The Walking Dead has returned to the episodic narrow focuses that zero in on a couple of characters. And I and quite a few more notable reviewers that I’ve noticed lambasted it for that when it became too much. Yet in the latest two episodes I think this has actually played to the strengths of the show and it’s returning from the low that New Best Friends led us to.
Now don’t get me wrong, the Scavengers are still an awful part of the show, I really don’t see the point of them or enjoy having them on the screen as they stretch believability far too much for me and I still don’t think that they are what’s needed to tip the balance, nor do I think they’ll end up being a meaningful part of the story. So they continue to be useless and their demanding for more guns at the end of Say Yes is just annoying more than anything else. Until they start talking like normal people and proving themselves to be necessary fighters I will retain this opinion.
But let’s get on to the actual episodes. The first, Hostilities and Calamities was a very different episode about the Saviours. Focused on Eugene, it showed his life inside of the Saviours’ camp now he has been offered a new life with them. And I was so immensely pleased that Eugene has actually seemingly taken to his new lifestyle. It would make no sense for him to blindly rage against Negan because he’s on the side of the heroes and lost friends to these people. Eugene is pleasingly a lot more logical than that. He’s playing a dangerous game, if it backfires he could end up like the doctor who got tricked by Dwight, burnt alive, but I’m convinced Eugene is smart enough to play it right. And it also allows us to see that most of the Saviours are normal, rather than monsters, and are getting dragged along by Negan’s cult of personality. The wives of Negan, after finding a new interesting thing in their awful life under Negan briefly, one of them asks for Eugene to cook up a way out. And yet he doesn’t. He doesn’t poison Negan. And that could be a sign that he’s fallen under the sway. The show certainly wants to you to believe that, Eugene immediately saying ‘I am Negan’. But he knows that’s what Negan wants you to say and he’s smart, so he says it.
See, I am convinced that Eugene has not fallen under the sway of Negan. He is far too smart for that. And far too attached to Abraham, you cannot convince me that the Eugene devastated at Abraham’s death would switch sides completely. And as far as he’s concerned, it’s not so much switching sides as being temporarily located with his adversary. Out of any of the Walking Dead characters, I probably would put him highest on my list to play a long con. Poisoning Negan this soon would lead to his death. There’s no way he could evade the investigation. He needs to figure out a best strategy. And I can’t see him turning on his former friends when they inevitably show up. Maybe if he panics but not maliciously. He won’t go out a villain’s death.
What I also liked about that episode is that it was a contrast between Eugene’s story, the man coming into the Saviours, and Dwight, the man who is getting dissatisfied with the Saviours, their meeting on the balcony at the end solidified that for me. Theming, it helps your viewers remember your episodes.
Say Yes also had theming, in that it gave us a really good Rick and Michonne outing. Both of them had been needing an episode for a while and it focused on their relationship and gave me some good enjoyable moments out of it, I don’t have much more to say about it but it feels like it’s building for one of them (and by that I of course mean Michonne) to die. Don’t do it, she brings a lot of life to this show when she’s in a good mood, Danai Gurira’s smile is infectious. And it also made the walkers feel like a threat for the first time this season. Always good to do that to your title premise, make it briefly feel relevant. And Tara is going to bring back her divergent family group or whatever. More power to her, I guess.