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Thursday, November 10, 2016
The Walking Dead, Season Seven, Episode Three: The Cell
Last week, we got to see what's going on in the Kingdom and Ezekiel's minor rebellions against Negan. This week, we head into the Saviours compound to see what happened with Darryl since being taken captive. The writers clearly began depending upon dissonance to help hold this episode together. The Cell begins with Dwight watching Who's The Boss. Dwight didn't just happen to be watching an eighties sitcom, the audience was meant to ask the question as it relates to the Saviours. The answer of course is Negan, as though we could forget it after watching Negan's brutal murder of Abraham and our beloved Glenn.
We watch as Dwight moves throughout the Saviours compound taking food stuffs from people in order to make a sandwich. He eats his fill and then makes a dog food sandwich for Darryl, who's being kept naked in a dark closet. “Easy Street” by The Collapsible Hearts Club, (a song which I came to loathe in this episode) plays in the background. It's clear that the music is a form of torture for Darryl. You see, The Cell is all about Dwight's attempt to break Darryl for Negan. The next time we see Dwight, he's carrying Darryl's crossbow and he takes Darryl for a checkup. In Carson's office, Dwight is shocked to see Sherry and a pregnancy test. Sherry is quick to inform Dwight that the test is negative. Sherry, recognizes Darryl and tries to talk to him but is stopped by Dwight and told to leave. Carson tells Darryl that things could get easier for him if he would just submit.
After the all clear from Carson, Dwight and Darryl leave the office but they don't get far because they run into Negan and are forced to kneel. This is when Darryl catches sight of a very cozy living area, complete with a man chair and a television. Dwight then takes Darryl back to his cell and advises him to simply submit, pointing out that he never thought he would take the knee but eventually did.
Negan is always playing games. I don't think for one minute, Dwight's meeting with Sherry in Carson's office was accidental. Negan meets with Dwight and offers to reward him for all of the good work that he has done breaking Darryl by offering him a chance to have sex with his wife. This is not actually a reward but yet another test from Negan to ensure that he still has Dwight's loyalty. Dwight turns the offer done, prompting Negan to ask if his penis is still functioning. This question isn't asked out of a sense of concern for Dwight but yet another attempt on the part of Negan to emasculate Dwight and remind him exactly who is the boss. They're then notified that a member of the Sanctuary has escaped with supplies and Dwight is quick to volunteer to go after them, even though Negan points out that this is grunt work. Dwight claims that he likes doing this.
The next day, we see Dwight leave on Darryl's motorcycle to hunt down the escaped person. A long the way he has a few run ins with walkers and manages to escape. Eventually, Dwight comes across the escaped Saviour fighting off a walker.
Back at the Sanctuary, because of Dwight's absence, Darryl is fed by someone else who quite obviously does not lock the door. It's patently clear to the audience that this is a trap but Darryl falls for the bait and leaves anyway. As he tries to sneak out, Darryl runs into Sherry, who advises that Darryl returns to his cell because if he gets caught, things can get worse. Sure enough, the moment Darryl manages to get outside, he finds himself quickly surrounded by Negan and his men. Even after everything Darryl has been thorough, he refuses to submit which earns him a beating from Negan's men. When Darryl returns to his cell, Sherry stands outside and recalls their time together in the woods last season. She remembers how Darryl warned her that she would be sorry.
Having captured the escaped Saviour, Dwight is marching him home at gunpoint. It turns out that Dwight and his captive have history. Before Negan, they used to be friends and so he's not afraid to bring up Sherry to Dwight and question why they are all being so loyal to Negan. This is when Dwight's captive makes it clear that he wants to die if Dwight refuses to simply let him go but Dwight does not immediately oblige him. Instead, Dwight threatens to kill everyone his captive loves and to dig up his wife's body and feed it to the crows. Resigned to a fate he cannot escape, the captive begins to walk towards the Sanctuary. This time it's Dwight who pauses. Dwight does as he was asked and fires his gun.
Back at the Sanctuary, Dwight meets up with Sherry and both of them lie about how good Negan is treating them and how happy they are about the decisions they've made. That's some pretty strong denial.
Dwight then heads to check on Darryl, stunned for some reason that Negan has taken a shine to Darryl. Dwight then taunts Darryl about being responsible for Glenn's death. With that, there goes any sympathy I had for Dwight. That doesn't return when Dwight admits his role in Tina's death. Dwight tosses a Polaroid to Darryl which I suspect might be Glenn's smashed in head. Dwight leaves and finally changes the music. This time Dwight plays Roy Orbison's Crying, and waits by the door until he hears Darryl breakdown in tears.
It's time for Darryl to meet with Negan again. Negan offers Darryl a glass of water and then orders Dwight to give Darryl a straw because of how swollen Darryl's mouth is from the last beating. Yes, Negan is in full on magnanimous mode and it's horrible. Negan talks about how much better his relationship with Dwight is in now that Dwight's super hot wife Sherry offered herself up to him after her super hot sister Tina died. Sherry offered herself to Negan to save Dwight's life but feeling that wasn't enough of a sacrifice, Negan ironed Dwight's face as well. All this happened because Dwight, Tina and Sherry tried to leave and Tina tried to secure the insulin she needed to survive.
Still doing his generous leader routine, Negan tells Darryl that he can be just like Dwight and have a life of comfort. Darryl only has to answer one question,"who are you?" Darryl remains silent so Negan asks again and this time Darryl responds with his name. Dwight tries to intervene but Negan makes it clear that Darryl has made his choice. Darryl is taken back to his closet and he tells Dwight that he understands why he did what he did. Darryl suggests that Dwight, "took it" because he was thinking of someone else and that is exactly why he cannot. This scene right here highlights the difference between the two men but anyone given enough time can be broken.