TV Review: The Walking Dead, “The Cell”

Published on November 18th, 2016 in: Horror, Reviews, TV, TV Reviews |

By Laury Scarbro


If you were wondering at the end of the first episode, “But what about Daryl?” then your question will be answered with this episode, and they may not be answers you wanted. It seems that there is quite a bit of emphasis placed on the differences and similarities between Daryl and Dwight, as well as Dwight’s standing within Negan’s pecking order.

There’s a fence outside of the camp, with walkers and humans alike outside of it. The humans are all wearing the same kind of clothing that Daryl is eventually given, complete with a single letter spray painted on the shirts. I’ve no idea yet what, if anything, that letter indicates. I couldn’t even tell what the deal is with that fence. Is it a protective barrier to deter people from invading or leaving? Or just a really sick way of dealing with those who won’t toe the line? Both?

Presumably since his capture, things have gone desperately sideways for everyone’s favorite badass: forced to eat dog food sandwiches, not allowed clothes (at least at first), kept in his own filth, and forced to listen to what may be the most annoying song on the planet. Seriously, there’s mental torture, and then there’s this damn song. We’re on easy street. And it feels so neat. Blah blah blah shut up already. I wouldn’t have made it; I know that for a fact. Having to listen to the same basic playlist day in and day out at work is enough to make a person crack (Really, how many times per week must a person hear “MmmBop” before they lose it?), but the same song over and over on repeat? Not pretty. Couple that with the ritualized dehumanization and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.


While Dwight’s out chasing down an escapee who has stolen from Negan, Fat Joey takes Daryl a sandwich and conveniently leaves the door unlocked. I have no idea if it was on purpose as a test, or an accident. It doesn’t much matter, as Daryl is eventually stopped by Negan and his men just before he can grab a motorcycle and escape. Negan lays out Daryl’s options for him: he can end up on the fence as one of the dead, work for points (and presumably end up back in his cell first which will result in further torture), or buy into the “I am Negan” mentality that the rest of Negan’s men have done and be rewarded. Daryl doesn’t cave, and despite being left to be beaten, I think Negan likes the fact that he’s found someone not easily broken. But then, he seems to take great pleasure in breaking people to bend to his will.

Meanwhile, Dwight finally comes upon his quarry, who we learn was actually friendly with Dwight at one point. The escapee pleads with Dwight to just kill him because there’s nothing back at the camp for him. Finally Dwight concedes, shooting the man in the back in what appears to be an act of mercy. The conflict in Dwight’s mind is pretty obvious, but he doesn’t appear to know what to do about it. We also learn that Dwight’s wife Sherry is now Negan’s wife. He makes a habit of taking the wives and girlfriends of his men for his own, but only if they’re willing. That point is emphasized earlier in the episode, when Negan offers Dwight any woman of his choice. We might have quite a bit to fear from Negan, but at least he won’t be doing any of that (although it’s not like he offers much in the way of alternatives, either).

Daryl is again brought food, which he throws at Dwight. It’s at this moment that Dwight chooses to shove Daryl’s guilt down his throat in the form of a Polaroid, presumably of Glenn. Compound that with Roy Orbison’s “Crying” (which in and of itself is enough to make anyone crack), and it isn’t long before Daryl breaks down crying himself.┬áDaryl, who fell asleep next to a pile of his own vomit, is again brought to Negan. That’s when it’s explained what happened before Daryl first met Dwight, and what happened afterwards. Negan plays it off that things are “totally cool” with Dwight now, but the look on Dwight’s face says things are anything but cool. Again, Negan wants Daryl to give in and be one of his men. At this point all I want is for Daryl’s suffering to end, but I don’t want him to give in to Negan. Apparently Dwight wants the same, given his words to Daryl when returning him to his cell. Daryl says he understands why Dwight did it, that is, why he took Negan’s deal, and says it’s why he can’t. I’m guessing Daryl thinks that if he takes the deal, he’ll be used against Rick and the others in Alexandria.

I don’t think it will matter whether Daryl gives in or not; Negan’s going to use him. If Daryl gives in, he may be forced to assault or kill someone he loves, and if he doesn’t, he can be used as an emotional attachment to get Rick and his people to comply. So really, Daryl’s best move right now is stick to his guns and try to wait it out. I’ve seen some argument for Daryl giving in, earn Negan’s trust, and then escape, but then Daryl would be forced to abandon the good man that his character has grown to be. With Rick’s subservience, Daryl is the hero the Alexandrians need at the helm, but he has to survive in order to make that happen. Alternately, Dwight doesn’t appear to want to stay under Negan’s rule, but doesn’t see any way around it. Perhaps Daryl is the inspiration that Dwight will need push him in the right direction: out of Negan’s grip.

One Response to “TV Review: The Walking Dead, “The Cell””

  1. Kathy McGilvray:
    November 28th, 2016 at 12:00 am

    This definitely gave me a lot of food for thought. Excellent recap!

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