“I’m Negan. I’m utterly, completely stone-cold Negan,” Eugene Porter told the real Negan in the final moments of tonight’s episode of The Walking Dead, “Hostiles and Calamities.”
“I’ve always been Negan. I just needed to meet you properly to know. I’m Negan.”
The question most fans are left with after the episode is this: Is Eugene being honest? Or is he lying to protect himself? Did he tell Negan that he was one of them because he wants to be a Savior, or is Eugene too scared to stand up to Negan the way that Daryl did?
There’s plenty of evidence on both sides. On the one hand, why shouldn’t Dwight want to be a part of The Saviors? He gets any food that he wants. They appreciate him for his intelligence — and they also believe he’s smarter than he actually is. Negan has offered him protection. He receives attention from women, which is practically unheard of for Eugene in Alexandria. He gets to play video games; he has access to the supplies he needs to utilize the intelligence that often went wasted in Alexandria; Negan adores him; and he gets all the pickles he could ever want.
Euguene has a sweet gig over on Negan’s outpost, a much better life than he’s had in Alexandria, where his closest friend Abraham held him in contempt before he died, and where he is often patronized.
On the other hand, Eugene also has every reason to lie. He’s seen what happens to people who betray Negan (they have their faces burnt or, worse, they are thrown into a crematory). He has no real friends among the Saviors, while he has longstanding friendships in Alexandria. He also has a history of being able to lie convincingly — after all, the reason he is with the Alexandrians is because he promised them of a cure in Washington D.C., a cure he was lying about the entire time.
Meanwhile, as a Savior, no one knows him. He can start all over. He can once again live the lie of a much smarter person, a man with multiple PhDs who claims he once worked on the Human Genome Project (in reality, he was a high school science teacher). As a Savior, Eugene can be all he ever wanted to be.
Ultimately, there are two reasons why I think Eugene may have actually turned on the Alexandrians and joined The Saviors, for the time being, anyway. First of all, he figured out that Negan’s wives were trying to kill him. Though Eugene had the opportunity to help them, he opted against it, reasoning that Negan is no worse than Rick and the Alexandrians, who killed several of Negan’s men at the outpost. He may have decided against killing Negan because he is afraid of what would happen if he failed, but I don’t think so. Recall that Lennie James — who plays Morgan — said before the back half of the season began:
There are some people who go to the dark side who are going to take you by surprise, and there are some people who are going to come over to the light — and that’s all a matter of perspective.”
Obviously, it is Dwight who will come over to the “light,” while it appears that it’s Eugene who goes to “the dark side,” and by “a matter of perspective,” James is clearly suggesting that there is no real light or dark side, that the Alexandrians are just as bad as The Saviors. That seems to be what Eugene suggested himself when he demurred when offered an opportunity to kill Negan.
In other words, Dwight is now a Savior, at least until the tide turns again and he uses his skills as a liar to rejoin the Alexandrians.