The Walking Dead Power Rankings 7.03: “The Cell”

After opening on a full 2-minute montage for a sandwich that would have made Liz Lemon proud, we're finally treated to the all-Daryl, all-grunting-and-brooding 1-hour extravaganza we were promised last week—though, to be fair, Norman Reedus did a great job portraying his suffering.

True, this episode was no “The Well,” but for the second straight week, The Walking Dead left something to be desired. We realize Negan can't bash someone's brains in every episode and Rick can't enact his revenge in Episode 3, but we've also watched enough television to know that it's hard to ask viewers to tune in for an hour every week when you keep giving them 20 minutes of skippable setup and 40 of commercials.

It's become almost formula for The Walking Dead to hook you with a great episode and then give you two or more forgettable ones in a row—like they want to stretch you to the brink of giving up, and then reel you back in from the edge at the very last moment.

Oh god … they're creating they're own post-apocalyptic human drama and we're the stars!

Walking Tall

From displays of dominance to faction elimination, a look at which characters saw their prospects rise this week

Joe Brosnan: Negan

They say time heals all wounds, and in The Walking Dead’s case that takes exactly two weeks. You can officially call me a Negan convert. Or better yet, just call me Negan—for that is my name, and he is my god. But seriously, besides being a captivating sonuvabitch, this week’s cold open showed that life on the Negan commune isn’t all murder and despair. There’s a garden! And a bakery! They’ve got Nok-Hockey! Maybe, just maybe, Negan’s group of people aren’t all too different than Group Grimes.

Side Note: Am the only one getting serious Aaron Rodgers vibes from Negan? It’s only a matter of time until Negan tells Rick to check yourself before you Discount Double Wreck yourself.

Pritpaul Bains: The Saviors

This episode finally gave us a lengthy glimpse into the daily lives of The Saviors, allowing viewers to see how the privileged live out the apocalypse—and, well, let's just say that their lives are about everything you could hope for after the rest of the world has ended.

Are you kidding me? Nok-Hockey? Who's the Boss? Just-baked bread? Farm-fresh vegetables? Roy Orbison? Y'know, I kinda think I'd be able to live with a little fear and oppression and the odd grisly murder of some poor innocent sap if all that was the payoff. Yeah, so I have to bend the knee to an asshole with a bat once in awhile? Worth it.

An honorable mention to Dwight for living his best life with that egg sandwich.

Adam Wagner: Dwight

If Ramsay Bolton has taught us anything, it’s that you can only push so far before anger, pride, and disgust outweigh fear. Eventually, your victims are going to bite the hand (or face) that feeds them. After seeing Daryl get methodically broken down and hearing just how bad Negan treated Douchebag Dwight, we get a little bit of sympathy for the situation of D. It’s hardly an excuse for his actions, but it’s also harder to blame him for looking out for those he loved in a world like this—hell, our own protagonists have done some awful things and we still root for them week in and week out.

The reason I picked Dwight as a riser is because I saw the inkling of recognition, that twitch of understanding. He’s coming to realize the awful situation he’s put himself in and how terrible Negan can be—after all, he’s the one who inflicted that Harvey Dent in his face and then cuckolded him.

He’s no longer under the brainwashing power of fear, and I predict Ol’ D-bag Dwight will have his laugh in the end.

Eaten Alive

From poor decisions to lost lives, a look at which characters lost ground this week.

PB: Daryl

I mean, obviously. Let's set aside the direct role he played in getting Rick and crew captured. Let's ignore the fact that his inability to keep his emotions in check essentially led to Abraham's death. Let's forget that yet *another* petty temper tantrum directly led to Glenn's death.

Set aside all the bullshit moves you've made in the last few weeks, Daryl, and just pretend for a little while that you care about making up for some of the damage you've done. Be smart. You want to live long enough to make things right for Maggie, Sasha, Rick, and the others? Play the goddamned long game and accept Negan's offer. Look where principle has gotten you so far.

JB: Dwight

On television, the name Dwight is like the name Adolf in real life—there’s one particular guy who will always be remembered first, and on TV, Schrute is king. Other than living in the beet-stained shadows of an earth-tone wearing paper salesman, our new Dwight just simply doesn’t know who he wants to be. He wears Daryl’s clothes. Uses Daryl’s weapon. Rides Daryl’s bike. Hell, it's only a matter of time until he starts rocking some sweaty bangs. And the only reason he’s alive is because his wife opted to marry Negan in exchange for his life. I can’t help but feel like it’s only a matter of time before Dwight snaps, and Negan’s not going to take kindly to that.

AW: Angela Bower

Community – Abed explains “Who's the Boss?” by DanRodrigue

Who's the boss? It's a question that's not quite that simple … few are.

