Last week’s episode of "The Walking Dead" allowed audiences to see what Carol was up to, and this week, the show expands its reach further to take us inside the Sanctuary to see just what happened to Daryl when Negan took him away from the group in the season premiere.

Negan’s psychological warfare continues

If we all thought watching Negan break Rick was brutal, watching Daryl be worn down is just as bad. Daryl isn’t being pushed out in the middle of a crowd of zombies or forced to chop off his kid’s hand or anything like that, though.

Instead, he’s an old-fashioned prisoner of war.

Watching Daryl be kept in isolation, stripped of his belongings, and forced to listen to the happiest of music instead of getting to sleep, all while he’s served dog food sandwiches is something of a wake-up call for the audience, and incredibly effective. The show doesn’t have to demonstrate bloody torture or acts of violence to make you worry about a character. Daryl being slowly driven out of his mind by Dwight and Negan’s plan is worse than seeing him face any other kind of weapon.

The dog food callback

One of the most interesting aspects of Daryl’s psychological torture is that he’s fed dog food sandwiches for all of his meals in his cell. On the one hand, this is simply to let the audience know just how much effort goes into breaking him down. On the other, it calls back to another desperate time on the show.

When Rick and the rest of the group were searching for a safe place to live after leaving Herschel’s farm behind, they were traveling through abandoned houses and finding whatever they could to eat.

Houses that were picked clean though meant that all Carl found in one was cans of dog food. As the group huddled around a fire and carl opened the can, Rick was the one who stopped them all from eating it. No matter how low they got, he wouldn’t let them get quite that low.

Dwight isn’t just a villain

For those unfamiliar with the graphic novels, or those who are used to the show deviating from them, there might have been expectation that Dwight would just be Negan’s right hand man.

As it turns out though, Dwight’s story for this season in the show looks to be closer to his comic book story than we’ve seen for others.

Dwight isn’t just a jerk or Negan’s lapdog, but instead, is attempting to do everything Negan asks in an effort to protect his former wife, now Negan’s wife. Dwight has thrown himself into being Negan’s model guy because not only does it keep him safe, but it keeps Sherry safe -- or as safe as they can be living with what look like a bunch of followers of a sociopath.

This adds layers to the character so Dwight doesn’t just fall into the two dimensional henchman category and it gives the viewers hope that Daryl might eventually have a couple of allies in the Sanctuary.

Daryl finally breaks, but not completely

What finally gets Daryl to break down in his cell is Dwight blaming him for Glenn’s death, complete with the polaroid of Lucille’s handiwork on Glenn’s skull. It leaves Daryl crying in the dark and even making himself sick over the thought, but it still doesn’t get him to agree to Negan’s terms.

As Daryl makes it clear that he isn’t going to take the easy way out with Negan, it reminds the audience just why Norman Reedus has become such a fan favorite on the show. He’s in an impossible situation, and he still chooses the option that’s going to cause him the most pain.

Now, with the guilt of Glenn’s death weighing on him, maybe Daryl thinks he deserves that pain, but maybe, he’s also trying to buy himself a little more time.

The verdict

Focusing on a single main character could have made for a slow episode, but instead, “The Walking Dead” delved into backstory for supporting characters and allowed Norman Reedus to flex his dramatic muscles in a well crafted, if psychologically taxing, hour.

3 out of 5 stars.

What’s next

Fans are in for an extended episode next week as “Service” returns the audience to the group in Alexandria.

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