TV Review: Tales Of The Walking Dead, 1×5, “Davon”

Aaron Neuwirth reviews Tales of the Walking Dead season 1, episode 5, "Davon," in which a man wakes up with a head injury and a zombie handcuffed to his arm, trying to remember what happened.

So this was fun. Tales of the Walking Dead began with a couple more comedically inclined episodes, then dipped back into the dark nihilism that has been common for the prime show. “Davon” has the best of both worlds, as it plays as a bit of over-the-top folk horror, combined with some attempts at grindhouse-style direction and visuals. The result allows for a fun entry point as we follow along with our lead character of the week, Davon (Jessie T. Usher), who is desperately trying to piece together how he got into a particularly sticky situation.

Starting off strong, Davon wakes up handcuffed to a walker, with no idea how he got there. A head injury shows Davon will spend much of the episode trying to remember his recent past. That’s a solid way to set up another standalone episode. Playing catch-up with our lead means not feeling like things become redundant. Instead, there’s a sense of excitement running throughout this episode; ideally, it delivers in unexpected ways.

Given The Walking Dead world, Davon’s predicament must amount to walker-related shenanigans, and that is what we witness. And yet, the approach is different. Davon quickly realizes people are after him, and he goes into hiding. Making things complicated, the walker attached to his arm must now be dragged around, which can’t be easy. However, rather than just watching Davon drag a walker, we get a humorous version of him imagining this zombie as something that’s still animated enough to walk with him and call him a murderer.

This allows the episode to embrace a stylistic approach regarding the many flashbacks to portions of Davon’s past. We soon learn he was taken in and treated by a seemingly kindly woman and her family. Time passes, and the woman in question, Amanda (Embeth Davidtz), somehow dies. Davon is now lugging her body with him, and people are after him.

That could be enough, but there’s also some flirtation involving Davon and Nora (Loan Chabanol). I guess Northern Main has room for more than just non-stop drama and sadness. Still, these moments add to the characters and help later on when Davon is fighting for his survival.

Using all these elements certainly gives the episode reasons to show off certain flourishes. The flashbacks have a distinct look and feel like we’re watching them from a slowly decomposing projector. At the same time, the score goes for a jazzy feel as if Davon is part of some horror noir, and his doomed feelings are racing to get him. Of course, all this stylization help allow the thrust of the episode to work in its favor.

Being a story focused on a man who may or may not be wrongly accused of murder, there’s a lot of wild energy coming into play, once the townspeople gather to pass judgment on Davon. Were this to be a few notches more into crazy town, I wouldn’t feel too far off calling out The Wicker Man in reference to what’s happening. However, this is really just a town of people who have been plagued by random deaths of their children that they have no idea how to solve.

A different episode would try to do more to evoke the classic film, M, by director Fritz Lang, but that would also require Davon to be guilty. So, instead, we have to settle for watching a guy we probably feel is innocent make his case under extreme duress. While not calling it out specifically, it is hard not to think about the racial dynamic on display. Davon is the one black guy amidst this entire town of mostly French-Americans (and French-Canadians?). Is his situation direr because of this? I wouldn’t count it out. Of course, this episode doesn’t spend nearly enough time on this angle, so we’re best left to speculate.

With that in mind, Davon still manages to remember just enough to cause a distraction. The townspeople begin fighting among themselves, and Davon escapes to track the one person fleeing the scene. This would be Arnaud (Gage Munroe), the son of Amanda, who chose precisely the wrong time to check in on the boy he kidnapped. With Davon catching up with him, we get the whole spiel about what is happening.

“Murder is mercy” is the mantra the creepy mother and son have had regarding taking children and offing them. That’s not the first time this has come up in The Walking Dead, but it’s no less disturbing. Never mind how many children have done well for themselves during this apocalypse. Still, with Davon’s memory now more or less intact, he essentially foils Arnaud’s plans by calling out for help.

It’s good that the boy spoke up for Davon, as the mob still seemed angry and ready to punish someone. This is especially the case, given the presence of the two zombified children in an uncovered pit. But yes, Arnaud is given up, and Nora makes it right by shoving the man-child into said pit. It’s all the fitting when looking at this series, gory and depressing as it may be.

This comes after Davon’s big speech about whether or not anyone would have cared if they had actually murdered him. I get what the episode is going for here, but it was still a bit humorous to get an emotional message about mob justice. Fortunately, it didn’t hamper what had been a pretty entertaining hour.

I wonder if more could have been done with the surreal elements. At the same time, so many stylistic choices were made as far as editing in the flashbacks that “Davon” feels as though it hit its limit on how far to take things. As it stands, this is another solid effort to do what’s needed to deliver an entry in an anthology series where the creators get to play around. Just don’t worry about visiting Northern Maine anytime soon.

Dead Bits:

  • Zombie Kill of the Week: Davon kicks things off by beating zombie Amanda to death with his fake leg.
  • The Beguiled was another film I definitely started thinking of as Davon was being nursed back to health.
  • So, these townsfolk speak English and French, but I get that they’re near Canada. That said, they were all mostly dressed as if they were coming out of the 19th century. Now I can only imagine a situation like The Village taking place, but let’s not go there.
  • Some good-looking strawberries this week.
  • The reveal of Amanda’s death was pretty harsh, but, well, she was a child killer.
  • Thanks for reading, and feel free to hear what I and a few other fans of the show have to say about the series on The Walking Dead TV Podcast.

Written by
Aaron Neuwirth is a movie fanatic and Rotten Tomatometer-approved film critic from Orange County, California. He’s a member of the Hollywood Critics Association, the Online Film Critics Society, and the Black Film Critics Circle. As an outgoing person who is always thrilled to discuss movies, he’s also a podcaster who has put far too many hours into published audio content associated with film and television. His work has been published at We Live Entertainment, Why So Blu, The Young Folks, Screen Rant, and Hi-Def Ninja.

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