In ‘The Walking Dead’ recap, Daryl is subjected to life in the Sanctuary as Dwight and Negan attempt to break him…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
Admit it — you’re going to have that ‘Easy Street’ song stuck in your head for the next three days.
That’s the song Daryl Dixon heard on repeat day after day after day while munching down his dog food sandwich in a cell with four walls, a cold hard floor and not much else to console him as Dwight and the other Saviors routinely tortured him in an attempt to break him.
Everyone has been wondering what Negan’s plans would be for Daryl after taking him from the rest of the group in Alexandria and bringing him back to the Sanctuary.
Ever since they arrived back home after introducing Rick Grimes and his survivors to Lucille’s wrath, Daryl has been living in a cell without sleep or any real food. Negan promised to send Rick back pieces of Daryl if he tried to revolt, but it seems the barbed-wire baseball bat wielding leader has other plans for the last surviving Dixon brother assuming he’ll fall in line.
Of course we all know Daryl isn’t going to break easy, but if there’s one thing we’ve learned about Negan — he doesn’t give up until he gets what he wants or someone ends up dead.
In this case, that means Daryl is living on borrowed time…and the clock is ticking.
With that said, let’s recap the latest episode of ‘The Walking Dead’ titled ‘The Cell’…
This week’s episode opens with a look at Dwight making his rounds in the Sanctuary, stealing items from all over the place to eventually dive into a delicious looking egg sandwich. It’s Dwight’s smallest pleasures because in reality, he’s been living in his own hell ever since returning to Negan and begging for his forgiveness.
Now Dwight has been tasked with taking care of Daryl after they brought him back with the group following the ambush and Rick and the other survivors that ended with Abraham and Glenn being bashed to death. Each day, Dwight makes Daryl a sandwich combining fresh sliced bread with a big scoop of dog food. Each day, Daryl gobbles it up like it’s the most delicious sandwich he’s ever tasted.
Just when it appears that Daryl will be dozing off to sleep, that cursed ‘Easy Street’ song pops on to wake him back up again. And then they do it all over the next day.
Until Dwight finally tosses Daryl some clothing marked with the letter ‘A’ — a reoccurring theme in ‘The Walking Dead’ if you remember Terminus — and takes him outside to the fenced in area where the Sanctuary has trapped dozens upon dozens of walkers. Dwight explains to Daryl that he’s only got a few choices in this place — he can learn to follow, he can be made to follow or he can end up behind that fence as another faceless walker.
The Road Back to Negan
When we first met Dwight, Sherry and Tina a season ago, they were on the run from somebody that was so frightening, it had them willing to turn on Daryl when he offered them help. Daryl met them on the road during a time when he felt like all lives mattered and after a brief interaction, he believed they were worthy of entrance into Alexandria.
Tina was ultimately killed but rather than accept Daryl’s invitation, Dwight turned on him, stole his motorcycle and crossbow before leaving in a cloud of dust. Over time, Dwight realized that there was no escaping the long reach of the man he feared so much so he returned home in hopes that he could beg for forgiveness to spare his life.
The man he was begging was none other than Negan.
And Negan has forgiveness in his heart, but Lucille on the other hand isn’t nearly as willing to bend the rules so Dwight had to pay. What ultimately happened was Dwight had half his face burned off with an iron and since Negan was trying to marry Sherry’s sister Tina and she was dead, he needed a new bride. So Sherry offered to marry Negan in order to save Dwight’s life.
Now Negan lives in wedded bliss with Sherry while Dwight serves at his right hand without question while watching as the woman he loves is left to service a man he undoubtedly hates with every fiber of his being. That’s the same man he’ll never turn against because the consequences would be worse than death.
When Dwight runs into Sherry now — even as she takes a pregnancy test — he can only pretend like none of this bothers him. Their conversations, albeit rather brief, are robotic and without any real connection. Dwight has lost Sherry forever or at least in his own mind he has to believe she’s gone because any other scenario is just too painful to think about.
