Why The Walking Dead Is Putting Daryl Through Hell During Season 7

the walking dead the cell daryl

Warning: spoilers ahead for the latest episode of The Walking Dead, entitled "The Cell."

For many viewers, Daryl Dixon has always felt like one of the safest characters on The Walking Dead. He's not present in the source material, and his popularity has endured despite the fact he's apparently gone for the better part of a decade without a haircut and/or shower. Unfortunately, his popularity hasn't spared him some truly hellish treatment. According to Norman Reedus, there's a reason why Daryl has been tortured to the brink of madness by Negan and the Saviors. He had this to say about Daryl's rough ride in Season 7:

You have to take a hero and you have to break him to his lowest point. I think that's kind of the theme of this whole season.

Well, if you were hoping that the show would lighten up on the good guys' suffering after a few episodes, Norman Reedus' reveal about the ongoing Season 7 theme of breaking heroes might be kind of a bummer. "The Cell" certainly proved that Negan still has work to do when it comes to breaking Daryl. Even despite the physical beatings, the mental torture, the dog food sandwiches, and warnings that his torment would only get worse if he didn't cooperate, Daryl wasn't so wrecked that he would join Negan's crew. This particular hero will need more than just one episode to lose his loyalty to Rick and the rest of his surviving pals in Alexandria.

All in all, filming for The Walking Dead Season 7 can't be easy for the actors. Sure, the zombies and beatings and bloody eyeballs are all special effects, but Norman Reedus was really naked on the floor to devour icky sandwiches while covered in filth. Reedus went on in his chat with IGN to reveal this about his job in Season 7:

It's coming toward the end, and it's just been exhausting and it's just been full of tears and sadness. I've been told, 'Hang in there.' [laughs] You know what I mean? I was like, 'We used to be so badass on this show! We were running through the woods shooting things and flying out of trees and stuff,' and [Robert Kirkman's] like, 'Just stick with it.'

The Daryl who was shivering naked on a cell floor is definitely a far cry from the Daryl who stormed out of the forest and onto the scene in Season 1 hanging on to a rope of dead squirrels while kicking the bejesus out of a zombie. It's no wonder that Norman Reedus hasn't been having the most fun for Season 7; he hasn't even gotten to wear his vest or carry his crossbow.

Hopefully his circumstances in The Sanctuary will change sooner rather than later. Dwight doesn't seem quite ready to help him just yet, although Sherry could prove to be an ally. Daryl could always decide play along with the Saviors and say "I am Negan" just to get out of his cell and try to take down Negan from the inside. Still, he doesn't seem ready to give up being Daryl, even if only as a ruse.

Tune in to AMC on Sundays at 9 p.m. ET to see what's next for Daryl and Co. on The Walking Dead and check out what we know about the upcoming episodes, here.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).