The Walking Dead
November 6, 2016
Welcome to the Sanctuary! We have Who’s the Boss reruns, air hockey, whittling, and as long as you are one of Negan’s top men, you can cut the food lines and help yourself to all the purloined mustard and pickles you need for your egg sandwiches.
In return, you serve Negan. You kneel when he walks past, you keep track of the folks working for “points” and you make the occasional dog food sandwich for Negan’s prisoners, like naked Daryl, for example.
All of tumblr upon seeing Naked Daryl:
So Naked Daryl wakes up in his cell to the world’s most irritatingly upbeat song: “Easy Street” by The Collapsable Hearts Club. WARNING: Do not play if you do not want to be driven slowly mad:
Dwight hands Naked Daryl a sandwich, shuts the door, locks it. The scene is repeated: “East Street;” door opens; sandwich; door shuts; locked — but this time, Daryl is given clothes: a baggy sweat suit with a giant letter “A” spray-painted on the shirt.
Dwight then leads Daryl out of the cell to go see Dr. Carson, who is NOT the same Dr. Carson from the Hilltop, friend of Jesus.
But is somehow a different Dr. Carson? Who is maybe the brother of the other Dr. Carson? I need more answers about all of these Dr. Carsons.
ANYWAY, when Dwight and Daryl arrive at Dr. Caron’s clinic, Dr. Carson is busy examining Sherry, one of the women Dwight was with when Daryl met them in the woods. She tells Dwight that the pregnancy test conspicuously laying on the table is negative, before realizing that she recognizes Daryl. Sherry urges Daryl to just do “whatever they say” before Dwight orders her to stop talking to him. Dr. Carson then looks at Daryl’s shoulder wound and is like, “Yeah, you’re fine.”
On the way back to the cell, Dwight leads him out to the yard to show him the Sanctuary’s fence line where workers attach walkers as their security system. Dwight explains that Daryl has a choice: he can be like him, or he can be like the poor schmos out on the fence trying to not get their fingers bitten off by zombies.
When Dwight returns Daryl to his cell, Daryl snarls that he “ain’t never gonna kneel,” and Dwight’s all, “LOL OK SURE.”
Dwight checks in with Negan who assures him that some people are harder to break than others, but that Daryl will come around. Negan then offers up one of his wives to Dwight as a reward for his good work, but when Dwight declines, Negan wonders if it is because his penis was chomped by Dr. Mullet that one time.
Dwight claims that his penis is just fine, thanks for the concern. A call comes in alerting Negan that a worker has made a break for it and Dwight, anxious to not be talking about his chomped penis any more, offers to collect him.
Dwight heads out on the freeway, and at one point is nearly taken out by a walker that falls onto his head from an overpass, thereby fulfilling the show’s walker fight requirement.
Dwight eventually finds the escapee, Gordon, wandering down the road, and tackles him. Gordon is all, “Dude, we used to be bros, just let me go… after everything he did to you and your wife, you’re just going to keep working for him?” Dwight threatens to kill Gordon if he doesn’t start walking back to the Sanctuary, and Gordon is all, “YES, PLEASE, DO IT, KILL ME ALREADY.” Realizing that threatening to kill a suicidal man doesn’t give him much leverage, Dwight threatens to 1. put Gordon’s friends back at the Sanctuary on fence duty 2. make them eat shit sandwiches and 3. dig up Gordon’s wife’s body and feed it to the walkers. This convinces Gordon to start walking again, but Dwight suddenly has a change of heart and shoots the man in the back. Yay? I guess?
Back at the Sanctuary, a gentleman named Fat Tony is on Daryl duty while Dwight is on Mission: Gordon. The routine commences: “Easy Street”; door opens; dog food sandwich; door closes … but this time, the lock does not click into place. Daryl waits a beat and then slips out of his cell.
As he creeps down the hall, he’s stopped by Sherry who urges him to just go back to his cell and cooperate. Instead, he sneaks outside.
There, he finds a bunch of motorcycles ripe for the taking.
But before he can leave, he is suddenly surrounded by a bunch of Saviors and the big man himself. BECAUSE OBVIOUSLY IT WAS ALL A TRAP.
Waving Lucille around, Negan asks each of the Saviors who they are, and each reply “Negan.” Negan then explains that Daryl has three options:
- Die and work on the fence as a walker
- Work for points and wish to be dead
- Work for Negan and live like a king
Negan then swings Lucille towards Daryl’s face, but Daryl is Daryl and Daryl does not flinch. Negan, charmed by this, has his Saviors beat the crap out of Daryl rather than bash his skull in himself.
Back in his cell, Daryl is visited through the door by Sherry who whispers an apology. “I told you I was sorry, and you said, ‘you’re gonna be.’ I am.”
🙁 🙁 🙁
Later, Dwight and Sherry have a smoke break in a stairwell where he asks her if “he” is good to her. She reassures him that he is, and they agree that they did the right thing, because hey! sure she’s being raped by a murderous lunatic, but at least they’re still alive!
Dwight delivers another sandwich to Daryl who gets all sassy and throws it to the ground rather than eat it. Dwight reminds Daryl that he is responsible for his friend being killed, before taping to the wall that Polaroid of Glenn’s headless body. And then, just to make sure Daryl really gets the point, Dwight plays Roy Orbison’s “Crying.” Daryl obliges.
When Dwight later checks in on Daryl, he finds that Daryl has been vomiting and looks like hell — more so than his usual greasy, unwashed looks-like-hell self. Dwight takes him to visit Negan who offers Daryl a glass of water and a whole lot of exposition.
