirming their hopes: he’s been in contact with Le Nid. The Nest.

“What the f–k?” Daryl says at the sight of the gutted radio’s frayed wires. “I use some parts for amplification,” the Conductor explains innocently. “Do you like Ravel?” With that, the Conductor directs a performance of his orchestra: les affam?s, the hungry ones, strung up like marionettes. He flicks his baton, conducting the music-playing puppets rigged to recreate the French composer Maurice Ravel’s Bol?ro. Outside the theater, the cacophony of clashing instruments draws the attention of a walker as the Conductor rambles about music and culture living, even now. “It was a worth a try,” Isabelle says.

“It was a stupid detour,” Daryl grunts. The priest P?re Jean had a map pointing to Paris, but Isabelle is adamant the City of Light is too dangerous. “It’s too dangerous everywhere. We did it your way. Now we’re gonna do it mine,” says Daryl, gunning down a walker with a powder-loaded rifle. “We’re going to Paris.”

Paris is dark and lifeless. In the distance, the groaning metal of the decaying Eiffel Tower looms over the dead city. “Welcome home,” Daryl tells Laurent. An abandoned car is spray-painted with a phrase Daryl recognizes from a market in Marseille. Pouvoir Des Vivants. Power of the Living. “It’s a movement that started after the outbreak,” Isabelle explains. “Most of the city is under the control of Genet and her guerriers.” The warriors who attacked the Abbey of Saint Bernadette back in the Midi-Pyr?n?es. “In desperate times,” Isabelle says, “people cling to order.” Daryl responds, “Yeah, or God.”

A French version of The Doors’ “People Are Strange” plays as the group crosses through P?re Lachaise Cemetery. The hollowed ground is the resting place of the French playwright Moli?re and the French novelist Proust, Laurent points out, and the French fabulist Jean de La Fontaine. “He wrote fables. Like La Mort et le B?cheron,” Laurent explains. “It’s about a weary woodsman who wants to die. But when Death comes, he has a change of heart. He asks for help carrying his burden, so he can keep going on. It’s about fortitude.”

Laurent’s aunt, Isabelle, says they’re approaching his mother’s old high school in the Marais, just past where The Doors frontman Jim Morrison is buried. Daryl is surprised to learn the American rockstar died in Paris. “Not to fret, Monsieur Daryl,” Laurent assures him confidently. “You will not die in Paris.”

The travelers come across Fallou (Eriq Ebouaney) and his own trio: Emile (Tristan Zanchi), Bastien (Elie Haddad), and Nadine (Chrystal Boursin). “Truth is hope,” Isabelle tells them. “P?re Jean sent us.” That means the child is the messiah, the answer to the prophecy as foretold by the Union of Hope’s leader, the Buddhist monk Lama Rinpoche. “We’ve been waiting a long time to meet you, young man,” Fallou tells Laurent.

Fallou escorts the group into their rooftop community overlooked by the decaying Eiffel Tower, damaged when a military helicopter crashed into the monument 12 years earlier. Fallou romantically describes the creaking metal as the sound of “Paris crying.” They’re a group of 64 survivors, including children, and their comms guy, Antoine (Dominique Pinon). Daryl inquires about their radio and is disheartened to learn that Antoine — who speaks little English — specializes in a “very effective” method of communication: homing pigeons. “They always find their way home,” Antoine says, impressed. “Pigeons?” Daryl scoffs. “Really?” The birds are trained at the Nest and then sent to Paris, but it could be days — or a month — until the bird returns with a message.

Without a radio to help him, Daryl figures his job is done. The Nest can take Isabelle and Laurent the rest of the way north. “If you don’t have a radio,” he asks, “how you gonna help me?” Fallou is well-connected and can introduce Daryl to traders, but they’ll need currency: “Even information is a commodity.” Isabelle says she knows where they can get goods, so it’s agreed they’ll go there in the morning.

In the meantime, the people of Union de L’Espoir fawn over Laurent and greet him with gifts. When Daryl remarks that the child being prophecized as the messiah is “a lot to put on a kid,” Isabelle says simply: “God chooses our burdens.”Just then, Laurent approaches the grieving Sonia (Sabine Pakora), a widow whose husband died just days ago. Fallou says she’s been refusing any food or comfort and has been inconsolable — until Laurent, with a touch of her shoulder and a warm embrace, makes her smile. In awe, Fallou says, “P?re Jean was right.” The boy is special.

At the Pouvoir base, the hotel Maison M?re in Paris, Codron (Romain Levi) witnesses scientists conducting experiments on les affam?s. He does not dare question what he sees as he meets with Madame Genet (Anne Charrier), the black-clad woman who we saw aboard a cargo ship at La Havre. The tattooed soldier introduces himself as St?phane Codron from Marseille. Years ago, a traveler came through speaking of a movement that “would make the world right again.” The traveler gave Codron his tattoo and told me he was a warrior — a guerrier — for Genet. He can help her get what she wants: the American.

