On this episode of ‘The Walking Dead,’ we finally get to see inside Negan’s world where we’re forced to watch as he and Dwight rip away every last ounce of dignity Daryl has left.
This episode has one of the more bizarre openings, in which upbeat music plays in the background over a montage look inside Dwight’s (Austin Amelio) life. We get to see a little bit inside The Savior’s compound, as Dwight walks around like a king — taking what he wants, doing what he wants, and only yielding briefly when Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) makes an appearance. It’s interesting to watch because one is left wondering if Negan knows how Dwight is acting when he’s not looking.
When we catch up to “present time,” we see Dwight enjoying the sandwich he worked so hard (and stole so much) to make. As he’s doing so he’s distracted by what appears to be some prisoners bringing a walker inside a pit full of other walkers, all of whom are chained to specific posts. Dwight them becomes fascinated by one walker in particular, who has been impaled and continues to move up and down on a pole without actually getting anywhere. Seem familiar, Dwight?
Next we see Dwight making a second, smaller sandwich. Between two pieces of bread he slabs on a large spoonful of dog food (gross), and delivers it to a pitch black prison cell. Inside that cell we see none other than Daryl (Norman Reedus), stripped naked, covered in dirt, and shivering as she sits in a corner defeated. Dwight hands him the sandwich and Daryl takes it, eating it without so much as a question, seeming like a feral animal stuck in a trap. It’s heartbreaking to see, but it doesn’t phase Dwight one bit. Without a word he walks out, closes the door, and we hear the locks clink and clack as Daryl is left alone in the dark again. Hey, at least he’s still alive, right?
Daryl Finds A Familiar Face
Unfortunately, Daryl might be wishing he wasn’t alive as we get a deeper look into his imprisonment. A song plays over and over again, “Easy Street,” featuring an upbeat woman singing about how great life is. The irony. The song stirs Daryl awake over and over again, and the once impenetrable man is now a broken shell of who he used to be. In Dwight’s second to last visit he throws Daryl a pair of dirty sweats, and the next time the door opens he finally removes the man from the cell he’s been trapped in for who knows how long.
Dwight leads Daryl into a doctor’s office where we surprisingly find Sherry (Christine Evangelista), Dwight’s (ex?) wife. She recognizes Daryl immediately and says his name, but Dwight demands she not talk to him. On the table Dwight spots a pregnancy test but Sherry quickly interjects that it’s negative, and Dwight shrugs it off. With Dwight distracted Sherry approaches Daryl and tells him to do whatever they say, gently, as if she’s offering him life saving advice — which she probably is. Sherry then leaves the doctor checks on Daryl’s gunshot wound, tells him it will eventually heal and that Negan will keep taking care of him.
Speaking of the devil himself, Dwight and Daryl encounter Negan in the prison hallway as they are returning from the doctor’s office. Negan says he needs to speak to Dwight in private, so the armed man with Negan is assigned to watch Daryl for a moment. We aren’t allowed to hear what they say, but we do watch as Daryl is forced to stare inside what looks like a really comfortable room. There’s a bed, a small kitchen, books and a television. It must look like Heaven compared to what Daryl has been living in, and you can see in his eyes how much he must miss being back in Alexandria.
When Dwight returns he brings Daryl outside to watch other prisoners work on building up the walker wall outside the fence of The Sanctuary. Watching seems to distress Daryl, unable to help in any way as walkers nearly take out the prisoners. When we finally see the walker they’ve brought out it’s a man from the opening montage, one who put up a fight right in front of Daryl and is now as dead as what’s surrounding him. Dwight smashes Daryl’s face into the fence with a warning: be like me, or you will end up like him. Daryl remains silent.
We finally hear Daryl speak when he’s put back in his cell and he tells Dwight he will never kneel to Negan. Dwight says he once said that, too, and Daryl reminds him that he knows — after all, he was the one who tried to save Dwight and Sherry when they were on the run. Look how that turned out. When Dwight closes the cell door and locks it the “Easy Street” song starts again, but it seems that Daryl had just enough fresh air to fight back. He searches every inch of the cell with his finger tips in the dark looking for any sign of weakness or escape, and when he comes up empty he continuously kicks the door until the camera cuts away.
Negan seems pleased with Daryl losing his mind when he approaches Dwight later, encouraging him to keep pushing their prisoner even if he breaks slower than the others. Negan is so impressed he offers Dwight a “blast from the past with you know who,” likely referring to Sherry, which stuns Dwight into silence. Negan then laughs and says he’s just kidding, but that he can take whoever he wants as long as “she says yes.” Dwight remains silent which upsets Negan and he uses the moment to insinuate that maybe Dwight’s penis isn’t working properly since Eugene “clomped” on it. Dwight tells him he’s fine, but that he hasn’t finished the job yet and therefore doesn’t deserve the “happy hour” Negan is offering. Their conversation is interrupted by a call over the radio about a “grab and go” situation. Dwight goes to handle it but Negan tells him he doesn’t have to, it’s “grunt work,” and someone lesser can do it. It seems to be a test because when Dwight says he wants to do it, Negan pats him on the back and sends him on his way.
Daryl Makes A Great Escape
While Dwight is out another guy brings Daryl his sandwich, which must be the first time someone other than him has appeared at the door. Daryl seems surprised but doesn’t pull anything just yet, and instead quietly eats his sandwich in the dark. When the guy closes the door there is no lock sound, the “Easy Street”song stops, and Daryl has noticed it all. The song continues but Daryl is too busy looking under the door for feet, then slowly pushing the unlocked door open to make his great escape. It works, and it seems entirely too easy, but he makes his way down hallway after hallway completely undetected.
