A full episode about Dwight and Daryl? What sounded boring in fact also ended up rather boring.
However, the show fleshed out a character who we were never really interested in, making the viewer wonder if Dwight is actually as bad as we had thought he was or also a victim of Negan’s leadership. We also learned some information to help us connect some story threads. But first things first…
The episode is set at the Sanctuary, home of the Saviors, and in a (not very subtle) allusion, it states its theme by displaying an episode of Who’s the Boss? on a television screen. We see Dwight in a weird and annoying sandwich montage while others have to secure walkers at the gates or, in the case of Daryl, are being tortured in a cell. Dwight loots the belongings of a disobedient Savior who just got beaten to death. Apparently, that guy had a pregnant wife and a son.
Daryl is played a horribly cheerful song on loop, on an obnoxious volume that prevents him from sleeping. He is fed dog food sandwiches and greedily eats them. Daryl truly looks like shit and we understand he has been in a very nasty situation for quite some time now. After the loop the door isn’t locked one time, Daryl attempts to sneak out (despite Sherry’s warning) and, of course, is caught by the Saviors.
Negan asks the Saviors who they are, and all answer “Negan”. He claims to be everywhere and is impressed by Daryl not moving an inch as he feints to hit him. Daryl is beaten by the Saviors and Dwight, impatient for Daryl to finally break, is praised by Negan. He grants his lap dog “a night at the pussy club” but Dwight refuses. Negan is almost interrogating Dwight on the state of his schlong as Dwight usually isn’t the person to refuse such an offer. I’d like Eugene’s bite to have severe consequences for that douchebag’s genitals. Dwight is sent on a mission to retrieve a runaway worker, Gordon. To me, Dwight seems to choose this mission, which apparently is below his position, to avoid Negan. After he is almost killed by a walker, he confronts Gordon, threatening to kill his loved ones if he doesn’t return. After his fear of tyrant Negan is being questioned by Gordon, he shoots him and has him defend the gate as a walker. He also listens to Daryl sobbing after giving Daryl a picture of Glenn’s corpse. Does he enjoy Daryl’s pain and self-blame or is he just anxious to see Daryl break to justify his own path?
So far, Dwight still is not very likeable and then we hear about his history with Negan. They used to work for Negan and his wife Tina and her sister Sherry before they escaped. That’s the group Daryl met in Always Accountable (6×6), who stole his bike and crossbow. This episode connects two threads of the story. After Tina died and Dwight and Sherry rode off, they seem to have married and returned pretty quickly to Negan, begging for forgiveness and Sherry offering to be one of Negan’s wives. So Dwight has to work for a man, who is banging his wife (who seems to be relieved she’s not pregnant by Negan), wondering if they made the right decision. Both think it’s better than being dead. However, Dwight’s eagerness towards breaking Daryl and making him a Savior as well as his argument with Gordon suggest he is escaping the realization that it might not be the right choice after all. Dwight’s development could become interesting, I wouldn’t have guessed that. He still is far from redeemed after all the shit he has done to our group and leading the Saviors to Alexandria, but at least there is a seed of doubt which might have interesting consequences in the next conflict. We should remember he felt bad for burning the forest he knew people were living in, there might be something good in him and he might be the key figure to bring down Negan, who has become even more of a tyrant. His condescending talk about Dwight’s super-hot ex-wife Sherry and telling he and Dwight are cool with each other. (Does he really think that or does he perceive Dwight’s inner struggles and wants to provoke him to act out? The latter would make him even more dangerous.)
After telling Dwight’s story to the viewer and Daryl, Negan asks Daryl who he is. Now that he knows even better what a sick bastard Negan is, everyone would play ball and accept to be a Savior. But Daryl, perhaps the most badass character on the show, refuses and is rebuked by Dwight. Why wouldn’t Daryl become an infiltrator? I guess he knows Negan wouldn’t trust him that easily and ask him to do something horrible. He tells Dwight he can’t for the same reason Dwight took Negan’s offer, he is thinking about someone else. I am not quite sure yet what that means specifically. I think he doesn’t want to do something horrible because he wouldn’t be able to live with himself and return to the group.
Next week there will be a confrontation of the Saviors and our group as the first delivery is up. Negan seems pretty self-confident amidst all those hostile people. In his position, I would be afraid to get shot as revenge for what he’s done to Abraham and Glenn.
Aside: What did the A on Daryl’s shirt mean? Some of the workers also had letters on their shirt. There are some interesting theories out there, I wonder if they will explain that.
Images taken from imdb.com, © by AMC