After several days spent whipping Daryl into shape, Negan offers Dwight a reward — a night with his ex-wife or any of the other women in town — but he turns it down. Dwight doesn’t believe he’s earned the right because Daryl still isn’t broken. In fact, Dwight is probably seething under the surface hearing Negan offer him a night with his own wife, but the revolting would only end with both of them being brutally mutilated and dead.
When another deserter goes missing, Dwight volunteers to retrieve him despite this job being lower than his rank in Negan’s army. It’s clear when Dwight leaves the compound, there’s a voice screaming inside his head to run away and never come back. It’s almost like Dwight is ready to die but he just can’t leave Sherry behind.
On the road, Dwight finally tracks down the deserter after nearly being bitten by a group of hungry walkers and he tells the man that it’s time to come home. The man can’t take living under Negan’s thumb any longer and he’d rather die than go back. Dwight then tells him that he will kill anyone and everyone the man has ever known or loved or even spoken to if he doesn’t get moving. The man finally complies but rather than walk back together, Dwight raises his gun and puts a bullet in him.
In that moment it felt like perhaps this was Dwight’s only show of rebellion — putting a deserter out of his misery rather than forcing him to go back to Negan. Instead we later learn that Dwight actually shot the man in the back and forced him to return as a walker behind the fenced in area at the Sanctuary. Dwight’s pity only goes so far because his fear of Negan is much, much greater.
I Am Negan
Throughout the course of Daryl’s stay at the Sanctuary, the torture doesn’t vary much from day to day but after receiving his dog food sandwich from a guard other than Dwight, he notices that the door doesn’t get locked behind him. Daryl takes advantage of the situation and quickly runs out the door and starts looking for a way to escape.
He runs into Sherry, who tries to tell him to go back to the cell and stay there because the alternative if he’s caught is much worse. Daryl refuses to listen and ends up in the courtyard trying to start a motorcycle when the Saviors surround him and Negan finally appears.
Negan goes around the circle of guards pointing Lucille at each one of them and asks their name. Without blinking each answers back ‘I am Negan’. The point of the exercise is to prove to Daryl that he is everywhere and always watching.
Negan also explains that there’s only three ways Daryl gets out of that cell — he can serve the way Dwight ultimately did and his life will be pretty good. He can work like a slave and earn points and that’s not much fun at all. The third option is ending up in the walker field behind that fence. There is no fourth door to open.
Thanks to Daryl trying to escape, Negan then offers him up to the other guards who beat him mercilessly until he is finally thrown back in his cell.
Later, Dwight comes to visit him again except this time Daryl is on a hunger strike, refusing to eat or do much of anything else. Dwight taunts him by reminding Daryl that if not for the punch he landed on Negan, his buddy Glenn would still be alive. He then puts a Polaroid on the wall of Glenn’s remains, which only serves to further torture Daryl as he breaks down in tears because he truly believes that he’s the reason his friend is dead.
Finally, Dwight brings Daryl to see Negan, who lays out another offer to the captured survivor. After explaining what he did to get Dwight in line, he then tells Daryl that his life can be a whole lot better starting now if he’s just willing to answer one simple question. Who are you? Obviously the answer he wants back is ‘I am Negan’ but instead he says ‘Daryl’ and it’s right back into the cell with him.
It’s there where Daryl and Dwight finally discover a middle ground of sorts. Daryl says that he understands why Dwight is doing what he’s doing — because he wanted to protect someone he loved. That’s the same reason why Daryl says he refuses to bend the knee. Because of the people he loves back in Alexandria and the memory of Glenn and Abraham — he could never be Negan’s servant.
Later that day after seeing Daryl resist in a way he never could, Dwight goes back outside and lays eyes on the man he shot in the back and returned to the Sanctuary after he tried to run away from Negan. Dwight sees how he couldn’t bring himself to kill the guy in a way that he’s still not under Negan’s thumb and he’s ashamed.
Dwight is a broken man and from the look of things, it’s going to be awfully hard to put him back together again.
“Crying” by Roy Orbison
“Town Called Malice” by The Jam
‘The Walking Dead’ returns next Sunday night at 9pm ET on AMC