The episode opens with a flashback
. Isabelle (Cleménce Poésy), dressed in eveningwear, stands on a rooftop looking out over pre-apocalypse Paris. Behind her is a brightly lit nightclub, electronic music blasting. She goes inside, weaving her way between dancers, eyeing people and being eyed by men. She chooses a man with whom to dance, and they break it down in slow motion until she walks away. She lets two other men buy her drinks as the evening passes, and she snorts some cocaine. We see the scars on her wrist from her suicide attempt. Guess we’re not flashing back far enough to find out about those.
Eventually, she puts her coat on and leaves, stopping in the lobby while she waits for the elevator. In her purse are men’s watches, which she has spent the night stealing. She stares at herself in the mirror doors of the elevator. She doesn’t like herself. Her hair looks great though, 10/10 for that. Screaming comes from inside the club, and she walks into a quiet corridor, taking pills out her bag and swallowing some. We get it: the nun was once a drug-snorting, pill-popping thief. Everything slows down again as her high hits.
She walks outside, with a view of the Eiffel Tower, in case we’ve forgotten that we’re in Paris. She lights a cigarette. Are there any vices this woman doesn’t
have? Mon Dieu
, as Laurent would say. Across the road, people scream as they flee from someone. We know it’s a walker. Isabelle doesn’t, because it’s the first one she’s ever seen. She goes down into the subway and a train arrives, but as it passes, we see everyone on board is climbing over seats, tripping, zombies chasing them. Isabelle runs upstairs into the street and goes over to a man who has been hit by a car. He stands up clumsily, growling: a walker. Just as Isabelle’s horror reaches its peak, a shiny black Mercedes slams into the walker and Quinn (Adam Nagaitis) climbs out, in a snappy suit. Like most of the cast for this show, he has an abundance of hair. He tells her to get in the car, punches a walker, and drives away at speed.
Roll credits. This is a show about Daryl Dixon
. Don’t forget your split-end treatment this week.Present day
. A cart stands beside a line of trees at sunrise, and Laurent (Louis Puech Scigliuzzi) spins into the frame, laughing, much like the people who were snorting cocaine in the nightclub flashback. Isabelle and Daryl (Norman Reedus) are studying a map and arguing over the route. Daryl wants to go via Paris because it will be quicker and it is the route marked on the map, but Isabelle insists on Angers, where there is a man with a radio. Laurent feeds apples to their mule while Sylvie (Laïka Blanc-Francard) watches him. “That’s the plan right there,” Daryl says, stabbing at the map with his finger. Isabelle tells him snippily that the plan has changed. She walks around the cart and stares into the distance, and we sense another flashback ahead, or else an absence seizure in the offing.Flashback
. Quinn drives Isabelle through Paris at dawn, telling her about a place in Dordogne where they can stay. He has a strong Lancashire accent and uses quintessentially British slang like “mental.” I like him immediately. He takes Isabelle home to fetch her things and gives her ten minutes to change clothes. In her apartment, she calls for “Lily.” From the back of the fireplace, she removes a loose brick and takes out a box of money and stolen goods. Lily, a young woman, emerges from the bedroom, and Isabelle says they must leave.
They meet Quinn downstairs. He squints at Lily suspiciously, and Isabelle says she can’t leave her sister behind, and now we know who Lily is. The neighbor’s little daughter, Aimée, stands nearby with her scooter. Aimée says her father didn’t come home last night and her mother is crying on the phone. Isabelle tells her to go back to her apartment and stay inside.
In the present
, Daryl is driving with Isabelle, Sylvie and Laurent in the cart. In the back seat, Sylvie and Laurent play a game, which is just a pretext for the boy to make soulful observations about death and then ask Monsieur Daryl what kind of death he would prefer. “How about a quiet one?” Daryl says, and at this point we notice that he is wearing a tiny scarf knotted around his neck, as though he has been cut down from the gallows mid-execution. It is a puzzling choice, a garment serving virtually no purpose, but he wears it boldly and unapologetically, and the French are too polite to mock him for it.
