This Sunday’s episode of The Walking Dead took us into the compound of the Saviors, Negan’s (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) own group of survivors, where our own Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) is being held in captivity.

THE WALKING DEAD SEASON 7 EPISODE 3 RECAP

Each episode of this season of TWD is a standalone glimpse into various parts of the same fictional universe. In “The Cell,” we see where Negan has been keeping Daryl essentially as collateral to make sure Rick’s gang won’t do anything inadvisable. But it is also clear that Negan took Daryl as a recruit to his Saviors as well.

Daryl is kept in a cell and is attended to by Dwight (Austin Amelio), a man we met last season. He and his wife Sherry (Christine Evangelista) have been through a lot, and it becomes clear that Negan allowed them to live if they made some sacrifices. Sherry is now Negan’s wife, and a pawn to use against Dwight – Negan offers up Sherry to Dwight for sex in exchange for his loyalty or as a reward every so often. Half of Dwight’s face is burnt and melted, which it was not when we saw him in season six, before Negan played any part. Dwight declares “it’s a hell of a lot better than being dead,” but his wife’s “yeah” is anything but convincing.

Now Dwight is in charge of Daryl’s cell. He plays peppy pop music (namely “Easy Street”) to him while feeding him dog food sandwiches. When Dwight gets called away and seemingly inadvertently leaves the cell unlocked, Daryl makes an attempt to escape. But of course, it was a trap, and he flees into an open field surrounded by Negan and his Saviors. Negan tries to get Daryl to join the ranks, offering the opportunity to “live like a king.”

It is clear, however, that living amongst the Saviors would be a torture in and of itself. Everyone there is stripped of their identity and forced to become part of Negan. They must kneel when Negan passes. The idea of the compound is a prison without walls, creating an army of fools too scared to run.

While Negan seems like just another evil tyrant with a group of faceless followers, Dwight becomes the focal point of the episode. He is a deeply complex character that becomes harder and harder to condemn. Daryl, of course, remains the good guy stuck in the crazy compound, but for once we have met a new group beyond the main characters, and this group is surprisingly sympathetic.

See the trailer for the next episode below.

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