Previously on The Walking Dead…
Negan killed Spencer while visiting Alexandria. In a fit of anger, Rosita shot at him, damaging Lucille. Negan realized that the bullet was homemade and demanded to know who had fashioned it. Eventually, Eugene gave himself up, and Negan took him back to The Sanctuary. While Negan was gone, Daryl took the opportunity to escape. Fat Joey interrupted him, and in a burst of rage, Daryl bashed his head in, killing him. He took his motorcycle as he left.
At The Sanctuary, Fat Joey’s remains have been found. Dwight arrives on the scene, then sees that Daryl’s bike is gone. As this realization dawns on him, he hears the sound of trucks, heralding Negan’s return. Desperately, Dwight races to Daryl’s cell, horrified to discover it empty.
Outside, Eugene is being unloaded from the trucks. He has a bag over his head, which is taken off so that he can see Negan welcoming him to The Sanctuary. He is scared witless.
Inside, Dwight rushes to his apartment to grab a walkie talkie, only to find Daryl’s discarded prison clothes on the floor, along with the note that told him to ‘go now’.
Eugene is gibbering in terror as he is brought inside The Sanctuary, but to his shock, he is led to an apartment… the same one that had been shown to Daryl as a bribe for his cooperation. Apparently it now belongs to Eugene. He is accompanied by Laura, the Savior who hit on Spencer earlier that day in Alexandria before Negan killed him. Hmmmm, not a good track record. Let’s hope she doesn’t hit on Eugene. Not that that’s likely, given his unique hairstyle and dull exterior.
“Welcome home, Haircut,” Laura whispers. When Eugene examines some books, the Savior mentions that there are more in the library. He is amazed by the fact that there is a library at all, and Laura casually mentions that Daryl didn’t get a chance to see it before he escaped. Hey, does Eugene know where he is? This is all news to Eugene, and apparently Laura believes him. She asks what Eugene would like to eat. Anything he wants. Eugene can’t believe it, and after some back and forth (he attempts to order lobster, probably as a test to see how far he can push the Saviors) he finally orders spaghetti with ‘orangey’ sauce. And pickles.
When Laura leaves, Eugene explores his apartment, amazed to find a lock on the door and the fridge fully stocked with food and beer. There is a boombox on a dresser, and when Eugene turns it on, it plays Easy Street. True to form, he bobs his head in time to the music. I have to admit, I was laughing so hard during this bit that I nearly fell off of the couch. I wonder if Eugene will bring that song with him back to Alexandria when he is rescued? And if he does, will Daryl ever forgive him?
Dwight is confronted by goons in his apartment and is beaten badly as Negan watches. He is thrown into Daryl’s old cell, but it seems that he has been here before, after he ran off with Sherry and Tina in season 6. After spending the night cooling his heels, Negan goes to confront Dwight. It seems that during this time, the Saviors went looking for Daryl, but of course didn’t find him. Although Negan returned to discover that he was short a wife… Sherry. Seems awfully coincidental to Negan. Was she the one who opened Daryl’s door? Dwight is surprised to learn of Sherry’s absence, but denies that she did it. So Negan turns on Dwight. He was supposed to be getting to Daryl, but maybe Daryl got to him.
“You change your stripes on me, Dwighty?” Negan asks. But Dwight pledges his allegiance again, calling himself ‘Negan’. Negan seems to accept Dwight’s groveling, knowing that he has Dwight under his thumb.
“Daryl isn’t like you. He’s emotional. So he’s either on his way home, or he’s coming back here to kill some more of us,” says Negan. And Daryl is especially likely to target Negan and Dwight. With that hanging in the air, Negan orders Dwight to bring Sherry back, but first, he tells Doctor Carson to stitch up Dwight as much as he can.
In his office, Doctor Carson tells Dwight that he’s pretty sure Sherry set Daryl free. She has a soft heart, but people like that shouldn’t be in this world any more. But Dwight gets it. He’s been beaten up, and now he’s ‘right back to it’. One day, he’ll be running an outpost. This is obviously supposed to be a compliment, but just as clearly, Dwight doesn’t take it as one.