The mule pulling their cart brays loudly and stops walking, perhaps protesting Daryl’s rudeness to Laurent. It refuses to move on, and we realize it is lame. Walkers emerge from nearby buildings, drawn by the animal’s noise, and Daryl asks how he can get the mule to “shut up.” Laurent informs him that Asteríx the mule is very stubborn. Daryl releases the animal from the cart, and despite Isabelle’s protests about Laurent’s love for the beast, Daryl fires a gun into the air and sends the mule to its death, walkers following it as it trots away. Isabelle assures Laurent that the animal will make it. Sure, Jan.
The merry band of travelers is now on foot. Laurent worries about the mule, and Isabelle tells him Asteríx probably went back to the apple orchard they passed earlier. Sylvie agrees. Daryl eavesdrops, and when Isabelle walks with him a while, he tells her to tell Laurent the truth. “You don’t have children, do you?” she says, and Daryl doesn’t have a comeback because he’s straight-up told them he doesn’t have any kids. BURN. “The truth can wait.”
They hear whistling, and an arrow flies past Daryl’s shoulder. In the trees nearby, someone in a retro gas mask turns and flees. Daryl pursues him into the ruins of an old building. Arrows fly and someone conks Daryl on the head. Merde
! The great and indomitable fighter has been taken down by a boy armed with a polo mallet.
The boy and his three buddies tie up the American and escort the whole party back to a dilapidated preschool. There are heads on sticks outside the heavy gates, and most of the kids are armed with homemade spears. They bang these weapons on the ground and howl, and Lord of the Flies
intertextuality threatens to overwhelm the show altogether. Daryl is forced to kneel. A young woman, Lou, descends from the upper floors of the preschool. She addresses Isabelle in French, asking what they want, and Isabelle says they are religious people and their mule broke down. To test this claim, Lou demands that they recite a prayer. Sylvie, Laurent and Isabelle comply. Daryl doesn’t know what’s going on, but none of the strangers has mocked his little scarf, so that’s good. Lou asks who he is. “Father Daryl,” Isabelle replies, “from America.” He was sent to France on a mission long ago, she claims, but he doesn’t speak French. The nun and the young woman exchange knowing looks regarding the reluctance of US immigrants to learn the language.
Daryl’s hands are untied, and Lou instructs the children to speak English out of respect for Father Daryl. One senses that, quite rightly, she does not believe this scar-faced man in a string scarf is in fact a priest. As she leads them upstairs, Daryl gives Isabelle a look and says “Father Daryl? Really?”
Lou shows them around the school. The day the apocalypse began, the parents of some pupils didn’t collect their children. Other children found their way here over time. The school rooms are decorated with art and stuffed toys, and younger kids are working at some of the desks. Eighteen of them live here. Lord of the Flies
is quietly shelved, and now we’re in the pages of Peter Pan
, these children Lost Boys in the care of Wendy, Daryl arriving like Peter Pan with his eternally dark brown hair. The community is self-sustaining, through hunting and farming.
Lou takes the party into a room where an elderly woman is lying asleep in a bed. Madame DuBois, their teacher, has been sick for six months. Lou believes their prayers will be answered and Madame DuBois will be healed. Daryl goes to her bedside, chewing his lip, and stares out the window. Children are working in the garden while chickens run about.
In another room, a large table is being laid for dinner. The children here are happy as little orphaned larks, working harmoniously together the way large groups of children never actually do in real life. Laurent takes a seat and introduces himself to two boys by telling them that once he walked backwards for three months, even on stairs. Amazing. I can’t wait to hear how he’s going to save humanity. One of the boys, Moof, tells Laurent he cannot sit in the place he has chosen. Lou apologises, saying it is Moof’s brother’s seat, and the boy is currently on a mission.
Lou instructs everyone to join hands. Father Daryl, his cheeks stuffed with bread, wipes his hands on his shirt and obliges. Lou asks him to lead them in a prayer of thanks. “You mean like saying grace?” he asks, and I am ready for something hilarious, for the Father Daryl joke to reach fruition as he barks out the world’s shortest grace. I am laughing in anticipation. Instead, with no irony whatsoever, he chooses this moment to moralize about the apocalypse, and says a prayer that makes me writhe in an agony of embarrassment. “Lord, I’m sure you have your reasons for turning the whole world upside down. Maybe we deserve it for being so mean to each other. We probably do deserve it. But not tonight. No. Tonight is good. And if this isn’t good enough for you, I don’t know what is.”
