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The Walking Dead - Hostiles and Calamities - Review

The Walking Dead “Hostiles and Calamities” was written by David Leslie Johnson and was directed by Kari Skogland. Given that the title sounded like something Eugene (Josh McDermitt) would say, it was fitting that he was at the center of it. Given that Eugene was the one to bite Dwight (Austin Amelio) in the dick, it was fitting that he should also be a main part of this episode as we see how Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) had done the same to him before he’d even met Eugene. The question at the end of the episode is whether or not Eugene and Dwight are simply playing parts to get along and survive or if they are both really committed to being Negan.

The episode is nicely structured to take us back to the discovery of Fat Joey’s (Joshua Hoover) body and Dwight’s panic when he realizes that Daryl is gone. This is intercut with Eugene’s terrified arrival at the compound. We learn pretty quickly that it was, in fact, Sherry (Christine Evangelista) who helped Daryl escape before running herself. Pretty clever really, as she had to expect that they’d be more focused on getting Daryl back than her.

McDermitt does an amazing job at playing the coward. In fact, Eugene is so over the top, it’s almost hard to have any sympathy for him. I loved watching his face as it slowly dawned on him that he wasn’t about to be tortured as Laura (Lindsley Register) shows him to his room. She calls him “Haircut” – almost like a pet. Eugene is immediately drawn to the books and is clearly being won over by the mention of a library. When Laura asks about Daryl’s whereabouts, Eugene says he doesn’t know and that he’d tell if he did – and it’s easy to believe that he’d sell Daryl out to save his own skin. I kind of hated having to hate Eugene at this point.

Eugene very quickly reestablishes his equilibrium when he says that his room “will be satisfactory.” He may be a coward, but he’s still not stupid. I loved Laura asking him what he wanted to eat – and Eugene like a kid in a candy shop asking for lobster! Worth a shot, right? I also loved when he asked for canned pasta and tomato sauce and they both know that orangey and red distinguishes them! Of course, it’s also a nice way to get around trademark issues! He then asks for pickles and chips, and he quickly picks up that number 42 – who makes chips – is a coding system for the people at the compound. In the end, he doesn’t want the chips – because they’re made fresh? Is he worried about the oil? Does he prefer bags?

Eugene almost has an orgasm as he looks at the fresh food in his refrigerator, and then he turns on the tape deck and we get a reprise of “Easy Street.” It’s a wonderful way for the show to use music to parallel Eugene and Daryl’s incarceration by Negan. Eugene actually starts bobbing his head to the music! And he really is sitting on easy street – and he knows it. It's also the same room that Negan showed Daryl. It might have been Daryl's room if he'd submitted.

Dwight meanwhile has discovered that Daryl was in his room and finds the note, which he knows Sherry wrote. Did Daryl leave it for him on purpose? Did Daryl even realize that Sherry was the one to help him? Regardless, there’s a sinister knock on the door – ‘shave and a haircut, two bits’ – and it’s Negan’s men. Negan watches from the door as Dwight is beaten. Dwight’s prisoner. Dwight’s fault.

Negan puts a beaten Dwight in the cell. Negan references how long Dwight spent in it before – so apparently, Dwight actually took a long time to break. Negan has now discovered that Sherry is missing too. Dwight insists that Sherry didn’t let Daryl out. Negan then asks if “it worked the other way around” – did Daryl break Dwight? Or at least break Negan’s hold on Dwight? Negan asks who Dwight is and Dwight immediately answers “Negan.” I loved that this scene was almost entirely a close up of Dwight’s face in the dark with Negan’s disembodied voice coming through the door. It’s a beautiful reflection of Negan being in Dwight’s head, controlling him.

Negan opens the door and tells Dwight that he’s not like Daryl. Daryl’s emotional, so he’s either going home or coming back to kill more of them. Dwight has done such a good job convincing Negan that he isn’t emotional – but as the episode plays out, we see that Dwight is a lot more emotional than any of us may have realized. Negan asks Dwight if he knows where Sherry went, and he barely hesitates before saying yes. Negan sends him to get her – and they’ll sort it out.

Dr Carson (Tim Parati) seals his own death when he tells Dwight that he’s sure Sherry was the one to let Daryl go as he patches Dwight up. He’s gotten too comfortable in the belief that he’s indispensable. In fact, he tells Dwight that they both get it – Dwight could end up running an outpost for Negan if he’s smart. And wow. Who wouldn’t want that instead of freedom or your own wife? (insert sarcasm here…) Carson points out that the kind of tender soul who would marry Negan to save her own husband is the type of person who isn’t expected to still be alive. Carson completely misjudges Dwight. He thinks that he’s completely unemotional and as Carson twists the knife, he fires Dwight’s need to take revenge on someone.

