Spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 7 Episode 3 follow.
Dwight is really trying to make you hate him. The guy even hates himself. But we should not hate him as much as what is on the surface is telling us to.
Dwight is not actually a bad guy. Obviously, Robert Kirkman's comics lay out a transformation for the character but, comics aside, The Walking Dead TV series is teaching us that Dwight hates the man he is being forced to be complicit, making him more captive than anything else.
First of all, Dwight does not have any real desire to serve Negan. The only reason the man earned the awful scarring on his face was to protect his wife. In fact, Dwight is so blindly in love with his wife Sherry that he even handed her over to Negan in an effort to keep her safe.
As pointed out by Daryl before the episode ended, the character submits to Negan because he has someone else in mind. It's the exact reason Daryl refuses to kneel to the menace. When you have something to lose you'll do unspeakable things - especially if it is something you love.
Throughout The Cell, Dwight tried to instill fear upon Daryl. He tried to tell convince him that serving Negan and kneeling is the smart thing to do but never did it sound like he was trying to convince Daryl more than he was trying to convince himself. The same can be said about his encounter with Gordon in the streets. As Dwight tried to bring Gordon in for punishment, Gordon refused and accepted the fate of death. Killing Gordon showed us that Dwight still has a merciful side and, furthermore, is willing to betray Negan. Negan wants these people alive. Bending people to his own will is an exertion of power which shows those around him what he can do. When someone loses their fear, whether or not it is because they have lost it all, Negan loses his power.
While Dwight is certainly not one of the good guys, he is definitely not a true Savior to his core. He stays out of conflicts, reaps what benefits he can such as sandwiches and clothing, and punishes himself by doing the group's dirty work. Going after Gordon rather than sending fat Joey was probably a merciful move from the start. Joey would not have shown Gordon the decency of cutting him down in the street before bringing him back to serve the group and, at that point, dying seemed like a much better option.
Let's compare Dwight and Daryl: Daryl is strong enough to stand up to Negan in the face of death, has a family of people who care for him, and refuses to bend to Negan's will. Dwight handed over his wife, took an iron to the face, has no one left who truly cares for him, and does everything Negan asks.
Dwight is trying to be Daryl.
Dwight took on Daryl's vest. He rides his bike. He is trying to be strong. While he only wants what is best for Sherry because they were romantically involved, the same can be said about Daryl's passion for keeping Carol safe despite not being intimate with her. Though the relationships are different, the end goal is the same, and Daryl is the only one who was able to succeed in his efforts without submitting to a menace.
The icing on the cake here is Austin Amelio. The actor burdened with playing such a conflicted character brings him to life brilliantly. Dwight's internal scars are clearly present while the character tries to do suppress them to the best of his ability. It is not easy to play such a two-faced character and the make-up team can't do it all for Amelio in this case.
(Spoilers for Dwight's comic book story line follow)
Whether or not Dwight follows his comic book storyline of becoming Rick and Alexandria's inside man with Negan's Saviors is up in the air at this point but it is clear he does not enjoy the choices he is forced to make.
Dwight is so confliced both internally and externally that he hates himself enough for all of us. We don't need to be adding to it, just yet. Let's give him another chance.
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on AMC. For complete coverage and insider info all season long, follow @BrandonDavisBD on Twitter.