TV Underdogs: How ‘The Walking Dead’ season 7 can put Eugene front and center

The seventh season of “The Walking Dead” reshuffled things in a big way as we got near the end of the midseason finale. After all, Daryl found freedom, Rick is ready to take Negan on, and then we also lost people like Olivia and Spencer.

Unfortunately, there was one man who found himself firmly in the clutches of Negan when we last saw him, and that was Josh McDermitt’s character of Eugene. This is a man whose knowledge of making bullets unfortunately bit him in the rear end, and he’s now in a position where he could be a gunsmith, an object of torment, and maybe even an enthusiast of “Easy Street” depending on how well he tolerates dealing with that infamous song. (Hey, it is kinda catchy.)

Is being separated from the group and with Negan the optimal usage of the character in the weeks ahead? We’d say yes, given that this offers us a chance to spotlight Eugene in a way that we haven’t seen in some time. His journey on the show is a different one than anyone else, mostly because the two initial touchstones about him were that he was fairly useless in the field, and that he was a noted liar and purveyor of false hope. He learned to survive on the basis of a fabricated mission to get himself to Washington. When you compare that position to where he is today, there is great irony that now his usefulness has put him in such a precarious position. Meanwhile, the work that he’s done to endear himself to everyone in Alexandria has in turn made him a trusted-enough figure to have him keep watch over the area. Somehow, he’s been able to walk himself back into the good graces of not only the fellow members of the group, but also many viewers who were initially throwing things at their TV over how he used Abraham and Rosita for the sake of his own survival. Personally, he’s one of our favorite characters to watch.

Where do we go from here? – We’ve chosen Eugene as the “Walking Dead” representative of our TV Underdogs article series for a reason. There is no bigger underdog than a guy who is hardly a physical threat surrounded by people who are. Despite the odds being stacked against him, he’s got a reasonably good shot at making it through this just because he’s so affable and knows how to survive. He’s someone who can put on a good face in front of the Saviors and make them think that he’s fine to go anywhere the wind blows. Also, he probably won’t be looked at as the same sort of threat that Daryl was — and maybe he’s not stamped with that metaphorical scarlet letter A.

To us, what would be interesting about Eugene in this environment would be seeing him find subtle ways to sabotage the Saviors, even while making bullets and fulfilling his “duties” at the same time. Maybe he can turn them against each other with some snide comments, or use that incredible ability to lie to give up faulty information if he gets tortured for it. He’s the perfect guy to have there if you really want to throw Negan off the scent, or get them on each other’s case.

What’s ultimately great about this character and about Josh as a performer is that you can throw him into almost any situation, and he’ll somehow find a way to liven things up and give you a relatable guy in the field. He’s a true original, and we’re lucky to have him in this world. (Of course, as a result of that we’re even more worried for his future — such is the nature with this show.)

What do you want to see when it comes to Eugene on “The Walking Dead” moving forward? Share your thoughts with a comment.

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