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The Walking Dead got off to a very bloody start in Season 7 when new bad guy Negan beat Abraham to death with a baseball bat in front of all his friends. Eugene in particular seemed positively traumatized by what happened to the man who had guided and (mostly) protected him in the zombie apocalypse. Unfortunately, he wasn't so traumatized by Negan's actions that he would stand up to him. When taken captive by the Saviors, Eugene lasted all of a single episode before joining the "I'm Negan" rabble at the Sanctuary. Michael Cudlitz played Abraham over the years on The Walking Dead, and he weighed in on Eugene's betrayal, saying this:
I think he's being very, very true to character. This is exactly the guy I punched in the face at the fire truck. He's staying alive. Especially if somebody he's looking for me in protection, and he sees the person that he felt could protect him from anything gets killed ,what the hell kind of chance does he think he stands in his own head? He's gonna say no? He's gonna defy them? He's gonna somehow beat Negan? He may ultimately poison their entire food supply and kill them all but not today! He's staying alive!
Despite the fact that Eugene has relatively limited survival skills in the zombie apocalypse, he's a pretty consummate survivor by this point. He has mastered the art of latching on to the biggest and most powerful person who could possibly protect him, no matter who he betrays and what the long-term consequences may be. He's not a leader or a fighter, but he's intelligent, and that has helped him make the right kind of alliances so far. Michael Cudlitz' comments at the recent Walker Stalker Con (via ComicBook.com) that Abraham wouldn't be surprised that Eugene is sticking with whoever will keep him alive for the time being don't reflect well on Eugene, but they definitely make sense with what we know of him.
Josh McDermitt plays Eugene, and he was also present at Walker Stalker Con to share his thoughts on how Abraham might react to Eugene's betrayal:
I think Abraham would not be surprised by it but honestly, if Abraham was still there, Eugene would still be with Abraham. That's the dynamic and the relationship that the two of them had, that Abraham protected Eugene, and now Eugene is seeking protection elsewhere.
Despite the quite severe beatdown Abraham dealt Eugene in Season 5 after discovering that Eugene's claims about having the know-how to save the planet were false, Eugene has stuck by Abraham, and Josh McDermitt evidently believes that Eugene would not have gone full "I'm Negan" if Abraham was still around to look after him. Abraham's death left Eugene feeling unsafe, so Eugene latched onto the next powerful figure for protection; sadly, that powerful figure also happened to be the person who so violently murdered Abraham. He might not have been surprised by Eugene's turn, but I can't imagine that he'd be happy about it.
It should be interesting to see how Eugene deals with the events of the Season 7 finale. His former pals at Alexandria seem to have pretty much washed their hands of him after his betrayal, and he may not benefit from Negan's protection for much longer. Alexandria joined forces with Hilltop and the Kingdom (with Shiva!) to battle the Saviors, and they put up a good showing. Even if Negan still has major advantages on Rick and Co., some of the power may shift away from him and onto Rick moving forward.
We do know that the battle in the Season 7 finale didn't quite finish things up, however. Three actors whose characters hail from different factions have all been bumped up from recurring to regular gigs, and showrunner Scott Gimple has teased some fast-paced narrative changes when the series returns for Season 8. We'll have to wait and see what happens next.
Unfortunately, we'll be waiting a while. The Walking Dead isn't due to return to AMC until October, but you can check out our breakdown of what we know so far about Season 8 for a peek ahead, and be sure to take a look at our midseason TV premiere guide and our summer TV premiere schedule to discover your viewing options in the meantime.