The Walking Dead – Time After
By: Kelly Kearney
With little action or story development, this week’s episode focuses on Eugene’s (Josh McDermitt) struggle to choose the right path that won’t end up with him being Lucille’s next victim. When it comes to the wordy, mulleted, coward personal safety has always come first. Self-preservation is a task that’s becoming harder and harder now that Dwight (Austin Amelio) is working with Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and the Sanctuary has fallen. Eugene is in a pickle and every decision he makes could have deadly consequences. Whether that means offering up Dwight and Rick to Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) or risking his position as his leader’s right-hand man, Eugene will always do what’s best for Eugene.
Which Side Are You On?
Could the outcome of this war between the Saviors and literally everybody else be in the hands of the weaselly Eugene? Its starting to look that way when he approaches Dwight to let him know he’s on to the collusion with Rick and the AHK otherwise known as Alexandria/Hilltop/Kingdom. Eugene puts Dwight on notice that he will keep this information from Negan if no more Saviors pay the price for his treason. Dwight doesn’t seem too worried since he tells Eugene that the war is practically over anyway. The Sanctuary has fallen, there’s hordes of walkers banging at the door and the workers are ready to revolt now that they’re tired of being the sacrificial lambs to Negan and his one percenters. It’s only matter of time before Rick finishes the job and they’re all free. Dwight plans on being on the winning side of this war and, just like Eugene, he’s looking out for himself. He asks Eugene just to sit back and do nothing and let the chips fall where they may, but Eugene has this incredible loyalty to Negan for respecting his intelligence. Of course, Negan manipulates and fluffs the man’s ego every chance he gets, which keeps Eugene loyal and useful. The hideous haircut has no intention of losing his leadership role at the Sanctuary for an AHK win in this war. He reiterates this notion when he visits Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) who is dying from an array of illnesses. When Gabe asks Eugene to do the right thing and get Doctor Carson (R. Keith Harris) to Hilltop so Maggie (Lauren Cohan) has a doctor to help her deliver her baby, Eugene says those people were not his friends, only traveling companions and he doesn’t stick his neck out for anyone.
After showing his true colors to Gabe, Eugene heads back to his sleeping quarters where one of Negan’s wives Tanya (Chloe Aktas) is reluctantly waiting to trade a bottle of wine for a repaired radio. It seems that being a soulless traitor wreaks havoc on Eugene’s sleep and he needs the wine to catch some much-needed Z’s. Tanya is hesitant to give the man what he needs since she and some of the other sister wives came to Eugene with a plan to kill Negan, but he declined. Tanya lays the guilt trip on Eugene and lets him know that he had the power to change the Sanctuary into a positive place, but he chose the coward’s way out and now he must live with that choice. He could’ve saved them all, but instead he chose to save only one, himself, and that’s a choice she cannot respect.
Enter Negan who calls Eugene into a meeting that’s more about boosting the mulleted man’s ego than actually making plans to save the Sanctuary. Negan plays Eugene’s weaknesses like a fiddle and compliments him on how brilliant he is. Of course, Eugene eats it up like Thanksgiving dinner. He is enamored with anyone who compliments his intelligence and even goes as far as to awkwardly try and kiss Negan’s hand when he’s offered a hand shake.
With his head swollen from so many pats on the head from Negan, Eugene heads back to his room to work on Tanya’s radio and gets an idea on how to save the Sanctuary from the horde of hungry walkers. A remote-controlled audio glider could be the answer to the Savior’s problems. After a few guilt trips down memory lane over his part in Sasha’s (Sonequa Martin-Green) death, Eugene finds her iPod in the traveling coffin at the Sanctuary. With a homemade kite glider and an attached iPod, he gets ready to throw it off the Sanctuary roof but is stopped by Dwight with a gun. Dwight can’t let Eugene draw the walkers away before the AHK has a chance to finish off the Saviors. So, Dwight holds him at gun point and demands Eugene drop the glider.
