This is posted by Rodney Ho on AJC’s Radio & TV Talk blog on Monday, November 7, 2016
Who’s the boss now? Negan of course.
The choice of Dwight watching the 1980s Tony Danza sitcom is no joke at the start of the latest “Walking Dead” episode.
And the song choice: The Jam’s “A Town Called Malice.” Subtle no?
Daryl Dixon is imprisoned, being fed dog-food sandwiches by a sneering Dwight. He tortures Daryl by playing a chipper ironically titled song called “Easy Street” over and over. He then takes Daryl to the doctor, who checks on his bullet wound, which is healing.
“Negan will take care of you,” the doctor says, more ominously than with any comfort. “Trust me.”
Sherry, a woman Daryl ran into last season with Dwight and diabetic Tina (now dead), recognized Daryl and tries to converse with him but Dwight tells her not to.
Daryl, despite the dark, dank cell, minimal diet and awful music, is not immediately broken.
Dwight is aware and tries to help him with advice: “Make it easy on yourself.”
“I’m never going to kneel,” says Daryl, referencing what people do when Negan walks by.
Dwight says he resisted at first as well but Daryl is going to have to at some point to survive.
“Some people are harder to break,” Negan muses to Dwight later in confidence. But he’s close, Dwight says. So Negan offers him a prize: any woman he wants. But Dwight says he wants to finish the job first. We learn later why Dwight is not so keen on doing so.
Later, while Dwight is on a job, one of the other minions don’t lock Daryl’s jail door properly so Daryl sneaks out.
Sherry, who is lurking in the halls for no particular reason, runs into Daryl. She gives him a warning: “Go back. Whatever he did, there’s more. There’s always more.” And once he gets caught, it will be worse, she says.
He ignores her, goes outside and within seconds, a bunch of Saviors surround him. And Negan – with Lucille – saunters over. “Are you p****ing your pants yet?”
Then it gets creepier. He asks each of his minions who they are. They answer “Negan.”
“You see that?” he says. “I am everywhere!”
Daryl has three options. He ends up on a spike and works for him as a dead man. He works for him like a slave “for points.” Or he works for Negan as one of his security guys and “live like a king!”
Daryl just stares at him. When Negan pretends to slam Lucille onto his skull, Daryl doesn’t even flinch. Negan is impressed. “You don’t scare easily!” Negan says. “I love that!”
His punishment as Negan leaves: Eight dudes beating him up.
Later, Sherry apologizes for swiping his stuff earlier from outside his prison door. How she is able to just wander around like that is odd to say the least.
In the meantime, Dwight chases after someone who snuck out. The dude named Gordon doesn’t understand why Dwight just doesn’t let him go and can’t believe Dwight is loyal to Negan despite what he had done to Dwight’s wife.
“There’s no place to go,” he says. “Everything is his or will be.”
Then Gordon basically asks Dwight to off him. He doesn’t want to go back. “There’s nothing back there for me. This is the last time I kneel,” Gordon says.
Dwight somehow needs to bring him back for reasons not explained. He threatens to torture Gordon’s friends and dig up his dead wife’s body and feed her to the crows.
“Okay D,” he says, “You won. But you know there’s nothing left.”
So Gordon starts walking. But Dwight does show mercy. He finally shoots the sucker and turns him into a walker.
Later Dwight tells Daryl that he should be dead but Negan has taken a shine to him. “You’re lucky,” he says. “Don’t forget.” He then hands him a Polaroid of what I think is the guts of Glenn’s head as a reminder of what he had done.
Then DJ Dwight plays “Crying.” And guess what? It seems to be working. Daryl starts crying.
Later, Negan tells Daryl why Dwight is now Negan’s right hand man. Sherry is Dwight’s former wife and is now (gasp!) Negan’s wife. That’s why she is able to wander around with no supervision. Earlier, Dwight, Sherry and her sister Tina had fallen behind on “points” because of Tina’s insulin meds. Negan felt he could “solve” their problem by marrying Tina. Instead, they tried to escape with the meds and ran into Daryl. Then after Tina died, they changed their minds and stole Daryl’s crossbow. They then returned to Negan.
When they begged for Negan’s forgiveness, he planned to either kill Sherry or Dwight. To save them both, Sherry offered to marry Negan instead. That wasn’t enough. Negan gave Dwight “the iron” which is why half his face is burned.
Negan thinks Daryl can be like Dwight. “All you have to do,” he says to Daryl, “is ask one simple question: who are you?”
He should say “Negan.” But he says “Daryl.” Defiant Daryl.
Carol would have played the role of supplicant immediately just to get on his good side. Daryl is made of different cloth. He harbors too much guilt. Daryl can’t do what Dwight did.
We’ll soon see what the consequences are. If anything, more dog-food sandwiches are imminent.
Overall, this was actually a pretty compelling episode. We learn more about what a tyrant Negan is. We learn why Dwight is where he is. And both Negan and Dwight like Daryl, which is why he’s even still alive.
NEXT WEEK: A 90-minute special. We are back in Alexandria and Negan pays them a visit.
And if you just want to hear that song “Easy Street” again, here it is: