The Walking Dead: ‘Hostiles and Calamities’ Review
Eugene’s stroll down Easy Street.
Warning: Spoilers are discussed in full within this Walking Dead review
This week, The Walking Dead gave us an episode where story progression was mild, but two cowardly characters took center stage. “Hostiles and Calamities” took us away from Alexandria and put us back in Negan’s Sanctuary. We focused on Eugene and Dwight, the show’s most gutless characters. Even though I’m not particularly found of either character, I suppose it was time to catch up with these two. Each character was given some much needed development, and possibly some motivation to change their ways.
Aye, Eugene, Eugene, Eugene. I’ve struggled to ever find a sense of fondness towards this guy. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I got no beef with Josh McDermitt. He does great work with his portrayal of the sniveling, cowardly scientist. But it’s hard showing anything but pity towards the character. Even in the past when there was a hint of progressive toughness in him, he’d soon find his way hiding and cowering back in a corner. His most admirable traits are his intelligence, his insane mullet, and his honesty with admitting he is a coward. Thing is, I never could forgive him after he admitted he lied about knowing how to create a cure to the walker epidemic. He’s like one of those A.I. characters in the Dead Rising games that you have to escort to safety, but cause you to be bitten and killed. So although I wanted to know what Negan was going to do with Eugene after the Saviors hauled him away from Alexandria. I wasn’t asking for an entire episode dedicated to him.
Surprisingly though, this episode provided the best material for Josh McDermitt to work with as Eugene. The character displays all of his “best” qualities, such as crying, shivering, and lying. It’s easy to be annoyed with Eugene, but in some ways, I can’t help but feel sorry for him. After all, he was taken from his home, only to be standing face-to-face with the man that smashed two of his friends’ skulls into the ground with a barb wired bat. However, in more ways than one, Eugene seems to be enjoying his stay. One of the great parallels of the episode was in an early scene with Eugene settling into his comfortable accommodations. He actually enjoyed the song “Easy Street”, while Daryl was tortured by it while he sat in a cell. To me, that was an indication things were going to be far different for Eugene’s stay. After all, what better way to treat a man who can make bullets, than to make him comfortable?
As the episode went on, I couldn’t believe it, Eugene starting becoming interesting. His ability to lie allowed him to advance to the next stage of his survival. Impressing Negan with his plan to keep the walkers functional made him valuable. Bonding with Negan’s wives boosted his confidence. It made him feel important. The Sanctuary was becoming home to him. Thinking back, he was an oddball with little purpose in Alexandria. He was always disrespected and belittled by Rick’s group, especially by Rosita. So when it came time for him to pledge his allegiance to Negan without hesitation, it made sense. Under Negan’s rule, he has access to books, video games, and pickles. He is a somebody in The Sanctuary, even if he has to kneel to survive.
While all this makes sense, it feels wrong. And I think that’s the point. Eugene may be a liar and a coward, but a traitor? Swearing to a man who murdered your friends and brought pain to others? It’s entirely possible for him to become a turncoat just to stay alive. However, could this be the start of a daring arc for Eugene? Is it possible Eugene has found his courage, and may be plotting to sabotage Negan’s organization from the inside? This is something I’ve had to think about long after watching the episode (which is one of the reasons why this review is hella late).
On the surface. This episode seems pointless and frustrating. Yet, it might be smarter than it lets on with the Eugene story. This can go either way. A lot of it comes down to the poison pills he made. His refusal to give the pills to the girls to assist the suicide of the distraught Amber was a very smart move on his part. More than likely, he was being tested. Negan’s wives may hate their husband, but they also fear him. There is a good chance Negan had his wives plot this pill plan with Eugene. Eugene is not stupid. He knew one of those pills was for Negan. If he had given the pills to the girls, sure, there was a chance they’d use them to poison Negan. But there was a bigger chance they’d rat him out. I mean, Negan came knocking on Eugene’s door to initiate him right after the girls had stormed off. So what does that tell ya?
Now if by chance, Eugene is making The Sanctuary his residence on his own accord, that makes sense too. I already established why. Thing is, storywise, it would make far more sense if Eugene was infiltrating The Saviors rather than becoming one of them. Because otherwise why would we spend this amount of time on watching Eugene become a traitor? I mean, there’s a chance he could just be an asshole who only joins the winning team to stay alive, but I doubt that’s what the writers had planned for the character. There is one small clue that might indicate Eugene is trying to bring down Negan. I missed it in the first viewing. After Eugene is escorted away from the fences once he tells Negan about the liquid metal idea to keep the walkers useful, he smirks once he’s out of view from everybody. In other cases, his body language drastically changes from time to time. As the episode rolls on, he seems to be more in control. I mean, I don’t know what the plan is for Eugene, but however this turns up, at least we’re starting to get some solid usage out of the guy. Plus, he still has those pills.
Producers of The Walking Dead… stop trying to make Dwight happen. Okay, alright, to be fair, this was a better episode for Dwight, but I personally still don’t fully care about his story. I get that he and Sherry were put in this really screwed up situation where she had to marry Negan so Dwight wouldn’t die, but Dwight has done things and acted like he enjoys what he’s doing with the Saviors. He’s a scumbag. However, Sherry’s note put a lot into perspective. He’s basically lost his way, and become something nasty. She thought that by releasing Daryl, and running away, she could save her Dwight, help him become good again, remember the good days. I fail to see the logic in her plan, but okay, it was worth a shot. At least she’s away from Negan. Dwight making up a story that she was killed by walkers might help her stay safe, but I wonder if Negan really bought it. Personally, I’d like it if we never saw Sherry again. I’d like her whereabouts to be a mystery. Unless Negan finds her and that forces Dwight to finally turn against Negan.
I know I should care about Dwight, and take understanding that he’s been forced into this life. I know he set up the doctor to take the fall for Daryl’s escape and having contact with Sherry was done to protect his lie, to keep Sherry safe, but damn. Poor doctor got cooked. I know I should be patient with Dwight’s story. He’s at a breaking point where he’ll eventually turn on Negan. And even though the scene with the letter reading was dramatic and well done, him remembering the pretzels and beer was touching, I still can’t get myself to fully care for Dwight. This episode got me a little closer to caring, but still not quite. Perhaps he and Eugene will work together to take the Saviors down little by little, but that remains to be seen.
Regarding Negan, I’m starting to get a tad worried. I’m still very much a fan of Jeffrey Dean Morgan playing this villain, but as I watched every scene he was in, I found myself predicting every little thing he was going to do and say. I kept predicting his movements and gestures too. That can’t be good. I’ve read some believe his schtick is getting old. Oh, I really don’t want to believe that, but perhaps those making these comments are on to something. I’m not sure what the character can do differently – perhaps be less charming and more brutal – but the writers better think of something fast.
This was somewhat tricky episode for me. When I first watched it, I immediately made the assessment that Eugene was nothing but a coward, but I understood his position. But once I thought about the possibility of him becoming an infiltrator, I started to become intrigued. I don’t know what’s to become of this character. Apparently, neither does McDermitt. But it’s the possibility of Eugene having a plan that might benefit Rick that makes this a better episode meets the eye.