The first, of course, is that everybody is Negan. I’m Negan, you’re Negan, Eugene was Negan before Negan was Negan, Dwight is kind of Negan but maybe a little bit not. My cat is also Negan, but that is neither here nor there.
The second is that, within the Saviors at least, you have to ask women if you want to get literally anything done.
Outside of these two main points, “Hostiles and Calamities” was 42-odd minutes of abject misery, with hopelessness and despair occasionally thrown in for good measure. It almost had me longing for the halcyon days of the last time the Grimes Gang — who were absent this week minus Eugene, though like I said, he’s Negan — were this miserable, which was on that road between Terminus and Alexandria.
Because at least that misery was solely caused by heat, exhaustion, dehydration, starvation, and the pain that comes after a recent run-in with cannibals. I can handle that misery, because seeing how the Grimes Gang clung to hope and each other amidst so much pain kept the machine running, as did the promise of Alexandria in the near future. (What? I read spoilers.)
In “Hostiles and Calamities,” though, all we saw was how one sadistic, horrible man was and is able to use violence, intimidation, and a system of doling out privileges to a fortunate few to effectively terrorize hundreds of people into a pathetic state of submission.
This might have been interesting if we hadn’t already seen it in four other episodes (“The Day Will Come When You Won't Be,” "The Cell,” "Sing Me a Song,” and "Hearts Still Beating”) before tonight. And between the desperate actions of Negan’s habitually raped “wives” and the grisly murder of the Saviors’ (very innocent) doctor, “Hostiles and Calamities” somehow felt even more miserable than all of the previous Negan episodes combined. At one point in the episode I wrote in my notes “it’s like AMC said ‘wouldn’t it be cool if we turned the cameras inside a concentration camp and focused on the most evil Nazi, but then also gave him a leather jacket and made him like, a badass Nazi,’” and I stand by that awful metaphor entirely.
So anyway, yeah — Eugene is Negan, now. He was pretty much doomed to become Negan from the moment he was kidnapped, because unlike Daryl Dixon, Eugene has both a fear of death and an astonishing lack of backbone. Negan undoubtedly saw all of this immediately (and to be fair, who doesn’t), which is why he put Eugene up in one of his luxury penthouse suites with penne alla vodka instead of in Daryl’s old cell, with dog food sandwiches.
Why try to break a man who is already broken, when you could easily gain him as an ally by scaring the living daylights out of him and later feeding him pickles?
Also, since Eugene knows how to make homemade pipe bombs and other things that would get you kicked out of high school (in the comic books, he was a high school science teacher, though I’m pretty sure we do not know what TV Eugene’s pre-apocalypse job was) Negan likely needs him more than he needed another muscle-man like Daryl. To test how smart Eugene really is, Negan first had him solve a tactical issue involving the walkers Negan uses to guard their compound. And when Eugene passed with flying colors, Negan sent three of his sister-wives — the drunk blonde one, the smart brunette one, and the ballsy redhead one — to keep him (platonic) company as a reward.
Only for Negan’s sister-wives, the hangout-sesh with Eugene was a test, too. The brunette and the redhead, clad in their Urban Outfitters cut-out skater dresses and matching kitten heels, asked Eugene to build them a homemade bomb...though as we later found out, their intentions had less to do with drunken boredom and more to do with a badass plot to poison Negan.
Which, you know — FREAKING FINALLY. Negan is undoubtedly a terrifying and dangerous man, but he’s also a human one, so the fact that he has managed to stay alive this long while being the absolute worst has always been a mystery to me. Truly great evil dictators need to inspire their people to love them and fear them, and barring a few of the top Saviors in his inner circle, I’ve only seen the fear part with Negan.
Unfortunately for Negan’s very brave sister-wives, though, this is the point in the story where Eugene’s tale was affected by Dwight’s. At the end of "Sing Me a Song,” Daryl was gifted the key to a motorcycle, and a note bearing the words "go now” by a mysterious benefactor. By the beginning of “Hostiles and Calamities,” Sherry had fled, and Negan had fingered Dwight as her Daryl-freeing co-conspirator.
Dwight is “innocent” here, of course. As of yet, few of the Saviors we’ve met have reached the depths of reckless despair we’ve seen from Negan’s wives. And after a night of torture in the cell, Dwight agreed to go off in search of Sherry to ostensibly bring her back to the compound, knowing straight away she’d have gone to the house they lived in as a married couple before the world went to hell.
She wrote to Dwight that she couldn’t have trusted him to not take her back to Negan, and that she understood why he’d become what he was, but that she couldn’t stick around for it. (She also blamed herself for everything that had happened to them, which I truly did not get. Didn’t they agree to leave with her sister as a couple? Shouldn’t she go easy on herself for marrying Negan, since not doing so would have gotten Dwight immediately killed? Whatever, she’s dead now, probably.)
Dwight was feeling pretty understandably terrible about all this, but he still had enough love for Sherry — and enough backbone, I guess — to tell Negan that he’d killed her, so Negan wouldn’t go out looking for her himself.
Dwight is not a good man, though, which is how we get back to Eugene: Dwight framed Dr. Carson for freeing Daryl, which led to a horrifically bleak and unpleasant scene of Negan making Dr. Carson apologize for a sin he did not commit, then pushing him into a fire anyway; burning him alive in front of dozens of members of Negan’s inner circle.
You know...to keep them motivated.
This was enough to send “Dr. Smarty Pants” Eugene straight over the edge, to the point where I wouldn’t be surprised if he told on Negan’s sister-wives for their sensible plot to poison him.
(ASIDE: I have read that, in Robert Kirkman’s comic books, Rosita and Eugene end up together after Abraham’s death. Based on what they’re doing with both Eugene and Rosita on the show, though, I really cannot see that happening. Aaron and Tara would literally make a more sensible pair.)
The episode ended with Dwight and Eugene bleakly affirming to one another “I’m Negan,” and if anything, “Hostiles and Calamities” just has me hoping that I’m wrong about Morgan’s Alexandria jail cell being Negan’s future home in Season 8. I’m ready for Rick and co. to take down this dude for good, because I don’t know if I can take another episode of unrelenting sadism.
...Let’s just hope next week is about, I don’t know, Maggie?
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