There’s been a lot to process since the premiere of Season 7 of The Walking Dead on Sunday October 23rd. The shock and devastation of the opening episode was unprecedented, as was the brutality. We lost not one but two of the main characters. I suspected that Abraham might fall victim to Negan, and indeed the comic book series had us think, too, that Glen might die. But killing off two of Rick’s family in one episode was not what I anticipated. I was devastated. And the graphic details of Abraham’s and Glen’s deaths definitely left me in shock – weak-kneed and trembling.
The fact that Daryl was the indirect cause of Glen’s death made the episode even more tragic, knowing that Daryl would not assume the blame lightly. I have to admit that I worried more for Daryl Dixon and his suffering than I did for any of the other characters, the guilt being too much for him to bear.
This season in many ways has paralleled our country’s political state of being. We’ve been introduced to the biggest bully in the history of TWD – Negan, and his gang of indentured servants paradoxically deemed “the saviors” (Who are they saving anyways – big question mark – ?). We know Negan is bad. We know he’s irradic. We know he’s sexist. We know he clearly has narcissistic personality disorder. He is also a sadistic terrorist. I don’t like him at all. I would not vote for him.
But the worst part about Negan is that he has enslaved Daryl Dixon. He put him in a prison cell straight out of Guantanamo Bay. Left him writhing naked in a cold, filthy, dark and dank cell. Fed him dog food sandwiches, and even used the irritating-repetetive-song torture method that was drummed up by the U.S. against captive inmates at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay! No Easy Streets for Daryl. No.Sir.Ree. And then to top it off, they gave him the dirty pajamas with the letter “A” on it. The scarlet letter A. I have no idea what it means in terms of the Saviors, but I do like the literary reference.
For now, Daryl is the boy in the dirty pajamas, on the other side of the fence. The physical suffering is clearly secondary for him, his true torture coming from the feeling of responsibility for Glen’s death. In each episode, we watch him closely. Will Negan’s methods break him? Will Dwight snap and kill him? Will he successfully escape? Will we see him in something besides the dirty pajamas? It’s not altogether clear what’s going on with Daryl. When Negan asks Daryl in front of Rick if he wants to stay at Alexandria, Daryl puts his head down and remains silent. Was he broken? Did he realize it was a pointless question? Is he holding out for the perfect moment to slay the leader of the Saviors? I’m hoping for option three.
There’s no question that Negan’s an ass and needs to be taken out. Each member of Rick’s family has the motive. Now, they just need the means and the moment. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if much like “Murder on the Orient Express” each member of the family had their turn at avenging their loved one’s death? Perhaps the letter “A” on Daryl’s dirty pajamas stands for “Avange”, or even “Agatha” (a literary reference).
In tonight’s mid-season finally, I doubt this will be the last we see of Negan and the saviors. In fact, based on the comic book series, Negan will be around for at least a few more episodes…and then some. My only hope in this episode is that Daryl is able to flee Negan’s lair and make it back to Alexandria, or the Hilltop, or the Kingdom – anywhere, as long as it’s far away from the Saviors. I know that most of my questions will go unanswered with the close of the mid-season. But in the opening of the second half of Season 7, I truly hope that Carl has a haircut.