I’d never heard the song “Easy Street” by The Collapsible Hearts Club before last night, but that sound from Daryl’s brutal torture left me feeling his pain. The seemingly pleasant words “the world is but a treat when you’re on easy street” are still playing over and over again in my mind.
In the chaos of Glenn’s death and Rick’s helplessness, I’d almost forgotten everyone else got the chance to go home to Alexandria while Daryl was taken back to Negan’s camp, the Sanctuary, as a hostage. Maybe it just didn’t worry me much. Daryl can make it out of anything, right?
However, seeing Negan again wasn’t particularly pleasant. And Dwight isn’t my favorite character, either.
The episode largely followed the story of Dwight. First introduced in season 6 episode 6, Dwight was quickly an unlikeable character. Despite Daryl’s attempt to kindly introduce Dwight and his wife, Sherry, to the safety of Alexandria, Dwight steals Daryl’s iconic props: his motorcycle and crossbow, and runs off.
The next time Dwight was seen was in season 7, where he sported a new burn on his face and Daryl’s crossbow, which he used to shoot Denise straight through the eye. The more he showed up, the more I hated him. Only yesterday was it made clear who Dwight really was. Before, he was just a jerk; but now his cruelty had reason.
Negan staged a grand story of his and Dwight’s triumphant friendship. Once again, his demented agenda was wrapped in a crooked smile. He explained how he’d graciously let Dwight and Sherry live after they stole medicine from him — but only at the cost of Sherry leaving Dwight to be Negan’s wife.
So they both lived, but they’re both miserable. Dwight totes around the things he can steal with the power of the Saviors behind him, but he can’t steal back his wife, his dignity or his sanity. When he was faced with a friend who tried to escape Negan’s Sanctuary, he couldn’t bear to hear the truth about his cowardice.
“There’s one of him and all of us,” his friend pleaded, trying to incite an uprising against Negan. Instead, Dwight added to his list of spineless acts and shot his friend in the back.
Dwight is one man whose story can likely translate to many of the Saviors.
One by one, Negan pointed his bat at his henchmen, asking “who are you?” and they all responded “Negan.” It is obvious Negan has a strong power over them and it is all in his technique.
He tortures them mentally and physically, taking or killing everything they care about. When Negan knows they cannot handle any more pain, he gives them a choice that isn’t even a choice at all: be an extension of him and be clothed, washed and fed, or be themselves and die. When faced with death, there are a special few who would choose to remain themselves. Negan doesn’t want those people, anyway. They can’t be controlled.
Negan has created his own game in which he always wins. At this point it’s a cycle. He finds a way to make everyone else fold and then he cashes in. But Daryl has refused to fold. So what does that mean for him?
Though Daryl chose to be himself, I don’t think he’ll die any time soon. Negan seems especially determined to break Daryl’s spirit. Plus, there’s definitely something stirring between him and Sherry, who tried to secretly slip him advice on Negan several times.
Maybe the revolution will be from the inside.
With the cycle the show is going through, it looks like Daryl will be left in the dark of his cell as we focus on how Alexandria is holding up.
Featured Photo Credit: Feature photo courtesy of The Walking Dead on Facebook.
Taylor Roar is a freshman journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.