Last week, after Rick emerged from the Octagon victorious, he made a promise to the Garbage People that he'd go searching for guns. With that, the Garbage People would take their mangy hair and fight alongside Rick's group against The Saviors.
We're not sure if we should be thankful that we were spared that follow-up episode, but it's completely unsurprising that we diverted and focused on a group of characters not normally used to the attention. Rather than watch Tara inevitably confide in Rick the existence of the Fish Women, we're left watching Dwight play CSI, Negan honor Fat Joe by promising to always serve as the physical embodiment of “Lean Back,” and Eugene found some pickles. Sounds about right.
From displays of dominance to faction elimination, a look at which characters saw their prospects rise this week.
Pritpaul Bains: Eugene
Never in TWD has a character exemplified the phrase “outhouse to penthouse” more so than Eugene this week. Talk about a serious quality-of-life upgrade. He's got it all—books, music (even if it is just the god-forsaken “Easy Street,” for which I'm sure The Collapsable Hearts Club is now more reviled than admired), video games, pickles, a bedpan … and he's sharing a foolproof method of entertaining pretty girls with us all, to boot. “Video games are all about me showing you a fun time.” Preach, buddy.
Sure, this is only material stuff, but it's a damn sight more confidence-inspiring than the state Alexandria is in right now—so much so that Eugene, with his predilection for cowardice, is openly willing to bend the knee to Negan. Is he playing a longer game, or is he truly just looking out for his own hide? We'll find out soon enough, but this isn't exactly the kind of burning question TWD should be worried about posing at this late stage of the season.
P.S. Doesn't Negan know Eugene only likes to watch?
Joe Brosnan: Sherry
I will admit I don’t give a shit about Sherry. Or Dwight. Or Doctor InsertNameHere. Even Eugene is barely tolerable, and that’s in small doses. So it makes complete sense that we’d get an entire episode featuring each of those characters, plus Negan and his worsening case of scoliosis. So as tough as it was to not label everyone a faller this week, I guess I’ll go with Sherry since she managed to get out of The Sanctuary alive—which is something I was doubting about myself this week.
Adam Wagner: Pickles
While the show can’t even seem to do pickles right (those looked like cucumbers in a jar of water), the way the child-like Eugene was clinging to that jar caused me to seriously crave a nice Claussen “Hearty Garlic.”
From poor decisions to lost lives, a look at which characters lost ground this week.
It might be tough to see with all his posturing, but Negan’s façade is starting to show a few cracks. First, there’s the fact that he was just duped into incinerating a perfectly good doctor because his slave-wife let his redneck-prisoner go because said prisoner reminded said wife about her ex-husband’s long-gone innocence. And that ex-husband? Well he’s your right-hand man, and he just lied to you so you’d kill the doctor rather than go out hunting for his ex-wife. Got that? Good.
Next, let’s discuss a trio of other slave-wives who are so fed up with their indentured servitude that they sought help in a human meme. Their plan might have been undone by a giant mullet-sporting pickle who goes from half- to full-sour late at night by imagining you and your sister-wives getting it on while Negan fucks Lucille in her bullet hole, but the fact that the plan even exists at all is proof that the target on Negan’s back is only growing.
And finally, back to that bullet-making pickle. Negan just got spoon-fed a heaping dose of bullshit, said thank you, and asked for seconds. For those keeping score at home, that’s officially three strikes for Negan. Lucille is definitely not putting out tonight … sorry Eugene.
Talk about a fall from grace for ol' Dwighty-boy. While, ultimately, the episode ended with Dwight seemingly in Negan's good graces once more, it has to be apparent (and concerning) to him at how fickle the man he serves truly is. Negan's volatility is at once what keeps him in power, but also seems to be setting the stage for his downfall—it seems like he's voluntarily sowing seeds of dissent in his own camp. If his trust in those who serve him is so fleeting, why should it be reciprocated?
