We’ve had two solid installments of The Walking Dead in a row. Could a Eugene and Dwight centered episode hat trick of the season?
The episode opens with Dwight discovering that Daryl is gone (guess this means we’re flashing back a few weeks). He also finds the note that Sherry slipped to Daryl. All this happens right as Negan and The Saviors are returning from Alexandria after the midseason finale. As you might imagine, Negan is not pleased to see that his prized prisoner and (arguably) best-looking wife have fled. This failure results in Dwight receiving a thorough ass kicking and being locked in solitary for a bit.
Meanwhile, Eugene is a blubbering mess. After being unloaded from Negan’s truck, one of The Saviors leads him to what he (and the audience) believes will be a prison cell and/or torture chamber. In reality, it turns out to be a pretty sweet pad—fully furnished and a heck of a lot nicer than any dorm room I had in college. It even had a sound system, which Eugene instantly utilizes by cranking out—and bobbing his head to—some Easy Street.
As funny as this moment is, it’s also a very important one. Remember how that song made Daryl (and the rest of us) want to tear our hair out? That’s not how it’s going to be Eugene. Whether it’s due to his consistently concrete reasoning or a potential willingness to embrace The Saviors, the mulleted one will not need to be broken…at least not in the same way Daryl was.
After Dwight is released from solitary, Negan informs him that he’s pretty darn sure Sherry helped Daryl escape. If I were Dwight, this would be the point where I’d scream “That’s because you let her wander around here like a ghost who was haunting the place, you smug a-----e!” Instead, he promises to track Sherry down and get her back.
While he’s being stitched up, Dr. Carson tells Dwight that Sherry had too big of a heart to survive living with at the Sanctuary—or to let Daryl continue to remain as Negan’s prisoner. Dwight seemed to agree.
Eugene’s Eusocial Education
While on a tour of the Sanctuary, Eugene’s guide/handler Laura explains that he has instantly been granted a high status due to his apparent smarts. That means he eats better and gets things quicker. While all this is happening, Eugene spots a kid stealing, but lets it slide (which may mean nothing).
Later, he has a very uncomfortable meeting with Negan. During the course of their conversation, Eugene reuses that same tall tale (i.e. complete lie) about being part of the Human Genome Project. Unimpressed, Negan asks “Mr. Smartypants” to come up with a solution for how to keep the walkers guarding the compound from deteriorating. Fortunately, Eugene was somehow was able to see last week’s episode and suggests the Wilson Method of fusing walkers with metal scraps to form even more durable (and badass looking abominations.
Negan is so impressed by this idea that he offers Eugene a sexless night of company with three of his wives…which manages to feel both sleazy and cruel at the same time.
“…or maybe we could cut off those magnificent locks of yours.”
Eugene seems disturbed/creeped out by the offer, but he’s not really in a position to turn it down. As he turns away to leave, a wry smile crosses his face. Whether this is because he’s planning a double cross or excited about getting in Negan’s good graces remains unclear…
Blinded by Science
That night, Amber, Tanya, and Frankie show up to give Eugene a fun evening. As expected, he doesn’t to have carnal relations with any of them. Instead, he does the next best thing: Fires up the Atari 2600 and has the ladies watch him play a marathon session of the classic video game, Yar’s Revenge.
Tanya and Frankie actually seem to be enjoying themselves a little, even managing to banter and successfully counter Eugene’s awkward conversational skills. Amber, on the hand, is still understandably traumatized about watching her boyfriend (Mark) get his face ironed. Instead of watching Eugene repeatedly annihilate Quotile, she drinks. A lot.
Later, Eugene gets talked into performing a science experiment for the wives. This results in some of the most unsubtle imagery you can possibly imagine.
— The Walking Dead AMC (@WalkingDead_AMC) February 27, 2017
The next night, Tanya and Frankie show up at his door with an odd request: Help them provide Amber with a lethal pill—two pills, in fact—so that she can put herself out of her own misery. Eugene is understandably appalled at first, but their appeals to him as being a good man appear to convince him to do it.
The next day, Eugene goes to get the necessary materials. After being rebuffed by the person in charge of distributing goods, he pulls ranks and chews her out, resulting in his procurement of not only the necessary items, but also a few other things for himself—including a stuffed doll.
Once again, this scene appears like simple comic relief, but it’s important. Eugene wasn’t just playing a part to get something he needed for a (very questionably) good reason. He also used his bestowed status among The Saviors for his own gain. Maybe he’s more like these people than we realized.