Patched up, Dwight heads out on a motorcycle to find Sherry. But first he pulls a pack of cigarettes from a fish mounted on the wall. Clearly Dwight isn’t the best decorator. But this pack of smokes is special: one of the cigarettes is half smoked, and has a lipstick stain on the butt.
Laura is taking Eugene around and showing him the Sanctuary. The main room is full of beds partitioned off by sheets (clearly this is the lot of the ‘average’ person who joins the Saviors and Eugene’s apartment is special). There are also people doing business. Laura tells him how everyone contributes what they can and explains Negan’s points system. She mentions that there’s even a guy who will ‘cut your head’.
“Barber,” she explains when Eugene is startled by this. “Might be able to kill that thing on your head.” Unsurprisingly, Eugene doesn’t appear to be interested.
Just as Laura is saying that you pay for what you take, Eugene witnesses a young guy ‘shoplifting’ some food. Eugene is distracted and keeps watching, but Laura doesn’t notice what has caught his attention, only assuming that he’s off in one of his usual daydreams.
Laura offers him a pickle and Eugene refuses, distracted by the thief. But Laura gives him the whole jar, thrusting it into his hands.
“You want something, you take it,” she tells him.
Next, Laura takes Eugene outside to see Negan. Still clutching his jar of pickles, Eugene is clearly terrified. But all Negan wants to know is if Eugene is a smartypants. Does he know things?
“I am indeed a smartypants.” Eugene gibbers. He rambles on, and Negan chuckles.
“You really are just some asshole,” Negan counters, but Eugene denies it, revealing that he has multiple PhDs and was working at the Human Genome Project who were tasked with weaponizing diseases to fight other diseases before the apocalypse. This is a huge step up from Eugene in the comics, who was just a high school science teacher. On the other hand, we don’t actually know that this is Eugene’s true background. He told Abraham and Rosita that he was working for the Human Genome project and had the cure to the apocalypse, just so they would protect him. The later he told Abraham that he ‘wasn’t a scientist’, admitting that he didn’t have the cure. My guess is that the truth is somewhere between the two. Clearly Eugene is some kind of scientist, given his little demonstration to Negan’s wives. But whether or not he worked at the Human Genome project is another story entirely. Maybe he’s smirking because the whole thing is a lie and Negan bought it.
As Eugene is talking, one of the walkers staked to the fence at The Sanctuary’s perimeter literally falls apart, his waist giving way. Negan tests Eugene, asking him how to keep the walkers from rotting so that they can defend The Sanctuary longer. Eugene stumbles his way to an answer. He saw a smelter on the floor. He suggests that molten metal could be poured over the vulnerable parts of the walkers, strengthening them and adhering them to the chain link fence. Bonus points for covering the head to protect it. This brings back visions of Winslow last episode with his ‘defensive measures’.
Negan is thrilled by this answer. He has never heard anything so great, and he thinks it’s badass.
“Did Rick have you doing this kind of valuable stuff for him?” Negan asks. When Eugene doesn’t answer, Negan smiles. “His loss, our gain!” This is actually very true. Team Rick never truly realized Eugene’s potential, and he was more tolerated than valued. Negan seems to be thinking a bit further ahead than Team Rick. But to be fair, Negan has been in charge of a ‘permanent settlement’ a lot longer than Rick.
Negan wants to give Eugene a signing bonus. Well, Eugene did get pickles, but Negan wants to show him something better. He is going to send over his wives to entertain Eugene tonight. No sex, but he can still have fun.
What does Doctor Smartypants have to say to his new best friend? Eugene mumbles a thank you and Negan sends him on his way. Yet as he is leaving, Eugene smirks. Has he just pulled one over on Negan? Or is he happy because
he now has a new nickname and will no longer be defined by his haircut?
In his apartment, Negan’s wives are just sitting around. Amber is drinking wine while Tanya and Frankie are eating popcorn and watching Eugene play video games (Yar’s Revenge for the Atari 2600) on the TV. Frankie offers him a massage; she used to be a massage therapist. After all, they are there for him. Eugene replies that he knows they are there under duress and he wants to entertain them, hence the video games. They want an intelligent conversation. Tanya asks about the Human Genome Project. Eugene’s response is that he was working on a Black Box project and he isn’t at liberty to discuss that stuff. Um, Eugene, the government is gone. All those old conflicts are gone. It probably doesn’t matter. But all the same, Eugene is stubborn. Or this may be more evidence that he’s lying about being involved in this work in the first place.
