The Walking Dead "S7E10: Hostiles and Calamities " - Review: Eugene Levels Up
Hostiles and Calamities – After learning that Sherry helped Daryl escape to cover her own, Dwight is tasked to recapture her. Meanwhile, Eugene finds Negan surprisingly appreciative of his skill set as he adjusts to life among The Saviors.
Not only does this week make a much needed return to the Saviors but it gives us a fascinating comparison between the journeys of Dwight and Eugene along with examining how a good man becomes corrupted. Eugene is essentially Dwight’s origin story with less pickles as the man putting aside what he knows to be right due to the threat of Negan. It’s only their motivations that differ. Whereas Dwight drank the Negan Kool Aid in order to keep Sherry safe, Eugene is simply motivated by fear. He even openly admits to being a coward (not for the first time on the show) when refusing the girls with their righteous agenda because he’s afraid of the consequences. In Eugene’s case, this also brings him back full circle to his introduction alongside Abraham (now pouring the Bisquick in Heaven) by lying himself into a position of importance and protection. While the main mullet man has some good knowledge of his own, he feeds Negan a veritable alternative facts CV like such lies are his base survival practice. It’s always so fascinating to see characters reverting to such base instincts in a world where countless zombies are doing just the same. The events of the episode also set Eugene up well for disaster later in the season as there are some things he won’t be able to fake it through. The events carry some great comedy too with Eugene’s weird socially awkward charms getting the laughs. He might be the first person ever to give a tough guy speech while claiming a teddy (“I don’t know what this is but I’m gonna call it Gringley Gump”). We’re essentially watching him dark to the dark side but it’s hard to stop smiling at him. On interesting note, while his walker defences solution feels like an echo of Winslow last week, think again. Do you remember when Eugene first took Abraham to the metal works for his bullet making idea.... and they encountered a walker covered in molten metal that Eugene struggled to take out?
In the first half of the season, there was a strong feeling that eventually we'd see Dwight on a more redemption based story as this episode serves to point him in the right direction even if he’s still moving slowly. He’s already youngling killed his way to the dark side so now he’s leaning over the fence and wondering if the grass is greener back on the light. The early play out in the aftermath of Daryl’s escape is great little tease making us wonder him Dwight himself freed Daryl before confirming it as Sheri. His later scenes produce some good sympathy towards his character as he learns of Sheri’s fate but, despite her absence, it’s Sheri herself who has the most fascinating role of the episode. Her note for Dwight implies that she wasn’t escaping for herself but for him. She knew there was a good chance she wouldn’t survive out by herself but by staying she would always be Dwight’s chains; his for never fighting back. It ultimately speaks to the underlying love in their relationship (as really hit home visually with Dwight’s reaction) in that they’re both sacrificed themselves to save the other's life. It still feels like we’ll see Sherry again eventually either being discovered by The Saviors or by Dwight finding her somewhere else for a happy ending. Plus, fair warning guys and gals, Sherry’s heartfelt, “I loved who you were, I’m sorry I made you into who you are”, could become 2017's, “It’s not you, it’s me”. As for Dwight’s fate, he’ll 100% be involved a rebellion (successful or not) or some sort of stand against Negan. That could end in a sacrifice play, mirroring Dwight’s encounter with the Savior runaway that would rather die than return. Or it could be an impromptu team up between Dwight and Daryl that takes Negan down. We’ve already seen Daryl transition from hating Dwight to understanding him so they’re inching closer to being on the same page. Both stories had some good moments of miss-direction but its Dwight’s branding iron sequence that provides the episode’s money shot..... didn’t someone say the show was getting less violent?
Eugene was a painfully underused character in the Autumn episodes so it’s wonderful to see him taking a central story focus this episode (or at least sharing it with Dwight). Not only that but he’s been given a fantastic new arc that looks set to keep him featured. Overall, the episode serves as an excellent catch up with the Saviors while Rick and gang go rounding up allies while showing their strength and fortifications increase. Now we can happily leave them again until the cusp of All Out War.... until the show lights this candle.