On today’s Walking Dead #TBT, we reminiscence about the time Negan had but a simple question for ole Daryl Dixon, “Who are you?”
Picture Daryl Dixon laying helpless on the ground like a maimed buck freshly hit with a round. Crossbow-less and therefore dehorned, being kept alive against its will, past an honorable expiration date. Filth highlights every corner as a bittersweet symphony blares across the room’s speakers on repeat. Dante’s Inferno playing a Liquorice-scented encore again and again with no crowd request. “We’re on Easy Street and it feels so sweet!” The only ticket out suddenly flips ajar, it’s rival Dwight serving up lunch sans the chef hat. Dog food. Yet, Daryl has eaten worse and indulges with no hesitation.
The Walking Dead’s “The Cell” asked viewers the question, does dignity have a price? How many in the same mentally deformed situation as Daryl would have thrown in the towel? For as much fan backlash as Eugene later took on social media… He did what 99% of people would have done. It was the mirror reflection back that haunted viewers and brewed resentment. An uncomfortable looking glass. The gritty reminder they would not rise above either given the predicament.
They too would likely say whatever a despotic regime demanded. Not even paying empty lip service but fully embracing its foundations. Engaging in the belief and rationale… That you are Negan.
Negan’s juxtaposition of Dwight to Daryl
From the onset of “The Cell” Dwight is seemingly living the good life in the heart of Sanctuary. Luxury food, premium items like cigarettes, his own secure room and board. Not to mention the honor and respect of being a prime-time Savior lieutenant. A made man one can say from the outside compared to his Alexandria-bred counterpart. Demeaned, dehumanized, stripped of all decency.
Negan recalling the origins of Dwight’s membership into Sanctuary to Daryl was obviously no small talk. It was meant to convey that the past can stay in their rearview mirror. Negan has always been about looking forward and maximizing his roster’s talent to the benefit of the team. The Savior team that is.
Telling the plight of Dwight and how he sacrificed his loving marriage was meant to foster two goals. Willing camaraderie to the fact that the team always comes first and obvious intimidation of what can happen when a member falls out of line. In Negan’s words’ you know how Lucille is a stickler for the rules!’ Thus Dwight had to give up half of his reflection as punishment for abandonment of the rules.
Easy Street requires Easy Words…
At the same time, Negan promised rewarding good team-oriented behavior. Those who fall under the umbrella of Negan enjoy the grander things in life. They get to see daylight whereas Daryl sees walls. They get to enjoy dijon so-to-speak while Daryl receives tinned pet food. Even rising up the hierarchy is an option on the table for Daryl if he just speaks the all mighty exit words.
The defining pardon that will end Daryl’s hardship and bring the beam of the sun through a newly built window. Emphasis on new. Negan believes in forming new relationships, new partnerships and new team seasons. A one time rival can become a teammate through roster trade or free agency to Negan. Last season was last season, there’s a new championship to build towards this year.
“Who are you?” Negan asks expecting to hear the answer he’s heard a thousand times before. Yet, one strays. This buck still has the vigor of life in it and is willing to endure. Its memory of a greener horizon where it lives free intact… Even through excruciating pain. The specter of riverbeds, fertile soil, and most importantly, its treasured herd. The wounds might fester but this buck will never give the desired signal to its captor.
Fun Fact: “The Cell” was penned by current Walking Dead showrunner Angela Kang! The Kubrick-esque episode was directed by Alrick Riley, who also directed episode 13, “Bury Me Here” in season 7.
Check out The Walking Dead #TBT: Nicholas says ‘Thank You’ to Glenn Rhee to revisit more ground of the show’s all-time mementos.
Losing Juan Javier Cardenas (Dante) from The Walking Dead’s cast did not enhance the series or provide any kind of spirited epiphany, not even a good Deus Ex Machina. It was just a waste of potential of one of Season’s 10’s most charismatic bright spots.
This article contains spoilers for The Walking Dead’s mid-Season 10 finale.
For as much as The Walking Dead bathes in the term ‘delayed gratification’ and takes almost a schadenfreude-like approach to stretching plot lines to the brink… They simultaneously eliminate their most intriguing characters like Dante on a whim or lock them away from screen time in narrative jail ala Negan. What purpose did Dante’s death serve during TWD Season 10 midseason finale? For Gabriel to revive a relationship side plot with Rosita that most fans realistically forgot about by now?
All it did was snuff out the candle of this season’s most charismatic new on-screen addition for two seconds of shock value. What could have been the closest thing to a Merle-like character is in the ground, six feet under, to progress yet another convoluted romance storyline. Let’s face it, Ole’ Gabey isn’t Rosita’s first boyfriend and he certainly won’t be the last. She’s been ‘getting over’ Abraham for quite a while now. Every other episode, Rosita looks like she’s in love with a different member of her reverse harem. Might as well spin a wheel to figure out who’s the next sucker.
Lost FutureJuan Javier Cardenas as Dante – The Walking Dead _ Season 10, Episode 7 – Photo Credit: Jace Downs/AMC
Meanwhile, Dante had an endless well of potential as his disposal. From if he really had a son or not, military background, to his Whisperer attraction. Most importantly, actor Juan Javier Cardenas knew how to sell a scene. How to make Dante standout and steal the moment. Him being a doctor added to the question of possible no-choice necessity similar to Pete Anderson. There were so many different directions to take his character to, he could have been more than the traitor who took out Siddiq. One of the few times The Walking Dead should have held back, they go full force. Reminiscent of the loss of Jessie Anderson [Alexandra Breckenridge] in Season 6 of the show.
