Whatever else you may or may want to say about The Walking Dead, you’ve got to love Josh McDermitt and his performance as Eugene Porter.
Eugene has consistently been one of the most interesting characters on this show. He’s gone from being an untrustworthy coward to being one of the strongest people on the show. He’s also gone from being the weirdo who made your skin crawl to being the weirdo who you secretly hope will find everything that he’s looking for. The fact of the matter is that, if there was an actual zombie apocalypse, the majority of the survivors wouldn’t be Darryl or Morgan or Carol or Michonne. The majority would be people like Eugene, people who survive through luck and who still hope to find some sort of normalcy. There’s something very touching about the fact that, even in the middle of a zombie apocalypse, Eugene is writing a science fiction novel.
There were a few plotlines playing out in this week’s episode of The Walking Dead. The two reporters tried to investigate what led to Tyler snapping at the Masquerade Ball. Mercer walked around and glowered in his threatening way. Lance took Carol out to the opium camp and made an effort to win her loyalty for the Commonwealth. (At some point, people will learn to stop trying to recruit Carol to their pet causes.) But the episode’s heart was with Eugene and his attempts to discover what had happened to Stephanie. And that’s really were it should have been. Against all odds, Eugene has emerged as the show’s symbol for every person who is trying to survive the zombie apocalypse without surrendering their emotions and their humanity. Back when Eugene first appeared on the show and was lying about being a scientist, who could have guessed that he would still be around? Who would have guessed that he would have outlasted not only Rick but also Carl? Eugene survives.
This episode was directed by Michael Cudlitz, who previously played Abraham on the show. (You may remember that Abraham was murdered by Negan. It was kind of unfair, I thought, that Abraham was sacrificed in order to make it even more shocking when Negan then killed Glenn but that’s The Walking Dead for you. It’s cold world.) Cudlitz brought a lot of noir style to this episode. I especially liked the scene at the end, with Eugene huddled in that dark alley, burning his dreams, while Max emerged from the shadows and introduced herself as being the real Stephanie. If nothing else, this scene showed that The Walking Dead can create an haunting atmosphere, even without using walkers and blood.
The episode was, of course, dominated by Josh McDermitt’s poignant performance as Eugene but I also liked Paola Lazaro’s work as Princess. She and McDermitt make a good team, as do Eugene and Princess. Josh Hamilton continues to do great work as Lance Hornsby. His rather casual dismissal of Eugene’s outrage was one of the episode’s highlights and it brought up an interesting point. Everyone knows the Commonwealth is corrupt but everyone also knows that they’re safer in the Commonwealth than outside of it. People will accept a lot when it comes to staying safe.
Though it took me a few days to find the time to watch it, this was a good episode. I look forward to seeing what happens next!