Thoughts with summary mixed together:
Episode opens with the Jam's 'Town called Malice' and Dwight's existence and whiff of what it's like to be Savior at different levels all done via Montage. An egg sandwich is the result of a lot of shaking down of others in the compound. Inner fighting and beat-downs occur all the time (a kind of judicial system based on obedience and stepping out of line.) Meanwhile Daryl is undergoing torture by Negan to break his will. It's not going very well for the Saviors because they don't know Daryl. He grew up with a life time of abuse from his father and brother. This world works well in Daryl's favor and thousand playings of 'Easy Street' doesn't make him bat an eye and neither does Lucille (speaking of bats). Negan has constructed a whole existence based on subjugation and psychological warfare that is enforced at every level to get what he wants.
Dwight is being tested all the time by Negan. Negan asked him if Dwight wants to sleep with his old girlfriend (Negan's bride) and Dwight says no. Dwight says no to sex with any woman of his choice. Dwight pushes away the notion that his manhood has been compromised when Negan toys with him. He volunteers to go after someone who has cut and run which Negan keeps telling him is beneath him and he asserts he has something to prove to Negan, which Negan likes.
Dwight nearly dies going after the guy who cut and run due to walker overpass rain conditions. When he catches the guy, the runaway doesn't care about threats from Dwight and has lost his will to live under the rule of the saviors. In some ways this man is free and doesn't care when Dwight shoots him. He doesn't have to put up with anything anymore.
I gave this episode a 65 using Robin's scale. Angela Kang I thought did a wonderful job of weaving together Negan's obedience hierarchical process at his compound with Daryl's plight and Dwight's story. I felt like I got great insights into how Negan operates with his people and how he thinks. This did more in one episode with Negan's character than several episodes did with the Governor. I felt like I learned a lot about Dwight's existence and the politics he plays into and employs.
* 'A Town Call Malice'! I grew up listening to the Jam and it brilliantly accompanies the montage describing Dwight's existence through his eyes and life at the Savior's home base. He does what he needs to do to help Negan and himself, however he definitely wants a change in his life; leaving and if he could with Negan's wife (his ex girlfriend.)
* The torture techniques thrown on Daryl were wearing on the viewer. (Great fourth wall stuff).
I already knew Daryl was tough, however this episode really shows how iron his will is. He doesn't flinch when Negan was going to beat him and doesn't succumb to the cell until he saw the picture of Glenn.
* Negan is pragmatic about his subjugation. If he sees a strength he can use in a person he's smart enough to figure out how to manipulate them to do his bidding. As much as he commands respect and obedience he respects the strength and health of others because he recognizes that they can find things for him that will make his life easier. He does give little rewards to those who follow and listen to him to keep them in check. He's a smart guy.
* I liked many parts of this episode. However, I am puzzled about how Dwight's inner feelings and where Daryl is at. What does Dwight feel when he sees the walker on the pole? Does he feel like he will end up there? Or is it more like is this all there is?
* I can see that Daryl feels like he deserves his treatment and that he won't be broken easy, however where is his story going? Negan seems to be patient with him and admires his strength.
This could get tropic and Daryl could become the enemy of Rick and Company (I hope not.) I hope he remains defiant against Negan. Of course, there is a trope going the other way where he can fake obedience to Negan to get Rick and company some advantage and the Saviors in the future.
* Does Dwight see Daryl as a potential threat to his position with Negan since Negan sees Daryl's potential?
* Is Dwight capable of coming over to the Rick's side?
* Will Dwight help Daryl escape?
* Does Dwight see his own existence as futile?
* Is Dwight plotting something or will he be just an opportunist that will take advantage of a situation where he sees a way to eliminate Negan and others to get what he wants?
* Does Dwight's ex girlfriend have a thing for Daryl or does she see him as a means of escaping the Saviors?
* Will Daryl become a Savior?