The Walking Dead: season 7 episode 3 review – The Cell
Another week, another bottle episode from The Walking Dead. Last week took viewers on a wild journey through The Kingdom, a somewhat welcome change of pace after the gruesome season premiere that took the lives of two beloved characters. I hope none of you have been too eager to see how Rick’s group is holding up, because this week’s episode focuses exclusively on Negan’s community…sort of. Most of the story is told through Daryl, who’s currently being held captive at The Saviors compound. Through him and Dwight we get a little insight as to how the faction operates. Below is our spoiler-heavy review.
After Daryl’s actions cost the group Glenn’s life in the season premiere, he was taken captive by The Saviors who keep him locked in a closet, feed him dog food sandwiches, and blare a super annoying track on a loop to prevent him from sleeping. This is all meant as a form of psychological torture to break him into submission and ultimately get him to join their group. All because Negan admires his courage, evidently. “He’s got guts — not a little bitch like someone I know. I like him. He’s mine now.” If you say so, Negan.
Much of this episode focuses on Dwight, who is serving as one of Negan’s henchman and in charge of getting Daryl to submit. We learn why he, his wife Sherry, and her sister Tina had fled the compound when they first encountered Daryl last season. The Saviors works on a points system, which necessitates members to earn their keep. Tina required medicine that was difficult to come by, and was unable to earn enough points to keep herself in supply. Negan then proposed that she marry him, which would place her in an elite status within the community and she would be given anything she needed without having to earn points. Finding this unfavorable, the trio stole the remaining supply of medicine and fled. After their entanglement with Daryl and Tina’s death, Dwight and Sherry returned to the group and asked for forgiveness. Dwight begged Negan not to kill Sherry, who in turn was going to be killed himself until Sherry offered to marry Negan in order to save him. While Negan agreed to this arrangement, it wasn’t enough of a punishment and he took an iron to half of Dwight’s face giving him the scars we see him with now. He somehow managed to get on board and become one of Negan’s top men, and essentially feels that their current situation is better than being dead. Sherry doesn’t seem to share this perspective, and regrets what they did to Daryl. In the couple of brief scenes she has with him, she is kind to him and discloses to him that he should do whatever they ask, because whatever is happening can always be worse. She’s getting more screen time and development than I’d expected and it will be interesting to see where they go with her character.
Bored yet? You might want to have some caffeine handy because this episode drags…and then drags some more. The content is marginally interesting, because who doesn’t want to learn more about Negan and his crew, am I right? But the pace is atrocious, and I found myself frequently checking to see how much of the episode remained. The answer was too much, every time. Unless you’re really into Daryl looking sweaty, this episode probably won’t be your favorite.
At one point Dwight goes after a rogue Savior who fled the compound. He catches up to the man and they seem to have had some degree of friendship, but despite this Dwight won’t allow him to leave and tells the man that he’ll kill or ruin the lives of everyone he ever spoke to at the compound if he doesn’t return. The man tells Dwight it’s okay if he kills him, but Dwight insists that he owes and needs to go back because he owes. The man reluctantly agrees, but Dwight eventually shoots him in the back. By the end of the episode we see the man chained to the fence as a walker. It’s unclear as to whether he shot the man out of pity as a way of freeing him, or out of resentment. This episode certainly added a bit of depth to Dwight’s character, however I still don’t find him to be very interesting or likeable. But then I never warmed up to him in the comics either, so maybe he’s just not my type of person.
Meanwhile the door to Daryl’s cell is intentionally left unlocked and he attempts an escape, but is led into a trap that results into Negan and his loyal followers taunting him. Negan lays down the law, and his men reveal their loyalty by stating “I’m Negan.” when he asks who they are. Despite their efforts to intimidate him, Daryl doesn’t show any sign of fear. Negan commends him for this, but then leaves him to receive a beatdown from his men and placed back into lockup. Dwight brings him another dog food sandwich accompanied by a polaroid of Glenn’s remains and Daryl breaks down. Thinking he’s close to caving and joining their group, Daryl is taken to Negan. After explaining how Dwight got his high rank, Negan tells Daryl he just has to answer one question and asks who he is. He doesn’t respond at first, but finally declares “Daryl”. Dwight starts to tell him that this is the only way, but Negan shuts him down saying that Daryl’s made his choice and he’s brought back to his cell for more torture sessions.
The highlight of the episode was Negan’s dialogue, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s delivery is always on point. His portrayal of Negan is both captivating and charismatic, even when the character is at his worst. It was entertaining to watch his followers bow whenever he passed and express their loyalty in cult-like fashion. Although I do hope they eventually offer a better explanation as to why they’re so devoted to him. As enthralling and fearsome as he is, he’s still just one man with a bat. I’m curious to see if how similarly he’ll be written to his comic counterpart and whether or net he lives by the same code.
There were a few compelling moments in this episode, but overall it was quite the snore fest. I’ve never been a fan of them doing bottle episodes almost exclusively, and really would have preferred to see how Rick’s group is holding up as opposed to a Daryl Dixon pity fest. I’m certainly not going to win any fans by saying this, but I sincerely hope that Daryl joins the Saviors. He’s been a pretty one dimensional character for quite some time now, and they really need to do something interesting and unpredictable with him.
Finally next week sees the Saviors heading to Alexandria to collect their supplies for the first time, and hopefully we’ll get some engaging character interactions.
Image credits: AMC, FOX TV