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Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) does not exist in the Walking Dead comic books, but the comics lay out a path for the character regardless — a path that would involve Daryl filling Dwight’s (Austin Amelio) shoes.
But that path isn’t “easy street,” certainly not after the series invested an entire episode in humanizing Dwight. Sure, there are plenty of reasons to loathe Negan’s (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) scarred and scared lieutenant, from killing Denise (Merritt Wever) to robbing and shooting Daryl. But over the course of “The Cell,” it became clear that Dwight’s actions do not reflect his heart. He’s only serving Negan because the alternative would mean the death of his wife Sherry (Christine Evangelista) — and indeed, she’s now his ex-wife, seeing as Sherry married Negan in order to prevent Dwight’s death. From the hard battle for the simple pleasure of eating an egg sandwich, to the agonizing decision to shoot and kill an old friend, Dwight now stands revealed as a sympathetic figure, if not quite yet reaching the fan-favorite status he enjoys in the comics.
Given the level of work poured into Dwight’s arc this week, perhaps AMC’s The Walking Dead plans on staying close to the source material for the show’s other bow-wielding badass. If that’s the case, here are seven different sides of Dwight we might eventually see on the show, based on his journey through the comics.
Final warning: major spoilers from the Walking Dead comics are ahead.
1. The Prisoner
In the comics during his first appearance, Dwight assaults Alexandria on Negan’s behalf. It does not go well, thanks to Eugene’s (Josh McDermitt) bite being bigger than Dwight’s bark. (Leaving that one alone …) On the show, Dwight escapes after Eugene makes his move, but in the comics, he’s captured and tossed into an Alexandrian holding cell. Is Daryl currently taking on Dwight’s imprisonment storyline, or will Dwight eventually find his way into the prison cell that Morgan (Lennie James) created back in season six?
2. The Fugitive
In any case, Dwight does not stay behind bars for long. Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) issues the order to release Dwight, in order to stave off any future problems with Negan. But Rick has a secret plan, as he often does. He sends Jesus (Tom Payne) to secretly follow Dwight back to the Sanctuary, so they can learn how to find Negan’s primary headquarters. Mission accomplished, even if the mission contains a few more bumps in the road than expected. If this turn makes its way onto the show, then Dwight’s carelessness could contribute to Rick’s people gaining an advantage against Negan.
3. The Double Agent
Not that Dwight won’t mind turning the tables on his old boss, as clearly evidenced in “The Cell,” and made even more explicit in the comics. When Rick finally meets King Ezekiel (Khary Payton) to join forces against the Saviors, Ezekiel reveals a surprise partner in the war: Dwight. Turns out, he’s not so happy living under Negan’s thumb, and he wants to do everything in his power to help take the man down. The show laid track for Dwight’s dissatisfaction with Negan, so it’s easy enough to see how he might turn against his boss in a future episode.
4. The Triple Agent
But Dwight’s deception isn’t so straightforward. As the all-out war escalates, Negan resorts to germ warfare, dipping his weapons in zombie gore in order to spread infection. The plan works, with several members of Rick’s army succumbing to zombie fever — including Rick, almost, thanks to Dwight. In the heat of battle, Dwight uses his signature crossbow to shoot what’s believed to be an infected arrow through Rick’s side. Once a turncoat, always a turncoat, right?
5. The Quadruple Agent
Wrong! Turns out, Dwight only shoots Rick to further establish his cover within the Saviors. There was no zombie gore on the arrow. But it creates an opportunity for Rick to gain the upper hand on Negan again, paving the way for Alexandria to outmatch the Saviors once and for all. If not for Dwight’s quadruple cross, the war would have had a very different outcome.
6. The Leader
Following “All Out War,” the comics skip forward a couple of years in time. Alexandria and the surrounding communities are thriving without Negan’s oppressive rules holding them back. While Negan sweats out his days in a prison cell, Dwight carries forward as the new leader of the Saviors — complete with ownership over Lucille. The show could very easily give this leadership position to Daryl, given how much the show has invested in the character over the past seven years. That said, with so much attention on Dwight in “The Cell,” it’s worth wondering if the show will stick to the original script this time.
7. The Walker
Finally, there’s the zombie side of Dwight. No, he doesn’t die — at least not as of this publication, through issue 160 — but he does wear a dead man’s flesh. After fighting Negan, Rick’s group encounters an even more harrowing threat: the Whisperers, men and women who wear skin suits in order to blend in with the dead. War breaks out between the two sides, and so far, Dwight’s playing a key role in the fight, going so far as to wear one of the Whisperer suits so he can attack them from within. Don’t expect the Whisperers until season eight at the very earliest, but once they arrive, it won’t be long before Dwight uses their own tactics against them — assuming it’s not Daryl Dixon in the skin suit, at least.
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