Before Dwight leaves on the original bike he stole from Daryl, he takes a hidden pack of cigarettes out of the mouth of a fish mounted on the wall – another nice metaphor for the trophies that Negan has caught. There are two cigarettes in the pack – one with lipstick on it. Dwight takes the other out – and smokes it. Is he done with Sherry? It’s also a nice nod to the cigarettes the two shared in the stairwell – a metaphor for salmon swimming upstream too? Those moments were the two’s stolen moments of freedom – and an indication that neither had completely given up themselves. There’s another beautiful shot of Dwight on the bike reflected in Joey’s blood. Blood that Sherry is responsible for…

Laura takes Eugene through the warehouse and tells him how the system works. Lo and behold, Laura finds him a jar of pickles, which he refuses, but she tells him “You want something? You take it, Haircut.” She signs for the pickles and shoves the jar into his arms.

I love the way Negan stares at Eugene – and anyone else – as he sizes them up. He asks his name and then has everyone else rabbit that they are Negan. Negan starts by terrorizing Eugene with Lucille. And then wants to know if Eugene is a “Smarty-pants.” And here’s something Eugene can truly run with. After all, this is how he’s been surviving the entire apocalypse. Eugene fails at first to prove to Negan he’s more than just an asshole. He tries to tell the truth – he reads a lot and he’s good with technology – he’s a nerd.

Eugene quickly realizes he’s dropping the ball, and he falls back on what saved him in the beginning. He lies about who he really is. This crowd is never going to accept him based on who he really is. Suddenly he’s pulling out the PhDs and the Human Genome Project again. I also liked how he insisted that his PhDs made him a doctor – he will learn another valuable lesson from Dr Carson later in the episode.

We get one of the most disgusting shots ever as one of Negan’s “sentries” falls apart. Negan sets Eugene a test. How can Negan keep his dead sentries from disintegrating? Eugene comes up with a plan based on the walker he had such a hard time killing his last time out with Abraham. Eugene took in everything he saw in the warehouse. He knows they have a working smelter – they can cover the sentries in metal to keep them together – of course, that process should actually set them on fire and disintegrate them, but we’ll let that go with a little hand waving as it’s a pretty cool answer. Negan thinks it’s the coolest thing he’s ever heard in his life. Then Negan asks if Rick knew how valuable Eugene is – and Eugene clearly feels like he was never

Eugene points out that if they cover their heads with molten metal, it will protect the sentries from ‘hostiles and calamities’ – the episode title. And again, we have a beautiful metaphor. Dwight has assumed a hardened shell to protect himself from hostiles – Negan – and calamities – losing the love of his life. Eugene also re-covers himself in the protective shell of his fake identity.

Negan offers Eugene the signing bonus of an evening with some of his wives – but no sex! Eugene latches on to the plural of wives. He’s just so completely out of his element here! When Negan asks what Eugene says to his new best friend, Eugene is looking at Laura. Is she the new Tara for him – is he thinking he’d like her to be one of his own wives? Eugene is effusive in his thanks to Negan and is smiling as Laura leads him away. He’s figured out how to keep himself safe – and it looks like he’s even made his own life a lot better.

Eugene proves he really is the stereotypical nerd as his idea of a hot night for the girls is making them microwave popcorn and letting them watch him play old video games. Eugene knows exactly what the parameters are for their night. Eugene has a moment of terror when Tanya (Choloe Aktas) wants to talk about the Human Genome Project – what does she know?!?!

The girls are utterly impressed by Eugene’s home science project – and it’s hilarious. Amber (Autumn Dial) is clearly circling the drain as she gets drunk and mutters about being “just slaves” but Tanya and Frankie (Elyse Dufour) enjoy Eugene’s little demonstration – and so did I! Eugene humming Beethoven’s Fifth was a nice touch too!

Dwight returns to what was clearly his home with Sherry. He finds a note from her, but she’s gone. In the note, she reminds him that they had promised to meet there if they got separated. He was supposed to bring the beer and pretzels. She comments on how he forgot to tell her about his shitty memory when they first started dating. He finds one of the post it notes she’d left for him – and the writing matches Daryl’s note.

She tells him that he’s lucky not to remember now – but she underestimates him, just like Negan and Carson did. She tells him that she can’t wait for him because she’s not sure now if he’d come with her or take her back or even kill her. She’s left her rings for him. She feels guilty for making him “live in that world.” She explains that she did what she did because she didn’t want him to die, but now he’s killed and become everything he didn’t want to be.

        Sherry then draws the parallel that we’ve all seen all along. She let Daryl go because Daryl reminded Dwight of who he used to be. She also says that Dwight was always a better person than she was. The really interesting thing about this exchange is that we’ve seen Daryl become this person. Before the apocalypse, it’s entirely possible that Dwight would have been the better person.

