TV Review: The Walking Dead Season 7 Episode 11 “Hostiles and Calamities” is a must-watch isolated episode

Tell me. Did you ever think that Eugene could carry an entire episode? Because he just did. Josh McDermitt absolutely knocked it out of the park in what can only be described as The Walking Dead’s funniest episode to date. That is, until it wasn’t.

Hostiles and Calamities takes us back a few weeks (or however long it’s been seeing how time is so hard to track in this show) to the Saviours compound and deals with Negan and Dwight’s discovery of Daryl and Sherries disappearance and Eugene’s arrival.

The ep is heavily focused on Eugene’s internal tug of war over whether he remains loyal to Alexandria or if he is now ‘Negan’. And by the end, the episode is written well enough that we’re all genuinely wondering what the answer may be.

Thinking he’s been brought in to get some Daryl treatment and be put to work as a slave, Eugene is surprised to find out that he’s far too valuable of an asset and is shown to a homely room by Laura in a very funny opening scene. Laura does a great job of slowly wearing Eugene down, offering him anything he wants to eat (which results in Eugene asking for a lobster) and generally being nicer than I thought any Saviour could be.

This confirmation of Eugene’s worth is all but stated by Negan when he asks “Does Rick have you doing this valuable stuff for him?” The answer – said through absolute fear on Eugene’s face as he stands shaking with a jar of pickles he was gifted on his tour of the facilities – is a resounding no. Try to remember the last time Rick even talked to Eugene let alone tried to utilise his intellect. It goes a long way to providing a valid reason for Eugene to switch sides.

As a sign of good faith following some help from Eugene regarding the structural integrity of the compound’s walkers, Negan sets up a night for Eugene with a few of his wives. Of course Eugene spends the night making Tanya, Frankie and Amber watch him play video games while they eat microwave popcorn. In yet another amusing scene Eugene comes into his own, exhuming the most amount of confidence the character has displayed in the show since he entered in season four. All Eugene has ever had is his unmatched intelligence and he uses it to show the girls some experiments, with all the swagger the eccentric, mullet wearing coward can muster.

The rest of the episode follows Dwight and his search for Sherri, at Negan’s behest of course seeing as he is his wife now and not Dwights. After getting the crap beaten out of him and put in confinement, Negan puts his faith back in his cohort and send him out to find her.

I always have this feeling about Dwight. That despite his allegiance to, Negan, he hates what he’s become, that he knows Negan is a tyrant and for some reason he puts up with it. Hostiles and Calamities is probably the most important episode for Dwight’s character as it uses those around him to drive home the contrast between who he is and who he was. The resident doctor tries to help by shining Sherri in a positive light, lamenting that she was too good for this place and she has a big heart. It’s obvious that he’s trying to cut through to Dwight, who fell in love with her for a reason.

His search takes him to a house they were always supposed to meet at if they ever got separated. Here he finds Sherri’s wedding ring and a note. If the doctor tried to cut into him, Sherri uses a jackhammer, telling him that she was the one who made him stay there, making him kill and become something sinister. She tells him that she let Daryl go because seeing him made Dwight remember who he used to be. It’s quite a poignant scene, one that definitely made a hell of an effort to paint someone deplorable in a more favorable light.

In a classic Walking Dead twist though, sometimes all the sappy music and drama can’t turn somebody. Dwight frames the doctor for everything and in brutal scene, Negan launches him into a furnace. Every time I think Dwight is on the cusp of changing, he gets pushed back to the dark side. I feel as though – much like Gabriel made a full transition to good last week – this is Dwight’s final decision. Now that Sherri and Daryl are gone he has no one to remind him that he can be good too. It’s a solid move. Even if it all changes in the final battle, cementing people’s sides in the impending war keeps things from getting convoluted.

Eugene (or Dr. Smarty Pants as Negan has dubbed him) and his cocky science show leads the girls to ask him if they’ll do something for him.  Under the pretense that they want the heavily depressed Amber to end her life peacefully, they ask Eugene to make them a pill.

The closing couple of scenes go a long way to convincing us where Eugene is calling home. He tells the girls that he knows they want the pill for Negan and because of that, he won’t do it. When they threaten to tell Negan, he brashly states that he is far more valuable.
Along with an unequivocal “I am Negan”, to Dwight and the man in charge, by episodes end it certainly seems that his loyalty has been compromised.

I find a lot of these isolated episodes are like padding but Hostiles and Calamities did everything in it’s power to avoid that trend. It offered up an extremely rare bunch of laughs (we usually only get these from Tara) which made the episode feel incredibly unique and fresh. And it continued it’s pattern of solidifying everyone’s place in the final fight, primarily Dwight and Eugene giving them very crucial screen time. Surprisingly Negan’s presence was kept to a minimum and it was perfectly done, resulting in his villainy still looming over the show instead of hogging it.

Review Score: FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Highlights

  • Josh McDermitt absolutely crushing it
  • Important episodes for two side characters
  • Genuinely confused as to what side Dwight and Eugene are on
  • Continuing to lay groundwork for the finale
  • Funny

Lowlights:

  • Even it was a good isolated ep, it was still an isolated ep