In its seventh season, The Walking Dead is suddenly doing some serious world-building. Last week we were introduced to King Ezekiel and the Kingdom through Carol's side trek. This week, we follow Daryl's capture and learn how the other half — Negan's Saviors — lives
But the episode isn't really about Daryl. It's all about Dwight.
As you may recall, Daryl first met Dwight, his wife Sherry and her sister last season. They were on the run, but ultimately betrayed Daryl, taking his crossbow and motorcycle after Sherry's sister died. That episode just became a lot more relevant as we learn the details about Dwight and Sherry's escape, and return to Negan.
But first let's check on Daryl. He's not doing so well. The Saviors keep him in a dark room with cheesy music blaring, feeding him sandwiches made of dog food. Dwight leads him outside where we see some of Negan's grunts attending to a wall of zombies and building a barricade. Daryl's given a choice: work for Negan or become a zombie-guard.
Either way, he's working for Negan.
While Dwight is sent out to capture a runaway, Daryl is given a test. His door is left unlocked and he sneaks out. Sherry warns him that he won't get away, and it'll just be worse if he tries. Daryl tries anyway, of course, but he's ambushed as soon as he makes it outside.
Negan is none too pleased, but offers Daryl the same career path options that Dwight mentioned, letting his army beat Daryl for his disobedience and disloyalty. Since his introduction, Negan has already gone from psychological terror to a schoolyard bully. Jeffery Dean Morgan is still a fun scene-filling presence, but here he comes off more chummy than frightening.
Dwight, meanwhile, was off on a fairly pointless excursion to hunt down one of their own and bring him back. He finds the man and forces him to return at gunpoint. But the runaway kneels, prepared to die. Things aren't great with Negan in charge, and though Dwight eventually wins the argument by threatening everyone the man knows, he ultimately gives in and kills him out of mercy.
When Dwight returns to Negan's camp, he gives Daryl a Polaroid picture. It's Glenn — or what's left of him — after Negan's brutal attack. This finally breaks Daryl down and he has himself a good cry session before being brought before Negan.
Well, Daryl? Time to give your answer on your new career as a Savior.
In the hopes of convincing Daryl to join the ranks, Negan gives us Dwight's back story. The reason they were on the run last season was because Negan offered to marry Sherry's sister who needed medication. They fled and met Daryl, but ultimately they returned, which Negan liked. But Negan also likes to punish (or Lucille does anyway). To save her husband, Sherry offered to wed Negan instead, which even Negan admits is pretty messed up.
So Sherry marries Negan, and Dwight rises up through the ranks to become a loyal soldier. This whole episode sees him starting to unravel. He sees some of himself in Daryl. He may even want to be Daryl, wielding his crossbow and riding his motorcycle. Ultimately, Daryl rejects Negan, which may have some interesting effects on Dwight.
For those keeping count at home, that's two episodes in a row without Rick. The world of The Walking Dead has grown bigger than ever with a lot of spinning plates in motion. Let's hope our weary group at Alexandria doesn't get left behind.
Dwight: Dwight has been pretty easy to hate so far. He robbed Daryl and murdered Denise. But this entire episode forced us to take another look at this man and his terrible situation. At the very least he's become a far more complex character than before.
Daryl: This episode was supposed to focus on Daryl, but he was a minor presence at best. Daryl didn't really have anything to do until the very end, and his situation hasn't changed at all. If anything it's an easy excuse to write his character out for awhile. How the mighty have fallen.
Negan: Negan's terrifying presence diminished quite a bit when he talked about rewarding Dwight with a woman, or referring to Dwight's "super hot wife." He's really just a big bully and an egomaniac, and he barely keeps his own house together. Dwight will definitely become a problem.