Previously on The Walking Dead: Carol recovered from her injuries and met King Ezekiel and his pet tiger, Shiva. Her response?
THE STORY SO FAR
Daryl is still being held captive by Negan and the Saviors (or Saviours if you want to get t British about it) as they do everything possible to get him to his breaking point and make him swear his allegiance to them. Meanwhile, Dwight takes a break from trying to convince Daryl to get with the program in order to go after Gordon, who steals some supplies, escapes from the Sanctuary, and forces Dwight to wonder why he has given his life and loyalty to Negan in the first place. Especially when he has done more to make things worse as opposed to making things better.
WHAT WORKED IN THIS EPISODE: Judging from many of the responses on Twitter last night, very few people were happy to see Daryl in such a dark and vulnerable position. It didn’t help that Norman Reedus did exemplary work in showing us so many of the tolls that his hellish imprisonment has taken on him, and how he feels he deserves so many of them. From being fed dog-food sandwiches to being subjected to loud and overly peppy music all day and every day, to being forced to look at a Polaroid of Glenn’s pulverized body (which Daryl feels is his fault and why he thinks he deserves what’s happening to him, hence why he finally broke down and burst into tears upon seeing it), it was understandable to think that Daryl would give Negan what he wanted and identify himself as ‘Negan’ when asked, thereby guaranteeing an end to his punishment. And yet, when Daryl says his own name in response, you couldn’t help but smile. Even if doing so meant that — as Sherry told him during his escape attempt — things would only continue to get worse.
After everything that the Saviors/Saviours have put Rick and company through, you’d think that feeling some semblance of empathy for one of them would be inconceivable (sorry for putting Wallace Shawn’s voice in your head just now), but Austin Amelio’s performance as Dwight managed to help make the impossible possible. Hearing Negan gleefully tell Daryl why Dwight became a Savior in the first place and everything that happened to him, Sherry, and Sherry’s super-hot (Negan’s words, not mine) sister to make Dwight see the error of his ways and why Sherry promised herself to Negan and became his wife was difficult to watch. We saw Dwight suppress whatever feelings of contempt he had throughout the entire scene. Neither Dwight nor Sherry are in ideal positions that they want to be in (Dwight may get to reign in Hell rather than serve in Heaven by being able to eat all the sandwiches and watch all the VHS tapes of Who’s The Boss that he wants…but he still serves and he still remains under Negan’s thumb, and Sherry has to prove her loyalty by pledging herself to a man who has made it clear that he can and will kill her and her husband if he wants to) in order to but all they can do is look out for each other as they do what they have to for their survival. Even when Gordon, much like the Five Wives did to Nux in Mad Max: Fury Road, forced Dwight to question who it is that he’s sworn loyalty to and why he even deserves it, especially when it’s men like Negan who helped kill the world and continue to do so.
And Jeffrey Dean Morgan… (swoons when thinking about that lovely smile of his)
…sorry about that. Let me focus on the task at hand.
It’s clear with every second of screen time that JDM is enjoying the hell out of playing Negan and conveying all of the intelligence and malevolence that Negan is known and feared for with every word and deed. Teasing Dwight about letting him sleep with Sherry one more time as a reward for a job well done in his attempts to break Daryl, explaining how Dwight became a Savior in the first place, threatening Daryl with all of the things that can and will happen to him if he doesn’t join the Saviors/Saviours, (even he can’t help but be impressed at Daryl’s refusal to flinch as Lucille is made to look as if it will swing at his head), and when his cheerful demeanor is put on PAUSE when Daryl makes it clear once and for all that he will not kneel to him … Negan is more and more becoming a villain we love to hate and one whose comeuppance will make us set off many a reggae air-horn in celebration (I’ll most likely use the same reggae air-horns that I set off during the Breaking Bad finale when Jesse finally choked Todd’s ass out), and I’m looking forward to seeing what JDM does next.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK IN THIS EPISODE: Not being able to see how Rick and company are holding up and recovering after the deaths of Abraham and Glenn, but with all of the cross-cutting between storylines and locations, it’s to be expected, and it’s a minor complaint at that.
That damn song “Easy Street” being stuck in my head all day long. It’s so undeniably catchy and I can’t take it.
TO SUM IT ALL UP: A well-made episode that did an impressive job in showing us Daryl’s life in captivity, (and from the scenes we got with Sherry, we definitely got the impression that her life isn’t any better) Dwight showing that being a Savior isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be, and Negan showing the depths of his reign over the Sanctuary while also reminding everyone that whether you like being a Savior or not, he will find ways to make your life a nightmare regardless.
This episode of The Walking Dead was brought to you by an equally cheerful song that is damn near impossible to get out of your head once you begin to hear it.
And also brought to you by…well, if I have to deal with this song being stuck in my head, so do you. Happy listening, everyone!