Ginger Nuts of Horror
Welcome to the third installment of a weekly column where Gingernutters Kayleigh Edwards and Kit Power take to a shared Google Doc to discuss this week’s Walking Dead broadcast episode in a conversational exchange. Enjoy!
Warning: The following conversation contains SPOILERS for The Walking Dead, up to and including the events of Season 7, Episode 3. If you don’t want to be spoiled, please turn away now. For those of you who have seen S7 E3, please join in with the conversation in the comments section.
Kit Power: Well, you demanded more Daryl, you a whole lot more - with a hefty side order of Negan! But first things first - have you gotten ‘Easy Street’ out of your head yet?!?
Kayleigh Edwards: No, I think it’s going to play on a permanent loop! What a great episode though!
KP: Yeah, I think so. This is TWD doing a character driven story - almost a bottle episode, actually, aside from the slight digression with Dwight which we’ll get to. And we got some fascinating insights and hints as to what life is like under the bootheel of Negan. But I guess we should start with the A-Story - the breaking of Daryl. Or at least attempted breaking. What did you think about how these scenes played out? And how amazing was Norman Reedus?
KE: Yeah Norman Reedus was brilliant in this episode, probably his best performance so far, I’d say. I felt really sorry for him, but I don’t think he’s going to break and join them! I hope not, anyway. I got all emotional when he said to Dwight at the end - ‘I understand why you did it, you were thinking about someone else. But that’s why I can’t.’ (He said something like that, I’ve probably got the quote wrong!) He already feels responsible for Glenn’s death and I guess he just can’t join The Saviours otherwise he’s joining the people who killed two of his friends. I think Daryl was just enduring the suffering because he feels like he deserves it, the poor little fella!
KP: I can’t see him joining them. He’s not even (forgive me, Daryl fans) bright enough to fake being broken, I don’t think. And that line really got to me - it just cut to the core of who and what Daryl is in a brilliant way.
He also got two fucking amazing scenes with Negan. The first confrontation I found especially chilling and well played - the moment where Lucille stating pounding the floor near his bare feet, and the fake-out attack really got my heart pounding. They’ve done a really efficient job of establishing the utter evil and ruthlessness of Negan, and I was totally sold in that scene. How did you get on with the two big faceoff scenes?
KE: I loved them, and I have to say, I feel guilty for this but I love Negan. I’m not the only one though! He’s just captivating to watch. Perfect casting, I reckon. He steals every scene he’s in and I love to watch him so much because anything could happen! I like that he has this obsession with Daryl and clearly hasn’t killed him yet because he wants him on side, but those scenes were really revealing about Daryl and I think we got to see a bit more of who Daryl is. He’s cool and everything, but there have been so few episodes where we’ve got to see who he really is, or what he’s made of.
KP: Yeah. I mean, Negan pretty much represents everything I hate about human beings in one body, but I agree that he make for brilliant television, and yes, it’s a superb performance. And his motivation makes perfect sense with Daryl - he recognizes that Daryl has all the raw materials to make a really excellent Saviour, which is why he’s pushing so hard. But then we know that so much of what makes Daryl that dangerous is what prevents him from turning. It’s an interesting dilemma, and makes for some captivating drama.
Turning to the wider Saviour society, how about the living hell that is Dwight’s life?!? The psychological violence of Negan is something I find to be as shocking and calculatedly vicious as the physical violence. What did you make of that cruelty? And how did you feel about how Dwight’s little road trip played out?
KE: Aw, Dwight. Dwighty Dwight. I had a feeling when we met him that he was going to be an important character and I don’t know what he’s going to do about the situation he’s in but man, do I feel sorry for him! I can’t even imagine having to just let some other dude have my wife, that entire thing punched me right in the feelings. It seems to me that he’s both very resentful of Daryl, and trying to help him at the same time. He’s been broken in all ways possible by Negan really, when he didn’t need to be. He could have taken the high life without having his face burned. I think he’s urging Daryl to just cave so that he doesn’t have to watch this guy that once tried to help him go through the same sort of hell before he eventually just folds. Just quickly about Daryl too, what Negan is lacking in trying to turn Daryl is incentive. Say, for example, Carol or Carl or Michonne (I’m naming those three because I have a theory… another one…) bursts in and tries to save him, and Negan captures one of them. Then he has leverage, and I think Daryl would join him to save a friend. I don’t think he’ll have any luck otherwise though! Before I waffle more… what did YOU think of Dwight’s road trip?
KP: Yeah, the road trip was a really interesting sequence. I mean there was that brilliant action scene where the zombies were dropping off the flyover that was genuinely exciting, but then there was also the horror of what he was out there for. And then I think it’s very telling that Dwight ended up pulling the trigger, because ultimately that’s not what Negan would have wanted him to do, and he didn’t have to. In fact, in some ways it was the most merciful thing he could have done. Tie that in with his twisted relationship with Daryl, where he’s clearly both Daryl’s jailer/torturer and at the same time sympathetic to him… and yeah, I think that’s a really fascinating psychological soup they’re all marinating in and I have no idea how it’s going to play out. Beyond, obviously, badly, this being TWD.
And I agree RE: Daryl and leverage. It’s odd because Negan got that straight away with Rick. Why do you think he hasn't figured that with Daryl yet? And what was your take on the road trip?
KE: Hmm, well Negan doesn’t know who is important to who in Rick’s group yet (apart from Rick and Carl being father and son), so maybe it just didn’t occur to him to take a second person at the time. And since Negan does seem to be a ‘play by the rules’ guy, I can’t see him just snatching someone else to use against Daryl, unless Rick messes up somewhere and it’s a punishment. Unless of course, someone goes barging in there trying to take Negan out or trying to rescue Daryl - then they’d be playing right into Negan’s hands.
