We are only three episodes in to season seven of The Walking Dead, and those episodes have packed more heartache than we’ve seen in some whole-season arcs of this show. If you haven’t seen the most recent episode of The Walking Dead, “The Cell”, then read on with care. Spoilers ahead!
Negan has brought a huge cloud of destruction and sadness onto the show. The season premiere brought us some truly intense emotions as we watched him not only utterly break Rick, a man who seemed largely unflapppable prior to that moment, but it also featured the brutal murders of Abraham Ford and the one character who embodied hope, Glenn Rhee. Even though he wasn’t featured in the second episode of the season, Negan’s brutal hand was seen at The Kingdom. His presence is such a looming one on the show that even a self-created former actor/zookeeper turned king with a rehabilitated tiger couldn’t stop us from shuddering at the appearance of some of Negan’s Saviors.
This week we saw Negan go after one of the fandom’s faves: Daryl Dixon. Poor Daryl went through a lot in this episode as Negan worked to strategically break Daryl enough to get our hero to fight for him. The entire episode had us worried and hurting for Daryl, but there were five things that specifically made our hearts break and wonder what could possibly be next for Mr. Dixon.
5. Easy Street
OH MY WORD, I JUST CANNOT WITH THIS SONG ANYMORE. Dwight played it on repeat while Daryl was in his cell, and while we didn’t hear it as frequently, loudly, or in the same situation as Daryl, we all were ready to hear the end of that song. “Easy Street” didn’t just break our hearts; it broke us, too. It wasn’t only annoying, but it also proved to be some pretty effective mental torture for Daryl, especially trying to decipher the meaning behind the song choice.
But seriously, I wasn’t kidding when I said it drove us all crazy, too. I think the entire fandom is going to be having visceral reactions to that song for years to come… once we get it out of our heads, that is.
4. Brutal Solitary Confinement
Daryl’s living situation inside Negan’s Sanctuary was nothing short of horrific. Not only was the musical accompaniment to his imprisonment awful, but the conditions themselves were also inhumane. He was kept alone in a windowless, stone cell, and was only fed dog food sandwiches. For quite a while, he was kept in the cell completely naked, and once he was given an old sweat suit to wear, he still didn’t get socks or shoes. It was brutal to see Daryl so helpless and broken. Daryl isn’t super chatty normally, but he hardly spoke at all this episode–though his body language conveyed how broken he felt. Seeing him like that was almost harder than seeing Negan break Rick. I mean, you know things are bad when the Daryl fangirls are sad to see Daryl naked onscreen.
3. Beaten by Saviors
Despite his horrific living conditions, Daryl proved that he had mettle far beyond expectations. While many would have broken completely, Daryl proved he was made of stronger stuff, not even flinching when Negan lunged at him with Lucille. While Negan ultimately chose to not take Lucille to Daryl’s brains after a failed escape attempt, he did let his men circle around Daryl and beat him mercilessly.
2. Freaking Dwight!
We got to meet Dwight a bit better this episode, got a glimpse into his family’s backstory with Negan, and learned the history behind the burns on his face. While we’re all trying to figure out if Dwight is more of a good guy trapped by a bad man, a good guy turned bad, or somewhere in between; he certainly took his role as Daryl’s guard and mental torturer seriously. Dwight wore Daryl’s iconic vest the entire episode, making sure Daryl saw it, he used Daryl’s crossbow in front of him (and even made a comment about beginning to get the hang of shooting it), and even stole and broke Daryl’s bike. While Daryl didn’t see Dwight on the bike, it’s pretty easy to see that Dwight is trying to try Daryl’s identity on for size while Daryl is literally being stripped of his. Seeing Dwight parade around in Daryl’s vest while Daryl shivered, naked in his cell was nothing short of heartbreaking.
1. The Picture
Daryl proved himself to be a tough one to break. When Dwight finally got tired of waiting for Daryl to dissolve, Dwight brought out the big guns, locking Daryl in his cell with the Polaroid of Glenn’s broken body. Not only did Dwight force Daryl to look at his friend’s dead body, but he also made sure to echo the accusation that had to be reverberating through Daryl’s mind: he is ultimately to blame for Glenn’s death. Dwight then played Roy Orbison’s “Crying” in the cell, and let Daryl sit with his guilt. The entire thing made Daryl throw up and brought the reappearance of the elusive but utterly gut-wrenching Daryl Tears, essentially solidifying Dwight’s place on every Daryl fan’s bad side. It was truly the last straw.
Ultimately, this entire experience was meant to break Daryl, for him to pledge fealty to Negan. Of course, Daryl didn’t, but it left us wondering what’s next. Will Daryl be stuck working for points under Negan? Will he prove to be too defiant and be killed by Negan? Will Dwight take pity on Daryl and help him escape? Or will Carol ride in and save the day? We’ll have to watch to find out. All I know is, I can’t take another big death so close to losing Glenn and Abraham.
What do you think is next for Daryl? Do you think he’ll die, survive, or join Negan’s side? Share your theories in the comments!
Image credits: AMC