“Davon” is a deliberately strange murder-mystery that remains engaging through some interesting stylistic choices.
This recap of Tales of the Walking Dead season 1, episode 5, “Davon”, contains spoilers.
Like many of the episodes before it, “Davon” is weird. But it isn’t weird in the same ways. What has divided fans previously has been too much of a deviation from the established style and tone of The Walking Dead, rom-coms and knockabout time-loop comedies, and that sort of thing. “Davon” is weird in almost the exact opposite way – it disappears within itself, not feeling like a zombie story, per se, but a surreal amnesiac murder mystery with the affect of a period drama.
Tales of the Walking Dead season 1, episode 5 recap
Is this The Walking Dead? I suppose not, but it’s certainly something. There are definitely zombies here – the protagonist wakes up next to one. But the story isn’t about zombies, instead the murder Davon is accused of committing but can’t recall. It relies heavily on flashbacks and weirdness and deliberately can’t get things straight.
The obfuscation is presumably an intentional way to put the audience in Davon’s headspace. It works well because everything about the episode is a little odd. Everyone speaks French, for example, which makes sense since the small-town setting is right on the Canadian border. But everyone also dresses as if they come from the 19th century, for no reason that I could fathom.
There’s a feeling of that small-town social ostracization here that you sometimes get in old stories about witches, so it was nice to see the trope be gender reversed and a man becoming the pariah. The townsfolk are adamant that Davon murdered a woman named Amanda. He’s insistent that he didn’t. In his efforts to exonerate himself he exposes the real conspiracy, and it all comes to a head in a clipped and kind of unsatisfying way.
So, the weirdness is really what we have to fall back on. Ambiguous lines like “sometimes murder is mercy”, which gets repeated here and there in various contexts, give the whole thing a strangely off-kilter vibe that I quite enjoyed. Mileage will vary, of course, but there’s something to be said for how determined “Davon” is to be its own thing, even sometimes to its own detriment.
With only one episode remaining in the season, I can’t say I’ve necessarily been blown away by any of them. That having been said I haven’t really left any in a state of genuine annoyance or frustration either, which for this franchise is a minor blessing. You’ve got to take those where you can find them.