The Gang Is All Here
While Dwight is securing Rick’s position by shooting down Eugene’s escape plan, Morgan (Lennie James) is hiding in a sniper watch keeping eyes on the Sanctuary. The scene is a throwback to earlier seasons when Morgan was perched with a gun and ready to take down his wife and later Rick and Carl (Chandler Riggs) when they wandered into his boobytrapped community. It proves that the peaceful Morgan is gone, and the warrior Morgan is back in control. He soon spots Rosita (Christian Serratos), Michonne (Danai Gurira) and Tara (Alanna Masterson) outside the Sanctuary and offers to cover them with sniper fire as Daryl (Norman Reedus) enacts his big plan to drive a truck into the building and leave a gaping hole for the walker to get inside. It seems like a solid plan, but Rosita disagrees and decides to believe in Rick instead of going rogue and getting themselves killed. Not only does Rosita leave, but so does Michonne after telling Daryl that they’re already winning this war and his plan is too risky. That just leaves Tara and Morgan with fire cover as Daryl plows his way through the horde and the walls to the Sanctuary. Hearing the attack, Eugene acts quickly and throws the glider off the roof, but Dwight shoots his plan down…literally. He fires his gun and hits the glider, sending it spiraling down into the sea of walkers. Eugene looks on horrified and shocked as he watches the horde fill the Sanctuary. Saviors and workers are shooting into the crowd of zombies, but they’re quickly outnumbered and Eugene watches as many of the are torn to shreds. A spectator to all his fellow Saviors dying has an immediate effect on Eugene and he runs to find Father Gabe and lets him know he will not be helping Doctor Carson get to Hilltop. He rants over the man’s bed that he will not end up like Sasha and become a casualty in this war. He is irate and screaming about ensuring his own survival and the rest of the AHK and the Saviors be damned!
Leaving Gabe to die, Eugene goes to find Negan to let him know he has a plan, but he needs access to his bullet making equipment for it to work. Negan, again, calls Eugene a genius and the man is happy to oblige his leader even though he knows his former friends will die if this works in his favor. After the two men pat each other on the backs, Eugene starts to tell Negan about the rat in their group, but Dwight interrupts him before Eugene can point the finger. It’s a tense scene and Dwight is probably regretting wasting a bullet on the audio glider when he could’ve just taken down its traitorous maker. When Negan presses Eugene to continue with his big news, he clams up and mentions fixing the Sanctuary’s intercom system. Why didn’t Eugene rat out Dwight? Could it be there is a sliver of human decency left in him? Doubtful, but he does keep quiet for the time being. Whatever his reasoning (self-preservation or protecting Dwight from another iron to the face) it definitely isn’t sitting well with Eugene since he heads back to his quarters and starts guzzling the wine he got from Tanya. Guilt is creeping into Eugene’s mind and whichever choice he makes could essentially get him killed.
Rick’s Fight for Freedom
Throughout the episode we saw random snippets of Rick naked and locked in one of Jadis’ (Pollyanna McIntosh) shipping containers. At one point, she drags him out of it so she can sketch him so that afterwards she can make a sculpture of him. After what, Rick doesn’t know. That is until she drags him out of his makeshift cell and forces him to fight another Winslow warrior walker. Without much effort, Rick takes down the spikey headed zombie and then grabs Jadis and threatens to let the walker eat her face unless she agrees to join him in his fight against Negan. Jadis reluctantly agrees as the walker’s jaws are gnashing inches from her face and her entire group of trash heap hipsters follow suit. Rick, Jadis and a few others get in a truck and head to the Sanctuary to force Negan to surrender. When the group arrives, it’s evident things have changed. Rick notices instantly there are no AHK snipers watching the compound and when he climbs a tower to get a better look he sees the walkers have been killed and left in a pile of bodies. This is not good news for Rick who just convinced Jadis that he had the upper hand and Negan was ready to surrender. It’s also pretty clear that if the walkers were mowed down by bullets than Eugene got access to his equipment. If that’s the case, then the Saviors are on the run and headed to any one of the three communities that are not prepared for his untimely visit. Could the mid-season finale find fans outraged over another shocking Glenn (Steven Yeun) level death or are the Saviors so wounded that they skip terrorizing the communities and take shelter somewhere so they can plan their next move? Anything is possible, but since the first half of the season moved at a less than glacial speed, it seems only fitting that the show will head into the break with their usual shock and awe cliffhanger that the fans love to hate.