The Walking Dead SN7 EP03-‘The Cell’

Life on Easy Street isn’t too fun for Daryl as we learnt more about how The Saviours operate.

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We’re on Easy Street, and it feels so sweet…

Not the first song you’d expect to find playing on The Walking Dead is it? Well this episode was all about taking our expectations and amplifying them ten-fold to show Daryl at his lowest, and ensuring (if the premiere episode wasn’t enough for you) we know just how despicable Negan and The Saviours are.

The episode really focused on two people, similar in many ways, but with one big exception: one chooses to kneel, the other doesn’t. These two people are of course Dwight and Daryl, and this episode went a long way to making Dwight a much more rounded character. His behaviour towards Daryl since he joined The Saviours again has been a point of mystery for a while now, but this episode made clear that everything he’s done, he’s done for Sherry, and Daryl probably reminds him of what could have been. The Dwight we see throughout this episode is conflicted, and we see that develop as the episode goes on, but that doesn’t stop him from being a complete ass. The opening montage of him moving through The Sanctuary, using his elite status to take what he wants, showed a side to Dwight that is happy to abuse the power he has, but as we later see this power comes at a price.

You certainly get the feeling that Dwight doesn’t agree with what he’s doing. In hunting down the man who’d had enough of life at The Sanctuary, we find him making some truly disturbing threats that go completely against the man we first met last season. He’s tricking himself into believing the things he’s doing are what he has to do, lying to himself so that he doesn’t feel the weight of his action, but ultimately he’s a good man. That is if you can call shooting a man in the chest good. Technicalities aside, having such a conflicted character on the show, one we should hate but who’s got just enough hope in him that he might come back from the darkness, is very exciting. In one episode, Dwight became one of the most interesting characters on the show, and that’s impressive in an episode that saw him slowly breaking down a fan favourite character.

Speaking of said fan favourite, this episode was a big one for Daryl. I have to immediately commend the performance of Norman Reedus in this episode. In terms of speech he wasn’t really given much to do, which made it all the more powerful whenever Daryl did speak, but what he did with his facial expressions and body language this episode said more than a thousand words ever could. When he was dragged off at the end of the season premiere, we could see Daryl was being treated like an animal, forced to cower away from the weapons pointed at him, and this episode went all in on that idea. He was literally fed dog food, whilst being kept naked in a cold, empty, windowless cell. As if it couldn’t get any worse for him, he was forced to listen to the same song over and over again, and eventually given a picture of Glenn’s mushed up head, all in an effort to truly break him.

It was as difficult to watch as it was seeing Glenn and Abrahams heads bashed in during Episode 1. There the general brutality and gore made it hard, but here it was just difficult viewing a character we care so much about being slowly tortured. Whilst it was only 45 minutes for us, that was likely days for Daryl. Several days during which he was beaten, tormented, tortured and really just made to break. Events remained tense throughout the episode, simply because it was never clear what people were going to do. Though Daryl ultimately ended up staying true to himself, refusing to take Negan’s name, it would have been completely understandable had he not. Meanwhile there were characters such as Dwight and Sherry around who were clearly not comfortable with everything Negan’s doing, and who would probably turn against him given a push.

Life on Easy Street, or at the very least life at The Sanctuary, seems to be quite busy, so other notable highlights include:

  • I really liked Sherry during this episode. She clearly loves Dwight, enough to subject herself to Negan in order to save him, but it seems she’s not as far gone as Dwight is. She tries to give Daryl help, not to escape, but to make life easier for him there. If she finds some courage, she might be instrumental in getting Daryl out of Negan’s custody.

  • We were given a fairly detailed look at how things are at The Sanctuary during that opening montage. They’ve clearly got quite the set up there, with gardens and fresh bread, but it’s not the kind of place that looks great to live in. Actual living space for general people looked small, with thin sheets dividing everything up. Overall it’s clear that Negan rules over the people there with fear.

  • The man Dwight killed made clear that if they were dedicated enough a revolution could happen. Clearly Negan himself would be outnumbered, but it remains a case of whether the militia he’s assembled remain loyal to him, and I’ve got a feeling they would.

  • This episode is probably the greatest showcase of how sturdy Daryl is, but also how vulnerable as well. It’s easy to dismiss Daryl as simply the cool, godlike power of the group who never seems to be affected by anything, but this episode proved how much he cares. He’ll forever blame himself for Glenn’s death, and the way he broke down when shown that picture of Glenn shows just how human he is. It was a heartbreaking moment, but it also feeds into his desire to keep fighting Negan. Daryl isn’t likely to rest until Glenn, Abraham and even Denise are avenged, so I’d be worried if I were Negan or Dwight.

  • Negan himself felt a little less threatening this episode. It’s clear no one wants to kill off Daryl, but given his continued resistance it goes against Negan’s character to keep him alive. Sure it’s early days yet and Negan still thinks he can break him, but it will eventually come to a point where the writers can’t justify him not killing Daryl, and I’m not quite sure what would happen then.

The Walking Dead painted a grim picture of life under Negan’s rule this episode, giving us further insight to The Saviours way of life and the place they call home. Focusing on Dwight and Daryl, the episode showed us the two extremes of Negan life. One extreme saw Dwight continue to abandon his humanity for a more comfortable life, whilst the other extreme saw Daryl stand by his morals and be tortured for doing so. The Walking Dead is going to some seriously dark places at the moment, and as the Season continues, the worst is no doubt yet to come.

P.S. I’ve listened to this song about 20 times now. I can’t stop! It’s too damn catchy!

 

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