When AMC first announced that it was developing a horror anthology set in & around The Walking Dead universe, I will readily admit that I was a little nervous. As anthologies go, I pretty much run cold on them (except for American Horror Story and Fargo, which are more connected than your typical standalone anthology format). But four episodes into Tales of the Walking Dead (check out our review/recap of S01E04 "Amy; Dr. Everett" here) and I'm starting to change my mind because the series has steadily delivered chapters that have told very unique stories without ever forgetting the "bigger picture" universe that it operates within. And it's winning ways continued with this week's chapter, S01E05 "Davon" (directed by Michael E. Satrazemis and written by Channing Powell), as Jessie T. Usher (The Boys) finds himself in a strange town with no memory and a whole lot of people looking for revenge. If you're looking for a tension-builder that combines a brutal morality tale with what I can best describe as a "horror noir" or "walker noir" tale, then look no further than "Davon," with Usher leaving it all on the screen as the classic "noir lead" in search of the truth before it costs him his life. So from this point forward, we're throwing on the "MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!" sign and throwing down an image spoiler buffer before offering up some real-time thoughts & observations.
Tales of the Walking Dead S01E05 "Davon" Real-Time Thoughts & Observations
Okay, in the interest of full disclosure and objectivity? I'm already going into this week's chapter excited that The Boys star Usher is getting a chance to expand beyond his increasingly impressive performance on the Amazon series.
Waking up in the middle of the woods with a walker handcuffed to you. You have nothing but flashes of memory of what went down to go on. You hear the sounds of people looking for you… but not in a good way. And you just had to turn your prosthetic leg into a walker-slaying weapon. I will never complain about my dog waking me up ever again…
Just so you know? Flashes of memories appearing through a red filter? Never a good thing, Davon.
Add to that mix what appears to be blunt force trauma to the head, and Davon's left with a bunch of visuals he can't trust… like the walker telling him to run before the credits kick in… will we get a "THREE DAYS EARLIER" or something like that?
Nope. We don't. Thankfully. What we do get to hear is a voice saying, "You did this to me" to Davon, as his mind continues to prove unreliable. And just to be clear? We're less than three minutes into the episode (including the credits).
Uh-oh… is Davon a murderer for real, or is the walker his conscience/guilt talking?
Yeah, not sure you're gonna get a signal any time soon, Davon.
"8… 9… 7…" from the walker's voice… hmmm…
Torches in the woods in the middle of the night? Never a good sign…
So "897" appears to be a room number, cueing a ton of red flashbacks filled with laughter, blood, and the sound of slicing.
DAMMIT! I KNEW IT! "7 WEEKS AGO"!
So seven weeks ago, Davon was apparently discovered and nursed back to health by what appears to be the same people after him now… the ones who think he's a murderer.
Okay, Davon is having more violent flashbacks… but it's starting to vibe more than the woods-people (best I could think of) are the bigger threat. "Sometimes, murder is mercy" from Amanda (Embeth Davidtz) doesn't make the best first impression.
THANK YOU FOR NOW SAWING ON THE CHAIN FIRST, DAVON! #HorrorCommonSense
I have a feeling that Nora (Loan Chabanol) has the hots for Davon, but I'm not feeling Arnaud (Gage Munroe)… he's already giving off Talking Heads' "Psycho Killer" vibes.
Seriously… what is it with pianos and horror stories? If you see one in a scene, you can pretty much count on hearing it at some point.
Oh yeah, Nora's thirsting for Davon with the piano lesson very cool foreplay.
SERIOUS RESPECT ALERT: I'm all about how the flashback scenes have this, 35MM/filmstrip look to them
I think we have a new genre of filmmaking after this week: "Walker Noir" or "Horror Noir" (that last one might already be out there, so I can't fully claim that one).
Well, we learn that they're in Maine, and Davon is apparently staying with a group of French Canadians who set up a kinda Amish-like secluded set-up in the woods. More signs that things could get ugly, with the murder debate between Davon and Amanda not exactly helping Amanda's cause. I like Davon's point that your life better be worth the save moving forward if you're going to choose yourself over others.
Interesting how Davon's flashback crashes when Nora asks him why he's heading to Montreal… hmmm.
Yeah… sorry, Davon. Amanda was no hallucination… and so far? Excellent pacing, effective use of silences, and the flashbacks are doing just enough to keep me glued. Where the f**k is this going?
Awww… Davon got Nora strawberries. Please don't make what's probably about to happen anymore heartbreaking… okay?
Props to how that transition from sweet, loving flashback to Davon having the hood ripped off of him was handled- nice emotional punch to the "feels."
Oh. Well, now. Nora's alive. Uh-oh…
So yeah. It looks like Davon "killed" Amanda, and now Nora, Arnaud, and the woods-people (sticking with it) want to give him a chance to confess before they execute him. Personally? If this is "walker noir" or "horror noir," then I'm looking at those two and not Davon as the killers.
So apparently, they're blaming Davon for not only killing Amanda but also taking the woods-people's children. And that flat-hand approach to voting to put someone to death is a pretty badass visual if you're not on the receiving end of it.
SIDE NOTE: Let me just say that getting crushed & ripped apart inside of an old van by a construction machine deep-dig shovel is definitely not the execution I would've seen coming. Feels like there could be ways to escape depending on how the van rips apart.
Meanwhile, as the woods-people turn on each other, Arnaud makes a shady escape. I knew it! Little f***ing creep…
As Arnaud begins to ask the captive kid what "candy" he wants, Davon has a flashback to when he discovered the kids and learned that Amanda was completely off the deep end. Davon handcuffed himself to Amanda to protect the kid who got away, and now it's all piecing itself together…
HOLY S**T! THAT WAS NOT GOOD! Now we know why Amanda's face melted the way it did. But before he could get away, Arnaud knocked out Davon… leading us up to how the episode started.
Amanda & Arnaud shared the same twisted philosophy, though Amanda came around to it. At first, Amanda was disgusted by it but more disgusted over the prospect of losing her son again. In the end, they felt they were freeing these kids by killing them… freeing them from what they'll become.
You are sooooooooooo f***ed, Arnaud!
But as great of a case that Davon makes about being able to rise above the horrors around them, the woods-people want revenge more than a sense of human grace. And with that, we're also presented with an episode that makes a very strong argument against the death penalty. I wasn't sure it was going there, but it felt like it was. And I'm glad it did.
So with that, we look ahead to next week's season finale of AMC's Tales of the Walking Dead, S01E06 "La Doña" (directed by Deborah Kampmeier and written by Lindsey Villarreal), as we see if the horror anthology series can go six-for-six and end an already-impressive first season in a strong way.