As The Walking Dead
season 8 hurdles towards its endgame, one thing is very clear. Eugene is the absolute worst.
It's always been difficult to root for Eugene. His unique speech pattern is off-putting and the only character more cowardly than Eugene is King of the Wimps, Gregory. The more Eugene has survived, the less likable he's become. Throughout his aggravating journey, The Walking Dead has had Eugene consider doing something heroic, only for him to double down in the exact opposite direction. As of the penultimate chapter of season 8, Eugene has finally gone too far. It's time for The Walking Dead to stop pretending there's any hope of redemption for Eugene.
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A Coward Can't Change His Spots
For the first year or so, Eugene's complicated relation to morality was a somewhat interesting situation. In the face of hyper-aggressive "alpha male" characters, Eugene served as a unique counterpoint. Unlike Abraham, Rick or Daryl, Eugene's strength wasn't his ability to wield weapons. Eugene was all about his intelligence and even that was a bit of an exaggeration or lie. After two seasons, though, with no development, The Walking Dead is merely treading water with Eugene.
In two seasons, Eugene has done hardly anything useful and interesting. Eugene's screentime has consisted of two extremes. Eugene either chews the scenery with an intense and unconvincing bravado or he quivers in fear when confronted with how shallow his image of control is in reality. Even since Eugene joined the Saviors in the middle of season 7, it's just been more of the same. Eugene's waffling isn't dynamic or exciting, it's just repetitive. Time and time again, Eugene has proved an unwillingness to change and it's aggravating to bring up the exact same situation and expect a different result.
The previously mentioned Gregory is a good example of what Eugene could be as a character. Gregory's not likable. In fact, there's not a more unlikable character on The Walking Dead than Gregory. However, The Walking Dead doesn't try to pretend Gregory is anything more than selfish and weak. Gregory's not totally fun but it's at least interesting to see how the other characters interact with him and how far his cowardly self-preservation will go. There's no hint of a redemption for Gregory, he's just Gregory and Eugene needs to become Eugene.
It's a far more interesting story, even if it's a hypothetical, to see The Walking Dead commit to Eugene being a full villain. Especially in the light of the events of "Worth," there's no light at the end of the tunnel for Eugene. The man is a spineless snake and it's in the best interest of the show to embrace that fact and stop trying to pretend otherwise.
The Final Double Down
It's not as if Eugene did one singular thing in "Worth" that put him beyond the pale. True, Eugene forcing himself to throw up on Rosita might've been one the most disgusting things the show has ever done. It was worse than all the many bloody scenes of guts and gore. Yet it's not that one singular incident that made it feel like Eugene has gone too far. It's that "Worth" was yet another example of the show trying to convince the audience that Eugene could change and then having the character double down in acting like an awful human being.
When Rosita and Daryl had Eugene captured he tried to weasel his way out of responsibility for his actions and evoke some sympathy in the pair. When that didn't work, he threw up in Rosita's face and marched back to his Savior compound where he threatened Gabriel's life (again) if he didn't help him make bullets. Whatever spark of humanity or decency that existed in Eugene has since been drowned out by him doing the wrong thing over and over.
The Walking Dead is going to wrap up the All-Out War storyline with the season 8 finale. Even though Negan claimed the only way out of the war is for everyone to die, that isn't going to happen. The Walking Dead is not going to eliminate most of its cast. Negan will lose and it'll probably be due to a truce or Rick (or someone else) actively sparing his life. Even if Negan is gone, Eugene has way done too much in an unrepentant villainous and unlikable manner to ever believably buy him back as a hero. Negan has shown more dimension and depth than Eugene. The redemption ship has sailed for Eugene and a villainous road is all that is open to him.
Seeing Eugene fully embrace the Saviors' lifestyle and become as big a sociopath as Simon isn't going to be a heartwarming turn of events, but it at least moves Eugene's character ahead. Eugene might not be the best villain the show has ever had but anything is preferable to the never-ending cycle that the character (and audience) are currently trapped inside.
But what do you think? Where do you envision Eugene's story going? Do you think he can ever find redemption or was the Rosita hurl the last proverbial straw?