Also, if you actually believe Tanya and Frankie want two lethal pills to help their friend kill herself, then I’ve got a vintage Atari system you can have for $100,000.
Dwight Takes an L
For the second week in a row, The Walking Dead provided a genuinely heart wrenching scene. This time, Dwight shows up at the house he and Sherry agreed to meet at if they ever got separated—along with the understanding that he would bring the beer and pretzels. Instead of finding her, he finds a note that she wrote to him.
In a voice over, Sherry explains that she feels responsible for them finding refuge with The Saviors, which changed Dwight from the man she used to love into the man he’s become. She also admits to helping Daryl escape because he reminded her of how Dwight used to be before he was under Negan’s heel.
She signs off by saying that she probably won’t survive long, but it’s better than living one more day at the Sanctuary—and that she doubts Dwight would even remember how their life together used to be.
In a final twist of the knife, we see that Dwight did remember the pretzels and beer (and probably a lot more than that, too).
After returning to the Sanctuary, Dwight tells Dr. Carson that he found Sherry and killed her. He also steals a bunch of the doctor’s suckers (FORESHADOWING). Later, Laura brings Eugene to the oven, where Negan proceeds to beat the crap out of Dr. Carson while accusing him of helping Daryl escape.
Turns out Dwight had told Negan that the good doctor helped Daryl escape in an effort to look like a hero to Sherry—something he “learned” via Sherry blurting it out right before he “killed” her. To help back up his story, he took part of the note he’d found and planted it in Dr. Carson’s desk.
Just when it looks like Negan is going to iron Dr. Carson’s face, he blubbers out a false confession. Negan responds with a moment of graciousness before promptly tossing the doctor into the fire.
This horrific action accomplished two things:
- Any sympathy you may have felt for Dwight before should be burned away like Dr. Carson’s body.
- For the first time ever, one of my tweets got retweeted by the official AMC Walking Dead account. It wasn’t my best work, but I’ll take what I can get.
— Nick Nafpliotis (@NickNafster79) February 27, 2017
We Are Cowards
Eugene informs Tanya and Frankie that he will not be giving them the pills—and that he knows they didn’t want them for Amber, but to kill Negan. When they call him a coward, he stoically agrees with their assessment.
Later, Negan comes to visit Eugene and test his loyalty. Before he can even finish the question, Eugene profusely exclaims that he is Negan, i.e. a full-fledged, 100% loyal Savior.
The next day, Eugene directs the Saviors who are melting down scrap to fuse with the perimeter walkers. While he’s doing this, Dwight walks up and stands next to him. The two share an awkward exchange before both declaring their solidarity as servants of Negan.
“Hey man. Sorry about that time I bit your junk. We are Negan now, so it’s cool, right?”
Wow. Another good episode. This season may actually be turning the corner!
I know that a full episode dedicated to Eugene may drive some folks nuts, but I really enjoyed it. Dwight, however, was the real star of the show. From his breakdown after losing Sherry to his stone cold framing of Dr. Carson, I’m not sure a character has ever elicited a more drastic range/change of sympathies in one hour than him.
The wives’ poisoning plot was a little too obvious, but that was a small price to pay to watching Eugene have to interact with three attractive and (two) intelligent women…although I still want to know why he went to the trouble of making those pills. I’m sure we’ll get an answer eventually, but that seems like a pretty big risk to take for no reason. And before you say “He is going to use the pills on Negan,” ask yourself why it took the wives asking him to make the pills to get him to do it in the first place. Eugene’s a pretty smart guy. If he was going to try and poison Negan himself (which is doubtful), then why would he need a painfully transparent request by the wives to encourage him to do it?
On the plus side, it’s hard to tell if Eugene’s subservience to Negan is the beginning of a long con or the real deal, which is surprising. Normally The Walking Dead is terrible about telegraphing its characters’ intentions. Based on some of his more selfish/odd actions the show may really be diverting from the comics here a bit.
And before you dismiss the Savior Eugene theory out of hand, keep in mind this is a man who has already shown he’ll lie and adapt however is necessary to survive. He was also loyal first and foremost to Abraham…who of course was killed by Negan, but these are strange times the characters are living in. And you can’t deny that Eugene doesn’t at least enjoy feeling as important as the Saviors make him just a little.
Either way, this was a fun episode to watch—and just maybe the start of something much bigger down the road.