7:08pm PT by Josh Wigler
'Walking Dead': How Eugene's Experience with the Saviors Differs From the Comics
[This story contains spoilers through episode 711 of AMC's The Walking Dead, as well as the comic books on which the show is based.]
Eugene Porter (Josh McDermitt) is on easy street, and it feels so bittersweet.
On one hand, the good not-a-doctor is safe, at least for now. The 11th episode of The Walking Dead season seven made it clear that Eugene is as VIP as it gets within the Saviors community, viewed as such a valuable asset that he even earned a night or two with three of Negan's (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) wives. It's certainly an upgrade from the dog-food sandwiches and off-brown sweatsuits that Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) became accustomed to over the course of his stay in the Sanctuary.
On the other hand, the newest development for Eugene marks a significant detour from his path in the Walking Dead comic books. In Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard's source material, Eugene becomes a crucial cog in the machine as Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) rallies the Hilltop and Kingdom communities behind Alexandria's war against the Saviors. As he's promised repeatedly on the show, and as he even followed through on at the request of Rosita (Christian Serratos) just before the midseason break, Eugene can manufacture his own bullets — an incredibly useful thing to have on Rick's side as he marches to war in this post-apocalyptic world.
Later in the comics, as war between the communities reaches a boiling point, Eugene does indeed fall into Negan's hands. But he's a far cry from the blubbering mess we see in "Hostiles and Calamities," instead channeling his inner Stage 2 Badass and telling Negan what to do with his overtures:
Eventually, Eugene breaks free from captivity, thanks to the help of the the Sanctuary's resident doctor Carson — the same doctor Negan threw in the fire at the end of this week's episode. Clearly, the show is taking a different route with Eugene than the comics, but as is often the case, there's reason to expect that the two roads will converge in the same destination.
While Eugene claims he's completely, totally and utterly Negan's by the end of the hour, and while he even seemingly saves Negan's life by turning down his wives' request to assassinate him, it's pretty evident that Eugene is reverting to some old tactics: evoking the name of T. Brooks Ellis, talking about his government black-ops assignment, all the tricks in the books that kept him alive while he was traveling with Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) once upon a time. Eugene might seem like a Stage Ten Craven right now, capitulating to Negan's demands without any resistance and therefore agreeing to make bullets for the enemy, but perhaps he's actually in the process of becoming a Stage Three Badass — pretending to be on Negan's side both as a safety measure and as a means to keep building up Rick and Alexandria's ammunition supply, albeit on their adversary's dime. If so? Pretty smart play. We expect nothing less from the man currently known as "Haircut."
Beyond Eugene, "Hostiles and Calamities" once again shines the spotlight on Dwight (Austin Amelio) and his gradual turn away from Negan's cause. He quickly pieces together that Sherry (Christine Evangelista) is the one who broke Daryl out of captivity, and then fled the Sanctuary on her own. Dwight tracks Sherry down to their old pre-apocalypse stomping grounds and discovers a note from his ex-wife, explaining why she did what she did, reminding him of their life before everything went to shambles. A devastated Dwight returns to the Sanctuary empty-handed, unsure of Sherry's final fate, but nonetheless reporting back to Negan that he killed her and tossed her body to the walkers. (Not sure why Negan would trust Dwight on this point without any real evidence, but anyway…) Dwight then pins Daryl and Sherry's escape on Carson, resulting in the Sanctuary doctor's fiery demise. Commence the tears of guilt.
As he looks into the furnace's burning fires, there's a glimmer in Dwight's eyes of the man he was when we first met him back in season six, someone desperate to do anything to protect the people he loves. It's the closest we've come to seeing the Dwight of the Walking Dead comic books, a key member of the resistance against Negan, and one who rebels much more willingly than the Dwight of the television show. Based on how this episode ends, however, Dwight shouldn't have to endure any further personal hardship before he's ready to throw his lot in with the Alexandrians.
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