Warning: SPOILERS ahead for The Walking Dead
Fans of the comic books had been waiting since the beginning of season 7 and finally, it happened. At the end of the most recent episode of The Walking Dead – ‘Something They Need‘ – Dwight appeared to have turned against his master Negan. This revelation shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise; the baseball bat-wielding psychopath has burned Dwight’s face, shacked up with his wife and killed people close to him and frankly, it’s a surprise it’s taken this long for Dwight to snap. Of course, the only reason Dwight maintained his allegiance to Negan was to keep his wife, Sherry, safe. Now that Sherry has struck out on her own, there’s very little keeping Dwight attached to the Saviors, and his time for revenge has apparently now arrived.
Dwight was seen last week loitering in the shadows as Sasha and Rosita executed their attempted assassination plot and presumably followed the latter back home in order to pitch his services to her leader, Rick Grimes. Rick and the Alexandria gang were understandably skeptical about Dwight’s sudden change of sides but the ex-cop is too smart to pass up the possibility of a valuable inside man. As well as being a strong fighter, Dwight would provide valuable intelligence to use against the Saviors and offers the Alexandria alliance a host of other benefits to boot.
Filling the Vacancy
Aside from the obvious advantages, perhaps the biggest benefit of having Dwight on the payroll is what happens after the war against the Saviors has been waged. As Eugene has arguably realized, simply murdering Negan doesn’t necessarily eliminate the threat of the Saviors. The group seemingly has a glut of angry, thuggish types who would likely only be too happy to step into any potential breach that would be left in the wake of Negan’s death. If this were to happen, all of Alexandria’s efforts would’ve been in vain and they’d be no better off than they were under Negan’s rule.
To truly defeat the Saviors, Rick doesn’t just need to beat Negan, he needs to replace him. As such, he needs to fill that vacancy with someone he trusts and can work with, as well as someone that can pacify the Saviors and turn them into a cooperative and peaceful group. As things stand, there are plenty of question marks hanging over whether or not Dwight is trustworthy enough to fill that role but if he and Rick can come to an understanding of some kind, there’s no doubt that as a member of Negan’s inner circle, he commands enough respect within the group to take control of the Saviors and lead them in Negan’s stead.
Admittedly, Dwight doesn’t seem like the power-grabbing type and certainly wouldn’t be a typical leader. However, he does stand to gain more than just power from such an arrangement. Dwight’s wife Sherry might still be alive out in the wilderness and siding with Rick represents perhaps the only possible chance Dwight has of living happily with his wife once again, as Negan is highly unlikely to show mercy after Sherry’s betrayal and escape. Even if Sherry has become zombie food, Dwight surely realizes that the best way of honoring her memory is by helping finish off the man who made their lives a misery.
Knowledge is power
In more practical terms, Dwight is an invaluable resource when it comes to intelligence regarding the Saviors. Rick and his group discovered the hard way that Negan has several outposts sitting outside of his main compound, the Sanctuary, and in order to win the upcoming war, these will need to be targeted to help deplete the Saviors’ supplies, manpower and territory. Scouting the locations of such outposts would be an arduous and dangerous task alone but having Dwight on board would make the process infinitely easier. Alexandria have already proven themselves capable of taking out single, smaller compounds and if Dwight can point them in the right direction, the battles would go a lot smoother.
It’s also important to remember that despite recruiting the aid of the Junkyard community, some of the Hilltop and most likely the Kingdom and Oceanside areas in the near future, Rick’s alliance is still vastly outnumbered against the might of the Saviors. Negan is also no fool and his people are both highly skilled and well organized, meaning that ploughing in head first, all guns blazing is unlikely to win the day for Rick. The Alexandrians will need to be smart and Dwight gives them an essential edge in this respect, allowing the group to make the maximum impact with their inferior numbers. Dwight can also help fill Rick in on other salient pieces of information such as Savior patrol shifts, Eugene’s new metal-zombie defense system and any potential weaknesses.
Naturally, if Alexandria suddenly start hitting previously undiscovered Savior territories, Negan might start to get suspicious of a leak among his ranks and Dwight will need to be careful so as to not raise suspicions. It could be argued that Dwight’s framing of Dr. Carson in ‘Hostiles and Calamities‘ was his way of elevating himself above any suspicion in Negan’s eyes but nevertheless, if the boss did suspect a leak, his history with Dwight makes him a prime suspect.
Eyes and Ears
Assuming that Rick eventually comes to trust Dwight’s betrayal as genuine, the dilemma arises of what to do with him next. As a strong fighter, Dwight would be a solid addition to the Alexandria forces and could still give Rick a tactical advantage with his intel. However, given the Saviors’ current position as the dominant force in town, this is unlikely to end well for Dwight and chances are high that Negan would simply end up knocking on Alexandria’s door to take back his man for a fiery execution.
The safer – and more useful – option would be for Dwight to return to the Sanctuary and act as a mole in the Saviors’ midst. This would allow Dwight to give the good guys a heads-up on any planned attacks or new weapons and would help keep the suspicion of betrayal away – at least for a little while. Having an inside man to report on Negan’s movements would be ideal for Rick and if the conditions were right, Dwight could even help the group rescue Eugene and Sasha.
Eugene’s retrieval would be especially significant given the character’s newfound ability to make bullets. Having Eugene back in the fold – even if he is apparently content living as a Savior – would be essential for Rick’s army in the upcoming fight and would ease their ammunition worries no end. With Eugene and Sasha kept firmly locked within the confines of the Sanctuary, having Dwight work from the inside is perhaps Rick’s best chance at winning back his friends.
From the position of a mole, Dwight can also help stem the flow of casualties caused by Savior attacks on Alexandria. Negan clearly trusts Dwight enough to send him out with his own team of fighters and Dwight can use this trust to ensure that he and the Saviors under his command don’t cause too much damage and bloodshed to his new allies.
Although it might seem inconceivable for Rick to trust him immediately, Dwight’s friendship could easily make the difference between beating the Saviors and becoming another of their casualties – even if he risks upsetting the likes of Daryl in the process.
The Walking Dead continues with ‘The First Day of the Rest of Your Life’ April 2nd on AMC.