It’s unclear, by the end of this bewildering recital, whether he is chastising God or the children, but what is entirely clear is that he’s leaning way too hard into his disguise as a priest at this point. I fear he will start taking confessions or baptize the smallest child at the table. Perhaps, however, he is simply experiencing a spiritual awakening of some rudimentary and judgmental kind. Isabelle smiles softly and crosses herself as he says Amen
Madame DuBois, Lou tells them, says that “our manners are a mirror that shows our portrait,” which is bad news for Pére Daryl, who is loudly slurping his soup. Again, this should be funny, but all humor was drained from the scene the moment he suggested these kids and everyone else deserved the apocalypse for “being mean,” and so, alas, I cannot laugh. The children at the table copy him, slurping their soup, which is undeniably odd. Daryl wipes his mouth with his sleeve and says “Mmm, that’s good soup,” to a chorus of laughter.
After the meal, Daryl asks Lou where they might find another mule. Moof replies “La Tarasque,” the dragon. This is what they call a man who lives in a castle nearby. He has horses, which he used to loot everything from the village. The kids tried to raid his castle once to get supplies. Daryl convinces a reluctant Lou to take him to the castle in the morning, because he can get medicine to save her teacher there. I have my doubts about this, because Madame DuBois looks like she’s got one foot out the terrestrial door already. Moof also wants to go, but Lou says no.
It’s movie night in the school, and an old projector, powered by a boy on a stationary bicycle, is playing Mork and Mindy
. This is a series about an alien from outer space who comes to earth and has to learn the ways of its people. Upon arrival, hilariously enough, he is mistaken for a priest. Are you getting the parallel with Daryl’s experience or do you need me to make it more explicit? A bunch of small children insist Father Daryl sit with them. As the series plays, Daryl grows pensive and homesick, so obviously sad that I want to howl and weep for how far he is from home.
Cut to Daryl later, lying on his back in a bed somewhere in the school, staring at the ceiling. Beside the bed, Isabelle lets down her hair and then she sits on the edge of the mattress. “I can sleep on the floor,” Daryl says, as one would expect. “The bed is big enough. It’s fine,” she replies, and he agrees without hesitation, and then we remember that she’s already seen him naked. If he’s going to share a bed with anyone for the first time ever, why shouldn’t it be this person he’s only know a few days? (Cross “there’s only one bed” scene straight out of a thousand fanfics
off your Daryl Dixon
They lie down, Daryl on his back and Isabelle on her side facing away from him. She asks how he knows medicine will help Madame DuBois. It won’t, he answers, but he needs the horse. “So you lied?” she asks unnecessarily. He replies using her words to him from earlier that day: “Well, the truth can wait, right?” Isabelle says that it’s okay to lie about a mule but not about their teacher.
Daryl sighs. He just wants to get to the radio in Angers. “So you can go home,” says Isabelle. “Yeah, so I can go home,” he replies. She feels sorry for the children they can hear getting ready for bed, because they don’t know what the world was like before. Daryl says you can’t miss what you never had. The nun asks whether he used to watch Mork and Mindy
. He tells her that he and his brother did. They loved the show, and it used to make everything just a little bit better. “I understand,” whispers Isabelle. “Wanting to escape.” Flashback
. Quinn is driving Isabelle and Lily through the French countryside. Lily says she is going to throw up. Quinn pulls over at a gas station, and we see he has a gun in his waistband. Lily, looking pale, gets out the car, complaining of stomach cramps. Quinn asks if she needs a doctor. She says no and vomits lavishly. Isabelle realizes that her sister is pregnant, and Lily says she didn’t tell Isabelle, because she was afraid. Isabelle hugs her. Quinn takes “Izzy” aside and says they can’t take Lily with them. There are no baby hospitals where they are going. He brushes Isabelle’s hair back from her face as he tells her that they will drop Lily off at a clinic. “Don’t I take care of you?” he asks Isabelle, resting his forehead against hers. “Don’t I fucking always take care of you?” I ship them, and Pére Daryl forgive me for that, because Quinn is willing to abandon a pregnant woman and is clearly not the world’s most worthy human being. Isabelle puts her arm around him, and as they embrace. She steals his car keys, while agreeing to his plan. Quinn leaves her to speak to Lily alone, and Isabelle drives away with her sister in his car. Present day.
