Once again, the writers have taken a trip back in time, with this week’s episode presenting us with what happened between the time Negan left Alexandria with Eugene, to what should match up with present day for all survivors of the apocalypse. I’ve been reading a lot of mixed reviews of both Eugene’s motives as well as what the show is (or isn’t) doing with Negan’s character. Which means I have a lot to ramble on about.
For those who need to get caught up or require a refresher, Click Here for a spoiler-filled recap of the episode.
Ready? Let’s do this.
First and foremost, thanks to Eugene for confirming that even in an apocalypse no one wants Kettle Chips. Just get that crap outta here!
Second, it’s official: The Saviors have confiscated every bottle of Feria and Garnier Nutrisse left in the greater DC/Virginia area. Just look at those blondes! And, don’t even get me started on the reds! Going back to last season’s teasing run-ins with Saviors, and the one Michonne pity-killed in the truck; these girls had the reds! The lack of access to decent dye is evidenced by the Heapsters, who somehow make my roots look glamorous.
Third, the use of They Might Be Giants, the kings of nerd rock, during a moment of triumph for Eugene was absolutely perfect. (Eugene’s science exhibit finally addressed a long-standing gripe of mine about the abundance of helium balloons in Alexandria.) Props to whomever made that choice.
Okay, so let’s talk about Dwight. If you’ve read the comics, you know that this Savior will get his redemption (though I still argue that if the showrunners wish to find a reason to keep Daryl around, he will most likely end up with at least the better part of Dwight’s post-Savior story line.) It didn’t take Dwight long to figure out that his wife, Sherry (who is now Negan’s ‘wife’) is the one that freed Daryl from his cell.
Dwight takes the physical hit, though he was ambushed, so it wasn’t like he had much of a choice. Dwight knew all the right things to say in order to get Negan to release him from the closet; after all, he’d been there before. Dwight goes off in search of Sherry at their designated meeting place; their home. This is where things get tricky.
Sherry left a note for Dwight, along with her wedding ring set. We are reminded throughout the episode of the ‘personal sacrifices’ Sherry has made in order to protect Dwight. We are told what a big heart she has. Dwight is consistently made to look like a selfish ass. In the note, Sherry blames herself for Dwight becoming the man he is now. She claims that Daryl was a reminder of the type of man Dwight used to be. Blah Blah Blah. The entire note was a declaration of I’m-better-than-you. Sherry claimed Dwight would either try to take her back to Negan or kill her.
The thing is, she didn’t know her husband at all.
Every week, I find myself posting about the theme of acting a role for this season. Sherry remained Sherry. She did. I believe her heart was in the right place, but she refused to play a role. This was proven by the way she would fearlessly back-talk Negan when confronted. In her own perceived righteousness, Dwight began to look like a tool by comparison. But what she couldn’t see was that Dwight was the one doing the acting. He was playing his part, to keep her safe. You could call it a Gift of the Magi scenario, but I feel like Sherry fell short of her gift.
The last time Dwight went out to retrieve a runaway Savior, he listened to the man’s story. He did kill him, but out of pity and not as a power play. Dwight shooting Daryl in the shoulder at the end of last season saved Daryl’s life; he owed him one for saving Sherry and Tina and himself. Dwight had no intention of bringing Sherry back to Negan, or of killing her. He was shocked and terrified of her actions and the potential consequences, but he was not going to narc on her. In fact, he showed up bearing the exact items she accused in her note that he would probably have forgotten about.
Dwight didn’t forget. He kept it hidden away in a corner of his heart to protect it.
The problem now is that she had zero faith in him. ZERO. But if he returns empty handed, he would be punished or even killed. And so, Dwight lied about witnessing Sherry’s death. After growing exhausted listening to the doctor go on about his opinions on the Sherry situation, Dwight planted evidence to make it look like the doctor had conspired with Sherry to free Daryl. The doctor, naturally, was brutally punished. Sacrificing an important pawn in Negan’s game certainly seems like Dwight has actually finally crossed to the dark side. However, he did it to protect Sherry; this puts the entire situation to rest. Or does it?
Frankly, I hope she never shows up again. She will. And it will Daryl that finds or recognizes her. And that will make my stomach turn. But I do not long for an eventual reunion between Sherry and Dwight. She gave up. She lost hope. “Rebellions are built on hope.” But, she bailed. Eff her.
Dwight did such a fine job acting out his role that his own wife couldn’t tell the difference. And, speaking of acting…
Let’s hear it for Doctor Smartypants! Eugene is terrified of Negan and of Lucille. The “good cop/bad cop” scheme to work Eugene over, as Negan is heard discussing, may have worked to a point. But, once again, Eugene is underestimated. After his big reveal about the Human Genome Project and his role in saving mankind being a lie, people began to ignore any redeeming qualities Eugene may have. Very few took the time to accept that he has been learning, growing, and wants to be “a survivor”. Tara and Glenn were the first to discover it. Then Daryl. And, eventually even Abraham realized that Eugene did, in fact, have something to bring to the table and was worthy of respect. Rosita has witnessed it, but she is so wrapped up in herself that she still insists on using Eugene as her whipping boy. She’ll get hers. I mean…what?
Anyhow, there is a part of Eugene that is surely enjoying the power that comes along with feeling indispensable. But, what viewers have to keep in mind is that Eugene has witnessed this level of ‘acting’ before. He comes from clan Carol, remember? While allowing himself to enjoy the fruits of his new prison–a stocked fridge, video games, and so forth, it doesn’t take long for him to want to assume a position of heroism. Back in Alexandria, Eugene isn’t anyone’s first-choice of who to turn to for help. But here in the Sanctuary, the ‘first wives club’ see him as a hero. Although, they do lie to him about their intentions.
Eugene is no more “Negan” than he was a week ago. If he was truly switching teams, he wouldn’t have cowered during the death of the good doctor. No, the one thing Eugene has always been is smart. He is a decent liar, quick on his feet where his mouth is concerned, and his situational awareness is off the charts. Eugene is pulling a Carol, my friends. And, he may have ultimately changed his mind about helping the wives, but…he still has the poison he concocted. Memories of Stevia? Eugene has a larger purpose to serve. You’ll see. So does Dwight. And the thing of it is, they both know it. “We’re Negan.”
Speaking of Negan…Half the internet wants him dead and the other half thinks his character is becoming soft/ridiculous/yadda yadda yadda. Slow down, folks. Negan is with us for a loooong time. You got very used to seeing him on display, as it were; how he is seen by those he is confronting. He is much more relaxed at home by comparison. He can be; he is king of the roost. But, as he proved with the doctor, Negan knows how to turn it back ‘on’ again when people need reminding. Ed never went soft; sometimes we saw chilling by the fire Ed, and other times we saw beating his wife by the quarry Ed. Negan is the same way. And, as I’ve said, his backstory is a good one. I wish viewers of the series were as patient with character development as readers are. I think they would find many more layers of the story to enjoy.
On a final note, before this season comes to a close (which it soon will) I expect all masks to come off. No more acting. All true selves will be revealed: Ezekiel, Carol, Daryl, Gregory, Jadis, Dwight, Eugene, Rosita. But with that, expect a final curtain.
Until next time….