Spoilers for The Walking Dead show and comic book are below.
Audiences have seen the world of The Walking Dead get a lot wider and wilder in Season 6 as the TV show begins its headlong dive into the comic book’s most fantastic narrative stretch, with the hulking psycho Negan soon arriving to turn everything upside down for Rick & Co. His goon squad The Saviors have been doing a solid job of setting him up, especially now that “Twice As Far” has reintroduced viewers to the crossbow-stealing Dwight, played by Austin Amelio. And since TV Dwight is far more recognizable to comic fans after getting his face burned, it’s a great time to dig a little deeper into who this character is in the source material.
His ArrivalInterestingly, Dwight’s live-action introduction last year was completely different from how he entered the comic narrative, and the events shown in “Twice As Far” are much closer to his illustrated version’s first moments. On the page, he immediately earned everyone’s hatred and disgust by murdering Abraham as the red-headed badass was getting some feelings off of his chest. (Abraham was substituted for Denise in the show.) Thankfully, not much changed in the page-to-screen adaptation of Eugene biting Dwight’s crotch, which is easily the most successful diversion in history.
That’s not to take away from how Dwight came into the TV show, however. In the comics, Dwight is also distinct for having a crossbow as his weapon of choice. Since fellow crossbow enthusiast Daryl doesn’t exist on the page, it made perfect sense that Dwight’s story and Daryl’s would intersect in live-action, although having it happen so early and in that way could have thrown a wrench into the works on bringing Comic Dwight’s whole story to the show. More on that soon.
His ScarDwight’s gnarly scar on the left side of his head obviously sets him apart from the rest of the Saviors as far as appearances go, but it also differentiates him from everyone else emotionally. You see, it came from Negan. When Dwight and his wife Sherry became Saviors, she decided to join Negan’s harem of “wives” to keep them on good terms with the immoral leader. But when the two decided to break the rules and re-consummate their marriage, they were caught, and Negan’s punishment for Dwight was putting a hot iron to the side of his face. We have yet to hear what caused the ironing on the TV show, but I’m betting it had to do with TV Dwight turning tail earlier this season.
This distinct facial feature plays a role in Dwight’s sense of confidence – just because it makes him look like a hardcore badass doesn’t mean he loves it – and it’s also a big factor in his relationship with Negan. Dwight may be the top enforcer, but Negan rarely treats him with the kind of respect a second-in-command deserves, often insulting Dwight and downplaying his ideas. The scar is a constant reminder of their one-sided power dynamic, and it definitely takes a toll.
His PersonalityThough his initial acts are as monstrous as his scars, and though he is responsible for several more heinous crimes against Rick’s group as things go on, Dwight is a more complex character than every other generic Savior milling about with ill intent. In fact, besides The Governor and possibly Negan, Dwight is probably the most fleshed-out antagonist in The Walking Dead comics, and all without ever anchoring any major storylines. Robert Kirkman skillfully weaved Dwight’s expositional moments, along with flashes of humor and intelligence, quite naturally into everything else happening around him, and I really hope the show is able to duplicate that.
Not much is known about Dwight’s past, but he used to be a soldier, which goes a long way in explaining his loyalty to Negan and his skills with weapons and combat. It doesn’t appear that he was very highly ranked, as Dwight also has something of a problem with taking on any kind of a leadership position himself, and he seems far more relaxed following orders diligently rather than barking those orders out to others. No doubt this lack of ambition is another reason why Negan treats him like a pet.
His FutureIn the comics, Dwight reaches a point where he is at odds with Negan and begins going behind the leader’s back for certain things, which helps to keep the character both interesting and relevant in the twisting narrative. It’s hard to say how that will go to go down on the show, if it even does, since Dwight was already on the run from Negan and avoiding his Savior-dom when he first popped in as Daryl’s captor in the first half of Season 6. He was caught at some point, though, and apparently regained his faith in Negan’s reign, given how much more sinister Dwight was portrayed this time around. Is it possible he’ll change his mind once again in the future?
We’re still a long way from seeing how Dwight and Negan’s relationship pans out on the show, and the near future will likely pit Dwight against Daryl in a huge way. Norman Reedus got fans amped by saying Daryl would have a lot going on as Season 6 went into the back half, and although we’ve seen him getting duped by Jesus and blowing up Saviors, his memorable moments have been few and far between since the midseason premiere. But Dwight is the guy that not only stole his crossbow and motorcycle, but also the one that shit all over his newfound faith in humanity. It’s impossible to know how this feud could play out, considering the comic books are Dixon-free, but I don’t think we’ll soon see those two characters sitting down for stale coffee and acorn doughnuts. And considering Dwight is the one that killed Denise, Daryl definitely isn’t the only one of the Alexandrians who wants to tear Dwight apart.
So there you have it, guys. Actor Austin Amelio has done a pretty solid job so far of bringing Dwight to TV, and he’s gotten on my nerves quite a few times already. Should TV Dwight follow Comic Dwight’s story as closely as he did in the most recent episode, then we’re getting yet another well-rounded and dependable mid-level character to scream at and speculate on, and he should be around for quite a while. Unless he isn't.
The Walking Dead airs Sunday nights on AMC.
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