Welcome back into the fold, Eugene. You were definitely missed. Well, maybe your mullet was missed. Or maybe it was just the fact that we needed a little bit of closure for one of our recurring characters after you were taken by the Saviors at the end of the first half of this season. Either way, welcome back.
Yes, this week showed us the next part in Eugene’s personal saga, as he is now living with the Saviors. However, unlike Daryl, Eugene isn’t a prisoner. He’s becoming a valued member of the community, and is definitely showcasing some of his intelligence. There’s a lurking question as to whether or not he’s doing something similar to what he did when he first hooked up with Abraham, by exaggerating what he can actually do to make himself more invaluable, but you can’t argue with the results, as of yet. It’s certainly kept him alive this far, and he definitely knows at least enough to make his stories believable.
Speaking of believable, this episode also spent a lot of time focusing on Dwight, who you knew was going to find himself in no small amount of trouble after Daryl’s escape. While we see Eugene making plays to keep himself alive, we’re seeing just how cold-blooded Dwight has become when it comes to his own self-preservation. Yes, he did work to save someone else, in a situation that will almost undoubtedly come back to bite him in the ass, but that’s the danger of living in a world with so many Hostiles and Calamities. Maybe everyone needs a protective coating of metal.
For the first time in a long time, Eugene finds himself surrounded by women who are attractive AND admiring him for his intelligence. Much like with Rosita, Eugene knows that he honestly doesn’t have a chance, given that these women are some of Negan’s wives, but he still allows himself to get suckered in a bit by their flattery. But that’s not Eugene’s biggest goof. No, that sits with him asking Laura for lobster. Yes, the Saviors have more and better food than almost anywhere, but they’re still a good distance away from Maine. And don’t even get me started on Alaska.
Everything that Negan does is calculated, and he knows what’s expendable, and what isn’t. However, in the conflict between Dwight and Doctor Carson, Negan decides to stick with his right-hand man, instead of the man who could help heal everyone’s right hand. Negan may believe that Eugene is a perfect replacement for the good doctor, but that’s like assuming that a brain surgeon should be the one to remove a burst appendix. Even more to the point, Negan HAS to know that Dwight is lying to him, so unless he’s working a long con that will result in Dwight being put into even more dangerous situations just because he owes Negan, this seems like a truly odd choice.
3. Doctor Carson
You’ve been part of the Saviors for quite some time. You know Dwight is lying. You also know what happens to those that show weakness. Negan doesn’t take kindly to it, and you’ve been a good soldier for apparently a long time, so why would you think that Negan would go easy on you? As much as it might have sucked, maybe you should have gone ahead and gotten your face burned. Oh, you did. That’s right. Along with the rest of you.
Dwight is playing an incredibly dangerous game right now, and he’s clearly going to take down anyone who might know the truth. That said, as mentioned above, Negan has to be aware of at least partial truth, which means that Dwight now has a target painted on him. He was in a bad situation with regards to Sherry, and he was clearly going to try and protect her, despite the fact that she’s vanished so quickly after Daryl’s escape, and that Dwight recognized her handwriting on the note. As for everything that happens to Dwight over the course of the episode, a lot of it comes down to one simple choice, and that choice put Dwight immediately at odds with his boss. Think of how much grief he could have saved himself by bringing the information about Daryl’s escape to Negan, instead of trying to hold it for a while.
1. Tanya, Frankie, and Amber
Because Eugene is proving himself to be so invaluable, Negan decides to reward him with some social time with a few of his wives. The ladies, more specifically Tanya and Frankie, do a good job buttering Eugene up, feigning interest in his video games, and getting him to spill some of his knowledge regarding bombs and drugs. They even are able to successfully convince him to craft them a poison, under the guise of giving Amber a quick and easy way out. However, they made the first mistake of asking for a double dose, which would serve to tip of Eugene that either Amber wasn’t the intended target, or that they didn’t actually trust his intelligence. Neither plan was set to work well, especially after Eugene witnessed what happens to those who betray the leader of the Saviors (or, at least, are perceived to have done so). They then double down by calling Eugene a coward, almost as if they believe that will sway him back to their side. Listen, Eugene knows he’s a coward. He actively embraces that aspect of his personality. And he’s still survived this far into the apocalypse. You aren’t going to sway him by calling out the trait that’s quite possibly kept him alive.
That closes out the eleventh episode of this season. Clearly next week will send us back to the grizzled arms of Rick and his crew, because we aren’t allowed to be away from them for too long, lest we forget about the driving force behind a lot of the bad decisions being made all over the place. In the meantime, we’ll be sitting on Easy Street with Doctor Smartypants. Who knew that song would come back to haunt us, and yet carry a different sort of haunting feel?