Lou and Daryl amble through the woods. “You’re not a priest,” she says. “Is it that obvious?” he replies, smirking, and they share a moment of amusement. She asks how he came to France, and he says it’s a long story. The only part that matters, he tells her, is that he gets home to his people, but I guess in the meantime we’ll have to watch this six-episode series about a bunch of other stuff he does. “Madame says ‘family’ are the people that you’re with,” Lou tells him. “She sounds like she was a good teacher,” he replies. Is he thinking of his found family back home or the people he’s with in France? God knows, and maybe the angels Laurent keeps mentioning. Lou says Madame will get better thanks to Daryl, so she’s obviously bought into the Great American Hero Myth and decided Daryl is the monster-slayer teacher-healer they’ve needed all along.
Laurent, back at the school, is playing hide-and-seek. When he is found, he says the nuns never used to find him, and at the abbey he always won. Please, parents, don’t let your twelve-year-olds win every game. They’re old enough to learn to lose. A boy asks Laurent why he was in the abbey, and the other children gather to listen to his reply, a ridiculous story about a hero father who gave his life for France after Laurent’s mother went to be with the angels. The children laugh and tell him the story sounds made up. “Those penguins trick you, Laurent,” says a boy, meaning the nuns. Remember the stuffed penguin in episode 1? By gum, what clever writing. The children make penguin movements and laugh, and then they run off and leave Laurent alone with his shattered illusions.
Sylvie watches all this from the window of Madame DuBois’s room, while Isabelle tends to the patient. “He wonders, you know,” Sylvie says in French to Isabelle. “About who he is, where he comes from. How he fits into the world.” Isabelle tells her that up north, they will all know how they fit in, and will find their purpose.Flashback.
Isabelle is driving Lily at dusk. The pregnant woman says something is wrong with the baby. Isabelle pulls over next to an ambulance at the side of the road, thinking the paramedics might help them. But the medics are all walkers, and they chase the women. Lily is seized, but breaks free, and the pair climb back into the car. Present day.
Laurent wanders in the woods with a knife, and comes upon Asteríx the mule, dead and half-eaten. Laurent kneels beside the mule, apologizing, because he “wasn’t there.”
Daryl and Lou are at the outskirts of the castle. She tells him she was on the last raid of the castle, and her two companions were left behind. She lies to the others that the boys are on a mission, because she doesn’t know what else to tell them. “Yeah, I get it,” he says, because he’s also been lying, to her, though he doesn’t admit that. The castle has a drawbridge, and the moat is dry and filled with walkers. Flashback
. Isabelle and Lily arrive at the abbey at night, in the rain. The nuns will have to take them in. Lily is in labor. Isabelle helps her to the gate and the Mother Superior admits them. Without further ado, the Mother Superior introduces them to a little girl called Sylvie, a pupil of hers whose parents have not come to fetch her. Nice to meet you, kid, but can someone get the laboring woman out the rain and maybe offer her a chair? Pére Jean welcomes them. Lily has a walker bite on her arm. This plot reminds me of something, but I can’t quite put my finger on it.
Inside the abbey, Lily has her bite cleaned. Isabelle discovers that Lily is a full seven months pregnant, which is an extraordinarily long time to conceal a pregnancy from a woman you’re living with. Lily was afraid Isabelle would be mad. Isabelle asks who the father is, but Lily has a contraction and doesn't reply. Isabelle reminds her of their mother singing “Alouette”
to them at bedtime, and they sing a bit. Ominously, Lily makes Isabelle promise to take care of her baby. Present day
. Isabelle and Sylvie are looking for Laurent, and they find him with Asteríx’s corpse. “You lied to me,” he says, and stomps off.
