The Walking Dead – Season 7 – Ep. 11 “Hostilities & Calamaties”: A Review

Posted: 02/28/2017 in Uncategorized

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Well, who would have guessed that a Eugene Porter (Josh McDermitt) episode would be so damn entertaining? Now in the stronghold of Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), Eugene’s values and beliefs are tested to their core. Eugene’s cowardice, his greatest flaw, proves of benefit in this run. A lot goes on and the majority of it was good.  My opening comments presented, on to my review.

The ep occurs moments after Daryl (Norman Reedus) has escaped his cell and killed Fat Joey (Joshua Hoover).  The ep is presented from two perspectives, Eugene’s and Dwight’s (Austin Aurelio). Dwight’s discovery that Daryl has absconded is reinforced by the fearful revelation that his ex-wife, Sherry (Christine Evangelista), has helped him escape- is well acted by Aurelio. The look of dread as Negan’s vehicle pulls into the compound is palpable. We know the ruler of this kingdom will be displeased and we have witness the levels of cruelty he is able to exhibit… at least we thought we did.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan is a very solid actor. Many can see his depiction of “the Comedian” in the Watchmen as a rehearsal for Negan. He is unnaturally cheerful, charismatic but we know that just under the surface he is a cruel, exceedingly violent psychopath and Morgan’s performance is so effortless that he never lets us forget it. Even so…when he does demonstrate his viciousness, it still takes one aback. This is one bad guy…and he isn’t going anywhere. Negan is a long game villain. Anyone hoping for a one on one battle between him and Rick will be waiting for a long time.

After dealing with Dwight, via having his henchmen beat the hell out of him and casting him in Daryl’s cell for a ‘time out’, Negan concentrates his efforts on Eugene. His mocking him as ‘a smarty pants’ and then calling him an “asshole” challenges the mullet headed survivalist with proving his worth. Negan’s first challenge is fortunate as the solution comes from something Porter encountered before. His defaulting to bs mode, reactivating his “multiple PhDs” doctor persona worked unquestionably as whether or not Eugene is a true coward, he is no fool.

This episode is very much about power and pain. Dwight’s pain is extensive as is his capacity for inflicting it. His wife’s summation via her voice over narrated letter aptly captures the heart of the man. She takes full accounting for what he has become but acknowledges she can neither trust nor be with him. Dwight’s deception against Sanctuary’s doctor, Emmet Carson (Tim Parati), is beyond reprehensible. His act of mercy toward Sherry is voided by his act of self-preservation afterward. Negan’s reaction is horrific. The lesson incurred via Eugene witnessing this act takes him a step forward to saving his life as he sees Negan’s harem women’s request for a “merciful assisted suicide” for what it genuinely is including the consequences that would follow. When he refuses to help the young ‘wives’; they lash out, threatening to tell Negan that Eugene was behind their short sighted plan. Eugene’s reaction is harsh but understandable. He advises the duo that his perspective will be believed over theirs:  “For the same reason he believed Dwight’s story over the doctor’s…You’re replaceable. I’m not.”

Watching Eugene taste a degree of power offered by Negan in effect, “you don’t have to be afraid anymore…. preceded by “how often does Rick let you use your talents?” plays incredibly well. Eugene’s terse smiles and line cutting incident pushes the viewer to believe he is choosing the path of safety and might be falling into corruption. The key, as with Father Gabe (Seth Gillam) is Rick’s faith in him as a member of his team/family. Eugene’s one on one with Negan in his newly acquired apartment earns a  funny bit with Eugene jumping ahead of the villain before he can finish asking his standard “who are you?” The good doctor replies, “I’m Negan,” Eugene replies before he can even finish. “I’m utterly, completely, stone-cold Negan. I was Negan before I even met you; I just needed to meet you properly to know” which earns the Saviors’ leader’s broad grin. An end sequence featuring Eugene looking over the implementation of his earlier decaying walker/fence solution like a general is most likely a feint. His commiseration with Dwight however reveals the truth that both men are trapped but better served in positions of authority than not.

“Hostilities and Calamaties” was another solid episode. While walker sparse, the dialogue and tension within every scene made this an entertaining hour. The exhibition of Negan’s wrath acts as a template reminding us all that behind the charisma is a genuine horror. WD continues its reign as simply outstanding and well worth your time.

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