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'The Walking Dead' recap ('Hostiles & Calamities'): season 7, episode 11

This was posted Sunday, February 26, 2017 by Rodney Ho on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Like the Tara/Heath episode earlier this season, this one was a bit of a side show, likely a set up for future shenanigans and shifting alliances.

The producers opted for two story lines that barely intertwine but both take place where the Saviors reside: Dwight - the long suffering minion to Negan - finds out Daryl escaped. He has to figure out a way to save his hide since Daryl was his "project." And miraculously, he sacrifices a doctor and saves Sherry's hide while remaining a part of Negan's team.

Eugene, kidnapped after Spencer and Olivia's deaths at Alexandria, arrives at the Saviors compound expecting to be thrown in the "hole" or worse. Instead, Negan figures out the dude is "Dr. Smarty Pants," places him in a nice room with a comfy bed, a stereo and food galore. Showered with attention and comfort, Eugene quickly becomes "Negan," as in "I am Negan."

Both characters are reasonably compelling though neither possesses a wide emotional range. Eugene has autistic elements to his personality but a surprisingly pragmatic sense of survival. Dwight has had the life sucked out of him by Negan and appears to be a shell of his former self. But he clearly prefers to live than die.

We'll soon see where their loyalties really lie when Rick begins his crusade against Negan.

Why does Negan treat Eugene so much better than he did Daryl? 

Clearly, Eugene is not a physical threat. Negan reads him correctly. He could be easily swayed by a decent room, some video games and pickles. He also rightly sensed Eugene was alive for his smarts, not his abilities with a gun or sword. And he tests Eugene by asking him how he can keep the walker guards upright. Eugene had noticed a working smelter. They can melt steel and meld them onto the walkers' torsos.

So who let Daryl go?

Of course it was Sherry, who wrote "Go now" on a yellow piece of paper for Daryl. Dwight found the note in his room, where Daryl had left it after eating Dwight's stash of peanut butter and shedding his prison garb.

Was Dwight willing to run away with Sherry?

Yes. They had a safe house - what appeared to be their original home. If one had to run, the other would meet there. He'd bring pretzels and beer. Then they'd figure a way to escape Negan's clutches - again. But when Dwight arrived, he found nobody and just her note. She expressed her regret that she married Negan to keep both of them alive. She caused him to end up being the morally questionable person he never wanted to be. He finished the note and left behind six bottles of beer and an unopened bag of chips. Clearly, he had saved those for a rainy day that never came.

Will we see Sherry again?

In her note, she said she didn't think she could survive long alone out in the cold hard zombie world. But she preferred to be dead than live the way she was living. So she may very well end up being zombified at some future date. Or the writers might have her meet up with Rick's crew and give her a chance to provide intel before the inevitable attack. She may very well reunite with Dwight.

How ingenious was Dwight's "planting" of that note in the doctor's desk?

I'm not sure how Negan really "found" the note but it was effective. It's likely Dwight created that story as part of the fictional idea that he had killed Sherry. He had that note from his wife and used it against Dr. Carson, who was rather cold toward Dwight but was more pragmatic than evil. Negan and Dwight knew the doctor and Sherry were friends so it seemed totally reasonable that she "used" the doctor to let Daryl out, then escaped herself. Plausible though she really just did it herself and ran. "Be the hero so you can move in," Negan said. "That's some weaselly s***." Ausello, who plays Dwight, said "he's making chess moves for the bigger picture."

What if Negan finds Sherry alive?

She'd be dead of course. And so would Dwight. But Dwight was willing to take that risk, knowing she probably wouldn't last very long. Indeed, as Negan said, "if he's lying, she's out there. I will burn the other side of his face until he dies. What's he going to get out of this?"

Saying sorry is never enough for you know who

As the iron approached his face, the doctor admitted to doing what he didn't do in hopes of living. Bad move. Saying sorry, at first seemed like a good idea. But then Negan ruthlessly shoved him into the furnace. Dwight basically let an innocent man die to save his own hide.

Can Dwight turn against Negan?

Of course! Part of him would love to kill the man. But he simply needs the opportunity, an opportunity that has not shown up yet. But it seems almost obvious he'll join Rick in rebellion possibly by providing information from within. Who knows? He and Daryl may end up becoming buds after all.

So did Eugene grabbing all that stuff randomly remind you of something?

It reminded me of Steve Martin in "The Jerk." Hardwick imitated that scene in "Talking Dead."

Is Eugene truly loyal to Negan now?

As long as everything is hunky dory as it seems, why not? He has been given a position of import, nice facilities and pickles! But once the war begins, he will be torn. Rosita or Tara may end up having to talk some sense into him. "This has shown what Eugene was like pre-Apocalypse who just sits on his couch and plays video games," said actor Josh McDermitt, who plays Eugene in "Talking Dead."

How quickly did he realize that the two sister wives wanted to kill Negan with a pill and not use it as a suicide pill for Amanda?

It didn't appear he immediately put two and two together. The two women created a story about sister wife Amanda wanting to commit suicide. They convinced him to create two poison pills, one as back up. But after he saw the doctor die and the reaction of the women, he realized they truly hated Negan as well. So he denied them access to the pills and readily admitted to cowardice. Who knows? He may need those pills for some future mission.

Was it weird that none of the Negan security guards went crazy when he blew up stuff?

Yes. But the women had favored status and one of the guards knew Eugene was about to do some crazy scientific experiment. Still, that was some odd scene.

Why is Eugene playing some old Atari 2600 game system?

Is that the only video game system the Saviors could salvage? That was from 1981-82! By 2010, you'd think finding an operational Atari 2600 system would be difficult. More realistically, he should be using a PlayStation from the 2000s.

Personally, I never owned an Atari 2600. I had to wait for Chris Hardwick on "Talking Dead' to bring up "Yar's Revenge." Of course he knew the game instantly. (McDermitt said the game was on loop on the show.)


And Eugene also referenced Warlords, which I do recall was popular at the time:

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About the Author

Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.