Stars: Andrew Lincoln, Chandler Riggs, Melissa McBride, Chad Coleman, Norman Reedus, Lauren Cohan, Danai Gurira, Lennie James, Sonequa Martin-Green, Alanna Masterson, Christian Serratos, Jeffrey Dean Morgan | Created by Robert Kirkman
Now that the second half of season 7 of The Walking Dead is in full swing, Hostiles and Calamities is returning to Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) to see how he is taking the latest developments in his compound. Is the episode a return to some of the more worrying stiles from the first half of the season? Read on to find out.
Taking place after the escape of Daryl (Norman Reedus) we see the aftermath, and Negan’s reaction. With Dwight (Austin Amelio) looking to be to blame, the fact his wife has also escaped piles on the pressure, which is vented in his direction with violence. While all this is taking place, Eugene (Josh McDermitt) finds himself having to become acclimatised to his new surrounding as a member of Negan’s group.
While I was worried that this Negan episode of The Walking Dead may be another mean-spirited episode where we learn how evil Negan is, thankfully this isn’t the case. If anything, we see an almost softer side to his community. Eugene isn’t exactly a prisoner, but a member of the group and he fully understands how to handle the situation. Though there is no hiding of course that Negan’s compound is not a good place for anybody to survive in.
The episode focuses a lot on Eugene and we see his old traits come back into play. A Chameleon style character he is able to talk his way into becoming a vital part of the group. He does so to survive, and he does it very well. His budding friendships with some of the Saviours are interesting, but also his unwillingness to put himself in danger is also a less pleasing side of his character. We see this in action with Negan’s wives who push for his help, but find no help in Eugene who is in full survival mode.
Another focus of the episode is of course on Dwight, a character that we can hold out hope for to possibly turn on Negan. While he is punished for something he has no blame for, and does have the same style of survival instinct as Eugene, there is a glimmer of hope in his action. With his return to his past home and the revelation that his wife has been there, we see a softer side to the man and further evidence of his tragic nature. It will be interesting to see when the war comes, what part he will play and if he will finally get his revenge on Negan.
What we see in this episode of The Walking Dead is behind the protective walls of Negan’s compound. The difference this time is we see it from the perspective of one of the members of the Saviours, not as a prisoner. This means we see not only the friendlier side, but also the cracks in his empire, and the violence that is required to hide those cracks. When weakness is shown in Negan, it won’t be long before the empire starts to fall apart.
While Negan may play a part of this episode, he is thankfully not the focus. We do see him in his usual violent style of course, but the real focus is on the community. We Eugene’s actions aren’t what we want to see from him, we have to admire his way of surviving. You can see the moment that switch clicks in his mind as he becomes the ‘expert’ we’ve seen in the past comes into play. The verbal diarrhoea he spouts to impress the less intelligent of the group, helps him to become an asset to the group. Admirable in its execution it is questionable how long the charade can last.
While this episode may not reach the highs of the last few, it is still a good, especially in story terms of story progression. We see Negan’s weaknesses within the community, we catch up on Eugene’s story and we have some more of Dwight’s character development. All this is a good sign that the coming war is not only going to be a must watch for fans, but will also be a battle that Negan is highly underestimating.
The Walking Dead screens on Fox in the UK Mondays 9pm.