The war with Negan is coming… just not quite yet.
The Walking Dead Season 7 Episode 11 took time to catch viewers up on what’s been going on at the Sanctuary since Daryl’s escape and Eugene was brought back from Alexandria.
Ultimately, it was a character piece focusing on Dwight and Eugene and the way they follow Negan’s rule, even if they aren’t fully on board with his leadership and decisions.
Truthfully, there was something fascinating in getting to see Eugene’s experience when comparing it to Daryl’s torturous stay at the compound.
The callback to that “Easy Street” song was humorous because of the repetitive nature in which it was used before, but this go around it really did sort of highlight the easy street that Eugene was getting.
Eugene wasn’t being tortured. He was getting to stay in a room, play video games, eat pickles, and pretty much do what he wanted to.
At the same time, Daryl was defiant to the end, where as Eugene needed no dramatic prodding in helping Negan out with his walkers on the fence or even uttering the “I am Negan” line.
But at the same time, while you can see the real fear and terror in Eugene’s eyes and reaction to certain moments while at the Sanctuary, he also wasn’t wholly honest either.
Pulling out his rambling backstory and pointing out his doctorate and work on the Human Genome project was a clever survival tactic. Even I had to pause to wonder what was true and wasn’t.
It was funny though when one of the girls said she wanted to talk about the Human Genome project, and Eugene had to try and find a way around revealing the truth.
What’s more, it was interesting seeing Eugene take his new role and use it. Rather than just back down when being told to get back in line, he stepped up, revealed his authority in connection with Negan, and he even took a bunch more stuff than he needed.
But settling in makes me wonder what he would do when Rick and the others try and rescue him. Might he have truly turned to Negan’s side by that point?
Obviously, Eugene is scared of Negan.
After all, Negan killed the doctor, and I’m not sure he’s even got a replacement. Maybe he’ll nab one from one of the other communities?
But Eugene is doing what he’s done so far: survive.
At the same time, Dwight, too, remains a follower of Negan.
But he’s not a fan either.
He too is about the survival game, but he’s also about making sure Sherry is safe.
It was certainly a heartbreaking moment seeing Dwight find his former home and listening to Sherry’s letter about who he has become and who he once was.
Yet, to see he had brought the beer and food like they had said they would if they got separated made me wonder if he had found her, would they have tried running away again?
To keep Negan from going after her, Dwight had to make up a story about her being killed and that it was the doctor who had a thing for Sherry and thus let Daryl out.
The camera focus on Dwight’s face as he looked away while Negan confronted the doctor was fantastic. Dwight was willing to put someone else’s life in danger to protect the woman he loved.
The show really has done a good job of making Dwight more than just a bad guy. There’s depth and emotion behind his actions that we get to see when an episode focuses on him.
Again, much like Eugene’s decisions, Dwight’s weren’t that surprising.
But with Dwight, it feels like he’s ready to break and turn on Negan. He just has to join Rick and company at some point, right?
Unfortunately, some of this episode dragged along. While it was interesting to see how Eugene’s experience was, some of the Negan posturing felt a little long, and even Eugene hanging out with the wives could have been a bit shorter.
Plus, it was so obvious that the two wives wanted poison for Negan. At least Eugene was wise enough to see it.
This episode was fine for what it was, but I’m ready for Rick and company to get the ball rolling, for some action and movement to get going between the communities with regard to battling Negan.
Hopefully, things kick off soon, and we don’t just tread water until the season finale.
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Sean McKenna is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.