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TV Review: The Walking Dead 7.3 “The Cell”
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The Walking Dead 7.3 Austin Amelio as Dwight

The Walking Dead
Episode 7.3 “The Cell”
Directed by Alrick Riley
Written by Angela Kang
Starring Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Lauren Cohan, Chandler Riggs, Danai Gurira, Melissa McBride, Lennie James, Christian Serratos, Sonequa Martin-Green, Josh McDermitt, Khary Payton, Austin Amelio
AMC
Air Date: November 6, 2016

Warning – SPOILERS for AMC’s The Walking Dead…

While the Season 7 premiere of AMC’s The Walking Dead focused on Rick and his group’s run-in with Negan, who killed off two beloved characters, Episode 7.2 kept it solely with Carol and Morgan, who were guests of King Ezekiel at his “Kingdom,” another seemingly idyllic community. But, we learned that Ezekiel, like everyone else in the vicinity, is beholden to Negan.

Episode 7.3 “The Cell” centers on Daryl, who was taken captive by Negan at the end of Episode 7.1. Negan liked that Daryl was strong and defiant, but it was clear that this big baddie planned to break his new captive. This week, we see what Negan has done with Daryl.

While the storyline follows Daryl’s imprisonment in Negan’s compound, The Sanctuary, we actually learn a lot about his personal jailor, Dwight. Dwight and his wife Sherry had first met Daryl back in Episode 6.5. They had run away from The Sanctuary, and originally thought Daryl was there to make them return. Dwight had said, “Everybody’s got their code. You feel you gotta kneel, that’s fair enough. We don’t.” He and his wife Sherry had had enough of that life, but after Tina – Sherry’s sister — died, the couple decided to go back. It was clear that that life had offered them protection, and that they had no “real world” experience. As they rode off on Daryl’s motorcycle, Sherry said she’s sorry, to which Daryl replied, “You’re gonna be.”

Now, inside The Sanctuary, we see a montage of Dwight’s day: He watches episodes of Who’s The Boss?; plays table games; whittles figures out of wood; and gathers various components to make a delicious egg sandwich. We see that to make this sandwich, Dwight steps on many toes, and it’s obvious that he can do this because he’s one of Negan’s lieutenants. But he’s not so big that he doesn’t know his place — when Negan walks passed him and a few others, they ALL kneel to him.

Outside in the yard, as Dwight prepares to consume his carefully crafted sandwich, he watches two men with the letter F on their shirts on the other side of the fence where the Walkers are housed. Everything up until this point shows that Dwight is now living the high life at The Sanctuary.

Later, we see Dwight bring Daryl a dog food sandwich. Daryl is naked and locked in a dark cell, as a song about living on “Easy Street” plays repeatedly. Daryl grabs the food and eats it right away, and Dwight leaves without a word. This scenario plays over and over again each day, showing how Daryl is being tormented. Eventually, Dwight brings Daryl some clothes, which includes a top with the letter A on it in the style of the men with the F on their shirts. What the letters mean, we don’t know at this time, but we know that the letter A has shown up several times already on The Walking Dead.

Dwight brings Daryl to see The Sanctuary’s doctor. Sherry is already there for an exam. There’s no affection shown between Dwight and Sherry; they are clearly estranged, but there’s no malice. “It’s negative,” Sherry says, which seems like she’s referring to a pregnancy test. Dwight says “maybe next time.” My first reaction is that there’s no way these two are trying to get pregnant, and that if anything, the baby would be Negan’s. I thought maybe Negan might be trying to impregnate all the women at The Sanctuary, which doesn’t seem to be the case, but we do learn eventually that, yes, it would be Negan’s baby. (More on that later.)

Although Dwight warns Sherry not to talk to Dwight in the exam room, she does anyway. She warns him that whatever they tell him to do, he should do it. “It will get better,” she tells Daryl, “Negan will take care of you, trust me.”

After the doctor’s exam, Dwight takes Daryl out to the yard to show him what happens on the other side of the fence. There’s a walker out there now who was one of the men killed inside during an argument. Dwight tells his prisoner: “That’s you, asshole, unless you’re smart. It’s your choice. You can be like them, or me… or them.” So far, Daryl hasn’t spoken a word, and doesn’t willingly bow to Negan; Dwight actually pulls him down into a kneel along with him when Negan passes them in the prison area.

