Thoughtful & Abstract: The Walking Dead: 'The Cell'

"I just hope there's a point to all of this that I'm just not seeing yet." - Shawn
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In which Kim and Shawn contemplate naked Daryl and other things.

Kim: Let me start by saying I have been waiting a long time to see Daryl naked.  This was not the way I wanted that to go.  I don’t have a lot of thoughts on this episode, but I have a couple and you’re going to have to sit there and take it, just like Rick and the gang did a few weeks ago. Take it like a champ, just as Abraham did.  

Psychological torture.  That’s what this episode is about.  Not only what Dwight and Negan were doing to Daryl, but what we as viewers had to endure.  I’ll go on ahead and say it - the opening of this episode was goofy as hell.  I really don’t care about Dwight’s sandwich, and I really didn’t need to watch him make it for six minutes.

Then, there was the music.  I’m not sure when shows decided that you needed to open an episode with music.  While it works for some shows, I don’t generally associate it with The Walking Dead.  I mean, they picked something great for trying to drive Daryl crazy, but I don’t think we needed to be subjected to it over and over again.  And then they throw in a little Don McLean at just the right moment. It was like a blast from the past that wasn't really necessary.  Speaking of which…

Who’s The Boss was on the TV, and the reception was shitty.  I have an issue with that.  It reminded me of trying to watch TV in the '70s with rabbit ears.  This is the apocalypse.  There isn’t a TV station broadcasting.  If there is, there’s a lot of explaining that needs to be done.  So, you’re left with assuming this is an old VHS tape, but that’s not how a worn-out tape plays.  I get the symbolism of the show, but figure out how to present that in a way that makes sense for the circumstances you’re portraying.  I’d be more apt to believe that a man could tame a tiger…oh, wait…

Okay, so I’m done with the bitching, so let me highlight a couple of things I loved.

1.)  Daryl.  Naked.

2.)  The feeling I got when Negan almost hit Daryl with Lucille.  That is what I watch this show for.

3.)  Daryl’s arms.  Naked.

4.)  Understanding some of Dwight’s issues.

5.)  Daryl, looking dirty.  Naked.

6.)  The juxtaposition of the unlikely sandwich Dwight made with the dog food sandwich, reminding us of the choice Daryl is going to be asked to make.

7.)  Daryl, lounging around.  Naked.  Also in sweat pants, but mostly naked.

Do you see where I’m going with this?  We can talk all we want about the struggle going on in Dwight’s head, his obvious disdain for Negan, and the losses he’s suffered.  We discuss him wearing Daryl’s vest, carrying Daryl’s crossbow, and ruining Daryl’s motorcycle.  We can lay out the parallels between the first time we saw dirtbag Daryl and how he’s become such a stand up, lovable character and the guy we see in Dwight starting to become.  We’re going to watch as Dwight continues this journey to be the guy we want to win, just like we did with Daryl.  However, and I cannot stress this enough, under no circumstances do we want to see Dwight naked. Ever.  Even if he is eating dog food.

I’m going to go out on a limb and predict something that will be unpopular.  I’m not saying I want this to happen, but I kind of see it coming.  I think this season will see the death of Daryl, probably while trying to do something heroic.  I think we’ll see Dwight try to assume Daryl’s role with the group.  The show is certainly pushing the similarities between the two.  I will also tell you that I will hate that, because it seems like the easy way out.  I really hope I’m wrong.

I want Daryl to get out of this mess and return to being our inappropriate ass-kicker.  I want him to be the one who finally kills Negan.  And I want him and Jerry to meet up and hang out for a bit before something awful happens to either of them. Let’s root for Daryl.  Let’s hope he holds on to his sanity and finds a way out, even if he has to fake it for a bit.  Let’s look at him as a symbol of America and what we stand for.  Let’s believe in him, and in turn believe in ourselves.  Who are we?  We are all Daryl.

