Warning! SPOILERS for The Walking Dead season 8, episode 15 ahead!
In tonight’s episode of The Walking Dead, Eugene decides where his loyalty really lies when he cleverly (and disgustingly) escapes capture from Daryl and Rosita and returns to The Saviors. And now that it appears Eugene has completely thrown in with The Saviors, does he have any shot at redemption?
Since being taken by Negan midway through season 7, Eugene has quickly risen up The Saviors’ ranks. It was thanks to Eugene that The Saviors were able to rid The Sanctuary of the walker herd, and just recently, Negan put him in charge of his own outpost where he oversees the manufacturing of ammunition. Eugene is now a vital part of Negan’s operation, but he doesn’t always act in The Saviors’ best interests. He enabled Sasha to commit suicide, helped Father Gabriel and Dr. Carson to escape, and didn’t reveal to Negan his suspicion that Dwight might be spy. And it’s actions like these which seem to suggest Eugene still wants to help his friends – but then came tonight’s episode.
In “Worth”, Daryl and Rosita come to kidnap Eugene in order to stop him from making more bullets for The Saviors. He’s thankful they don’t just kill him, but it isn’t out of any “vestigial nostalgia for our erstwhile camaraderie” that they keep him alive. Rosita even flat out tells Eugene that killing a selfish coward and traitor like him would be a good thing. Instead, they’re keeping him alive so that he can be just as useful to them as he has been for Negan. And upon realizing this isn’t really a rescue mission, Eugene begins planning his escape. As a group of walkers are closing in, Eugene creates a diversion by gagging himself and vomiting all over Rosita. Eugene then runs away and, after lying low in a pile of ash and burnt human remains, makes his way back to the outpost.
Throwing his sardine mac ‘n’ cheese up in Rosita’s face is not only an effective (if absolutely disgusting) means of escape, but a declaration that Eugene has picked a side. There may have been a time when Eugene might have wished to be rescued from The Saviors, but not anymore. All that Daryl and Rosita manage to do with their botched kidnapping is convince Eugene that people will only ever appreciate him for what he can do for them. So naturally, rather than return to the Hilltop and make bullets as their prisoner, Eugene decides to remain with The Saviors and make bullets as one of them.
In the comics, Eugene also feels unappreciated and struggles to feel useful in the community, but it doesn’t fill him with so much doubt and loathing that he turns on his friends. When The Saviors capture him, he refuses to help and later escapes; and when war breaks out between The Saviors and the survivors of Alexandria, Hilltop, and The Kingdom, he begins manufacturing bullets for Rick and not Negan. In time, Eugene overcomes his selfish and cowardly nature to become one of the most trusted and valuable survivors, learning to support his friends as fiercely as they do him.
But the show, for whatever reason, has chosen to take Eugene in a completely opposite direction. He’s doubled-down on his selfishness and chooses whatever he thinks is his best chance at staying alive. And while there are certainly those characters (Jesus, Michonne, and even Carl before he died) who argue that everyone needs to come together once the war is over, it will be very hard to forgive Eugene’s betrayal – especially when he’s made his choice so emphatically.
The Walking Dead returns next Sunday for the season 8 finale, “Wrath”, at 9pm/10c on AMC.
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