Are you ready for Daryl (Norman Reedus) versus Dwight (Austin Amelio), round four? After stealing his bike, killing his friend, and shooting him in the shoulder, on this week's episode of The Walking Dead the scarred villain Dwight finally has Daryl where he wants him... But that doesn't mean you should count Daryl down for the count, either.
Taken prisoner by Negan's (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) crew The Saviors at the end of the Season 7 premiere, "The Cell" picks up with a bruised and battered Daryl at the mercy of Negan and Dwight; but his biggest enemy (cue heart-warming after-school special music)... Might be himself.
"You see shots of him being shoved down a hallway, and pushed by the head... And he's not fighting back, at all," Reedus told TVGuide.com over the phone. "He thinks he deserves to be there, and whatever is going to happen to him, he's just going to let it happen. He feels incredible guilt over what just happened. He's lost the will to fight back."
What happened, in case you missed the most-watched episode of the show ever, is that Daryl caused the death of the earnest, good natured Glenn Rhee (Steven Yeun). He didn't mean to, of course. After Negan bashed in Abraham's (Michael Cudlitz) brains with his barbed-wire baseball bat Lucille in order to get Rick Grimes' (Andrew Lincoln) gang of post-apocalyptic zombie survivors to fall literally in line, the villain started waving his bloody bat in Abraham's ex-girlfriend's face.
So Daryl lashed out, and punched Negan. "If there's any residual effect from him hitting him in the face," Reedus said, "He's assuming it's going to be on him."
It wasn't, though. Dwight pulled Daryl's own crossbow on him, ready to kill Daryl; but Negan, impressed with Daryl's gumption, stopped Dwight. Instead, he killed Glenn to teach the whole group a lesson. The death of Glenn hit fans of the show, and hard. Though the second episode of the season skipped over to other characters, this week the specter of Glenn's death hangs heavy over everything, including Daryl's approach to his captivity.
"Glenn... He was the heart of our group," Reedus noted. "He was the optimistic one. He had faith in people."
Not so much Dwight, who was first introduced while on the run from Negan, before betraying Daryl and returning back into The Saviors' fold. "Negan is a man to be feared, and definitely a driving force for Dwight, getting the job done and not messing up under Negan's thumb," Amelio told TVGuide.com about Dwight's motivating force in the episode.
In a certain way, Dwight's other motivating force is that he's trying to become Daryl. He's stolen Daryl's bike, stolen Daryl's crossbow, and in this week's episode has been seen wearing Daryl's vest. But other than these brief scenes where the two Ds have butted heads, Dwight's been mostly a mystery.
"I get a lot of people saying, 'Oh, he's my new favorite villain!'" Amelio noted. "I don't really look at him as a villain, as much as a guy who hasn't had his story completely fleshed. He's a little misunderstood."
All the best villains think that though, right? That they're the heroes of the story? And funnily enough, that divide even (sort of) extends to the set. We asked both Amelio and Reedus what the atmosphere behind the scenes is like between The Saviors, and the old guard cast-members; and both told very different stories.
Amelio did admit that shooting so many scenes with Morgan created a certain separation with the rest of the cast by necessity; but that ultimately it's "one big happy family," seeing each as equals and having a regular, weekly game night.
"It's not like, 'Oh god, Dwight can't sit with us, I hate that guy,'" Amelio said, laughing.
Reedus is having a bit of a different experience. "I'm walking around set and someone is wearing my clothes," he recalled. "It's hard for me — Norman — to accept that. It's been a hard season. It's been dark, it's been emotional, it's different. Andy [Lincoln] and I joke, 'remember when we were badass and stuff?' We joke about it, but both of us are exhausted. It's tiring, and emotionally draining."
In a weird way, this divide parallels how the two groups (The Saviors, and the Grimes Gang) are depicted on screen: one living the relative high life; the other their "stuff" taken away, and forced through the ringer. Ultimately, that divide powers what happens on screen, ("[It] actually kind of helps," Amelio noted), of course; and the cast is one big happy family in real life.
But when it comes to Dwight and Daryl, the two may never meet in the middle. While Dwight might try to reach out to Daryl, or help him in his own twisted way, Daryl is having none of it. Reedus noted that the first time Dwight screwed Daryl over, "that seems forgivable, in this world," because Dwight was doing it out of fear, something Daryl has battled with time and again.
Now that his friends have been killed, and Daryl has been imprisoned? It's a vastly different story. "It's changed to the point where now, he's got to go," Reedus said. "Daryl wants to rip the rest of his face off."
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC. Check back after this week's episode airs for way more with Reedus and Amelio.