Daryl and Lou are in a toolshed at the castle. Lou finds a tool – I don’t know what it is, I’m not a builder – and asks if it will work, and Daryl tells her to find a bigger one. As she turns to search, he leaves, locking the door behind him. “You’ll be safe in there,” he tells her as she protests. “‘Sides, I’m better off on my own.”
Daryl uses the tool on a rope as a grappling hook and climbs over the drawbridge. Unfortunately, we don’t get to see anything except him sliding down the other side, I suspect because his weight would drag that bridge down and leave him dangling over the walkers like an espetada in a tiny scarf. Armed with an old rifle, he looks around the castle courtyard, and enters a storeroom full of supplies. Behind another door, he finds a boy named Hérisson, from the school. Daryl anglicizes his name to “Harrison,” so the boy says that in English his name means “hedgehog.” They try to leave the cell, but someone fires at them from an upstairs window. Daryl shoots back, and then hands Hérisson – whom he is calling Hedgehog, despite “Hérisson” not being especially hard to pronounce – the rifle, and gives him a crash course in shooting. Lou, waiting in the shed, is released by a hooded figure.
Upstairs in the castle, wielding a knife, Daryl finds a man dressed like Prince Charles at Balmoral, firing out the window. Daryl disarms him, calling him a “sick fuck,” and sorry to my nine-year-old who overheard this line as she walked through my office. The man is delighted to encounter Daryl because they are both American. His name is RJ – also the name of Rick Grimes’ son, of course, but that has no relevance – and he is from Texas, and he is an egregious American stereotype introduced to challenge the concepts of “home” and “family.” He offers Daryl toothpaste, perhaps picking up some halitosis, but Daryl keeps his gun up and tells him not to move. “Hey, we’re all of us just sticking it out long enough till we can get back home to the ones we love,” says RJ tearfully. “That’s all that matters, brother.” He is echoing what Daryl said a little earlier to Lou, about the return to his people being all that matters. But hearing it from RJ offends Daryl. “I ain’t your fuckin’ brother.” French Daryl is something of a pottymouth.
He takes RJ outside and throws him dramatically to the ground. Hérisson emerges, and says RJ threatened to shoot him if he tried to leave the castle after he was captured. The boy asks Daryl to push RJ into the moat. “You wouldn’t do that to a fellow patriot now, would you?” asks RJ. Daryl tells Hérisson to take him back to Lou so she can decide what to do with “this piece of shit.” I’m running out of pearls to clutch. RJ begs Daryl not to leave him at Lou’s mercy. He has four kids and a wife back home. “There ain’t no home, asshole,” growls Daryl. Powerful words, much subtext. “I been there. East Coast, Midwest, even Texas.” I don’t know when Daryl did all this travelling, unless there’s been quite a time lapse between the end of the flagship show and his little French excursion.
Daryl and Hérisson take a horse and cart loaded with goods, and tie RJ to the back by his hands so he must walk behind it. As they cross the drawbridge, some gas canisters fall off the cart into the moat. Daryl goes to sort out the cart, putting down his rifle in the back. As he crouches to straighten the wheel, RJ dashes forward, grabbing for Daryl’s gun. They tussle and fall off the drawbridge into the moat full of walkers. Daryl stabs a few, but RJ is suspended from the rope around his hands, and yells “I’m an American” as the horde attacks him.
Daryl uses his tiny flail to smash some skulls. RJ is being eaten alive. Daryl’s hair really is terrifically clean and healthy, shining and swishing while he fights. He shoots the gas canisters lying in the moat and blows up more walkers. As he gets up, a walker grabs him, and an arrow takes it down. Hérisson throws a rope from above, where he stands with Lou and Moof, who was the hooded figure. Lou continues to fire on walkers as Daryl runs to the rope and is hauled up. “Are you still better by yourself?” Lou asks.
