The climb up the roller-coaster continues, inching toward that inevitable rush of thrill and speed that hits when we crest the top at the season finale. This week we back track a bit in time starting the episode off with the discovery of Daryl’s disappearance from the Savior’s HQ which, unfortunately for him, coincides with Eugene’s arrival. Eugene has never been a character that was easy to love, or even tolerate for that matter, but he was starting to earn a bit more respect. That respect goes bye bye the second we see his blubbering mass of mullet talking like an anthropomorphic thesaurus with low-grade autism. To his credit he does show some defiance when asked about Daryl. Cut to Dwight’s room when a gang of Negan’s thugs knock down the door and start beating him while the apocalyptic fonzie looks on. Back from commercial we find Dwight sitting in the same cell Daryl occupied a few short episodes ago. Negan is standing outside the door doing his usual ominous speech/voice over, he implies Dwight helped Daryl escape…that much was expected, but the left turn comes when he brings up that Dwight’s previous and Negan’s current wife Sherrie, is missing too. I had some hope that Dwight was at the point of standing up for himself when Negan asks the question, “who are you Dwight?”, “I’m Negan” Dwight replies, we’re meant to think that his allegiance is still with Negan but I don’t, and haven’t for a while, bought his allegiance. He’s just biding his time.
At this point it looks like we are going to have an All-Saviors episode. Eugene is being given the tour. He’s definitely not getting the same welcome wagon that Daryl got, not only did he get a room off the break but his concierge on this journey is letting him take whatever he wants. It’s all coming up Eugene, then he walks outside…where Negan is waiting. After some of Negan’s usual witty banter, during which he asks “Eugene, are you a smarty pants? Do you know things?”, Eugene blabber’s his way to tell Negan that he is indeed a smarty pants. This whole scene is backgrounded by that walker obstacle course you’ll remember from the last time we were at Savior HQ, we get some nasty yet amazing looks at the work of those genius FX guys as one of the walkers, who happens to be impaled on a stake through the mouth, rips apart at the middle dropping viscera all over the place. Eugene manages to bullshit Negan through a plan to strengthen the walkers by pouring melted chain link fence on them which, of course, Negan thinks is the “most badass thing he’s ever heard”. He christens Eugene Dr. Smarty Pants and offers up some of his wives for dinner and drinks. The whole exchange is a showcase in Jeffery Dean Morgan’s ability to be the ultimate guy you love to hate. The whole time you KNOW he’s the bastard who killed Glenn and Abraham but still, you kinda want to have a beer with him.
If you are the kind of person who gets anxious watching awkward situations go ahead and get your bathroom break in during the next scene. Eugene and the lovely ladies. A man of his word Negan sent three of his wives to entertain Eugene for the night (no sex, that’s a BIG no no), watching Eugene play Atari with three pretty women in evening wear while he waxes poetic on xanthar 4 or whatever he was saying. They get to calling him out on his smarts so he brings the outside to show them how easy he can make a homemade bomb…which basically ends up being coke and mentos, nothing really happens but you can’t help but to feel a sense of dread like something bad is about to go down. Specifically for the one of the three wives that got a little drunken then perhaps she should have. Cut scene to Dwight who’s been tasked with finding the missing Sherrie. We’re about to go on a serious character arc moment here. Dwight shows up to a dilapidated house that we find out was a rendezvous point he and Sherry had put together. What follows is a voice over from Sherrie as Dwight reads a letter she had left there for him. We find out that it was Sherrie that let Daryl go, moreover Sherrie has given up hope that Dwight was still the man he was. She’s left to go out on her own because she didn’t know that if Dwight found her if he would help her or take her back to Negan, or even kill her. Dwight’s been a pseudo-tragic figure but this pushes the pseudo right out of the equation. There’s one thing we know will come of this…Dwight’s done with Negan and that can only spell good things for Rick and co.
This really isn’t the episode for non-Eugene fans. After that tear-jerking moment with Dwight we are brought right back into Eugene’s room where he’s playing Atari again. This is where things go weird. A knock at the door reveals two of the wives from the night before who launch right into the reason behind their visit. The drunk girl I alluded to before, she wants to kill herself and the want Eugene to make her something to do it with. There’s something not right about this situation, I don’t just mean that it’s wrong to help someone to kill themselves, I mean these girls really seem to have ulterior motives…what those are I have no clue but something’s not kosher. Eugene sets off to collect the ingredients he needs to create a poison, even I have to admit the result is pretty damn funny as he asserts his status as “Chief Engineer” when questioned about the cold capsules he requests. A quick shot of Dwight being tended too by a doctor where he gives his story about killing Sherrie and we go right back to Negan’s church. If you don’t remember this is where everyone gathers around the boiler room and Negan punishes someone, this is where Dwight got those handsome scars of his. Eugene is lead down the stairs and we’re meant to believe that he’s been caught but, nope, Dwight is still a dick and planted a note for him from Sherrie in the doctors drawer just to get any eyes of of him framing the good doc for letting Daryl and Sherrie out. When faced with the iron…quite literally, the doctor “admits” to everything and Negan accepts his apologies and moves on. By move on I mean he puts down the iron and throws the doctor directly into the furnace.
We end out the episode with Eugene and the wives. Eugene apparently saw through their whole euthanasia story and realized the capsules he was making were going to be used on Negan so he refused to give the pills up. They threaten to tell Negan and Eugene calls their bluff, shortly thereafter Negan comes a knocking. He’s not there to threaten though, he’s there to ask that all important question, “Who are you?” Eugene all but drops to his knees exclaiming “I’m Negan, I’m so Negan, I was always Negan” it seems Eugene has made his decision. The episode ends on a shot of Eugene overseeing the “improvements” on the walkers surrounding the camp when he’s joined by Dwight. They chat ending with telling each other they are Negan. It’s all but transparent that neither are Negan and they will be working together to take down the leather clad one from the inside. Our look at next week promises to be a fun one as Rick, Michonne, and a few others come upon a walker infested carnival. Until then deadites!
PS. As I’m finishing this “The Talking Dead” is playing with Josh McDermitt who plays Eugene as a guest. Hearing his normal speaking voice is jarring, he’s like a normal person!