(Spoiler Alert: Please do not keep reading if you have not seen this week’s episode of “The Walking Dead”)
“The Walking Dead” brought us into The Savior’s compound, known as The Sanctuary, this week and it is exactly as cheery as you would expect.
We also learn what happened to Daryl (Norman Reedus) after he was taken away following the bloody Season 7 premiere. He is being held naked in a concrete room, being fed nothing but dog food and a little bread.
Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) typically kills people without thinking twice, but for some reason he has taken a liking to Daryl and decides to try and make him a Savior.
“Negan’s used to seeing people cower before him,” Reedus told TheWrap. “He sees a challenge. Daryl’s a fighter. He’s not an easy animal to break. And I think Negan respects that.”
Dwight (Austin Amelio) is tasked with trying to break Daryl, and we also see what his daily life is like as one of Negan’s top men. Dwight lives well inside The Sanctuary, but he clearly is not totally comfortable under Negan’s rule.
After Negan tells Dwight he is doing well with Daryl, Negan offers him a chance to sleep with any woman at the compound he wants, including Dwight’s wife, Sherry (Christine Evangelista). Dwight declines, which Negan finds strange. Dwight then volunteers to go after a man who has run away from The Sanctuary after stealing supplies.
Daryl is able to escape from his makeshift cell, and tries to leave The Sanctuary. Sherry finds him and tells him to go back, that Negan can make his life worse than he ever imagined. Nevertheless, Daryl presses on but is caught trying to steal a motorcycle.
Negan appears and confronts Daryl. He demonstrates his power over his men by asking who they are, with each replying, “Negan.” He then tells Daryl that he can either fall in line and live like a king as a Savior or suffer the consequences. Negan departs and his men beat Daryl down.
On the road, Dwight finds the escapee. The man says that he can’t go back to living among The Saviors, and that Negan could be easily defeated if everyone banded together. Dwight says there is no other way and that Negan is unstoppable. Rather than return, the man asks Dwight to shoot him, which he does.
Later, Dwight takes Daryl to see Negan. Negan explains how Dwight came to rise so high in his ranks. Sherry’s sister Tina, who died in Season 6, needed medicine that Negan would provide, but only if Tina agreed to marry him.
Rather than subject her to this, Dwight took her and Sherry and ran. But after Tina’s death, they decided to return to the relative safety of the Saviors. Negan planned to kill Dwight, but Sherry promised to marry Negan if he would spare him. Negan agreed, but horrifically scarred Dwight’s face as punishment for leaving.
Negan again makes Daryl his offer: join The Saviors or Negan will either kill him or make him wish he was dead. He asks Daryl who he is, and after a very tense pause, Daryl replies simply, “Daryl.”
“[Daryl’s] one of those people where you can beat the crap out of him, you can torture him, you can humiliate him,” Reedus said. “Yet he started this show with this chip on his shoulder … Now he looks directly at you with his shoulders squared and that chip has turned into this solid little flame in his chest. That last scene in the episode is not a ‘F— you’ to Negan. It’s him saying, ‘This is all I have left and you can’t have it.'”
The episode closes with Dwight looking at the walkers The Saviors keep chained up around the perimeter fence as security. As he does, the man he shot on the road is being secured to his new place on the fence.