Previously on The Walking Dead, “The Well”
The Walking Dead – S7E3 – “The Cell” | Starring: Andrew Lincoln, Danai Gurira, Lauren Cohan, Chandler Riggs, Melissa McBride, Lennie James, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Sonequa Martin-Green, Norman Reedus, Alanna Masterson, Josh McDermitt, Christian Serratos, Seth Gilliam, Ross Marquand, Khary Payton
“The Cell” gives us our first look at the inner workings of the Saviors’ compound, The Sanctuary. They’ve done pretty well for themselves by extorting other communities: they make fresh bread, have power to watch VHS tapes, and they’re not hurting for weapons, produce, and other supplies. Not a bad environment if you don’t mind terrorizing other groups, dropping to your knee whenever Negan walks by, and answering “Negan” when he asks who you are.
Daryl’s accommodations consist of a small cell with no windows and a hard concrete floor to sleep on, and Dwight brings him dog food sandwiches as his only meals. This goes on day after day as Collapsible Hearts Club’s (featuring Jim Bianco and Petra Haden) “Easy Street” pumps through the speakers in his cell, denying him any peace or real sleep. It’s anything but easy street. This is just one of several interesting uses of music in the episode.
Negan told Rick that Daryl was his insurance against Rick deciding to make good on his “not today, not tomorrow” promise. Still, as “The Cell” progressed, it became clear that keeping Daryl around was about much more. He doesn’t scare easily. He fails a test by sneaking out of his cell when the door is purposely left unlocked, and despite a warning by Sherry (Dwight’s wife/Negan’s wife, played by Christine Evangelista), he continues on and tries to steal a motorcycle to escape. He doesn’t flinch when Negan comes at him with Lucille.
Perhaps it’s true that Negan has taken a liking to Daryl, as Dwight says, but it seems as though breaking Daryl (and using Dwight to do it) serves to teach Dwight a lesson as well. When Dwight met and double-crossed Daryl last season, it was after he’d run off with his wife, Sherry, her sister Tina, and all the diabetes medicine the Saviors had. After Tina died, they went back to Negan and begged forgiveness. To keep Negan from killing Dwight, Sherry offered to “marry” Negan, as Tina was going to do before they left. He accepted, but Dwight still got his face burned with an iron as punishment.
Though Dwight seemed to take great pleasure in terrorizing Daryl in the latter half of season six, “The Cell” shows he still struggles with what he’s done and the consequences of his actions just to survive. He actually walks in on Sherry finishing up a medical exam to determine if she’s pregnant with Negan’s baby, and there’s nothing he can do about it. When a friend of his runs off, he volunteers to find him and retrieve “Negan’s shit.” Once he catches up to the man, no amount of begging or mentions of their past friendliness will sway Dwight, and he employs one of Negan’s tricks by threatening to kill the man’s friends left at The Sanctuary if he doesn’t return. Yet, Dwight kills him anyway after he agrees. Was that the kindest act he could have offered?
The most noteworthy part of this exchange is Dwight’s reasoning for going along with Negan. “We were losing, and now we’re not.” He has lost his wife, his sister-in-law, and half his face, but I guess as long as Sherry is alive, he’s content with his choices.
Later, Dwight tries to appeal to Daryl by saying they’re in the same boat: Daryl got Glenn killed and Dwight got Tina killed. Doesn’t work. He leaves Daryl alone with the Polaroid of Glenn’s body, playing Roy Orbison’s “Crying” through the speakers before he goes. Daryl eventually breaks down and sobs, and as Dwight sits on the other side of the door, he smiles. He thinks it’s a job well done.
But when brought to Negan, and asked who he is, Daryl defiantly replies, “Daryl.”
The smarter play might be to go along and try to dismantle the Saviors from the inside, but clearly Daryl isn’t there yet. Or perhaps he’s truly ready to die. Time will tell.
What did you think of the episode? Leave your thoughts below or on the Facebook post for this review and we’ll read them on tonight’s podcast.
The Walking Dead S7E3 = 7.1/10