Saturday, June 15, 2024

The Walking Dead Takes 2 Steps Forward, 93257 Steps Back

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Well. As I predicted last week, this week’s episode of The Walking Dead took place entirely in Savior-land…and ruined most (if not all) of the progress the first 2 post-hiatus episodes have made.

It also focused almost entirely on Dwight and Eugene, two characters I care virtually nothing about. The show keeps trying to make me care about Dwight, but I just don’t! Get it through your Dwight-happy heads: he is a boring white dude who bores me.

Y’all might remember in the mid-season finale, Rosita tried (poorly) to assassinate Negan, and Eugene admitted to making the bullet she used. Negan then took Eugene with him when the Saviors left. This episode begins immediately upon their return, where they find Daryl gone and some of the guards dead.

Dwight discovers the note in Daryl’s cell and recognizes his wife Sherry’s handwriting. So it wasn’t Jesus after all! Negan sends some dudes to beat Dwight up, then throw him in a cell for a while, before sending him out after Sherry. I mean I guess it’s one way to govern, right?

Better to be feared than loved, blahblah. (justnegan)

Dwight goes to their old house and finds a letter from Sherry. She explains that she released Daryl and now plans to live in the wilderness on her own. They originally planned to meet at home if they got separated, and Dwight was going to bring beer and pretzels…but Sherry chose not to wait for him because she felt she couldn’t trust him. He does, in fact, bring the beer and pretzels, so it seems he’s maybe having a change of heart about the whole “I am Negan” thing.

Eugene, meanwhile, is freaking out. Rather than throwing him in a cell, they give him a bedroom with a fridge and all, just like their regular people. He gets a jar of pickles and proposes that they dip their zombies in molten metal to keep them in one piece. Negan then offers to let him have a night with his wives (“no sex!”) as a welcome gift.

Eugene looked like he needed to poop the whole ep. (heartfulloffandoms)

He plays video games and shows the wives some chemistry magic, and later they approach him and ask if he can make a poison pill for Amber, one of the wives who had to give herself to Negan to save her mother’s life. She’s depressed and suicidal, so they want to help her. He agrees to do it, but when they ask for two pills (just in case) he realizes they plan to poison Negan, not Amber.

Dwight, meanwhile, tells Negan that Sherry was eaten by zombies and the doctor is the one who let Daryl out. For whatever reason, Negan believes him. He threatens to burn the doctor’s face with the iron, but urges him to confess. He does (falsely, ofc), and Negan…throws him into the fire.

I’m glad they’ve got so many doctors around they can just burn them all willy-nilly (justnegan)

Eugene tells the wives he won’t give them the pill, and they threaten to rat him out to Negan, tell Negan that the whole thing was Eugene’s idea, and that he tried to convince them to poison him. Eugene says that won’t work, because just like the doctor, the wives are expendable, but Eugene and Dwight aren’t. Uh, okay, I can see Negan thinking his wives are replaceable, but I don’t see how Dwight trumps a doctor.

Later Negan comes to Eugene’s apartment and asks him his name, to which Eugene gives an unequivocal “I am Negan.”

The ending, on the other hand, seems to imply that both Dwight and Eugene recognize rebellious tendencies in the other and intend at some point to band together to overthrow the regime. Right, the two most cowardly characters on the show. We’ll see…


Sigh. Why do you do this to me, show? I don’t care about Dwight. I don’t care about Savior-land. I don’t particularly care about Eugene. And here I am, spending 45 minutes of my life sitting through Negan monologues and Dwight cringes and Eugene-isms.

Why did we only get to hear about Sherry’s great escape? Why did we flash back to the moment just after Daryl’s exit and then watch everything that happened through Dwight’s eyes? Why didn’t we get to see Sherry make the decision, slip Daryl the note, leave? Then go home to leave Dwight the letter she wrote, all while she reminisces about their life together? Instead we have to see Dwight do that, and honestly I don’t care how much he misses his wife: she’s the interesting character here, a woman who chose to sacrifice herself to Negan to save her husband’s life, then chose to risk everything by saving a complete stranger.

But of course Walking Dead won’t give us a story focused on a woman. We get the woman’s story told and experienced by a man. We get to see Negan pissed, Dwight mopey, the doctor in turns moon-eyed and cynical. But not Sherry. Neither hide nor hair of the actual woman in question. Is this show so beholden to its nerdboy comic fans that it can’t fathom branching out into a woman’s story? Does it not realize how many female viewers it has, or that by challenging its male viewers into actually caring about a woman it might be doing something new and good?

I spoke last week about Walking Dead’s oversimplification of its female characters, and now I’m wondering if the show expects us to be grateful for even that much. “Look, you’ve got mom-Carol! You’ve got badass-Rosita! What more do you want??” Why, exactly, do we get to experience Dwight’s crisis of conscious, but not Sherry’s? That’s what I want! Fewer boring white dudes wrestling with the bad shit they’ve done, and more women as POV characters. Not just there for us to see, but there for us to experience the zombie apocalypse with.

It looks like a lot of Richonne next week, so hopefully we get some Michonne POV and not just Rick’s. *fingers crossed*

Episode Grade: C. It wasn’t awful, per se…just boring and pointless

Images curtesy AMC

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