The ship’s captain suggested Daryl drowned in the Atlantic Ocean when the American went overboard during a mutiny in the Gulf of C?diz. But Codron found Daryl’s tape recorder when the Guerrier raided the Abbey of Saint Bernadette, and plays a message: “My name’s Daryl Dixon. I’m from a place called the Commonwealth. It’s in America. I went out looking for something, but all I found was trouble.”

“I’ll find him for you, and I’ll prove my usefulness to you,” Codron vows. Asked why she should trust him, he responds with steely determination: “Because I won’t stop. I won’t stop. I promised my parents when they died I’d look after my brother. This American made me a liar.”

Genet takes Codron to the lab, where The Doctor (Fran?ois Delaive) conducts an experiment: a stopwatch clicks, timing a hungry one chained to the wall by both wrists. It begins to seize, and suddenly, tears its restraints from the wall with a burst of inhuman strength. It slams into the glass, blood bursting from its head, and falls to the ground. Eighteen seconds. It’s “progress,” Genet smirks.

In Paris, Isabelle rummages through her long-abandoned apartment and finds treasures from her past life as a thief: expensive watches, jewelry, pills and bags of drugs. Daryl sees photos of Isabelle and Quinn (Adam Nagaitis), her abusive Brit ex-boyfriend she ditched at the onset of the outbreak in 2010. A lifetime ago. “I was young and very stupid,” she says. Daryl clumsily tells her she upgraded. “With God, I mean.” Isabelle pockets a photo of her sister, Lily (Faustine Koziel), posing beneath the Eiffel Tower. Laurent has never seen her face. Raiding her cache is how they’ll find something to trade and get information on a boat, fulfilling her end of the deal. “I wasn’t always a nun.” Her apartment has a view of the Sacr?-Coeur Basilica, known as the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, which beats the view from his old house. Daryl admits he didn’t do much thinking back then, only becoming the quiet, retrospective type after the world fell.

“Maybe we’re the same that way,” Isabelle tells him. “Broken until the world ended.” Either way, she adds, “I’m glad our paths crossed.” Daryl and Isabelle eventually make their way through hungry one-filled hallways and down to the apartment courtyard, where she spots young Aim?e (Na?a Pichler). Her old neighbor has been frozen in time and place, with weeds overgrown around the zombified little girl. Isabelle is shaken by the sight of the friendly little girl she left behind the night Paris died, and even more shaken by the building’s zombified tenants falling from the windows above. As they splatter on the pavement, a br?lant a burner zombie with acidic blood –crashes into the ground… only for its broken body to stand up. Normally, a fall from that height would destroy a hungry one, or at least leave it inert, but these variant walkers are anything but normal. Daryl impales the walker and uses its burning skin to burn through roots overgrown the glass door blocking their escape. Every drop of blood sizzles. Isabelle looks back at Aim?e as they escape.

As they wait it out in a tunnel, Daryl says he’s sorry about the little girl. “I left her,” Isabelle says, despondent. Fallou and Emile arrive with Laurent and Sylvie (La?ka Blanc-Francard), there to witness Isabelle gift Laurent the picture of his mother. Later, Fallou escorts them to the entrance of the catacombs. After bribing a bouncer with a bag of hazelnuts and storing their weapons in an old freezer, the group travels through the passageways of subterranean skulls. They are “among the remains of the 6 million who died in la pests noire,” Fallou explains. “The Black Death. America is an infant. But here, we survived many apocalypse. We will survive this one, too.”

Fallou leads them to The Demimonde, where the flame of la vie boh?me — the bohemian life — still burns. The Demimonde is a sexy underground nightclub brimming with life, music, and trade. “People find all sort of things here,” Fallou assures Daryl. “You helped us. Now we help you.” As the performer Coco (Drag Race France‘s Paloma) takes the stage to introduce the Russian Mademoiselle Anna Valery (Lukerya Ilyashenko) and her sultry number, Fallou arranges a meeting with some patrons. Isabelle studies Les N?nuphars — The Water Lilies — a painting she used to visit weekly at the Mus?e d’Orsay, where she would go when she was sad or lonely. “It was like a port in a storm,” she tells Daryl, who says it kind of reminds him of home. “They saved it. That’s something.”

Daryl and Isabelle meet with Bernard (Micha?l Erpelding), a seedy type Demimonde-dweller who has “heard things” about boats to America. Daryl came over by sea, Isabelle points out, so there must be ships sailing. She’s got drugs — cocaine, meth — but before Bernard helps himself, Daryl tells him, “Boat first.” Bernard counters: first they pay, then they take them to a connection who can hook them up with a boat. The brawny Rodo (Ike Ortiz), Bernard’s muscle, isn’t so friendly. He says to Isabelle: “Tell your friend to chill out if he doesn’t want to swim back home, OK?” Daryl doesn’t need to understand French to know the deal is going sideways and socks Bernard in the face as he unsheathes a switchblade. The disturbance draws the attention of the owner: Quinn. He’s still sharply-dressed, still oozing the demeanor of someone in control as he slices Bernard’s face as punishment for violating his club’s no-weapons rule. “Hi, Izzy. It’s been a minute.” Or a decade.