While Tony Danza as Tony Micelli was clearly the star of Who's the Boss?, Judith Light as Angela Bower was actually the boss.

However, by all known definitions of the word boss—i.e. one with authority over another—in 9 of 11 possible fields which one might teach, employ, guide, oversee, and/or otherwise hold dominion, the empircally provable answer to the question “Who's the boss?” is …


There's a path you take and a path untaken. The choice is up to you, my friend…

Hershel’s Heroes

A tribute to the late, great Hershel Greene, this section searches for the best displays of humanity amidst chaos this week.

JB: Sherry

Sherry remembers Daryl from their brush up in the woods, and she remembers how easy it would have been for Daryl to kill her. So it’s probably guilt, but she’s still sticking her neck out on the line for the newly incarcerated Daryl—a move she most certainly does not need to do. It’ll be interesting to see just how far she’ll be willing to go to try and protect him, but in a week with a limited cast, Sherry is clearly this week’s closest thing we’ve got to old Hershel.

AW: Gordon

A big reason why I think Dwight made the turn from douche to potential double-crosser in this episode is the testicular fortitude of a man pushed to his moral limits. For Gordon, death is a welcome substitute for the life he’s being forced to live, and he stares down the barrel of a gun with a calm reserved for those at who’ve accepted their fate. Not only did Gordon accept death over dishonor, he made his best attempt to impart a little wisdom into his former comrade, reminding him of who he used to be.

Though Dwight eventually broke him with threats to his own, I’d like to think Gordon’s words resonated—after all, he ended up giving Gordon what he wanted and shot him dead instead of taking him back to the wrath of Negan.

PB: Dwight

Well … I gotta be honest. I didn't expect to see Dwight anywhere near this section, ever. But this episode revealed a depth to his character that was heretofore unseen.

Between Dwight's conversation with (and decision to ultimately kill) his former friend Gordon and Negan spelling out his humiliation and emasculation to Daryl while Dwight just stood there and took it, viewers were finally given a more complete picture of his character—who he was and how he came to be Negan's lapdog. And it was interesting enough to make us care.

He (and his wife) obviously see a bit of themselves in Daryl and the position he finds himself in. Dwight either wants to either see a kindred soul validate the decision he made by making the same choice, or secretly wants Daryl to make the choice that Dwight never really had the option to make. You can see the fires of rebellion burning deep (deep, deep) within Dwight's eyes, I think—it's only a matter of when, not if. You have to think Negan knows, on some level, that he and Dwight are definitely not “cool.”

Rapid Fire

  • Did anyone else think Dwight was going to take a bite of the sandwich, look at the camera, and say “Eat fresh!”? (AW)
  • Every sandwich needs a montage … even Rocky had a montage! (AW)
  • Norman Reedus stars in: The Scarlet Sweater (AW)

  • “Happy hour at the pussy bar.” It’s a damn shame Abraham got Lucille’d. He and Negan could have been best buds. (JB)
  • These 60 minutes of commercials brought to you by The Walking Dead. (JB)
  • Mustard on an egg sandwich? Now that’s a monstrosity. (JB)
  • C'mon, Daryl—you really didn't think that unlocked cell was too good to be true? (PB)
  • Okay—I'm not the biggest Daryl fan, but his ability to convey the pain and the sheer futility of his situation without uttering a single word until the last minutes of the episode was pretty goddamned effective. (PB)

Zombie Kill of the Week

Freefall walker: because we can think of no other zombie kill in this episode, really (aside from a couple of generic crossbow deaths).

See also: The Walking Dead Power Rankings 7.02: “The Well”


Joe BrosnanAdam Wagner, and Pritpaul Bains all write for Criminal Element and love Spaghetti Tuesdays. Follow them on Twitter @joebro33@shagner904, and @pritpaulbains, respectively.


  1. Chuck Aeschbacher Jr

    I liked this weeks episode. I do think they ougt to do “we are Negan” to the Farmers Insurance tune but other than that…

  2. Allison Brennan

    I’m with Mark — though the episode was a little dragging in parts, I thought it was a terrific character study and has set up a lot for future episodes — Sherry, Dwight, etc. Compared to last week with Morgan and Carol, it was a terrific contrast between the two worlds outside of our beloved band of heroes. (As a writer, I love character studies and backstory — how did these people get to be who they are today?)

    Don’t dis Daryl! He’s one of my all-time favorites and most realistic of all the characters. Except — yeah, unlocked cell? Obvious!

    And Dwight — very interesting. But understanding him and his choices doesn’t absolve him of his actions. He did kill his friend — as he asked — then put him on the fence to live as dead.

    But ever since the Saviors have been introduced way back when, I can’t help but think of Bugs Life … with Negan as Hopper. Only I don’t think Negan is going to be scared of a bird …

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