SO. Remember when we met Dwight and Sherry, they were with another woman, Tina, who was diabetic? It turns out that Tina was Sherry’s sister and Negan offered to marry her to help offset the cost of her expensive medication. Instead, Dwight, Tina and Sherry ran for the hills. Daryl obviously knows how that ended: Tina dead, Daryl stripped of his bike and crossbow, Dwight and Sherry going back to Negan.
However, Negan is not the kind of guy to let that sort of disrespect stand and he was prepared to Lucille the hell out of Dwight’s skull. But Sherry stepped up and offered to marry Negan if he would spare her husband’s life, and he took her up on it. It was still not quite enough punishment, though, so Dwight also took a hot iron to the face, hence all that nasty scarring.
But now Negan and DWight are totally cool with one another and Dwight’s one of Negan’s top guys! And Daryl can be too! All Daryl has to do is answer one question: Who is he? And Daryl’s like, “Daryl. Duh, mofo.”
Dwight returns Daryl to his cell, and yells at him for being a dumbass, but Daryl replies that he understands Dwight’s choice: he was doing it for someone else. And that’s exactly why Daryl can’t do it.
Dwight then goes outside angrily throws his beer bottle at the fence where the newest walker, Gordon, is secured.
Buhh.. wait … how’d Dwight get Zombie Gordon back to the Sanctuary by himself?
This episode had four purposes:
- The non-breaking of Daryl. While it may seem like this episode was about the Saviors’ torture of Daryl, the dark process through which Negan breaks his most stubborn prisoners to turn them into loyal followers, in reality it is about how devastated Daryl is by his role in Glenn’s death that there is nothing the Saviors or Negan can actually do that will hurt him more than the guilt he is dealing with already. While Daryl certainly still has his survival instincts as evidenced by his escape attempt, he’s never going to bend a knee just to spare his own life. Negan clearly recognizes that Daryl would make an invaluable soldier and wants him on his team, but, somewhat ironically, he made that virtually impossible when he killed Glenn to punish Daryl.
- To show us the structure of the society at Sanctuary. Because there were all of about 20 words spoken in this entire episode, it was kind of hard to follow, exactly, but I think the way Sanctuary works is that there is the leader, Negan, who is all-powerful. Beneath him are his soldiers, men like Dwight and Simon, who are allowed to carry weapons and have freedom of movement and help themselves to pretty much anything they want. We don’t know much about Negan’s wives, but they presumably have some level of freedom and benefits above those women to whom he is not married. Beneath the soldiers are the people who “work for points,” enjoying the safety of the Sanctuary, but without the perks or freedom, and who have to scavenge to earn their place there. And then there are the folks working the fence who appear to be people being punished, either prisoners or people working for points.
- The redemption of Dwight. Having stolen all of Daryl’s shit, having killed one of Daryl’s friends with Daryl’s own crossbow and after threatening to kill Daryl himself, Dwight has not exactly made himself a fan favorite. However, here we learn Dwight was making the only choices he could so as to survive and prove himself a loyal soldier to Negan. As we see in this episode, Dwight’s been completely emasculated by Negan. What he has been through both physically and psychologically would be shattering for most people. But despite that, he has not been entirely stripped of his empathy. Dwight gives Gordon the mercy killing he begs for, knowing first hand that living under Negan’s thumb is no kind of life at all; and he does attempt to help Daryl, trying to convince him to submit to Negan so as to save himself. However, what is interesting is that between Gordon not wanting to return, even at the cost of his life, and Daryl refusing to kneel to Negan, Dwight seems to be realizing that he might have other choices. Yes, he has egg sandwiches and Who’s the Boss reruns, but at what cost? Comic spoilers: Dwight is the key to Rick defeating Negan in the comics. Tired of being humiliated by Negan, Dwight secretly approaches Rick to suggest that he and Ezekiel attack the Sanctuary outright, and he will attack from within, taking out Negan’s top men and even Negan himself. Once war breaks out between Alexandria and the Sanctuary, Dwight betrays Negan and helps Rick. And once Rick takes Negan prisoner, Dwight becomes the leader of the Saviors.
- To get “Easy Street” — a song you had never heard in your life before Sunday night — stuck in your head forever.
Finally, did you catch that giant letter “A” on Daryl’s sweatshirt? We can add it to a long, still unexplained list of letter As on The Walking Dead that seem to follow Team Rick around.
We first saw the A on the train car Team Rick was held in during their brief visit to Terminus:
After blowing Terminus up real good, Team Rick took refuge in Reverend Worthless’ church. However, some of the Terminus survivors followed them, and painted a giant “A” on the side of the church as a taunt:
Once in Alexandria, Sam put an “A” on Rick and Jessie’s hands:
And Carol spots a letter “A” on the stair banister in Alexandria:
And now we have Daryl’s “A” sweatshirt:
Now, there was an obvious connection between the train car and the “A” on the side of the church, and it could be argued that the “A”s on Rick and Jessie’s hands and the bannister were scrawled by Sam, representing “Alexandria.” But now we have this fifth use of “A” unrelated to the others. There is some talk about the “A” representing the “Scarlett Letter,” but except in the case of Rick and Jessie’s hands, I think this is stretching.
My guess is that the “A” is the writers’ creation, meant to symbolize the group as a whole. Team Rick is Team A, if you will. The “A” train car was where the group reconvened after being separated in the prison war; the “A” on Rick and Jessie’s hands represent Team Rick becoming a part of Alexandria; Carol’s disquiet upon seeing the “A” on the bannister foreshadowed her own discomfort with being a part of the group; and now Daryl is wearing this giant “A” on his chest, meant to represent the Saviors’ attempt to strip Daryl of his identity, but ultimately symbolizing his resistance to join Negan’s group. TEAM A FOREVER.
The Walking Dead airs on AMC on Sundays at 8/9 p.m.