Review for The Walking Dead 703
by R.C. Murphy
Spoiler warning! Not that there’s much to spoil . . . .
Number one, the unavoidable Reedus nudity. I signed off on the last review with a snippy remark about Daryl being nude as a selling point for The Powers That Be at AMC. Sure enough, it took nearly ten minutes into the episode for Daryl to be sufficiently clothed. Master Dwight may have given Dobby clothes, but he’s not a free elf. Much to my chagrin. This story line has the potential to go nowhere given the lack of know-how when it comes to handling the Character Development Forgot.
To balance out the awkwardness of cramming Daryl into the Sanctuary lifestyle, they give him a woman to talk to—a misnomer, she talks, he bobs his head or gives soulful eyes. Sherry originally came onto the show with her sister and Dwight after they stole insulin for the sister. Now she’s back to make sure the show doesn’t devolve into a sausage fest during Sanctuary scenes, and to give fans a woman to ‘ship Daryl with, because that’s so necessary. It’s obvious no matter what comes out of her mouth, she has no agency to actually make it happen. Daryl doesn’t listen to her. Dwight and Negan treat her like a commodity, though the former at least has the decency to blush as his boss lays out the full transaction for their new guest. She skulks around the compound like a frightened cat, and is always hidden the minute the big guy is nearby.
The inevitable showdown between Daryl and Negan only ever had one outcome. He effed up and got Glenn killed, that guilt will keep Daryl on the side of the angels for as long as possible. And now that he has a woman to fight for, or help Dwight fight for, he’ll stubbornly remain Rick’s attack dog. Until they beat it out of him, that is. Negan’s not going to keep giving him free Alpo sandwiches, clothes, and shelter for long. Just like in The Kingdom, you reap what you sew in the Sanctuary. But you better be sewing a lot more than what the boss lets you reap. No one upstages that man except Lucille.
Dwight may be a potential ally, if Daryl could stop being an A-class jerk for half a second. His self-pity will prevent this pair-up from happening for too long, probably. Meanwhile, Dwight stews in his resentment, ripe for turning against Negan with a push in the right direction. Of course, it’d take a chess partner as skilled at manipulation as Negan to really make it work. Not sure Daryl is up for five coherent sentences in a row, let alone convincing Dwight to work from the inside out to dismantle the Saviors. Maybe that’s why Sherry was brought along as baggage. She’ll do the convincing so Daryl can brood enough for twelve TV bad-boys.
We meet more Saviors, some who’ll probably be go-to men throughout the season. Only one of the goons got a name outside the official “I am Negan” moniker—Fat Joey. Dr. Carson seems reasonable, but is completely in Negan’s sway. If the big guy crapped a rainbow, the doctor would say, “I told you so.” On the flipside of the coin, Dwight chases a doomed character, Gordon, down the road a ways. This guy is done living in Negan’s wet dream for the apocalypse. He just wants an out, any out. He’d rather take a bullet than serve Negan again. Instead of complying, Dwight’s insecurity about his place in Sanctuary push him to permanently enslave Gordon as a walker on their fence line.
Why is it the actions of a new character scream development, but a man who’s been there since episode two hasn’t grown at all? If anything, Daryl has regressed into even less of a character since they stripped away his remaining family and doused pretty much every relationship he started which delved deeper than passing acquaintance. What are they waiting for? Why hold back with this one character? Crap or get off the pot, already. They need to find a way to make him an actual part of the story, not just an object the story happens to or around. I would’ve rather we see an episode without any of Rick’s people involved to get a real taste of the Saviors. So far, everything’s been from someone else’s POV. If they want to truly shock us, let us see what it’s like when the machine runs smoothly. Negan’s efficiency is what’s truly terrifying. He gets things done. But how? All we ever see is him reprimanding one man, maybe two. Show us how he handles all his business. Intelligence can be serious nightmare fuel in the right hands.
Next week, Negan makes a house call. It’s supposedly a long episode, so anticipate me saying they added unnecessary things to make a non-event writing wise feel like a big to-do. It’s all they ever do with these extended episodes. But I’ll take it for the extra time to watch Jeffrey Dean Morgan smirk.