Dwight takes Daryl back to his cell, and again tries to tell him that he should just comply with the rules and make it easy on himself. When Daryl says he “ain’t never gonna kneel,” Dwight, who reminds him that he used to say that too, tells him “but you’re gonna” before leaving. Cue “Easy Street.”

Dwight then goes to report back to Negan. “He’s going apeshit,” Negan says about Daryl, saying that some people are harder to break than others. He then praises his underling for doing a good job with this task — such a good job in fact that Negan offers the man a “blast from the past from you know who” and that it’s ok with him as long as “she’s” ok with it. Looks like my assumption was right! He clearly is talking about Sherry, and this is clearly a test of Dwight’s loyalty to him. Negan doesn’t stop there; he asks if Dwight’s penis still works, hinting at the time when Eugene chomped down on Dwight’s penis (over the pants) in order to escape. Dwight wisely declines the offer, but Negan acts like it’s a slight. Dwight recovers from this by saying that he hasn’t “earned” any rewards yet. Their conversation gets interrupted by a message to Negan on the walkie talkie about a break out. Negan says he wants his “shit back,” but that what Dwight is doing is “grunt work”; he can get Fat Joey to do it, but Dwight says he likes to do it. “Good boy,” Negan tells him, once again, driving it home that Dwight is his bitch. We then see Dwight drive off on a motorcycle to bring back the runaway.

Time for “Easy Street” again, but now, it’s Fat Joey coming to Daryl’s cell to bring the dog food sandwich, which Daryl grabs and eats. At this point in his seclusion, he’s still taking what he can get. When Joey leaves, he doesn’t lock the door. An obvious trap, that somehow Daryl falls for. Daryl makes his way through the halls, and three men are following behind.

Meanwhile, Dwight is out on the road looking for Gordon, who’s run away from The Sanctuary. Out of nowhere, a walker falls down on him from the overpass above and nearly kills him. Other walkers then attack him. He’s hurt, but alive.

Back to Daryl: Sherry finds him in the hall and warns him to go back while he can, like she did. “Whatever he’s done to you, there’s more. THere’s always more. You won’t get away. And when you’re back, it will be worse.” This was likely one last chance for Daryl to join Negan willingly, but he refuses and continues outside, where he goes to steal a motorcycle. But, a bunch of men surround him, and then Negan comes in whistling. “Are we pissing our pants yet?” Negan asks.

Surrounded by his men, Negan asks a few of them, “Who are you?” They each reply, “Negan.” (We saw that before with the Saviors in a Season 6 episode.) “You see that, I’m everywhere,” Negan tells Daryl, explaining that this was his chance to show that he knows the deal, but he failed. He then gives Daryl three options: Wind up outside on the spike with the yard walkers; work for points, which will make him wish he was dead; or work for Negan and live like a King (which is how we saw Dwight seemingly living). But Daryl still isn’t talking, so Negan swings his barbed-wire bat Lucille at Daryl’s head as if he’s going to kill him, but Daryl DOES NOT FLINCH. “Wow, you don’t scare easy, I love that,” Negan says, but that Lucille finds this behavior to be disrespectful. He taunts his prisoner some more, before laughing as he walks away whistling. The other men surround Daryl and he gets a few punches in before they overcome him.

Intercut with Daryl’s beating and his subsequent return to his dark cell, is Dwight rescuing Gordon on the road from a walker. Outside of Daryl’s cell, Sherry reminds him of their conversation after Tina died where she told him she was sorry, and he said she was going to be. “I am,” she says to him.

On the road, Gordon says he doesn’t want to go back, and doesn’t know why Dwight is doing this after everything Negan did to him and his wife. “She’s not my wife, not anymore,” Dwight says, stressing that there’s nowhere to go — everything belongs to Negan or it eventually will. Gordon would rather Dwight shoot him than make him go back. But Dwight says there’s no other way, and we know that he knows this firsthand. Gordon says there’s nothing back there for him now that his wife Maria is dead. He kneels and says “This is the last time I’m going to kneel.” Dwight and Gordon used to be friendly and you can see that Dwight doesn’t want to do this, but he has no choice. This is his life and his role in Negan’s world and he has to just live it. He demands Gordon get up and walk, and when he refuses, he threatens to harm the people back at The Sanctuary. Gordon gets up and starts walking, telling Dwight “Ok, you won.” Dwight then shoots Gordon in the back. Was this a mercy killing? Kind of, but not totally, as we’ll learn later.