Tanya asks if Eugene is one of those guys who can make a bomb out of bleach and a toothpick.
Eugene replies that he can, but not with those things. He details what he would need, and the next thing you know, they are all outside with the supplies. Eugene has inflated two rubber gloves with hydrogen to make balloons. The girls giggle and call him ‘Dr. Eugene’ as he pours hydrogen peroxide into a flask. He pours another liquid into the hydrogen peroxide, creating a foamy volcano, and then lights the balloons with a long stick, causing them to explode. Tanya and Frankie laugh and Frankie hugs Eugene. They are all having a good time, except Amber, who seems sulky and depressed. You may recall that she has reason for this: in the first half of the season, she had to witness her boyfriend Mark having his face ironed by Negan. She is clearly unhappy being a ‘wife’, while Frankie and Tanya seem to be more accepting.
It occurred to me at this point that the wives are all dressed like Robert Palmer girls (see right). Clearly Negan is addicted to love and finds this look simply irresistible.
The next day, Dwight is back at his old home with Sherry from before the apocalypse. They had made an arrangement to meet back there if there was ‘trouble’, where Dwight would be waiting with pretzels and beer. But Sherry is not there now. Dwight finds and old picture of the two of them, and looks at it sadly.
He finds samples of Sherry’s writing, including a note she left for him. He compares it to the note slipped to Daryl. It is the same. There is no question that she is the one who set Daryl free.
Sherry’s note is a goodbye note. She says that she is not there because she’s not sure of Dwight any more. She doesn’t know if he would come with her, or take her back, or kill her.
‘You didn’t want to live in that world, and I made you,’ her note says. ‘I let Daryl go because he reminded you of who you used to be, and I wanted you to forget… I loved who you were. I’m sorry I made you into who you are.’
This is some real insight as to why Dwight seems to be obsessed with Daryl. It’s not just that Daryl saved him and Sherry in the woods, but on some deeper level, he feels an affinity with Daryl.
Sherry has left Dwight her wedding and engagement rings. Dwight fights tears as he puts them into the cigarette pack, which already contains his own wedding ring and the butt with Sherry’s lipstick print on it. He pulls out some pretzels and beer, leaving them for Sherry in case she ever returns. This makes me think that he would have left with her, but of course, we don’t know for certain.
The next morning, Tanya and Frankie come back to see Eugene. They need his help. Amber is just drinking and crying. Her mom needs meds, which is why she agreed to be Negan’s wife. But she can’t live with it. She asked Frankie and Tanya to help her end it. They need Eugene’s help to assist her. She wants to die in her sleep. Eugene points out that if she dies in her sleep, she will turn and hurt others. The wives say that they will take care of that. They want Eugene to make her a pill to take. No, two pills. There aren’t many good people left, and he needs to help them.
“I’m not good, lawful, neutral or chaotic, none of the above.” Eugene protests. I know this is supposed to be a solemn moment, but I am cracking up at the Dungeons & Dragons reference!
“You are good, Eugene,” Frankie and Tanya assure him. “You have to be.”
Eugene finally agrees, asking for Amber’s weight so he can make a correct dosage.
The next day, Eugene is in a line waiting to ‘buy’ things, but it is moving slowly. He cuts the line, asking the woman at the front for cold capsules. She yells at him to get back in line, and Eugene is momentarily cowed. But he gains a backbone and uses his position with Negan to intimidate her, even calling himself ‘Dr. Eugene’, as Tanya and Frankie did. Soon he is taking a whole pile of things, all dumped into a bedpan. He also grabs a stuffed animal. He doesn’t know what it is, but he’s going to call it a ‘grembly gunk’. And suddenly I am seeing this thing for sale at SDCC this coming July.
