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‘Tales of the Walking Dead’ episode 5 ‘Davon’ recap/review

Another creative and outside-the-box effort from the series is undercut by major narrative issues.

Last week’s Tales of the Walking Dead showed us differing views on whether zombies are a challenge for humanity to overcome or part of earth’s new ecosystem. This week, the series switches gears once again to bring us a mind-bending thriller.

As always, the recap portion of this review will contain plenty of spoilers.

Infirm Resolve

Tales of The Walking Dead (AMC)

Tales of The Walking Dead (AMC)

The episode opens with a man (Davon) awakening in the woods and handcuffed to a walker that’s trying to eat him. Fortunately, the walker’s mouth appears to be somehow melted shut so it can’t bite anything. This scenario would normally take up most folks’ entire focus, but Davon also experiences a series of fractured images/memories that don’t make any sense.

He takes a moment to reorient himself before beating the walker to death with his own prosthetic leg. Following that bit of badassery, he becomes aware of a nasty gash on his forehead followed by another flash of seemingly random and unfamiliar memories.

Before Davon can make sense of anything, a bunch of people holding torches and flashlights appears behind the nearby trees. As he weakly calls for help, a little girl runs up, causing him to once again experience a flash of random images. The girl looks at Davon fearfully and begins calling for her mother. After she runs off, Davon looks down and hallucinates the walker he killed coming back to life and calling him a murderer. The people with the flashlights begin to close in and make similar accusations.

Understandably, he (and the audience) are extremely confused about what’s happening.

Tales of The Walking Dead (AMC)

Tales of The Walking Dead (AMC)

Things don’t get any less weird after the opening credits.

As Davon looks for a place to hide, the walker he’s handcuffed to blames him for her death. When Davon says he would never kill someone, the walker counters that he wouldn’t have a mob hunting him if he was innocent.

Davon drags the walker over to a hiding place, but that doesn’t shut it up. Thankfully, the mob isn’t able to find him. Once they’ve passed, he forces the zombie to talk with him at a nearby cabin…which is weird since it appeared he’d bashed its brains in and never tries to bite him.

Once he reaches the cabin with the incredibly docile walker, Davon takes out a picture that appears to be of him and his family from before society fell. He then asks the walker who she is. After a bit of creepy staring, she gives the following response:

8, 9, 7.

To Davon’s credit, he joins the viewing audience in asking “What the hell is going on?”

Tales of The Walking Dead (AMC)

Tales of The Walking Dead (AMC)

If you thought Davon was going to go inside the spooky solitary cabin at this point, then you thought wrong. Instead, he drags his chatty undead friend to what appears to be a middle-class subdivision. When he asks where they are, the walker merely taunts him for not remembering before hissing the numbers “8 9 7” again.

Davon walks onto the porch of one of the houses and sees that the street address matches the same number the walker has been repeating. This causes him to have another flashback that’s slightly more clear — or at least clear enough to show his leg getting amputated at some point in the past.

From there, we flashback to seven weeks ago in a slightly more cohesive fashion. In between red-tinged flashbacks of something awful that happened to him, Davon is discovered in the woods by two French women (Amanda and Nora), who bandage his leg and care for him. He also asks for his boot, which Nora tells him was ruined by…something.

Tales of The Walking Dead (AMC)

Tales of The Walking Dead (AMC)

After snapping back to the present, Davon tries and fails to unlock the house’s front door. He then gets an assist from the walker, who points him toward the garage. Davon enters it and discovers some bloody entrails, a bowl of hydrochloric acid, and what appears to be his missing boot.

This leads him to have another series of fractured flashbacks, this time featuring the walker in the very same room with him. In between these visions, the walker explains that this is the place where he killed her. Davon once again insists he could never do such a thing. He then has a clearer vision of Amanda sitting outside in front of him. She declares “Sometimes, murder is mercy” before whacking a catfish with a club.

This is followed by even more fractured and completely out-of-context memories. When Davon snaps back to the present, the walker once again accuses him of being a murderer.

If you’re thoroughly confused and/or frustrated right now, then Davon is right there with you. He angrily grabs a saw and begins slicing off the walker’s hand that’s still cuffed to his own. He doesn’t stop until they’re finally separated — even when the sound of her human voice begs him to.

This act finally appears to stop the hallucinations of her speaking and/or still being alive.

Vague Betrayal

Tales of The Walking Dead (AMC)

Tales of The Walking Dead (AMC)

Davon takes the walker and lays her on a table. He then has another flashback of Nora, who he definitely had a thing for.

This leads to a blessedly coherent memory of Davon sitting at the dinner table with Nora (who seems to have a thing for him too), Amanda, and her son (Arnaud). Arnaud speaks about a scar he got from a trip “beyond the wall” where his father perished. Nora also praises Davon for how well he’s doing with his recovery.

Back in the present, Davon apologizes to the walker and covers her body. He then walks by a piano, which triggers a flashback of Nora teaching him how to play. She also uses the lesson to tell Davon that people get to decide on their own if they are good or bad.

Davon next wanders into a bedroom, which has been completely trashed. He finds some pills sitting on a dresser and takes one before using a nearby bandage to dress the gaping wound on his forehead.

