THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS.
This episode of the Walking Dead opens with a montage of Dwight collecting all the ingredients to make himself a sandwich. One of ways this is cool is that it does show you around the Savior community a little, giving you some layout and a way of how the characters are living, but at the same time, with that music playing over the top, I don’t really know what to think.
Based on the fact that the whole pre-opening credit scenes were about Dwight gave enough indication that this episode would focus on him quite a bit. Honestly, going in I didn’t know what to expect. I remember Dwight showing up by the train tracks and I’d honestly forgotten who he was (as did my mum who I was watching with at the time), and it was only after somebody told me he was the one who took Daryl’s crossbow and bike that I remembered. He really didn’t stick with me, so going into this episode I wondered if I would care about him enough or even at all. I’ll say now, I did a little by the end of the episode.
After the opening credits we jump into Daryl inside of a dark cell with a song called “Easy Street” playing on a constant loop. It’s all clearly a way to break him, and we can see straight away that Daryl is very emotional. Possibly over Glenn, possibly over the fact he wasn’t very well before all of this, possibly for the constant music, possibly for all of it and more. At one point the music suddenly stops and Daryl lowers his head as if about to fall asleep when the music starts up again.
When the scene changes we see Daryl is naked and huddled in a corner near the door. Dwight opens it and throws down some food, clearly scaring Daryl. It makes sense, depending on how long he’s been in there, and going on the fact that the music has probably not stopped, Daryl most likely hasn’t slept or had time to process everything that’s happened. Next clip he’s in clothes (the same ones we see people in the yard with Walkers wearing) and he’s transferred from his cell by Dwight. Again it’s another montage to show the loop of torture that Daryl is in at this point, and in some ways it works.
Daryl looking around that room while he was waiting in the corridor was interesting. Was he supposed to be looking for a way out? Accessing where he might be? Trying to get a layout? It could be all of the above and more, but either way it seems like Daryl is still trying to figure out a plan.
Outside in the yard you can see Daryl’s concern, but it seems to be more for the people stuck with the Walkers rather than the idea that he could be one of them. He doesn’t seem too concerned about the prospect of being broken down and controlled fully by Negan (at least not yet) and that’s confirmed in the next scene in the cells.
Back in the cell Daryl says he’s never going to kneel, and Dwight reveals that he said that once too. It all adds to this idea that we’re supposed to feel sorry for him, and also that Negan is so good at being bad that everyone eventually just folds because they feel like it’s their only option. It goes back to the doctor’s office where Daryl is warned to just do as Negan says. (He’s also warned various times later too).
Surprisingly enough the Negan and Dwight scenes are easy to watch. Although it’s very clear that Dwight isn’t all too happy being there and is simply doing as he’s told as a way to survive, he seems to fall into this character when he’s with Negan. It seems like he’s been putting on this voice and these actions around Negan for so long that it seems natural and he’s found a way to be around him. Negan also seems at his most casual. He was joking around (even if it wasn’t funny), making comments, and generally just looking at ease. It adds to this dark, creepiness of the character, but it also shows that there are many sides to Negan and we’re probably experience all of them at some point.
When Dwight refuses Negan’s offer it’s very clear that Negan isn’t impressed, however, I get the feeling if it was someone else, someone he doesn’t work so closely with Negan would have flown off the handle instantly. Sure the call on the radio delays things, but it seems that although he is concerned, he doesn’t outright go after Dwight and demand he be respectful and take his offering. The little forehead touch at the end of their interaction shows that although Dwight is not completely happy with being where he is, and Negan seems to be completely aware of that, they’re still on some kind of similar level. Negan seems to know that Dwight isn’t happy, but he’s still willing to put in the work, and Dwight seems to know that if he keeps it all up then he’ll be in Negan’s good books, which can only work in his favour. It never, however, seems to take away from how vile Negan actually is or can be.
From then on the episodes jumps between Daryl, Dwight, and Negan, and sometimes settles on them as trio or in pairs.
When Daryl leaves his cell you know that something isn’t right. First of all I have to say that it seems they’re going for him and Sherry having an alliance. Looking out for each other, and maybe even planning together to rebel? Even just typing that it feels too optimistic. It seemed way to easy that Daryl got out, so of course it was no surprise that he gets caught by Negan and some of his men. I was glad to see that Sherry still seemed to be sympathetic towards Daryl and wanting to help him in some small way.
The episode does a good job of making you feel sorry for Dwight and Sherry. There are moments (like when she talks about being sorry to Daryl through the cell door) where you can see that Daryl, like the audience, comes to this conclusion that they were only trying to survive just like any of the characters we know and love would do.
Dwight shooting his “friend” gives us more hope that he really isn’t fully buying what Negan is selling. That a small part of him is against Negan and that part is fighting. It makes me think that all of this is to show that Daryl, Dwight, and Sherry will eventually come together (with others) to overthrow Negan. It would be cool if the Saviors eventually turned on him, 1) to see if it would actually work and 2) if it did, what would happen next? Would the Saviors work with the other groups or still be against them? If they stay against what will happen to Daryl or others who might want to leave?
One thing I can get on board with a little, if it’s not over done in the future, is that the whole episode builds up – in this case with Daryl’s torture and Dwight clearly at war with himself – only to cram in information at the end. For this episode it was Negan talking about what had gone down with him and Dwight and how Daryl might fit in. He talked for a while and it was compelling, but it seemed to be a lot of information that could have been shared throughout the episode (and in some cases it was). Also, him talking for long periods of time to explain things or catch the audience up could get a little tiresome.
I do have to say, Negan is very compelling and extremely well played, however, this whole thing is only going to work if they have an endgame for Negan. Eventually he’s going to get repetitive and maybe even a little boring. It’ll always be vile and violent, but it’ll start to feel like the same thing over and over. It happened with the Governor. When he came across Lilly and Tara and that it made him interesting again, but really he was dragged out for too long. I’m not saying they have to kill Negan (they could easily have him run off and build himself back up to return later), however, they have to be careful that they don’t overuse him.