The Walking Dead, Season 7, episode 3
November 6, 2016
For me, episode three was almost as emotional to watch as the season premiere was. Before we’d even reached the first commercial break, I had turned to my husband and said, “I can understand why people have stopped watching.” Here’s why.
The episode starts with Dwight going about his business. He’s making a sandwich, giving us a little glimpse into how things are run.
While other people living with the Saviors have to stand in line and wait their turn, sometimes begging for a small piece of bread, Dwight jumps the line and takes an entire loaf. Then he takes pickles from someone. He takes lettuce. He takes mustard. He takes an egg. Others get nothing, while he takes what he wants.
It’s obvious Dwight is at the top of the food chain here, so you think everything must be good for him. Then he steps outside, all ready to eat his sandwich (which looked really good by the way), and he seems to lose his appetite when he looks out over a yard of zombies who are chained up and struggling to get free.
Like Dwight, I was really bothered by the yard of zombies. It might not seem like much to some people, but to me it was another example of just how little humanity lives in Negan and his top men. The zombies may have been around for over a year now, and the sight of them may have become almost normal, but they were still people at one time. They were fathers and sons and sisters and mothers, and it should bother a person to see them chained up the way they were. A person who can feel anything should be able to look at killing them as an act of mercy. I think of it the way Rick did, way back in the first season when he woke up to a crazy world that had fallen apart. After parting ways with Morgan the first time, Rick went back to find the half-eaten zombie he saw when he first left the hospital, and before he put a bullet in its head Rick said, “I’m sorry this happened to you.” To me, that’s a normal reaction.
That moment when Dwight loses his appetite is our first clue that he might not be as thrilled with his position in life as he first appeared to be. Every time we’ve run into him since he stole Daryl’s crossbow, he seemed loyal and pleased with his place at Negan’s side. He also seemed to have a personal vendetta against Daryl.
But it isn’t too long into episode three when we find out something is up with Dwight.
We run into the woman he was with before, who turns out to be his wife, and it seems they are no longer together. Even stranger, she’s with Negan now, and apparently trying to get pregnant (creepy alert). There’s even a moment when Negan tries to use her as a reward for a job well done, which he doesn’t seem to realize would only be adding insult to injury for Dwight. It’s a messed up situation where Dwight has been backed into a corner of loyalty, and it seems he isn’t the only one.
No one except a handful of Negan’s top mean looked happy to be with the Saviors. The people are there because they feel like they have no other choice, but they’re scared of Negan. They bow down when he walks into a room, which I felt was a bit ironic considering we’d just met a man the week before who actually calls himself a king, yet not a single one of his subjects bowed to him. Negan rules with fear. He thrives on it. He uses the zombies in the yard to lord his power over people. He carries Lucille with him everywhere he goes as a reminder of what can happen if you cross him.
Seeing what Daryl is going through in this episode… Wow. He’s being conditioned and tortured. Locked in a cell with nothing—not even clothes at first—and fed dog food sandwiches while overly happy music is pumped into his cell. They’re trying to break him, and as the viewer, it’s easy to think that Daryl is stronger than this. He’s been through a lot and always come out of it. He’s Daryl Dixon. He can handle it. But now he’s alone with little hope of rescue, and he’s carrying the guilt of Glenn’s death with him on top of everything else. His one attempt at escape ends up being a trap and deep down he knows he only has one choice to get out of this alive: follow Negan. Daryl says he’ll never bow to Negan, but I have to admit that I like Dwight, I found myself wondering if he would be able to keep it together. A person can only take so much before survival instincts kick in.
The standoff between Daryl and Negan at the very end of the episode was intense. First, we get the story of what happened with Dwight and his wife. She offered herself up to Negan in exchange for her husband’s life. Holy shit. Dwight has to walk around every day knowing that his wife is with a man he hates, and he has to serve that man.
Is it worth it, though? That’s the question. Watching this episode, I found myself wondering why these people were fighting to live if this was the only future they saw for themselves. I got why Gordon (the man who ran away from the Saviors) chose death over going back. There is no future in this group, not unless you’re willing to sell your soul. Dwight can see that logically, but he hasn’t reached the point where he’s ready to throw in the towel because he is focused on keeping his wife alive. Daryl gets it, though. Daryl understands Dwight now and I think that may turn the tide of how these two interact. But it’s also why Daryl refuses to give in. He knows doing it would be the easy way out. His torture would end. He could leave the room and join the Saviors and go about his day just like Dwight does, but it would be a betrayal after what happened. He inadvertently caused Glenn’s death, and giving in to Negan’s demands would be wrong in Daryl’s eyes. It would be repeating the mistake he already made, and he’d have to walk around for the rest of his life with the blood of every person Negan killed or hurt on his hands, and Daryl isn’t willing to sell his soul. It makes me love him so much more than ever before.