The Walking Dead universe gave us a lot of strange undead creatures over the years. From the bloated and gross walker in Herschel’s well to the freakazoid monster that Maggie fought in Dead City, the show gets pretty creative with these flesh eaters. Walkers have done everything from creep towards their victims to full on climbing ladders and it is all scary. Or, at least we thought they were scary. In the first episode of The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon, we find out that there are a few new (to us and Daryl) types of walkers in France. Daryl encounters a brûlant walker (called a burner in English) and several other mutant walkers that completely change what we thought we knew about these creatures in The Walking Dead

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Daryl arrives on a deserted shore and makes his way to Marseille, France after listening to a message from a survivor saying it could be safer there. He stops in an abandoned building and it isn’t long before several walkers surround him. Killing multiple walkers alone is like breathing for Daryl, so he begins to dispatch them. A few walkers look noticeably different with prominent veins in their faces. Daryl stabs one walker in the brain and it drops to the floor as some sort of acid drips from its head. We hear a burning/sizzling sound before things really go awry.

A walker grabs Daryl’s arm and its touch burns his skin. Daryl makes it out of this sticky situation but he’s left with a nasty sore that he attempts to disinfect. Later on at the abbey, Sister Isabelle tells Daryl that he got the wound from a burner/brûlant. She reveals that it is just one kind of walker they have there. (They call walkers les affamés a.k.a. “the hungry ones” in France.)  

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Isabelle cauterized the wound before any infection could spread. This means this kind of injury could lead to death and reanimation. This is the first time we have ever seen this burner type of walker in The Walking Dead universe. Considering that France is the Wildfire virus’ place of origin, it makes sense for their walkers to have different abilities.

The country has done—and continues to do—lots of experiments on walkers. We see the effects of this throughout the season. When Daryl and Isabelle go to her former apartment in Paris, there are walkers that fall from the windows. But, instead of splattering on the ground, they creak and snap their way back to standing. It is very, very horror movie of them. The scariest ones are perhaps what Daryl encounters in the gladiator pit. They are snarling, running, and quite clever… but not more clever than Daryl Dixon.

The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon gives us some understanding of how they work but we have more to learn about their purpose. We will see what happens in season two.

Originally published September 10, 2023.