Oh good, a Eugene-focused episode. That’s just what ‘The Walking Dead’ needs to turn around a disappointing season. (That’s sarcasm, in case you didn’t catch it.)
Eugene was once an amusing, colorful character, but he has pretty much straight-up sucked ever since defecting to the Saviors. For all his talk about being a survivor, the guy should have had his face eaten off by a zombie ages ago. That he’s still hanging around to ruin everything for his former friends is improbable to the point of absurdity, and his gibberish nerd-speak dialogue is even more irritating than the Heapsters’ language, of which I have complained many times.
Oh, the Heapsters are back in this episode too, just to add to the aggravation. The episode opens with Rick being pulled out of his sweat-box so that Jadis can take photos of him. She says that it’s so that she can sculpt him “after,” but I assume she’s providing evidence of his capture to Negan.
Inside the Sanctuary, Eugene pays a visit to Dwight and lays his cards on the table that he knows he’s the traitor. Eugene says that he’ll keep his mouth shut so long as Dwight ceases all further treasonous activities. Dwight angrily tells him that the Saviors are over and he needs to let the situation play out. The two of them come to an uneasy détente. They may only have a couple days before the compound is overrun by Walkers.
Gabriel is dying from the infection he contracted by wearing zombie guts as a disguise. (Funny how nobody else has ever had that problem despite numerous characters pulling the same stunt on both this show and ‘Fear the Walking Dead’.) Eugene has to sit with him for a while when the doctor goes out to search for medicine, and Gabriel lays a major guilt trip on him about how it’s not too late to do the right thing. Eugene spends most of the episode conflicted about what the “right thing” actually is. He’s come to believe that the Saviors actually do save people.
Outside, Morgan watches over the Sanctuary from a sniper position. (I thought he’d sulkily stormed off to be on his own again?) Daryl drives up in the garbage truck with Tara, Rosita and Michonne. Daryl lays out his plan to smash the truck through a wall in the Sanctuary and let Walkers inside the place. Tara is fully on board with this, and Morgan offers his help as well. However, Rosita wants no part of it and leaves to head back to Alexandria. Michonne stays, but has second thoughts about it later and opts out as well.
Negan shakes Eugene’s hand to show that he respects him (something that Negan offers to few others), while at the same time pressuring him to find a solution to their Walker problem quickly. Eugene finds the iPod he had given Sasha and jury-rigs it onto a remote-controlled glider, planning to use music to lure the Walkers away from the compound. Dwight tries to stop him by threatening to shoot him, but Eugene calls his bluff and launches the glider anyway. Instead of shooting Eugene, Dwight shoots the glider out of the air.
At that same moment, Daryl launches his attack and drives the truck through a wall, then runs away with Tara while Morgan provides cover fire. Walkers flood the interior of the Sanctuary’s factory floor, creating mass panic and chaos as the worker try to escape upstairs.
Eugene is furious. He yells at Gabriel that he is 100% a Savior now, and then tells Negan that he’s developed a new plan to save the day. We don’t get to hear the details of it, other than that it will require a major expenditure of ammunition, which Eugene promises he’ll be able to replace later. Negan is very impressed. Eugene also nearly rats out Dwight, but chickens out when Dwight enters the room.
Whatever the plan is, Eugene sits it out in his room, drinking himself to the point of puking while listening to the gunfire outside his walls.
Jadis lets Rick out of his cage again and pits him in a little gladiator match against another zombie with a metal helmet bolted to its head. In an utterly absurd set-piece, Rick – his hands bound – overcomes several Heapers, decapitates the Walker, and wrestles Jadis to the ground. He then gives a speech scaring her people, and rather than simply shoot him on the spot, they cower at his badassness and Jadis agrees to the terms of his deal, forming an alliance between the Heapsters and Alexandria.
Full of swagger from his victory, Rick brings the Heapsters to the Sanctuary to show off how badly Negan is screwed, but finds one of his own snipers murdered and the Sanctuary courtyard completely free of Walkers. Uh oh. What a pickle.
Next week is the show’s big mid-season finale, which promises a showdown with Negan and very likely a character death. (So long, Eugene!) To facilitate those plot points, this episode feels badly contrived. Daryl’s plan to wipe out the Saviors is incredibly stupid and was always doomed to failure. I called that the first time he mentioned it last week. I still have no idea what Rick was thinking when he went to the Heapsters alone, and the details of how he won them over with his macho virility are both nonsensical and idiotic.
Unless the mid-season finale does something really huge and noteworthy, I expect the show’s already-eroding ratings to take an even steeper dive when the second half of the season begins next year. Maybe the writers know this and are planning to finally kill off Negan? That seems unlikely, but it would be nice.