Warning: Spoilers ahead for tonight's episode of AMC's The Walking Dead.Warning (again): Spoilers ahead for Skybound's comic book series The Walking Dead, which may spoil future installments of the TV show.
Now that you've been sufficiently warned, let's get right down to it... On tonight's episode of The Walking Dead, viewers met Eugene Porter.
Eugene is one of the longest-running survivors in Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard's long-running comic book series on which the show is based, having appeared alongside Abraham and Rosita in The Walking Dead #53, just months (real time--days in the story) after the death of Lori and Judith Grimes and the fall of the prison. The trio were the first new group of survivors we encountered who weren't unambiguously a threat, even though the extent to which they were "good guys" wasn't clear immediately. Shortly after they first appeared, Eugene told Rick Grimes and the rest of his group the same thing Abraham told us this week: that Eugene is a government scientist who knows what caused the zombie outbreak--and that if he can get to Washington, D.C., he can cure it. That's a heck of a moment for fans of the TV series, and it's likely to have a lot of people buzzing tomorrow morning... ...provided none of them look it up online. In the comics, Eugene told the group the same thing. As it turned out down the line, he was full of crap. Eugene is a high school science teacher who had few marketable skills in the post-apocalyptic world and used a cover story about being a government agent in order to get aid and comfort from people more qualified for this lifestyle. So how did AMC describe the character a while back? "Nothing is known about Eugene's life before or as the outbreak began, apart from that he 'is very smart and is an experienced liar.'" Why would the network blow his secret so soon? Well, changes made to the continuity of the show versus the comics make it very difficult to believe that he'll be able to maintain the illusion for long. He might be clever enough to fool most people with his basic science knowledge now that Hershel is gone--except that Rick Grimes, having already spoken with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (back in Season One), and will immediately not believe Eugene when the pair first meet. They've already seeded a couple of clues about the Alexandria Safe Zone, so perhaps in spite of finding him out as a liar right away, they'll find themselves headed in that same basic direction without necessarily having to be fooled into a fruitless trip to Washington, D.C. Eugene has eventually made himself useful in the comics–most recently in a Walter White kind of way: he's a guy who can make ammunition. That's a useful skill as the apocalypse drags on–arguably more now on TV than in the comics, since the timeline is so much longer already on the live action series. The challenge? Getting that far, and especially staying with a group that's already established its willingness to excommunicate a member as valuable and well-liked as Carol. They've also made Abraham, Rosita and Eugene very true to the comics in their physical appearance--where they're a bit cartoonish. Eugene simply doesn't look like somebody who's going to last very long, and it might be interesting to see whether he turns out to be an unexpected threat.