Genius. Survivor. Traitor.
Eugene used to be Team Family until he switched up and pledged his loyalty to Negan — even after the bat-wielding psychopath bludgeoned Eugene's best friend and former protector Abraham to death as the mullet-sporting coward sat helplessly nearby. Following a botched assassination attempt on Negan's life by Abraham's past lover Rosita, Eugene outed himself as the maker of Rosita's single bullet and was subsequently kidnapped.
"I am Negan," Eugene declared — seemingly wholeheartedly — during his welcome tour at the Sanctuary, where he came to like the power he wielded as the smartest man in the room. Half the fanbase thinks Eugene is a pickle-eating, traitorous son of a bitch; others think Eugene is biding his time and acting as an inside man to eventually help Team Family topple Negan and the Saviors from within.
Eugene's siding with the Saviors was still in doubt by the time Sasha infiltrated the Sanctuary, offering him a means of escape — an offer the perennially fearful Eugene declined. Sasha would be captured, alive, and held prisoner; Negan had plans to use her to harm her friends at Alexandria, an effort Sasha aimed to thwart by way of a carefully timed suicide. She was slipped a lethal pill cooked up by Eugene, proving there was still hope for him after all — even if his betrayal against Team Family was later solidified when he rolled up to Alexandria's gates with an army of Saviors in tow in the season 7 finale.
"He's with Saviors, he's on team Negan, he's looking out for himself," McDermitt said. "He's thinking about self preservation, just trying to continue to live in this apocalypse."
The cowardly Eugene redeemed himself in the season 6 finale when he bravely stepped up to drive the RV, alone, as Rick, Abraham and the others escorted Maggie to the Hilltop on foot — a plan that was thwarted with the group's capture by Negan and an overwhelming army of Saviors. With the resulting brutal loss of tough guy Abraham, Eugene regressed.
"It's interesting because we started a scene at the end of season six that he felt like he was a survivor and he had stepped up and then, when Negan killed Glenn and Abraham, it became a whole, 'How can I call myself a survivor?'" McDermitt said of the turncoat Eugene. "We saw that at the end of season seven as he talked with Sasha. He said 'How can I call myself a survivor when the man that I think is the biggest survivor has been killed?' You know? But he truly is a survivor. He's doing what he has to do to survive and to live. If that means helping Negan and the others, then that's what that means."
Team Family currently has an inside man in Negan's camp, but it's former Savior Dwight — not their former ally and trusted friend — who is working from the inside to help the alliance in their fight against the Saviors. Whether Eugene will ever make his way back to Team Family remains to be seen, and McDermitt admits he purposefully keeps himself in the dark when it comes to what the filmmakers have planned for his character.
Tonight's episode of The Walking Dead, "The Big Scary U," puts the focus on Negan and the Sanctuary as his five lieutenants — including Eugene — deal with being trapped in the compound as its overrun by walkers. The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.
The Walking DeadSunday at 9PM EST on AMC
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