REVIEW: The Walking Dead, S7 Ep11 – Hostiles and Calamities

This week’s episode of The Walking Dead shifted the focus from the gathering alliance of Rick and company and returned us to the compound of the Saviors, to witness more tension and brutality and to focus on the stories of two cowardly characters who have given in to Negan’s tyranny. A whole episode devoted to Eugene and Dwight. Hooray.

Seriously though, out of the vast cast of compelling characters on The Walking Dead, these two have got to be the least interesting and among the most frustrating. I’m guessing (or hoping) they will play significant roles in the overthrowing of Negan somewhere down the road but as of this episode, we simply bear witness to their continuing compliance for the sake of survival.

The Walking Dead, S7 Ep11 – Hostiles and CalamitiesEugene falls back on old habits and pretends to be an accomplished scientist and member of the team in the Human Genome Project. He gets by somehow because he really is a “Smarty Pants” and he impresses Negan with his resourcefulness and cleverness, particularly in the case of trying to solidify a decaying walker. He is as cowardly and terrified as usual, and though one can’t fault him for not being as badass as Daryl, it’s still pathetic to watch. I had to remind myself that Rick too had cowered in fear of Negan at one point so we can’t really blame Eugene that much. But he makes the most of his favored position and enjoys various benefits.

There was a far more interesting sub-plot involving some of Negan’s wives enlisting Eugene’s scientific skills to fashion poison pills for them. It’s always great to see female characters fighting back against this misogynistic bully, and it adds some depth to these characters who are often treated only as objects or part of the background. One wonders why assassination attempts on Negan are not shown more often. But their plan never reaches fruition as Eugene refuses to help them. I hope that this is not the last we see of the wives. I almost wish there could be a kind of Mad Max: Fury Road scenario.

Meanwhile, we learn that along with Daryl, Sherry also escaped the compound and now Dwight is being blamed for his negligence. We spend a few more scenes with Dwight as he discusses his situation with the suddenly-chatty compound doctor.

He goes back to his and Sherry’s old house and finds a note from her apologizing for the choice she made and for the person he had had to become because of it. She reiterates a point that has been a part of the theme of all this Savior business on The Walking Dead, how some ways of life may actually be worse than surviving. We don’t know where Sherry has run off to but Dwight decides to lie about finding her and killing her.

And then, he plants evidence in the doctor’s office that leads to a brutal execution by fire (literally). Not sure Negan buys his story but for now he’s in the clear.

So the episode ends with both Eugene and Dwight standing together, bound by their shared misery in becoming subjects of Negan. Whether they will somehow stage a rebellion from within or if they will play key roles in Negan’s impending downfall is yet to be seen. The Walking Dead so loves drawing everything out, so we might have to wait a while before everything finally falls apart for Negan and his goons.