Daryl (Norman Reedus) pays the price for his heroics in The Cell. He was taken prisoner in The Walking Dead Season 7 premiere by Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). Daryl struck him after Abraham was killed. This action directly resulted in Glenn's head being smashed like a watermelon. Daryl was thrown in a van by Dwight (Austin Amelio). We now know where he ends up and it's as bad as expected.
Episode three opens with a montage played along to a cheesy song, "Easy Street" by the Collapsible Hearts. Dwight watches "Who's The Boss" on VHS tapes. He's in the process of making a sandwich. He skips a line of crestfallen workers to get bread. Sees a man get killed for refusing to comply with the Saviors. He rifles through the dead man's belongings to find condiments. Then takes a few eggs from another weary worker. As he eats his tasty egg sandwich, he looks out into a yard of spiked walkers. The man that was killed earlier is now one of them. Dwight makes another sandwich. This one made out of dog food. He opens a cell door to reveal a naked and dirty Daryl. The awful music has been blasting the entire time of his captivity. Welcome to the Sanctuary, the compound of the Saviors.
Dwight brings Daryl another sandwich, but this time throw's him rug sack clothes. There's an 'A' spray painted on the front. Dwight has Daryl's crossbow. He takes Daryl to a doctor to get a check up. Dwight is surprised to see Sherry (Christine Evangelista). She was taking a pregnancy test. It's negative. Sherry begs Daryl to do whatever they tell him. She's forced to leave. The doctor tells Daryl he will recover from his injuries and to trust Negan. He takes care of his own.
Daryl is being led back to his cell when Negan makes an appearance. He smiles at Daryl as all the men bow. Dwight shows Daryl the spiked walkers in the yard. He pointedly says that he can end up there or be a part of the Saviors. He's thrown back into the cell as the music cranks up again. Negan takes Dwight to the side. Gordon, a former Savior, has run away from the Sanctuary. Dwight volunteers to return him.
Dwight is on Daryl's motorcycle on a highway looking for the escapee. Back in his cell, another Savior brings Daryl his dog food sandwich. He closes the door, but doesn't lock it. Daryl takes a chance to escape. He slinks down the halls, avoiding Saviors, when Sherry comes up on him. She begs him to go back to his cell. She says it'll be worse when they capture him.
Daryl sees motorcycles in the yard. He runs for it, jumping on the first one. It was a trap. He hears Negan whistling, followed by "are you pissing your pants yet?" Daryl is surrounded by Saviors. Negan points Lucille to each his of men. He asks them their names. They all reply, "Negan". He says there are three choices at the Sanctuary. End up a walker on a spike. Work for the Saviors earning points to survive. Or swear loyalty to him and live like a king. Daryl says nothing. Negan swings Lucille at Daryl, who doesn't budge an inch. Negan smiles, Daryl continues to impress him. He walks away as Daryl is beaten up by the Saviors.
Dwight hasn't had much luck. The motorcycle has a flat. He had to fight off a bunch of walkers that fell from an overpass. But he finally sees Gordon, the escaped man on the road. Gordon refuses to come back. He says there's nothing in the Sanctuary, that it all belongs to Negan. He chastises Dwight for allowing Sherry to be taken. Dwight swears he will kill all of Gordon's friends if he doesn't return. Gordon turns away. Dwight shoots him in the back.
Upon his return to the Sanctuary, Dwight encounters Sherry smoking a cigarette. He asks for one. They exchange light pleasantries. Dwight asks if Negan is treating her well. She asks if they did the right thing. Dwight responds that it's better than death. He takes another sandwich to Daryl's music inundated cell. Daryl throws it in his face. Dwight puts a picture of Glenn's remains on the wall. He then starts playing "Crying" by Roy Orbison. Daryl at first couldn't look at the picture, but turns it over. He breaks down in tears. Dwight listens outside his door with satisfaction.
The cell door opens again. Dwight takes Daryl to a small apartment where Negan is waiting. Negan offers Daryl water and a straw. Daryl doesn't drink. Negan says this could be his place. He points at Dwight's burned face and explains how he got it. Dwight, Sherry, and Tina, her diabetic sister; had all worked for her medicine. Negan had offered Tina marriage. But the three escaped the compound, stealing the meds. This harkens back to where Daryl met them in the previous season.
After having to kill Tina when she was bitten, they stole Daryl's gear and returned to the Sanctuary. Sherry offered herself to Negan to spare Dwight's life. Dwight wasn't killed, but burnt on his face as punishment. Negan, emasculating Dwight further, says that he's his best man. No hard feelings, even after giving up his hot wife. Negan then offers Daryl the choice. What's your name? Daryl looks up at him coldly, then says "Daryl".
Dwight throws Daryl back into the cell. He screams at him for making the wrong choice. It will only get worse. Daryl responds that he knows why Dwight returned. He did it for someone else. Just as he will never give in to Negan, because of what he did to Glenn and Abraham. As Daryl lies on the floor, Sherry whispers into his cell. She apologizes for their actions last year. Daryl had told her she would be sorry. Sherry says that he was right. Dwight looks out into the yard. Gordon is now a spiked walker. He turns around in shame, but still wearing Daryl's jacket.
The Cell showed the fortitude of Daryl, but also the political dynamics of the Sanctuary. Negan rules by absolute fear. The seeds of revolution are there to be grown. We finally learn Dwight and Sherry's story. They seem like obvious allies for Daryl, especially since they still care about each other. The question is how much of Negan's punishment can Daryl take? Jeffrey Dean Morgan continues to be delightfully vile as Negan. He's supremely arrogant, but no fool. It wouldn't surprise me if Negan had a few more tricks up his sleeve as The Walking Dead Season 3 continues on AMC.