The Walking Dead “The Cell” Review (Season 7 Episode 3)

On last week’s episode of The Walking Dead viewers were introduced to The Kingdom, where Ezekiel asked that members of his community contribute to the well, if they were inclined to take from it. All in all, a pretty fair system.

In this week’s episode, The Cell, we got a look into Negan’s rule over The Sanctuary, which was operated under a coercive, take it or leave it (at your own peril) philosophy. It’s interesting and unsurprising that it is Negan – not the man walking around referring to himself as a king – who expects that people kneel before him. The Cell was a stark contrast from last week’s lighter fare, as we watched Dwight use torture tactics in an effort to break Daryl.

This is one of the few Daryl-centric episodes that I thought really worked at providing depth for the character. I also loved the parallels to Merle. I couldn’t help but think of Merle’s “I ain’t gon’ beg” directed to the Governor when Daryl repeatedly refused to kneel or proclaim himself “Negan.”

Likewise, we also got a closer look at Negan. Honestly, a little Negan goes a long way for me, but he is undoubtedly a captivating character. As we saw in the Season 7 opener, Negan’s favored strategy is taunting his victims, making strategic showings of brutality coupled with a promise to make things better if only the person/people on the receiving end would simply surrender to his rule. Negan, like the long line of Walking Dead villains that preceded him, revealed some shortcomings that may catch up with him some day. Negan appears to have a fixation with understanding how people work. And by people, I don’t mean those that bend the knee and surrender to his will – I mean the people who dare to resist or push back. There really was no good reason for Negan to let Rick, a man who promised to kill him some day, live. Indeed, Negan did a thorough job at breaking Rick – but it takes a certain level of hubris to assume that once someone is broken they will forever be broken. We saw that again last night with Daryl. Daryl ate the shit sandwiches, took the isolation, the mind games – all of it – and still refused to bow to Negan. When Negan threatened him with Lucille, Daryl didn’t even flinch. Rather than kill Daryl – who has shown a strength and resolve that should give Negan pause – he just threw him back in his cell.

And then there’s Dwight. We know that Dwight left the Saviors once and, for whatever reason, decided to return. Dwight’s disfigured face is the punishment he received for his insubordination. Well, that along with his wife Sherry, whom Negan offered some intimate time with as a reward for Dwight’s hard work. I am a long way from declaring Dwight one of my favorite characters, but The Cell did a great job at making him much more compelling. This is one of the few instances in which I think the comic storyline has benefited from the inclusion of Daryl as a non-comic book character. I loved the moment between Daryl and Dwight in which the two finally found some common ground. Granted, I think Dwight has always seen that common ground since his initial encounter with Daryl. I think Dwight’s zeal for hurting Daryl is a projection of his disappointment in himself, as he has allowed Negan to completely break him.

We are a long way from Dwight, Rick or Daryl getting back to who and what they were before Negan, but I’m nonetheless intrigued by whatever the ultimate consequences may be for Negan’s decision to let the three live after bringing them so low.

What did you think of this week’s episode of The Walking Dead? Sound off below!

PS – I knew that Polaroid of Glenn would eventually surface after we saw someone taking pics at the end of the premiere. Too soon, Dwight! Too soon!