AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 7, Episode 11: “Hostiles and Calamities”
Directed by Kari Skogland
Written by David Leslie Johnson
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “New Best Friends” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Say Yes” – click here
Things at the Saviors compound are looking grim for Dwight (Austin Amelio). After discovering Daryl gone, the others arrive back with their spoils, including Eugene (Josh McDermitt). Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) greets his new guest with a smile, and Lucille.
But what about when Negan finds out one of his captives is missing? Won’t be happy. And someone’s always got to pay. In the meantime, Eugene comes to find he isn’t being killed. Rather he’s given a room, treated fairly well, given a bit of lunch after going through options of food which surprise him. They’ve even got kettle cooked potato chips. The fridge is stocked. Is the weakness in Eugene going to be a problem? Will he succumb to the temptations of this new life and not want to go back to Alexandria?
Oh, and Dwight, he’s already feeling the wrath of Negan, as a handful of Saviors storm his room and beat him hard. Shit.
Not that we didn’t see it coming. Dwight’s been put in the same room where he put Daryl, one where he’s been before himself. Negan isn’t happy about he and his Saviors looking from “tip to taint” and he’s definitely not happy about one of his wives – Sherry (Christine Evangelista) – having left not long after Daryl. Not happy at all. So now it’s a case of whether Dwight will go find Sherry. If he’ll try and repair the damage between him and his leader. Personally, I hope to see him change, after all the brutality on his part, as well as the brutality he’s seen from others; most specifically from Negan. It’d be one of the biggest redemption songs of the series. One thing we know for certain is, despite all that has happened Dwight does love Sherry, he never stopped.
Negan: “Who are you, Dwight?”
Dwight: “I‘m Negan”
Rough and tumble Laura (Lindsley Register) shows Eugene around the compound. He’s still a bit sheepish, always will be. Soon, he’s brought to Negan. Sweet, sweet Eugene and his jar of pickles! He’s terrified. And who wouldn’t be, honestly? The I’M NEGAN chants. Lucille; know what she can do. Eugene hauls out his old story of being a doctor, et cetera, and for once it’s used well instead of deceiving people who actually wanted to help him. Thus begins survival mode in the hands of the Saviors, as he talks more confident by the minute; the name of this episode comes from his brief explanation. The slope gets even more slippery when Negan, as a token of appreciation, offers to send over a couple of his wives for dinner and conversation later. Sadly, this makes Eugene happier than it ought to, being in the hands of the man who killed his best friend Abraham.
Negan: “Look at you, Dr. Smarty Pants.”
Eugene has a nice night with the ladies, without temptations of the flesh. The women are great fun, too. Witty, smart. They want to know more about his supposed involvement with the Human Genome Project, and he obliges with a bit of tough nerdy talk. He shows off a bit whipping up a bit of helium, doing a neat science fair-like experiment for the wives. What we see further is his getting comfortable with living there. Each scene with him is like a figurative and literal slipping away from his place in Alexandria.
On the road, Dwight searches for Sherry. But what about when he does find her? What happens then? He goes to a house where there lies a picture of them on the floor. Memories everywhere amongst the empty cupboards. And an old note written by Sherry, one he compares to the note left for Daryl at the compound. In another room, a letter explaining what she did: “I let Daryl go because he reminded you of who you used to be, and I wanted to let you forget.” She also tells her husband that being dead would be better than being at that compound, under Negan’s thumb, hoping Dwight will someday get away from him and all the horror.
Back at the compound, Dwight lies saying he found his wife, killed her after she ran into a pack of zombies.
There are other things afoot. The women want help from Eugene, to help their friend Amber. She wants to end her life, the only mercy left. And tragically, it’s one of the best options in an awful world. She is going to die, one way or another. So Eugene agrees reluctantly to provide a relatively pain free suicide for the girl. Nice little montage of him doing his thing to “Everything Right is Wrong Again” by They Might Be Giants.
Punishment is being handed down at the altar of Negan. The man with the bat offers a show for Eugene. The doctor’s been framed by Dwight, to make him look in cahoots with Sherry for all the mess with Daryl. Nothing good for the doc is coming. Love how the scene is framed with Negan and the doctor in the background, just out of focus, as we’re focused on Dwight’s face, grimly bearing the fruits of his shitty machinations. Afterwards, the iron piping hot, Negan gets a false confession.
That ain’t good enough, though. Not for a demonstration with Dr. Eugene in their company. He decides on tossing the doc straight into the furnace for everyone to witness. Watching Dwight play the part of humble servant, good dog, is crushing. He may have not killed his wife. He still just let a man get burned to death.
Eugene figures out that the women want to kill Negan, the pills aren’t for Amber. They threaten telling the leader of his involvement if he doesn’t give over the pills. Except Eugene knows he has a place in the ranks, he isn’t replaceable; so far as Negan knows. One of the women tells Eugene he’s a coward. And he already knows that well enough.
He’s content to hang around, eat pickles. Before a knock comes at his door. It’s the bad man and Lucille. Popping by for a chat. He wants to know who Eugene is – before he gets it out of his mouth, the crying fool replies: “I‘m Negan.”
Next day he’s out surveying a bit of work with the caged zombies. Hypnotised by Negan. Is he playing the part, or is Eugene genuinely falling into life with Negan and the Saviors?
A solid episode I didn’t expect to love. Eugene’s not exactly a favourite of mine, though it’s changing now. This episode was an interesting look at his character, which in turn provided a couple unique perspectives into the Saviors’ compound, life under Lucille, so on. Can’t wait for “Say Yes” next.