When Dwight returns, he sees Sherry smoking in a stairwell. The tension is still there, and there still seems to be nothing between them. He asks for a cigarette, and she complies. “Is he good to you?” Dwight asks. Yeah. “That’s good,” he says, adding “I did the right thing. It was a helluva lot better than being dead. “Yeah,” she says, and he walks off. Wow. Everything they’ve done, they’d done to survive in Negan’s world, though neither seem at all happy.

Dwight then goes back to Daryl, with the sandwich and a song, but this time his prisoner won’t eat, even when he pushes it near his mouth. “Eat!” Dwight demands, which doesn’t work. Time for some guilt. “You got your friend killed,” he says, referring to how Daryl’s punching Negan got Glenn killed in the Season 7 premiere. He then explains that Daryl could be dead right now, but he’s lucky that Negan is taking a chance on him. Still nothing. So he throws the sandwich and a photo in the cell before leaving. The photo is like the ones he and Glenn saw at one of Negan’s compounds of people with their heads bashed in (seen in Episode 6.12). Daryl looks at the photo as a new song plays — Roy Orbison’s “Crying.” Daryl finally breaks down and starts crying out loud, which Dwight hears from outside. His work is done.

Later, Dwight returns to find puke on the cell floor. He brings Daryl to Negan’s quarters. Negan right away begins his taunting. He tells Daryl how Dwight originally wasn’t one of his crew, and retells the story about how Dwight, his “smoking hot wife” Sherry,” and her “smoking hot sister” Tina had run off after he asked Tina to marry him. Since Tina was on medication, which cost a lot of Negan Points, Negan thought he’d be an upstanding guy and marry her. But Tina said she’d think about it, and then they all ran off, and with the meds. (This was when Daryl had originally met them.) So, he had to send his men after them, but that Dwight eventually saw the light and returned to ask for forgiveness, which Negan gave — after Sherry agreed to marry him. So Dwight got to live, but did get an iron to his face, but now he’s on board with Negan and is one of his top guys. “We are totally cool,” Negan says of his relationship with Dwight — which is complete bullshit because he torments Dwight in a passive aggressive way every day. Negan thinks he can have this with Daryl, too. “It can all be yours,” Negan tells Daryl, “just answer one simple question — Who are you?”

Tension, suspense, long pause.

“Daryl,” Daryl answers.

Oh!!!!!!!!! We knew that was coming!

Negan says that’s cool, he made his choice, albeit, a “dumbass choice.”

Back in the cell, Dwight frustratingly tells Daryl that he’s going to either wind up in that room with Negan or out on the fence on a spike. Daryl says he knows why Dwight is doing this with Negan — he’s thinking of someone else (keeping Sherry safe). “That’s why I can’t,” Daryl tells him.

The episode ends out in the yard with Dwight, who seems aggravated and somewhat defeated. Over the fence, he watches as Walker Gordon with a bullet hole in his back growls at the fence in the undead corral, still Negan’s prisoner even in death. (How fucking sad!)

This episode brought things with Dwight full circle. When we first met him last season he refused to kneel. Now, not only is he bowing down to Negan, he’s given up his wife to his master. And, he is now the one trying to make Daryl kneel, too, because he doesn’t see any other way. In Negan’s world, there’s subservience and servitude even in death. And what is Daryl’s plan? He obviously took whatever escape route he could, even though it should have been obvious to him that it was a trap. And while we know he’s strong and doesn’t fear death, is he trying to get killed? Because what does he think the future holds for him? Does he think that, like always, Rick and his people will save him? Has he just given up on himself because he feels guilty over Glenn’s death? His best bet would be to kneel to Negan and earn his trust, and then betray him. It will take a very long time to do this, but at least he wouldn’t be in a dark cell eating dog food, getting beat on. We’ll just have to wait and see where he goes from here, but I can’t imagine Negan remaining patient with him for much longer.

Video

The Walking Dead: ‘The Cell’ Official Sneak Peek Ep. 703


Dwight watches workers reinforce the Sanctuary’s protective barrier.

The Walking Dead Ep. 703: ‘Choices’


Daryl is on Negan’s turf now.

The Walking Dead Ep. 703: ‘You Don’t Scare Easy’


Don’t miss the next episode of The Walking Dead, Sunday, November 6 at 9/8c.

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