This isn't a bad thing. It's more of a TV plot occupational hazard than anything else.
The season premiere changed the show's universe in massive, permanent ways, which means we're going to need some slower plot-driven episodes to solidify where we're at in the series.
"The Cell" starts off with that weird Melty Face Guy from The Saviors (I'm sure he has a name, I refuse to use it) making a dog food sandwich for Daryl, who had been captured earlier.
Daryl's naked, chained up and clearly still dealing with the guilt from accidentally getting Glenn and Abraham home run'd in the face.
After being removed from his cell for a few minutes, he is shown a pack of walkers by the fence being corralled by a few other Savior slave/inmates.
Daryl is warned if he doesn't cooperate he will be turned into a zombie.
The repetition of what it's like being an inmate plays a key part in the first half of the episode. We see Daryl given the same food in the same way over and over again until he's able to sneak out of his holding cell.
He doesn't get far, though, before he is confronted by Melty Face Guy's ex-wife, Sherry, who recently found out she wasn't pregnant.
She gives Daryl the *typical* “turn back before it gets worse” spiel. Daryl doesn't listen *typical*, continues his escape from The Savior's prison and is caught *typical* by Negan's gang.
He is given three options by Negan after getting caught:
1. He can get killed and work for Negan “as a dead man.”
2. He can go back to his cell, continue to “work for points” -- an inmate work-study-internship thing they've got going on that would make Daryl wish he were dead.
3. He can be a good worker for Negan and reap the benefits of living life with The Saviors.
In the meantime, Melty Face Guy, who was sent on a mission to track down a runaway, is brought face to face with an old friend of his, Gordon, trying to escape.
MFG holds Gordon at gunpoint as the two debate whether there is a point in going back to camp.
The emotional arch of the episode rests on the conversation these two have about what is worth giving up for safety.
While we don't know yet (emphasis on the "yet") what Negan did to MFG or Sherry, we do know life as a Savior has a clear downside.
In exchange for safety and a sense of community, members have to submit their entire being to a man with a baseball bat covered in barbed wire, arguably the most overdone theme of the show to this point (how many weird towns are they going to stop in with one eccentric flaw before they just decide to make a tree house and call it a day?!?!).
Melty Face ends up killing Gordon, possibly his only friend left on the planet.
Later, after a small awkward hallway meeting with his ex-wife -- we've all been there -- Melty Face decides to shake things up in his attempt to emotionally break Daryl.
So he leaves a polaroid in his cell with the dog food sandwich reminding him of the friends he got killed.
This works, and Daryl is brought to Negan's room where Negan explains how MFG ended up as one of the leaders in the community.
Apparently Melty Face Guy, his “super hot wife” and her super hot sister were on this points plan set up by the Saviors that was offered to Daryl.
At some point, MFG and his ex-wife needed medicine but were behind on points. Negan decided to "help" them out by offering them the drugs in exchange for him being allowed to marry Sherry -- because he's “a stand-up guy.”
After Sherry said she'd have to think about it, MFG stole all the medicine and took off with her to escape Negan.
They were able to get away before MFG had a change of heart and returned to the compound. In order to save MFG's life when they got back, she agreed to marry Negan.
Melty Face Guy had an iron taken to his face, Negan married Sherry and the rest is beautiful awful history.
Following the story, Negan asks Daryl to join the Saviors through this whole “We are Marshall!” thing (replace the word “Marshall” with “Negan”).
Daryl refuses. He is thrown back in his cell and right before MFG closes the door he says he understands why MFG came back with Sherry.
Melty Face walks outside for a little retrospection where he sees the zombie version of Gordon hanging with the rest of the walkers.
OK, two episodes of building plot. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE give us something juicy for episode four.
1. I'd watch the hell out of a "Real Housewives" show that takes place during the zombie apocalypse featuring the "super hot" wives of surviving various human clans.
2. I hate feeling bad for Daryl but I think that's going to be the case for the time being. He has to deal with the emotional fallout from Negan's home run skull crush derby, so there is a good chance we're not going to see badass crossbow Daryl any time soon.
3. Is Negan's death bat the coolest evil villain weapon? I'm putting it up there with Darth Vader's light saber and that air needle cattle canon thing that guy in "No Country For Old Men" used on humans.