Shawn: We've had two weeks since the devastating loss of two main characters.  I understood stepping away from the dramatic mess last week.  What I don't understand in the big picture is not letting us mourn this week.   I thought we would at least get a sense of what Maggie and Rick and the gang are doing to move on with their lives this week.  Spending the whole episode on Daryl gets back to what we've seen the past few seasons - stories are disjointed and time gets confusing and I lose some interest.  Last season, we spent multiple weeks covering what essentially was a long weekend planning the Zombie Parade.  Things have meaning when we know the context of time.  Is this happening while Carol is already in the house with a tiger?  Has Daryl been in the room for months?  I know Daryl is meant to be disoriented but I think it's a disservice to keep the viewer guessing.

The similarities to Lost were just too much here.  I've already noticed the slow march towards some of the same themes that they explored in later seasons of that show.  I half expect a group called "The Others" to show up.  The nod to Desmond's routine with Dwight's routine is just too obvious.  The show has used good music before with even some Patsy Cline.  The use of "Town Called Malice" is a fun juxtaposition because the upbeat tune belies the depth of something more sinister in the lyrics.  The same for Dwight's routine of making his sandwich with the evil undertones of exploiting others for his own advancement.  The music as torture I felt was to show us the passing of time but as I stated it's hard to judge the time in this show in general.  It's not like Daryl's hair went from that Sassoon fresh style he's had before to this stringy mess he's rocking now.  As an aside there too - the hair as mask to hide his eyes is a nice touch.

Telegraphs.  You thought they were dead and gone?  The writers of this show have been telegraphing for seasons now.  I feel like we are clued into what is happening in the least subtle ways ever.  Your thought that Daryl is either dead or the one that kills Negan is probably right on based on what they are showing us in three episodes.  It took all on one look to tell us that Negan was the one that came between Dwight and Sherry.   There was so much about the Dwight story that was drawn out this episode.  Unless it was going to be a real surprise, this was the most obvious plot point and could have been conveyed before the first commercial break and we could have moved on.  When in doubt that the viewer hasn't figured out the story let's have Negan give his weekly monologue.  He's the worst "let me villain-splain" it of all-time.   Daryl should ask him a question like "How did you come up with the name Lucille?"  and then run.  He'd be back to Alexandria whittling his own chess pieces in a rocking chair eating Carol's cookies before Negan had noticed he was gone.  So they are either dragging out these stories because they are out of ideas or they really believe their viewers aren't that sophisticated.

Actually, Daryl has to kill Dwight and Rick has to get his balls back and be the one to kill Negan.  The second that Dwight dropped that picture of Glenn and said, "You got your friend killed," and make Daryl cry, you knew that was the end of Dwight.  Daryl has really grown as a character over the past half of a season despite us not really getting to notice.  His relationship with Carol is very interesting and showed us a side of him we had been missing.  Here his unflinching (literally) attitude in the face of death shows a mental stability that we doubted in the agony of his cries.  I'm interested to see if this is all a setup that leads to finishing his story or a springboard for him to take over as a leader.

Dwight tracking down the dude (I can't even remember if they gave him a name) and him choosing to be shot instead of returning to Negan felt very repetitive.  The scene wasted lots of time in the middle of the episode and really just reiterated what Carol actually showed us last episode when she walked away from Ezekiel's little circus.  Yes, we get it, Negan is a shit and you don't like living there and you'd rather be dead.  We just had a montage that showed us just as much.  At least The Governor tried to make it hospitable.  Negan is crazy nutso.  We really don't have to spend any more time on that.  And in the vernacular of the day, Negan likes to "grab a little p----" which is a word I didn't realize was so easily dropped on TV, even AMC.  But apparently the buffet was open.

So I'm the perpetually annoying viewer who complained that there was a whole episode of dripping eyeballs and hands almost cut off and then complained that there were tigers and dog food sandwiches with barely anything happening.  I'm not completely disappointed at all.  I just hope there's a point to all of this that I'm just not seeing yet.

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