So here it is: the Eugene episode.
While we’ve been critical of The Walking Dead’s propensity to focus on a few solitary characters at the expense of involving the entire cast, we have to admit that a whole 45 minutes dedicated to the one known as ‘Haircut’ is an intriguing prospect.
Every other character seems to locate balls of purest brass when facing down against the kind of things that would make regular joes like us shit a ton of bricks. Eugene, on the other hand, has no such pretensions at grandeur.
A self-confessed coward and liar, it’s a miracle he’s survived this long – hell, the only reason he did the deed he’s currently being held hostage by Negan for is because of something he was basically bullied into doing by Rosita. So living with the guy who he witnessed bludgeon two of his friends into a bloody pulp should be something he crumbles under.
Instead, he seems to thrive, despite his obvious terror: he provides Negan with practical assistance, and he even impresses some of his wives with some photo-friendly science experiments. You go Eugene!
Yet even among this, the survivalist in him shines through. Although it isn’t made totally clear that this is the case, it appears that he’s back to his own tricks again, lying about the kind of job he had before the outbreak (although the science #skillz he shows off indicates that he’s not all hot air).
Superficially he’s going along with Negan’s vision (refusing attempts at subversion from some of his wives), but we haven’t forgotten the guy who would bite a dick to save his friends. That guy’s still here.
Truth be told, it’s a curious episode. It’s the closest the show has been to comedy in a while (with the light relief of suicide contemplation and seeing a man burnt alive), and every once in a while it’s not actually that bad a fit.
Whether it qualifies as a ‘good’ episode is another matter. But it’s definitely up there with Season 7’s highlights.