It’s Sherry who spots Daryl first, gives him a scare by approaching from behind, and very quietly tells him he needs to go back. She warns him that he will never get away and when they finally bring him back whatever Negan has already done to him will be much, much worse. Daryl ignores her and continues to run, finally finding an exit where a bunch of motorcycles are parked outside. As I already mentioned it’s too easy, and before Daryl can take off a handful of Saviors come running out from both exits — including Negan, holding Lucille. “Are we pissing our pants yet?” he asks Daryl, the very same question he asked the night in the woods when he killed both Abraham and Glenn. Needless to say, this is not good for Daryl.
Negan then reveals that this was a test, Daryl’s chance to prove that he was finally starting to understand the situation, but he failed. He tells Daryl he has three choices: to become a walker on the outside of the fence, working for Negan, to become a worker working for points which would make him wish he was dead anyway, or to finally accept the role of being a Savior and “live like a king.” Daryl says nothing, doesn’t even so much as budge, even when Negan pretends to swing Lucille at his skull. Negan seems amused by this but warns Daryl that Lucille takes offense to it, as if Lucille, the bat he’s holding, actually had feelings. A little bizarre, no?
Negan leaves Daryl behind with the group of Saviors, and with only the sound of his whistle do they start attacking the prisoner. The last we see of Daryl he’s being pummeled to the floor, completely outnumbered by Negan’s men.
After being beaten to nothing Daryl is returned to his prison, and in the dark he hears Sherry’s voice call to him from the other side of the door. Through tears she tells him there are so many things she wishes she had never found out, and that she wishes she had never tried to escape, and tells him he was right when he told her she would be sorry after they abandoned him in the woods in season six.
Dwight Nearly Loses Everything
Meanwhile Dwight runs into some walker trouble while looking for the “grab and go.” He tries to walk his bike (oh, sorry, Daryl’s bike) through a pile of walkers who have been killed in a car accident but then he notices that they are coming from somewhere: above. Just in time to dodge a falling walker, Dwight looks up to see they are dropping off the overpass above the road. The walker immediately grabs hold of Dwight and just in the last few seconds before being bit, he uses his handgun to put the walker down. Yikes.
Dwight is forced to walk his bike the rest of the way after it was damaged, and we can see the flat tire rolling, the bent rim, and the spokes clicking along. This has obviously upset Dwight, and when he spots the man he’s looking for he drops the bike and charges at him to take him down. The next time we see them, Dwight is holding a gun to the back of the man’s head as they make their way back to The Sanctuary on foot. Dwight tells him he has a lot to pay for, especially now that his bike was ruined trying to catch him, but the man doesn’t seem to care. He stops walking and talks to Dwight about life before Negan, questioning why they are all kneel to him just to life a life full of fear. By what this man says it sure sounds like the only person living like a “king” is Negan himself, while everyone else suffers. The man tells Dwight he has nothing to go back for and begs him to pull the trigger, but Dwight refuses — until the man gets up and starts walking back, which is when Dwight finally pulls the trigger.
When Dwight returns to The Sanctuary it’s Sherry he stumbles upon first in the stairwell. They share a cigarette and Dwight asks if “he” is “good” to her, which seems to confirm that Negan has taken Sherry from him since they returned. She asks Dwight if he’s happy and he says yes, obviously lying, saying that they are better now than being dead. With that Dwight leaves Sherry in the stairwell, then heads back to visit Daryl.
Daryl refuses the sandwich that Dwight gives him, throwing it up into his face after the Savior mentions how it’s his own fault his friend — Glenn — was killed. Before leaving Daryl alone he tapes the polaroid picture of Glenn’s battered skull to the wall, then shuts the door and plays a new song: Roy Orbison‘s “Crying”. Daryl rips the picture off the wall and it falls beside him, upside down. He stares at it for a moment before picking it up and turning it over, the light from under the door just catching the shot of Glenn on the ground surrounded by his splattered brain. This brings Daryl to tears, and after a moment left sitting in his guilt he is sobbing in the darkness. Outside of the cell is Dwight listening closely, and once he hears Daryl crying he walks away.
Daryl Still Refuses To Kneel
The next day Dwight takes Daryl out of his cell and into the bedroom with the small kitchen he looked so longingly at earlier in the episode. Inside the room is Negan waiting with a glass of water, happy to see Daryl such a mess. He then tells Daryl about his history with Dwight, and how he ran away with Sherry and her sister, Tina, after Negan asked Tina to marry him in order to take care of her diabetes. Instead they took the medicine and ran, got away, and eventually Dwight came back begging for forgiveness. Negan says that he was going to kill Sherry but Dwight begged him not to, so then he was going to kill Dwight until Sherry offered to marry Negan in exchange for his life. This story clearly bothers Dwight but he remains quiet, letting Negan humiliate him for the sake of trying to win over Daryl.
Negan gives Daryl one more chance to kneel, asking him who he is not once, but twice. When Daryl finally responds he tells Negan he’s still Daryl, not Negan like the rest of the Saviors. This pisses off both Negan and Dwight, and eventually Daryl gets thrown back in his prison cell. Before Dwight can leave Daryl tells him he knows why he stole his stuff and left him in the woods, that he was “thinking about someone else” — likely Sherry. Dwight says nothing, but Daryl continues to talk, explaining that’s exactly why he can’t kneel to Negan — he’s thinking of someone else. But who? Could it be Rick? Glenn? The entire group as a whole? Maybe Carol? Hmm.
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