This goes back to the decision to take out The Governor. It’s okay not to fully eliminate a character through death and just have them escape for a while, instead of losing another quality actor. Maggie Greene received such a temporary exit when Lauren Cohan moved to another project. Recognize your roster, so you’re not left with storylines your audience isn’t that immersed in at the expense of ones they are into.
Read more of The Natural Aristocrat’s Walking Dead coverage in The Walking Dead category section!
Alpha told her daughter the truth after all… The raven-haired Lydia was never going to be accepted in Alexandria on more than a superficial level, the game was rigged before it started.
It’s easy to speak of second chances when times are booming and the flowers are blossoming. What about when they wilt? The rough and tumble when Murphy’s Law hits and everything that could go wrong, does. Is it still soothing to be floating atop the moral high ground then? Alexandria’s promised tolerance of their resident refugee Whisperer led to a secret campaign of undercover bullying. Friendly smiles on the front, knives ready in the back.
Lydia was never going to be treated like ‘one of them’ no matter how hard she desperately tried to fit in… Just ask Negan. There was only so much a Daryl could do, he can’t escort Lydia as a personal bodyguard everywhere for the rest of her life. Eventually, she would always have to face the dark underbelly of Alexandria. One that blames her unfairly for her own existence. True feelings always have a way of surfacing in the end. Tongues sharpen when civilization erodes. All it took was a tree fall and some walkers. In reality, the broken routine of daily comfort.
Even Carol Peletier is guilty of just paying lip service, using Lydia as a pawn in her quest for vengeance. An ace in the deck. Fully aware of Lydia’s fragile state but openly disregarding it anyway. It was just half a season ago on The Walking Dead that Lydia was ready to take her own life before Carol stepped in. Owning this knowledge did not impact Carol’s decision to utilize Lydia even marginally. Not the least bit, ‘She’ll get over it, it’s her decision to help,’ Carol thought. No, she won’t, not this time.
The ruse is over, the blindfold is off… Lydia can spot the details she missed on first impression. Back when her head was spinning with possibilities and magic. To Lydia, leaving The Whisperers was a new lease on life, to her new neighbors, she was just fashionable to have around. A walking billboard of the community’s so-called selflessness and imprint as the good guys. Tolerated but never to be loved. A Christmas present waiting to be returned after New Years Day. Lydia took matters into her own hands last TWD episode and grabbed the receipt herself…
Check out more TWD coverage in The Walking Dead category section!
Negan was finally allowed to be Negan after being submerged and suffocating in the depths of Davy Jones’ Locker, also known as Alexandria. The Kraken was released upon The Whisperers tonight and Beta can’t seem to steer the Captain’s Wheel back on course.
This scene recap contains spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 10 Episode 6.
No more Home Improvement style neighbor Negan dishing advice like TWD’s Wilson for the last season and a half. No tending the garden reminiscent of farmer Rick. The real Negan was unchained on tonight’s episode from the burden of apologizing for his own existence. Like a true Alpha, he accepted the futileness of trying to appease a crew that was never going to accept him as one of their own anyway. As Tyler Durden once said on Fight Club, “It’s only when you’ve lost everything, that you’re free to do anything.”
Negan wandered onto hostile waters with just a leather jacket on his back and managed to put The Whisperers’ entire hierarchy into question. Beta was truly the perfect serious character for Negan to play off of… Particularly, because Beta poses a physical threat to Negan that Father Gabriel never did.Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan, Ryan Hurst as Beta – The Walking Dead _ Season 10, Episode 6 – Photo Credit: Jace Downs/AMC
It brought back the visual of him as fearless in the heart of danger, rather than the downtrodden one, shedding tears in his cell. Negan was authentically getting under Beta’s skin by literally being himself: Loud, boisterous, and unapologetic. The way Negan should be. “Do you have a Beta with Benefits thing going on?”
The revival demanded attention both from The Walking Dead’s audience itself and Alpha… Who watched Beta’s bickering with The Whisperer’s newest application in noticeable gratification. Schadenfreude at Beta’s unexpected challenger if you will. Negan has lifted himself up against the tide, ready to pull the steady ship Beta’s running directly back into the ocean.
One Time ‘Cameo’?
The question is, will the series allow Sanctuary’s former defacto ruler to continue in this manner? Or send him back to the plank to play ‘pretend’ good guy? Last episode’s Brandon appeared to be some kind of subtle shot at Negan fans who want him to be the way he used to be. As if a fan wanting “Classic Negan” was annoying. Brandon’s interpretation more than subtly hinted that with the immediate disappointed stare back in response. It seemed like a breaking the fourth wall move… If you also consider Brandon having no morals as a ‘fanboy’ it felt like a type of statement on Negan’s original fanbase.
Leave predictable hero/advice giver Negan at the door, the Kraken must stay above water. Fighting Giants, Steering Alpha’s Ship, and Beyond!
Be sure to check out The Walking Dead #TBT Negan asks Daryl “Who are you?” and relive a classic Savior moment!