Hérisson hands her the bag of medicine, and she thanks Daryl. Moof looks down at the walkers and spots his brother among them, and yells at Lou for lying to him. It’s tiring to keep track of who’s lied to whom at this point, about what, so let’s just say everyone’s a liar and none of them are sorry. Lou lifts her bow and arrow to put down Julien’s walker, but she hesitates, crying. Daryl shoots instead and claps her sympathetically on the shoulder.
They return triumphantly to the school. “I guess your lie worked,” Isabelle says to Daryl when she sees the horse. “Yeah. Well, I ain’t a nun,” he replies, apparently forgetting this very nun lied to him about the radio in Episode 1. Sylvie comes outside and calls Isabelle and Lou. Madame DuBois has died.
At the teacher’s bedside, Lou laments the fact that she was too late, and Daryl admits the medicine was never going to help. He lied to Lou to get a horse. Lou asks what they are going to do without Madame DuBois. Pére Daryl murmurs, “You’re gonna keep doing what you’ve been doing. These kids look up to you and that’s a good thing.” He offers to stab the old woman in the head, but Lou says she’ll do it. Daryl claps her on the shoulder again, dad-style, and leaves the room with Sylvie and Isabelle.
Later, the children have made a shrine for their teacher, with candles, drawings, and trinkets. Laurent tells a little girl that his teacher is also with the angels, and I’m quite weary of hearing about the angels, if I’m honest. Everyone says “nanu-nanu” and pretends to cry, which is a Mork and Mindy
Sylvie, Daryl, and Isabelle get ready to leave, but Laurent doesn’t want to go. He wants to stay with his friends. Can someone just put him in the cart so the episode will end? I’m on my knees. He complains that Isabelle never listens to him and says he will walk rather than ride. Lou and the children wave goodbye as they leave.
Codron (Romain Levi) is limping through the abbey with a cane, searching for clues. He finds Daryl’s dictaphone and we listen to his “My Name Is Daryl” message again. Codron retrieves his gun and looks through a journal containing photos of Laurent as a baby. He examines the wall map with the route to the Nest marked on it.
On the road, Sylvie tells Laurent to get in the cart and stop behaving like a baby. “She treats me like a baby,” he complains, meaning Isabelle.Flashback
. Lily is laboring, pushing, Isabelle at her side. The priest reminds Lily to breathe and counts her in for her next push. Suddenly, she loses consciousness and dies. Present day
. Nonsensically, Laurent yells that “some adults speak truth and some children don’t need to be treated like that.” Isabelle reminds him he is special.Flashback
. The priest prepares a scalpel to cut out the baby. Isabelle says that Lily is moving again. She is alive. But non
! She is a walker! Whatever will become of the child?Present day
. Daryl hands the reins to Isabelle and goes to walk with Laurent. Here comes the real
“father” Daryl. No one ever called him special as a kid, he says. Laurent replies that he doesn’t want to be special.Flashback
. Pére Jean delivers the baby by C-section from walker Lily. What is this plot reminding me of? I just can’t recall. The baby begins to cry. “It’s a miracle,” says the priest, but at most it just seems lucky to me. They give the infant to Isabelle and she leaves the room, looking back as the priest starts to pray loudly over the walker, performing an exorcism. Good luck, Pére Jean. As Isabelle walks up the passage, the nuns and little Sylvie stand aside, bowing their heads in acknowledgement of the miracle child. Present day
. Laurent wants to know what makes him special. “I know you do,” says Daryl. Flashback
. Isabelle walks into a chapel at the abbey, baby in her arms. In an alcove is a statue of St. Laurent and his griddle. St. Laurent is the patron saint of school children, poor people, cooks and comedians, and he lost his life by being grilled over a fire. His signature griddle makes me want waffles. His name is engraved below the statue and thus the baby gets christened “Ellie.” No, hang on, that’s another show.
The episode ends. The moral of the story is don’t lie. Or do
lie, but only sometimes, and don’t lie about people but it’s okay to lie about mules. Lie to children for their own good, but not if you’re also a child or the one you’re lying to gets salty about it because they’re precociously intelligent and want the truth. And sometimes lies are necessary to get what you want, so those are fine too, I guess, but possibly only if you’re delivering the messiah to the promised land. I hope this helps.