REVIEW: The Walking Dead, S7 Ep3 – The Cell

Another relatively calm episode of The Walking Dead, this time focusing on Daryl’s captivity in Negan’s compound. It seems like with this episode and last week’s fairly lighthearted one, the writers want to give us a bit of a breather after the disastrous events of the season premiere. And it also gives the story time to breathe and to really explore the characters, instead of one gore fest after another.

The Walking Dead, S7 Ep3 - The CellWe got a better glimpse of life in the Savior community as well as the hierarchy of Negan’s cronies. The episode explored a lot from the point of view of Dwight, the guy who stole Daryl’s crossbow last season, and who has managed to rise in the ranks of Negan’s crew. He enjoys certain privileges, like cutting in line to get fresh produce, and he gets to have delicious sandwiches while prisoners like Daryl have to eat dog food and endure dehumanizing conditions.

But there are different kinds of dehumanization, and that’s the intriguing theme that this episode explores. What price would you be willing to pay to survive in the world of The Walking Dead? And, is surviving worth the sacrifice? Because even if you get the luxury of safety, shelter, sufficient food and water, is living in terror of Negan really a life?

That’s what we see in Dwight’s empty eyes, as he goes about his daily routine. He tries to break Daryl but the latter, being who he is, resists stubbornly, never breaking no matter what kind of torture Negan puts him through. Daryl doesn’t even flinch when Negan aims Lucille at him (even I flinched!) And you can see how much Dwight admires and envies that.

The Walking Dead, S7 Ep3 - The CellBecause, as we find out, Dwight has given up a lot to “survive” in Negan’s company, including his wife, Sherry. They’ve made painful choices in order not to die, but is the life they got in return, one of servitude and constant humiliation, really a life? Dwight sees that for all the pain he endures, Daryl is free, living on his own terms, unfazed by Negan’s power and horrifying influence.

And though this is a quiet episode, it still sends chills up the spine when one thinks about the horrors endured not just by the men in the community but particularly the women. Negan is clearly not just a bully but a misogynist, nonchalantly promising to “marry” any woman who takes his fancy and then discarding her just as easily once he tires of her. And doubtless, many of the women have had to submit to his cravings out of their desire not to be devoured by walkers. Sherry certainly did and that’s why she seems an empty shell of her old self.

The Walking Dead, S7 Ep3 - The CellThe more we learn about Negan, the more repulsive he becomes. And it makes one wonder what hold he has over his men, what keeps them under his influence. Someone in the episode mentions that they outnumber him and his bullies and yet there have not been any successful rebellion attempts. One imagines that this might finally happen this season when Rick and the group recover from their losses and if they somehow join forces with King Ezekiel as well. But it’s still early days.

For now, I’m just glad that Daryl’s still alive and hopefully, we’ll get to catch up with the rest of the group in next week’s extended episode of The Walking Dead.