The sight of a poster featuring the Hanlon Brothers (a group of French acrobats from the 1800s) triggers another flashback, this time from Davon’s early days under Amanda and Nora’s care. After giving him a pair of glasses, the women reveal that they’re in Maine. As for them speaking French, they are descendants of Acadian colonists who have gone to great lengths to preserve their European heritage.

Tales of The Walking Dead (AMC)

Tales of The Walking Dead (AMC)

When they ask about his leg, Davon reveals that he had a run-in with someone on the way to Montreal. Davon wasn’t willing to shoot him, but the other guy was. Amanda points out that if Davon had shot the man, he’d still have his leg. Davon counters that murder shouldn’t be the only option to resolve a conflict. He also says that if a person is going to choose their life over another’s, then they’re obligated to make sure it’s worth saving.

Amanda expresses her belief that some people shouldn’t be allowed to live in this new world. Davon counters that society should still have laws, which work most of the time except when it comes to the people who created them. Amanda agrees with Davon’s closing sentiment and leaves. Once she’s gone, Nora asks him what’s in Montreal that would make his life worth saving.

Before we can get an answer, we’re snapped back to the present by the sound of a child’s voice echoing through the house’s vents. The French words “strawberry, banana, lemon, peach” repeat on a loop. Davon goes down to the basement and finds a zombified boy handcuffed to the wall. After putting the poor kid out of his memory, a maybe/maybe-not hallucination of Nora walks down the stairs toward Davon. She states “sometimes murder is mercy” before putting a very real bag over his head.

Franctured Plea

Tales of The Walking Dead (AMC)

Tales of The Walking Dead (AMC)

When we return from the commercial break, Davon has a flashback of him and Nora flirting like crazy. The pleasant memory is interrupted when the bag is pulled off his head, revealing that he’s been tied up and surrounded by angry townspeople — including Nora, who joins them in calling Davon a murderer.

When Davon tries to say that he knows Nora, a man (Durant) demands he not speak to her before asking if he wants to kill him, too. He then offers Davon to do the right thing before they execute him, which doesn’t help clarify anything. Davon also tries to explain that he can’t remember what happened and that he wouldn’t kill someone unless he was forced to. Predictably, this doesn’t appease the angry townspeople, either.

The tension ratchets up even further when Arnaud walks over and accuses Davon of killing his mother. As if that weren’t shocking/insulting enough, the other townspeople begin demanding to know where he hid their missing children. Davon tries to tell Nora and the rest of them that he would never kill a child. Nora responds by spitting in his face.

Tales of The Walking Dead (AMC)

Tales of The Walking Dead (AMC)

Following that bit of unpleasantness, the townspeople drag Davon to an empty van, where Durant announces that he will be crushed inside the vehicle by an earth mover. Davon makes one final plea to Nora, but it falls on deaf ears. He then tells the townspeople that they’ll be the true murderers if he’s executed for a crime he didn’t commit, but this only ticks them off even more.

As he’s placed inside the van, Davon has another flashback. This time it’s of the boy in the basement when he was still alive. He also spots another boy who is chained to one of the pipes before Amanda walks down and declares that the kid has to die. The boy somehow escapes and runs upstairs.

After Davon comes back to the present, he screams that one of the town’s missing children is still alive. When he remembers the boy’s name (Garen) and calls it out, Nora screams for them to stop the earth mover. She also says that Garen is her son, which is weird since we never saw him during previous flashbacks, but whatever.

Davon pleads with Nora through the glass, explaining that he doesn’t know where Garen went, but he might be able to find him. It’s a pretty thin argument, but Nora totally buys in and ups the urgency on her pleas for the people mover to stop. Most of the townspeople ignore her, but a few take Nora’s side. When she takes matters into her own hands and attacks the earth mover’s driver, a couple of folks help her out.

Meanwhile, the disagreement causes the rest of the town to start brawling with each other. Davon uses the distraction to escape the van (along with a random walker) and follows Arnaud, who runs away in a manner that almost screams for a ‘SUSPICIOUS’ caption to appear over his head.

History Repeating

Tales of The Walking Dead (AMC)

Tales of The Walking Dead (AMC)

The next morning (?), Davon tails Arnaud all the way to the remote cabin we saw back at the beginning of the episode. He watches as Arnaud walks in, undoes a chain on Garen, and chastizes the boy for running away from his mother. He then tries to comfort Garen (pointedly remaking how little children don’t know what to be afraid of in this new world) before offering him a “special treat” in a variety of flavors…the same flavors Davon heard during one of his previous hallucinations.

This leads to a flashback of Davon sitting in bed and hearing a child’s voice through the house’s vents. He goes down to the basement and finds the dead child from before along with Garen, who is reciting the flavors. After Davon frees him from his restraints, Amanda walks downstairs and coldly explains that “sometimes murder is a mercy.”

Garen runs by her and up the stairs. She tries to catch him, but is stopped by Davon, who gets a hard kick to the head for his efforts. She attempts to continue chasing Garen, but Davon follows her into the garage and cuffs them together with the boy’s restraint. A struggle ensues, resulting in her head taking a dip in the bucket of hydrochloric acid we saw earlier. Arnaud walks in, sees what’s happened, and whacks Davon across the head with a tire iron.