Dressed in a muumuu, bandanna and goggles, Eugene makes the pills in the bedpan. This is some kind of weird Breaking Bad crossover, right?
Dwight is back seeing Doctor Carson, who asks about Sherry. Dwight says that she ran into a pack of dead people and was bitten, so he killed her. Yet Doctor Carson seems unconvinced.
“We don’t get to have big hearts. Remember that,” he advises Dwight.
Eugene is brought down to the furnace by Laura, because there is something he ‘has to see’. This is the same furnace where Dwight and Mark were burned. Everyone is bowing to Negan, who has his guys grab Doctor Carson. Apparently there was a note from Sherry in his desk that said ‘Goodbye Honey’, but it looks exactly like the bottom corner of the note that Dwight found in his old house. It is clear that Dwight planted the note and Doctor Carson is innocent. Negan suggests a whole chain of treachery, which Doctor Carson denies. But Negan got the story straight from Dwight. Doctor Carson says that Dwight is lying. But Negan wants to know why Dwight would do that, because if he is lying and they find Sherry alive, Negan will burn the other side of Dwight’s face. Dwight keeps himself busy with the furnace fire and doesn’t look, but pulls the iron out of the fire.
Doctor Carson begs for mercy, but of course, Negan has none. Eugene wants to turn away, but Laura forces him to look.
“I did it, I did all of it. I’m sorry!” Doctor Carson begs. Negan drops the iron; that’s all he had to say. But then Negan suddenly grabs the Doctor and throws him entirely into the furnace.
“Good thing we’ve got a spare doctor,” Negan chuckles to Dwight, as Doctor Carson burns to death. Negan adds that Sherry was one of his favorites. This is probably true. Remember, he was trying to get Sherry pregnant, so clearly Negan held her in some kind of esteem above his other wives.
Negan says that he’s sorry about what happened to Sherry.
“I’m not,” Dwight mumbles. Negan laughs at his coldness.
Later, at Eugene’s apartment, Frankie and Tanya show up, asking for the pills. Eugene admits that he made them but that he won’t give them to the girls. He knows that they are not for Amber; they are for Negan, which is why they wanted two of them. The wives protest. Negan has killed Eugene’s friends! True, but Eugene admits that his people killed a lot more of Negan’s men.
But Frankie and Tanya want the pills and they threaten to turn on Eugene if he doesn’t hand them over. Eugene says that Negan will believe him, not them, for the same reason he believed Dwight over Doctor Carson. They’re more replaceable than he is. Tanya and Frankie call Eugene a coward and he agrees.
The next person at Eugene’s door is Negan, Lucille on his shoulder. He asks how Eugene likes it here. Are they doing right by Dr. Smartypants? And Frankie and Tanya have nothing but good things to say about him.
“You do not need to be scared anymore,” Negan tells Eugene. He just has to answer one question. “Who are…?”
“Negan,” Eugene answers quickly, before Negan can finish. He rambles on, saying how he was Negan even before he met the real Negan, and he’s on his side, completely. Negan appears to buys it.
The following day, Eugene is supervising the pouring of metal on walkers at the fence. Dwight approaches him, but Eugene tells him, ‘You’re Dwight, I’m Eugene, we’re Negan.’ Dwight seems disappointed as he agrees.
Has Eugene turned to Negan’s side? If he has, you could understand why, given that Team Rick never really respected him, and he understands the consequences for betrayal. Yet I don’t think this is what’s happening. Daryl and Eugene are totally different people, and as such they are reacting to their captivity in very different ways. Daryl resisted with every fiber of his being, but Eugene is capitulating, doing everything Negan wants. Yet his smirk after convincing Negan that he was a ‘smartypants’ tells me a different story. Eugene is biding his time, putting himself into a position of power, getting himself ready in his own way for the inevitable confrontation between the Saviors and Team Rick. I’m actually excited to see how far he can take this.
For those who play the No Man’s Land mobile game, this week’s mission is something of a ‘coda’ to the episode, with Dwight helping Eugene escape after he gets stuck in the walker pen while ‘metalizing’ the walkers on the fence. Dwight is now a playable character in the game, and Eugene is next on the roster, coming soon.
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