By: Casey Johnston (@DarthHockey)
WARNING: There are spoilers ahead for the latest episode of The Walking Dead.
We finally found out what became of Daryl and it isn’t pretty. I knew he wasn’t going to die because at this point I think AMC will do everything it can to prolong Norman Reedus’ stay on the show. It doesn’t even matter what his story is, the character of Daryl Dixon is a cash cow for the network. I thought maybe we would find him bloody and beaten, but Negan has opted for a more psychological form of torture. Through this, we learned a little more about how the leader of the Saviors operates. At least some of the Saviors are people who were broken in the same way Negan is trying to break Daryl. They all have a choice: work on the line (that area with the walkers that we saw at the beginning and end of the episode), work for points (work to get in the good graces of Negan), or kneel and “be” Negan.
Deep down, Negan has to know this won’t work on Daryl. Even after seeing Abraham’s skull get caved in, and then seeing the same happen to Glenn, Daryl still hasn’t been broken. Granted, Negan hasn’t known Daryl nearly as long as the audience has, but when you’ve handled people the way Negan has handled them, you have to get a sense of who’s a good candidate to be on your side and who isn’t. We know Daryl will never kneel before Negan. It’s simply not going to happen. This is all an exercise in futility that gives us an excuse to see just how much pain and suffering Daryl can take.
For as much time as we spent with Daryl tonight, this was actually a Dwight episode. I don’t know about any of you, but I came away feeling quite a bit of sympathy for him. And that’s saying a lot because I went into this episode hating him almost as much as I hated Negan. We now know that Dwight is a reluctant participant in Negan’s twisted game. While I pictured him being a loyal Savior right down to the bone (yes, I know his role in the comic), he’s really only in it so his wife is safe from Negan. He’s working for points, and now we know why he told Daryl he can work for points but will wish he were dead. In reality, Dwight isn’t loyal to Negan at all. He’s just doing what he has to do to survive and to make sure he and his wife survives.
The Coming War
We’re a long way off from the war storyline, but we can already see battle lines being drawn. The Saviors are outnumbered, but none of the other groups, with the exception of Alexandria and the Hilltop, have formed an alliance. The Kingdom will soon come in contact with Rick through Morgan and a three-group coalition will be ready to take on the Saviors. This won’t end well for Negan. We saw in this episode that some of his own men would rather die than live under his reign. How many other men are in that same position? How many of them are only there because Negan has an unbreakable grasp on them through fear and intimidation? I’m guessing that when Rick, the Hilltop, and the Kingdom show up with guns and a tiger that Negan will end up standing alone. I know it’s coming, I just hope the writers take their time developing this.
Thanks for reading!