Sherry doesn’t think she’ll make it, but being dead is better than being under Negan. She doesn’t think that he’s even coming or will ever read the note she’s left. She tells him that she loved who he was. Dwight takes the final cigarette out of the package and shakes out his own wedding ring to add to hers in his hand. He then proves he remembers by leaving the beer and pretzels. It seems clear that he likely would have gone with her…

Tanya and Frankie turn up at Eugene’s room. They tell him that they signed up for it, but Amber had to give herself to Negan. They tell him that Amber can’t live with it and ask Eugene to help them help her to end it. Eugene asks if there isn’t some mental health professional she could talk to! It really isn’t a stupid question. He points out that if she dies in her sleep, she’ll turn and that’s irresponsible. They say they’ll take care of that. They tip their hand when they ask for two, however. Eugene tries to tell them that he’s not good – or lawful, neutral or chaotic – it’s a nod to Dungeons & Dragons. Now, it’s possible that he could be neutral (lawful, neutral or chaotic) or maybe think himself evil (lawful, neutral, or chaotic). I’d lean toward Eugene as chaotic neutral or even neutral evil…

Eugene goes shopping and tries standing in line, but then jumps to the front of the line. When 16 (Gina Stewart) calls him a prick and tells him to get back in line, Eugene’s first instinct is just to comply. But then he realizes he doesn’t have to. He turns back and asks her number. When she asks for his, he gives his name – and appoints himself Chief Engineer! They both know the significance of him actually having a name and not a number, however, and the woman quickly caves. She’s clearly terrified and immediately hands over the cold capsules. Eugene is suddenly drunk on power and takes everything.

Dwight sees Carson on returning and tells him that he killed Sherry when she ran away from him into a mass of dead ones. Carson proves he’s not that stupid, and says it still hurts – meaning losing Sherry. Carson plays on the memory theme when he tells Dwight he’d suggest just forgetting about her, but he doesn’t see anyone else doing that considering what she did. Dwight points out, we’ve all done things. Carson agrees, but insists that was before they got there and understood and were cowards about it. They don’t get to have big hearts anymore.

Dwight takes his rage out on Carson by framing him with the “goodbye Honey” from Sherry’s letter to him. Negan tells Carson that Dwight told him the whole story that Sherry told him the story before she died. Laura forces Eugene to watch, and Negan tells Eugene to pay close attention – the lesson? No one is indispensable. Not this doctor – because he has a spare doctor.

Negan thinks he knows Dwight. Why would he try to frame Carson by saying that Carson let Daryl go for Sherry so that he could have her. Negan points out that there’s no reason for Dwight to lie because if Sherry is still out there, he’ll find her and then Dwight will lose the other side of his face. Carson confesses when Negan says he won’t burn him if he does – and then Negan pushes Carson into the forge!

Negan tells Dwight he’s sorry about Sherry, and Dwight says he’s not – and Negan is impressed by Dwight’s being “ice cold.” It’s hard to tell from Dwight’s face if he feels badly about Carson dying rather than simply having his face burned. Did he realize Negan would go that far? The small smile on his face as he looks at the bottom half of Carson’s body would seem to indicate that he’s not unhappy at the turn of events.

When Frankie and Tanya come for the pills, Eugene tells them that they can’t have the pills. He’s made them but knows they’re for Negan. Tanya points out that Negan killed his friends. Eugene is ready to let it go! They’d killed some of his men, so turn about and all that… really looking neutral-evil here Eugene! When they threaten to tell Negan, Eugene points out that Negan will believe him for the same reason Negan believed Dwight over the Doctor – the girls are replaceable. No one else can make the bullets, however. Tanya calls him a coward, and Eugene tells her it’s a correct assessment – but he’s happy enough alone with his pickles.

And as Eugene eats his pickles, there’s an ominous knock at the door – not quite the happy ‘shave and a haircut’ but it is Negan with Lucille and he doesn’t seem too happy. Negan asks how Eugene is liking it there – Frankie and Tanya have nothing but good things to say to him. Negan wants him on board, he doesn’t make the invitation often or lightly. And then Negan tells Eugene the magic words – you don’t need to be scared anymore. And before Negan can even get the question out, Eugene tells him, “I’m Negan. I’m utterly, completely, stone-cold Negan.”

In the final scene, Eugene is directing others to cover the walkers from a very safe distance, while eating pickles, with his stuffed toy sticking out of his pocket – yes, he even steals from children. Dwight joins Eugene on the balcony – the previous times we saw him here he was watching as his former friend was staked out as a walker and as Daryl worked the yard.

Eugene tries to apologize for biting Dwight and he cuts him off, asking if he’s on board – because then everything is forgiven. Eugene equates himself with Dwight – he’s on board just as Dwight is. Eugene has let go of his dead and thinks that Dwight has too. Eugene asks if Dwight remembers his name and tells him when Dwight says he doesn’t. Eugene then acknowledges that he knows Dwights name. But he finishes with “We are Negan.” The look Dwight gives him is priceless. Here’s a guy who has swallowed the bait – hook, line, and sinker (let’s not forget that fish from earlier). Dwight can’t believe how quickly and completely Eugene has turned on his own dead. Do any of the rest of them say they are Negan when Negan isn’t around to make them say it?

Austin Amelio gives an outstanding performance in this episode. Josh McDermitt takes Eugene to a new low, and I have to admit it makes me sadder than if he’d died. It seems impossible that he’s playing any kind of end game. It can’t come as a surprise that Eugene would sell himself to anyone who could clearly keep him safe – Abraham was our first proof of that. But am I alone in hoping that our cowardly lion had finally found his courage? Can he get it back?

What did you think of the episode? I thought it was wonderfully crafted from the metaphors, to the music, to the performances. Will we see Sherry again? Are we starting to take Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s performances for granted because he’s always brilliant? Is Dwight ready to turn on Negan? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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