My brother-in-law was not happy about this week’s episode of the Walking Dead. To paraphrase, he called it something like the “worst effing episode ever made.” Obviously he forgot about the episode where it’s just Tara cracking corny jokes and narrowly escaping a pack of wild, watery women through her wit and wiliness — totally unbelievable. I keep mentioning my brother-in-law in order to warm you up to the Walking Dead podcast we must inevitably produce. He doesn’t know about it, and maybe he never will. Maybe I’ll just start recording these weekly phone calls.
I, on the other hand, enjoyed this week’s episode. Last week I complained about characters. I even specifically said, “Get burnt-face dude and a couple other outlier characters who show promise and have them join the crew and replace people like Tara.” This week’s episode was almost all about “burnt-face dude,” who I should now refer to as Dwight. He’s earned that much. The other part of the episode deals with Eugene who is the outlier character we once loved and forgot about — just as the rest of Rick’s crew had apparently. But Eugene offers double the fun this week as we see him kind of becoming a new character: the cowardly lion with a new heart, a new heart made of a big-a jar of pickles.
I think what I really liked about this episode was the idea of choice. We can see Dwight forced to make a decision, or think out a decision, that being should he stay or should he go. If the Clash helps you forget about “Easy Street,” you’re welcome. We also see glimpses of Dwight’s past decisions as well as the reasons beyond his control that led to his current situation: his wife, Sherry, and her decisions, like the one where she decides to marry Negan to save Dwight. While the question of “Am I still the guy I was before?” continues to unfold for Dwight (I mean he did bring the beer and pretzels…), he’s also faced with the more immediate questions of “What do I do now that Negan knows Sherry freed Daryl? How do I cover for her, for me?” Well, the obvious answer is let Negan toss old Dr. Carson into the fireplace, but not before grabbing handfuls of those delicious suckers. I’m curious about who’s got dibs on those unburnt Dockers. I’m excited to see Dwight progress. Maybe he’ll end up as a deathbed repentant type of character like Daryl’s brother Merle, or maybe he’ll join Rick’s crew as an official member. If Morgan and Carol can work things out, so can Dwight and Daryl. I think the two of them would actually have a lot of fun, riding motorcycles and shooting crossbows. Side note: Is Austin Amelio not a perfect combination of Christian Bale and Matthew McConaughey?
The other big question in the episode involves — “I’m Negan. I’m utterly, completely, stone-cold Negan.” — Yes, okay, involves Eugene, who obviously seemed to make his decision quite easily … or is it all a — “I was Negan before I even met you; I just needed to meet you properly to know.” — um, all a trick? To my memory, two other Alexandrians have stepped foot (I guess three, the other set of footprints belonged to Jesus) inside the Sanctuary: Daryl and Carl, neither of which settled in quite as easy and quickly as Eugene. At the end of the episode, when Negan asks Eugene his typical refrain, “Who are you?” Eugene gives the above answer, which causes us to wonder if our old mulleted mate could be so easily bought with an Atari and a couple of ladies on loan, or perhaps more important it’s the idea of security. I’d like to believe that Eugene is still on “our” side, that it’s a defense mechanism — one, we recall, he’s used in the past — or that he’s got something in the works and he’s just waiting for the right time to strike, but honestly, I really don’t care if Eugene breaks bad. If anything, I think that would give him a hell of a lot more dimension than the little dog pissing itself act he’s been running for the last while. He’s never really shown himself to be a valuable member of the team, just ask Rosita. One thing I hope we don’t see is a rerun of the Andrea sequence, where he attempts to be a bridge between the two groups.
The episode ends with Dwight and Eugene standing side by side — quite a change from the last time they met, when Eugene went full snapping turtle on the man’s front pocket (this is a euphemism for the time Eugene literally bit the man’s penis as a way to escape certain death) — seemingly heading in different directions, but as for the show itself, it is now heading in a direction I am more invested in than I was a week ago.