The Walking Dead, Season 7 “The Cell” emphasizes the horrors of the Sanctuary.
Dwight’s opening sequence, a bizarre 80s sitcom style montage, makes little sense until we see Daryl, tortured by a blaring loop of the eerily cheery, “Easy Street.”
Sure, Dwight seems to enjoy elite privileges of the Sanctuary, but as he builds a delectable sandwich and regulates the Sanctuary, one out-of-place song plays through his routine. It’s likely the montage song was used to torture him into submission.The opening sequence suggests that Dwight, despite his compliance and privilege, remains a tortured man.
A quick film cut between Dwight on the road, outside The Sanctuary, and Daryl, getting beaten by Saviors, emphasize the parallel between the two characters and help viewers empathize with an unlikable character.
A broken heart is the source of Dwight’s despair. Sherry bartered their marriage in exchange for Dwight’s life after the two fled the Sanctuary. Disgust and resentment wash over Dwight’s face while Negan recounts the painful memory to Daryl, an effort to prove to Daryl everyone eventually kneels to Negan.
Sherry’s sacrifice calls Negan’s sexual consent code into question. She’s clearly coerced into the relationship; she’s there under duress. If she didn’t give into his will, Dwight would be killed and who knows what would happen to her. Taking Sherry to emasculate and torture Dwight makes Negan a grotesque character.
How long will Dwight bow to Negan? Will he align himself with Daryl? Both men are in prison; Dwight simply has the luxury of a larger cell. Daryl may be the key to his release.
Dwight continues to wear Daryl’s jacket and wield his crossbow, so could that suggest he will draw courage from Daryl’s identity? Was Dwight’s execution of Gordon an act of defiance against Negan meant to foreshadow a future uprising?
An interesting detail in tonight’s episode is the polaroid of Glenn that Dwight tosses into Daryl’s cell. When Glenn and Rick’s group attacked the Savior outpost, polaroids littered the walls.
Were those polaroids trophies or tools of torture meant to keep the Saviors in their places while they were outside of Negan’s immediate grasp?
Also, when Dwight tossed the polaroid into Daryl’s cell, was that an attempt to keep Daryl’s hatred for Negan alive or to break him? Either way, Daryl’s breakdown shows he thinks he deserves dog food sandwiches, torture, and beatings.
“The Cell” also begs the question, what does the bright orange A on Daryl’s prison garb stand for? It’s a clever nod and wink to Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter, but I’m willing to bet it has a different meaning here. Knowing Negan, it’s a crass allusion.
Next week, Negan and Rick cross paths again. Negan shows up to Alexandria for his tribute, but will he get more than he bargained for? Will everyone in Alexandria be prepared to fork over goods with zero resistance? Will someone from the group follow the Saviors back to the Sanctuary to rescue Daryl?
What did you think of tonight’s episode of The Walking Dead? You can leave your insights, questions, and predictions in the comment section.