Warning: this article contains spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 7 Episode 11 'Hostiles and Calamities'.
What a sweet turn of events The Walking Dead brought to us this Sunday. Primarily, this was the first episode of the second half of #TheWalkingDeadSeason7 to feature Negan and his band of Saviors. Eugene had a lot to take in at the Sanctuary as he learned the ropes — and so did we.
Our beloved and socially awkward Eugene was taken against his will by Negan in the midseason finale, and in this week's episode, The Walking Dead followed the Haircut around the Sanctuary as he learned his place and his new status. He's clearly very valuable to Negan;as he put it himself, "he's not easily replaced". But does that really mean that Eugene had to go all the way to the dark side? And, more importantly, has he really become "Negan"?
Eugene Is A Man Of Logic
Eugene excels at assessing situations and the possible outcomes in The Walking Dead, so it's only fair he'd realize pretty quickly that his chances of surviving under Negan's rule would increase drastically if he played his cards right. He was alone, in a foreign and terribly hostile territory and without any hopes of being immediately rescued. As logically as he could, Eugene simply decided to please his captor — by working for him, and telling him what he wanted to hear.
Helping Negan solve his Walker-fence problem let Eugene earn his keep — and Negan's trust, of course. Eugene wasn't being mistreated or threatened directly — he even got a nice room, a video game and his choice of food. As long as he's willing to abide by the rules, Eugene won't be in any immediate danger at the Sanctuary.
Some Appreciation Goes A Long Way
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Let's not forget that Eugene hasn't always been in the best of terms with the people from Rick's group. Even Abraham and Rosita had to be fooled by Eugene in order to get him the protection he needed — and it's not like things have improved for our Science Man since Abraham's demise. Recently, Rosita had no problem tearing Eugene's new-found self-esteem to shreds, just so she could get the bullet she so desperately wanted. Eugene isn't taken seriously by anyone in Rick's group (perhaps with the exception of Tara). He's never received the respect or acceptance he craved, and he's constantly reminded of his errors and lies.
At the Sanctuary, Eugene got a clean slate and, more than that, some much welcome appreciation from Negan's wives — and even the big boss himself. Negan saw Eugene's potential from that one bullet he manufactured from scratch and, cleverly enough, sought to use it to his advantage. Not only that, but Negan is a great people-reader, meaning he made sure Eugene was well-accepted and tended to, which will eventually bring Eugene all the way to Negan's side — or so Negan would hope.
Once A Coward, Always A Coward
Eugene is a self-proclaimed coward, with no grand aspirations of becoming a hero any time soon. He's never made a secret of his weakness or how much he abhors violence, and this week, The Walking Dead made the Haircut admit it aloud once more to #Negan's wives. But the fact remains that, no matter how cowardly he seems, Eugene isn't stupid. He saw right through the wives's scheme to kill Negan and, smartly enough, refused to take part in it.
He knows he will not save the day by being the stronger man, but Eugene is damn sure of his abilities, and he's not afraid to use them. It may have taken some viewers by surprise (and, then again, maybe not) when Eugene said "I am Negan", but the truth is that Eugene knows he's no good to anyone if he's dead.
Eugene Is A Survivor
Like he so defiantly told Abraham a while back, Eugene is a survivor. He is acutely aware of how precious his skills are in this post-apocalyptic scenario — and how valuable a man of science can be. He also understands the implications of siding with the Saviors — which Negan's demonstration on Dr. Carlson highlighted — and he's not shy about trying to fit in. For all intents and purposes, Eugene's been given the chance of a fresh start at the Sanctuary, under new rules and management that he'll do his best to respect.
Eugene also realized that he's not the only one who is keeping up appearances under Negan's thumb — he saw through Dwight's scam in an instant. Eugene definitely has "the necessary skill-set to survive" and, luckily, he also has the much needed acting talent to pull this con off.
More on #TheWalkingDead:
- 'The Walking Dead': Did Negan Finally Push Dwight Too Far? The Comics May Have The Answer
- The Internet Reacts To That Shocking Negan Moment On 'The Walking Dead' Season 7, Episode 11
- 5 Jaw-Dropping Moments From 'The Walking Dead' Season 7, Episode 11, 'Hostilities And Calamities'
Whether or not Eugene has actually accepted Negan as his leader is still unclear, but the fact that Eugene managed not only to survive in the Sanctuary, but also to raise his station, is definitely deserving of praise. Eugene has also figured out that Dwight's shoes fit his, and that may come into play later on in yet another turncoat moment. If convincing Negan that he's willing to become part of the Saviors is what it takes to earn Negan's trust, then Eugene is more than right to scream "I am Negan" as many times — and in many ways — as he needs to.
Would you have sided with Negan to save yourself, or would you've pulled a Daryl and refused to kneel? Let me know in the comments.