Season 8, Episode 7: & # 39; Time for After & # 39;
Eugene is tremendously bright but lacks emotional intelligence, an easy to exploit combo. A survivor majestically bites, speaks in a flowery way somewhere between faculty and Twain-like, talking about circles around gruffer, company plus terser. He has demonstrated an astute skill for the preservation, both of him and of the group, a talent that was not appreciated among the militia and motivated his desertion to the Saviors. At the beginning of this week's episode, Negan gives a rare compliment to Eugene's beautiful brain, which offers the precious gift of a handshake as a sign of respect. "This place is about gathering and organizing force," he tells Eugene, placing him implicitly within the inner circle of trust. Eugene is manipulated with surprising ease by someone so clearly intelligent, who rushes to pick up the first piece of praise he threw at him.
It is singularly inadequate for the moral dilemma that this week's episode imposes on him, and at this hour we see him begin to break under the pressure that causes a difficult decision. At the end of last week's episode, Eugene had begun to connect the dots that revealed Dwight as the mole in the Savior's crew. He lands in a dilemma where his intellect counts for nothing, where only an approach guided by the ethics of feeling can resolve the choice of this Hobson. The variables in this equation have no meaning for him. They do not conform to reason.
Negan knows he has a mole problem, and can say that Eugene knows more than he is saying. Dwight also has an idea that Eugene has reconstructed this puzzle, and he can see that the time is running out before Eugene does something uncharacteristically reckless. Aggressively courted by two diametrically opposed sides, Eugene is terrified to commit to either side. This gives Josh McDermitt the opportunity to act more substantively than the stoic that Eugene usually allows, introducing some volatility and panic into a profile defined mainly by composure. It completely collapses in the most resonant scene of the episode, terrified by the prospect of acting without the full badurance of its own righteousness. He is not used to guess. He is used to living with total certainty.
This is what real emotional bets look like. Unfortunately, the episode fails to build much more valuable around the emotional center provided by Eugene's storyline.
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Even as Eugene ponders whether or not to blow, the Hilltop-Kingdom-Alexandria alliance has begun to approach victory. A dense concentration of zombies has ensnared Negan and his squadron in its bastion, and resources (both food and labor) have begun to dwindle. Maggie, Michonne, Morgan and Daryl have another of the most marked disagreements this season about strategy, not knowing if they should wait for Rick to return before they move into the Negan complex. "I believe in Rick Grimes," Maggie declares with confidence, but urgency moves them to take quicker steps. Michonne takes off from the operation and the team moves forward with a daring ploy to plow a truck through Negan's outer wall, allowing the zombies to enter and do the work for them. True to form, Daryl takes the lead, gets comfortable and rolls out of the truck just in time, although his victory may be Pyrrhic after all.
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