Arnaud also must have had somewhere important to be, because he leaves Davon and his dead mother where he found them.

That evening, Davon finds himself suffering the effects of a massive concussion and laying next to a dead body. He picks up Amanda’s corpse and carries it into the woods, thus looping us back to the episode’s opening. We also get a bunch of convenient flashbacks showing that Garen was there the whole time and that Arnaud was super creepy.

Tales of The Walking Dead (AMC)

Tales of The Walking Dead (AMC)

Back in the present, Davon stops Arnaud from drugging Garen before asking the question on everyone’s mind: Why are you and your messed up mom killing children?

Arnaud explains that growing up in this place will make them twisted (a bit of info he really should have accompanied with a self-identifying flourish). By killing the children, he is protecting them from all the awful things they will do in the future, thus providing a laughably thin justification for why “sometimes murder is mercy.” Arnaud also reveals that Amanda wasn’t 100% on board with his child-murdering ways, but decided to go along with it since she knew her son would be executed if the town ever found out about it.

As the two take their standoff outside, Davon finds a makeshift grave where two other zombified boys are being kept. Meanwhile, Arnaud haughtily declares that he can’t be stopped since Davon doesn’t have it in him to kill someone. Davon disagrees, but it says it won’t be up to him before screaming for Nora.

Arnaud begs to be spared, going so far as to say that Davon will be no better than the townspeople if he lets him die. Davon astutely counters that their situation is very different since Arnaud is actually guilty of the unspeakable crimes he’s about to be punished for.

Tales of The Walking Dead (AMC)

Tales of The Walking Dead (AMC)

Moments later, Nora arrives with the rest of the town. She runs to embrace her son with the people whose children were missing grieve over their newly discovered fate. Garen then does Davon a huge solid and tells everyone that Arnaud is the child murderer. Arnaud tries to defend himself, but no one buys it.

Davon begins verbally ripping into the gathered masses for almost killing for a crime he didn’t commit. He also points out that once another child died at Arnaud’s hands, they likely would’ve forgotten him and their transgression. Davon closes his speech by telling the townspeople that they can be better than this.

Instead of heeding his words, Nora responds by saying that Arnaud deserves mercy and slapping him across the face. He is then picked up by two other townspeople and tossed into the child zombie pit to be devoured. As Araud’s cries fade and the gathered crowd leaves, Davon tearfully departs without looking in Nora’s direction.

His final words to her (in French) are “I will see.”

The Verdict

Tales of The Walking Dead (AMC)

Tales of The Walking Dead (AMC)

Much like last week’s episode, I wanted to like this one a lot more than I actually did.

I’ve been a fan of Jessie T. Usher for a while and absolutely loved his work here. I also once again appreciated Tales of the Walking Dead attempting to give us a story told in a genre/style we typically wouldn’t see from the franchise.

Unfortunately, “Davon” has a number of issues that keep it from being as enjoyable as it should be.

For starters, having an unreliable narrator doesn’t give the narrative carte blanche to throw in major elements whenever it’s convenient. The revelation that Garen was Nora’s son (and that he’d been present the entire time) felt like a huge cheat rather than a great twist. Considering how much the episode played up Davon and Nora’s budding romance, it makes it even more unbelievable that there’d be no discernable trace of Garen in any of the previous flashbacks.

Tales of The Walking Dead (AMC)

Tales of The Walking Dead (AMC)

Meanwhile, the revelation about Arnaud was undercut by his bizarre reaction to finding Davon with Amanda’s body. Even if you argue that he wanted to frame Davon, it’s a pretty big stretch to think he was counting on his victim having a memory-altering concussion and wandering into the woods. If anything, it appears this was done so the episode’s narrative style could happen rather than for a good/organic reason.

And then you have the townspeople, who were a confusing mix of old world and modern. I couldn’t find much online about Acadian communities who live as this one did, although that certainly doesn’t confirm they don’t exist. But even if they do, this one was so overly stylized for the story that it became distracting.

On the positive side of things, the cinematography was gorgeous and the music was great. Combine that with Jessie T. Usher’s acting and it’s nearly enough to salvage the episode.

Let’s hope next week’s finale is able to close things out with an episode that makes a potential second season feel worthwhile.

 

Next Episode: ‘La Doña’

Tales of The Walking Dead (AMC)
‘Tales of the Walking Dead’ episode 5 ‘Davon’ recap/review
'Tales of the Walking Dead' Episode 5 'Davon' recap/review
Another creative and outside-the-box effort from the anthology series is undercut by major narrative issues.
Reader Rating0 Votes
0
Jessie T. Usher is fantastic in the role of Davon.
The episode's cinematography and music are gorgeous.
The revelation about Garen being Nora's son (and having been present the entire time) felt like a cheat rather than a big twist.
Arnaud's actions upon finding Davon with his mother's body don't make sense.
The old world and modern mix of the townspeople was so stylized for the episode that it became a distraction.
4.5
Meh

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