Isabelle explains that Daryl is looking for a way back to America. Quinn confirms it’s not impossible, and he’s heard things about transatlantic ships. He’ll ask around as a favor for a friend, refusing her “insulting” offer of bartering for goods. Meanwhile, Laurent makes friends with Anna, showing him the photo of his mother beaming beneath the Eiffel Tower. Someday, Laurent says, he’ll visit the Eiffel Tower and look up, like his mother did before him. Anna gives the boy something to remember his mother: an Eiffel Tower necklace.

Quinn meets Laurent, introduced by his aunt as “Lily’s boy.” Quinn says Laurent has his mother’s eyes. “We’ve made a deal,” Isabelle informs Daryl. “You’ve done your part, and I’ll do mine.” Quinn blows off Anna and escorts Isabelle and Daryl to his backroom bunker, where the generals hid away during World War II. French-built, but taken over by the Nazis during the independent regime Vichy. “It swung both ways,” says Quinn. “Pragmatism I can appreciate.” Quinn is surprised Isabelle refuses his offer of champagne, and even more surprised to learn she became a nun in the 12 years since she saw him last.

He inquires about Lily, and if she’s a nun, too. Isabelle’s sister died delivering Laurent. “You should have told me,” Quinn scolds her. “That my sister died?” That, too, but more importantly, he scoffs: “And that I had a son. You shouldn’t keep that from a man. I don’t care the circumstance. A boy should know his dad, shouldn’t he?” This revelation comes 12 years after Lily died and turned before she could reveal the identity of Laurent’s father. Quinn calls the affair a “mistake,” but Isabelle blames him for her sister’s death. “And I saved you. Who was it found you, bleeding in the bathtub?” He grips her by the wrist and exposes her scars. “Picked you up, carried you to the hospital, nursed you back to help. That was me.”

She doesn’t want to revisit the past. She’s here to help her friend get home. “You want to help him?” the jealous Quinn says. “Now you know the terms.” Daryl doesn’t want to cut a deal with “this asshole,” spewing venom: “F– him. I don’t need a boat this bad.” As they leave, Isabelle and Daryl argue. She’s convinced she could have made arrangements with Quinn, but Daryl doesn’t want to hear it. “We all got shit from our past that we’re trying to run from, not just you.” Recalling their conversation at her apartment, Isabelle tells Daryl, “I was wrong earlier. We’re not the same, you and I.” The argument escalates, Daryl remarking that he’s not the one she’s really mad at. “Well, you wanted to come to Paris, didn’t you? That’s why we’re here,” she spits back. “I’m trying to help you keep your promise. That’s all you care about, isn’t it? I asked for your help ’cause I needed it. I don’t need a hero. I never did.”

A calmer conversation takes place in a quiet room of the Demimonde, where Laurent asks Sylvie about The Nest. “Safe, like it used to be at the abbey. There will be more of us, who believe the same thing,” Sylvie assures the boy. When Laurent confesses he doesn’t know why Sonia confided in him that he “made her feel loved,” Sylvie says gently: “You give them hope, Laurent.”

Just then, Codron and two Guerrier burst into the club and meet with Quinn. “Madame Genet and I have an arrangement,” he tells the gun-toting men. “My place is off limits.” They’re there looking for an American named Daryl Dixon. Meanwhile, Isabelle has cooled. “I don’t believe in coincidences,” the nun says. “I think there was a reason I had to come back to Paris — to see him again. To find out the truth.” After offering a sarcastic “you’re welcome,” Daryl tries to break from Isabelle. “You don’t need me here anymore. You got all these people looking after you. You’re gonna be fine.” Laurent will be sad to see him go. He blows her off. “Make something up. You’re really good at that.”

Isabelle confesses she never told Laurent about his birth because “everything about it was horrible. Everything. The way she died, the way he was born.” Daryl questions how she’s going to tell Laurent about his father, and says she needs to stop lying to him. “He deserves to know who he is. Then he can make up his own mind.” Isabelle counters that Daryl doesn’t accept how special the boy is. “He’s a gift from God, right? Maybe that’s something you need to believe ’cause the world’s so f–ed up,” he shoots back. “Or maybe he’s just a regular kid. A regular kid that got lucky and lived. Maybe that’s your miracle.”

Then Laurent appears, and shouts in French: “I hate you both!” Codron and the Guerrier burst in looking for the American, so Daryl tells Isabelle to get Laurent and meet back at her apartment. Codron takes off after Daryl as he draws the soldiers away, racing across rooftops above the darkened streets of Paris. Daryl leaps over a pack of hungry ones swarming an alley, dodging gunfire as Codron shoots at the man blamed for his brother’s death. Daryl has brought a knife to a gunfight, swiping at Codron, only to be overpowered by the burly Guerrier. Codron chokes Daryl (chokehold’s illegal, asshole!), and would wrestle the life out of Daryl if not for the bottle smashed over his head. Gaining the upper hand, Daryl chokes Codron, suffocating him — until the Guerrier open fire from afar, forcing Daryl to release Codron and flee. As Isabelle searches for Laurent in the chaos of the Demimonde, Daryl drops onto a roof that gives way beneath him. The episode ends with Daryl disappearing into the darkness.

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

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