The episode is actually more interesting than you would think a Eugene- and Dwight-based episode might be. Eugene, while being terrified of Negan, is trying to make the best of his situation. He quickly climbs the ranks and uses his position to be comfortable. Dwight, however, suffers from Daryl and Sherry escaping the compound.
After being psychologically messed with by Negan, he goes to look for her and finds a note at their meeting point they established when they were still together. She apologizes for making him what he is now by persuading him to join the Saviors rather than being on the run. She realizes this is not living but also that she only lived the old version of Dwight. That is why she didn’t wait for him as she doesn’t know whether he would kill her or bring her back or flee with her. Frankly, I don’t know either. Dwight to me is a very opaque character, I don’t exactly know where the show is going with him. In The Cell, where he was trying to break Daryl, I thought he will lash out against Negan one day but I am not so convinced of that anymore. After setting up Dr. Carson by planting Sherry’s note in his drawer, he appears to be determined to keep following Negan. Obviously, he functions as a showcase of Negan’s psychological mind tricks to ensure obedience but Negan himself obviously is not positive about Dwight’s loyalty as he lets shine through when Carson (correctly) claims Dwight set him up. If Negan ever found Sherry (whom Dwight claims to have killed) – and believe me, that is happening in this season – he will burn the other side of Dwight’s face until he died. I am not particularly eager to see that but I hope maybe his confrontations with Daryl and Eugene (and Sherry possibly joining the Alexandrians) will push Dwight towards breaking his psychological confinement and at last take revenge on his cruel leader, who has taken and is still taking him through hell. Otherwise, I don’t get the point of his character, which is clearly the most prominent of the Saviors after Negan. But as Eugene states they are both Negan, Dwight doesn’t seem thrilled or convinced about that.
Anyway, Eugene stays himself throughout the episode, neutrally assessing every new situation to decide on the least dangerous way. That is why he absolutely abides by Negan’s rules. Some may call that cowardice or opportunism but this is totally in accordance with what we know about Eugene and it is definitely less frustrating to watch than Daryl making his life more difficult by refusing to say he is Negan, too (which in turn fit Daryl’s character). Eugene knows he is not as brave and strong as Daryl or Abraham and falls in line with Negan’s demands and wishes. He solves his problem of the “guardian walkers” decomposing by suggesting melting scrap metal and pouring it over them and the fence to increase its fortitude.
He is rewarded with a nice room, video games and pickles as well as a platonic visit from some of Negan’s wives. The gentleman he is, he initially is very hesitant during their visit as he assumes they aren’t there of their own volition. But they show interest in talking to him, even if it turns out they want him to mix a poison for Negan. Eugene, however, sees through their plan and now we have Chekhov’s poisoned pills, which are destined to get someone into trouble (I fear it will be Eugene but someone else will be punished as Negan clearly has some use for Doctor Smartypants). While watching, I wasn’t sure if Eugene changed sides or if he just saves his own skin. A podcast I listened to mentioned that he fell into his old character he also assumed towards Abraham. That might be a hint he is still with the Alexandrians, especially when they arrive with an army. I doubt, however, that he has the balls to be a useful inside man. The next episode he’s in will reveal whose side he’s on. However, it makes sense he’s that cautious, especially after seeing Negan threatening to use the iron on Dr. Carson’s face, sparing him, only to push him into the freaking oven eventually.
Aside: I noticed a very similar structure in this half season compared to season 7a. The first episode showed all our group members, the second focused on the Kingdom and the third on the Sanctuary, where one former Alexandrian is held. I am not sure that means something, especially after the promo for next episode revealed we’ll see Michonne and Rick on scavenging mission and Rosita out on her own. We leave the parallels there but maybe we’ll return to Oceanside in the fifth episode.
Images (including title image) © by AMC (Photo: Gene Page), taken from their website