But back to Dwight. It's not immediately apparent what he gains from orchestrating a Hippocratic barbecue (precluding a search for Sherry and nipping an investigation in the bud, perhaps), but we see another chunk of his humanity disappear just as soon as he reveals that he actually possesses it. It'll be interesting to see whether his tribulations result in his doubling down on his place by Negan's side or whether he snaps, but again, this yo-yo arc of Dwight oscillating between glimmers of a character viewers can empathize with and ruthless asshole has been done before. Multiple times.
AW: Pretzels & Beer
Dwight lost his weird, Misery-obsession-level pet project, he got his ass kicked, and he spent a night in the hole. Then, he lost his wife (again). But the saddest part of the whole episode was that the pretzels and beer got left behind. If the importance of snacks was supposed to be this week’s motif (at least that’s what I took from it), my favorite combo just got abandoned.
I bet he just went to the store to get another pack of cigarettes and will be back soon…
A tribute to the late, great Hershel Greene, this section searches for the best displays of humanity amidst chaos this week.
Pragmatism isn’t always easily achieved, but that’s not the case for Eugene. The man is just trying to survive, and if that means playing into what Negan wants, then so be it. As a result, the dude is knee-deep in pickles, beer, and video games. And yet, there’s still a humanistic side to him, evidenced by him not ratting out the man stealing supplies.
Eugene’s slight smirk for the camera after he lies to Negan about his Human Genome Project involvement serves as a way to tell the audience that he hasn’t gone full Negan, but it doesn’t mean he’s going to growl himself into a dungeon like Daryl. I mean, they have pickles for god’s sake.
PB: Negan's Wives
Yes, the absentee Sherry included. Well, now we know how Daryl got loose. Sherry's letter to Dwight gave their relationship—and his character—some much needed emotional heft (albeit amidst a shit-ton of exposition). Not sure I really buy Daryl's charming personality as being the reason Sherry saves him to save Dwight, but that notwithstanding, I hope Sherry gets to pick up those beers and pretzels someday.
As for Negan's other wives, it seems like Amber, Tanya, and Frankie are the only ones in the entire Saviors camp with any balls at all. It's completely implausible to assume that Negan would have as smooth a ride as it appears he's had thus far in such a large colony in which the vast majority of citizens have been subjugated. While their plan may not be particularly well thought out, and their belief in Eugene may be misplaced (for now), at least their hearts are in the right place.
AW: Red Wine
Pickles may have won this week, but “Hostiles and Calamities” reminded us that red wine will always be there for you. Gotta watch a confusing caricature play video games? Red wine. Gotta be a sex slave to an egotistical Gumby with a bat? Red wine. It may one day turn sour, but it’ll never
turn bend its back on you.
- Hey, remember when there were zombies in this show? (JB)
- At least this episode was only 50-minutes long. (AW)
- Sellout Eugene is the only way to make Eugene interesting. (JB)
- Find yourself someone who looks at you the same way Eugene looks at that pickle jar. (PB)
- Dwight's sandwich got a montage, I was hoping for more with Eugene's pickles. (AW)
- I enjoyed the juxtaposition of “Easy Street” with Eugene and Daryl. Eugene sells out and his bounty is a literal easy street, while Daryl’s holds out and remains in the dark. (JB)
- And don’t hate Eugene for what he did. Even the Starks bent the knee when pressed into a corner by the Targaryens. (JB)
- “I'm not good. I'm not lawful, neutral, or chaotic, none of the above.” It wouldn't be a Eugene-centric episode without a token D&D reference. Because he's a nerd, get it? TWD was afraid you might have missed it in the first hundred video game/RPG/comic references he made. (PB)
- “We don't get to have big hearts. Remember that.” Advice that'll keep us all warm at night, doc. Thanks. (PB)
- Fancy enough for lobster, but handmade chips are out of the question. (AW)
Zombie Kill of the Week
“You don't have any guts” walker. Although … does this even officially count as a kill? Its innards fell out but no one double-tapped. If this walker is still alive, and we're pretty sure it is, this may be the first episode in quite some time with no walker kills.