I think that Dwight shot his friend as a mercy killing, but I’m wondering if it was a mistake! His relationship with Negan is really stressful, I actually feel stressed for Dwight watching them. I think everything is a test. He must have not shot the guy in the head, because he had to bring him back to the camp, but maybe Negan will know that Dwight did the guy a favour? I don’t know! Oh the humanity! What do you make of Dwight’s wife, Sherry?
KP: Not enough data! I mean, I feel fucking horrible for her, obviously. And her compassion for Daryl feels ever more heartbreaking when you consider what her life is. It feels like there almost has to be enormous psychological trauma lurking behind those apparently placid eyes, and I am very curious as to how the show intends on playing that out.
It strikes me the Negan’s domination of the whole gang is, and must be, primarily psychological. After all, the man’s got to sleep at some point. But reading what you’ve just said, I wonder how much he really trusts Dwight as his ‘right hand’, and how much, as you say, he’s still testing the guy. Maybe Daryl is even part of that test, somehow? Man, this is fun! It’s such a messy, complex, ugly situation, and I cannot see how it plays out. We’re back to hope vs despair though, right? The eternal Walking Dead dilemma...
KE: I think that Negan is smart enough to know that Dwight can’t possibly WANT to be that loyal to him, but has to be for fear of consequences. He really has that dude by the balls. Negan has been smart enough to assemble an absolutely huge team of people, most of whom are living horribly under his rule, and yet all of them are too afraid to band together to overthrow him. He’s just one guy but he has so much influence and power, he’s the perfect tyrant! I can’t wait to see more elements to his character, maybe he’s got genuine loyalty from some of them, maybe he’s saved lives, maybe he’s put himself at risk to help some of them, who knows? One thing the writers are really good at on this show is creating characters with many elements. The Governor turned out to be a ‘further along in the apocalypse’ Rick, when you think about it. He had a sad back story, decent motivation for his horrible acts (keeping his Woodbury people safe), and he was a bit unhinged. I can’t wait to see a redeeming quality in Negan.
KP: Yeah, all of that is possible, I guess. I just keep coming back to Genghis Khan, who ruled exclusively via utter terror and cruelty and greed (Khan actually lived a relatively simple life, but his successful generals lived like kings on the spoils of war). Negan seems very much like That Guy to me, and that combination of terror and reward seems to have inspired incredible loyalty for the Mongols.
KE: You make a good point, maybe he’s just smart and cruel and doesn’t have any redeeming factors. I feel like Dwight isn’t an asshole but he’s just f***ed in his situation. Although it makes me really really mad every time I see him in Daryl’s jacket with his crossbow.. I’m like.. DUDE THOSE AREN’T YOURS AND YOU DON’T DESERVE THEM! Oh man… and that shot of Daryl’s bike with the wheel all messed up I just thought ‘oh you nob you’re not even looking after it’. And then I felt sad because I felt like the slowly breaking bike was a metaphor for Daryl himself and all his things being owned by Dwight are like pieces of him being taken away. But I overthink because I love The Walking Dead more than a normal or reasonable amount.
KP: Well, but I think it’s a very smart show and that metaphor, though I hadn’t spotted it, rigs true to me. My missus also got TV rage at the jacket thing, so that make me smile :).
I think Dwight is a genuinely tragic figure. And historically, things don’t play out well for tragic characters, duh. But I wonder about him and Daryl. It feels like something important is going to happen between those two - but what it is I can’t even begin to guess. Which makes me a very happy camper indeed.
Any other thoughts on Ep. 3? And where do you think we go next week? Back to Rick and the gang?
KE: Maybe a bit of everywhere next week, but I think mostly back to Rick and co. I have a theory….
KP: Give! No theory secrets here!
KE: Well. See I reckon that Rick’s gonna go back to Alexandria and tell everyone about Negan and they have to start sharing their stuff (that’s already in the advert), and then when they’re alone Michonne and Carl will be like ‘right then bro what’s the real plan here, when are we taking this guy out?’ and Rick will be like ‘nah dudes we’re bollocksed like’, because you know, he’s in shock and can’t possibly have formed a plan that will mean they win and won’t get more people he loves murdered. And then Carl and Michonne will be like ‘say whaaaaat’ and then there’ll be a rift.
KP: Yeah, that’s how I see it playing too. Rick was ready to cut Carl’s arm off. There’s no coming back from that - at least not anytime soon. Maybe Rick’s done being leader. Maybe Michonne will end up taking over.
KE: I feel really sorry for Rick. I honestly don’t know how he could have done anything else in that first episode. I just want him to get his mojo back and become this epic beast of a leader and do a Charlie Sheen and just be winning at everything again!
KP: Hmm. We shall see. I’m personally ready for the day of Michonne - but either way, it won’t be dull! :) Any other closing thoughts? I feel like this was a superb episode and it’s been a great start to the season...
KE: This season is brilliant so far, I think this might even be the best episode and one of the best episodes in the whole show. I love and envy those writers sometimes so much that it hurts! Hmmm closing thoughts are just…. Everything is awesome, I can’t wait for next week, and all the Daryl fans finally got to see him naked and I assume that Norman Reedus has probably had an influx of pervy fan mail. You?
KP: Yeah, looking forward to touching base with the gang next week, but it’s been a superb start to the season for sure.
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