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For those who haven't yet watched The Walking Dead's season finale, there are some big spoilers below.
Of all the Walking Dead characters who rocked the boat in Season 8, Eugene was the one doing it in the most loquacious, and arguably infuriating, manner. From within the Sanctuary's walls, he seemed fully entrenched within Negan's influence, and the penultimate episode made Eugene look ready to destroy Rosita, Daryl, and the rest of his former friends. Only, he ended up doing something noble for once by sabotaging the bullets made for the Saviors' guns, turning him into a hero of sorts. Scott Gimple explained when that plot was conceived by the writers, and why it happened like that.
It was a very long time ago. It was before Eugene was taken, we had had that storyline. We knew that was going to be sort of a master stroke. We did not tell [Josh McDermitt]. I mean, because it was very late that Eugene made up his mind on this thing. He was fighting something that was in him. He was always about self-preservation, he was always about keeping himself alive. But he met Abraham Ford, and he met Rosita, and those people infected him with humanity. He kept on trying to fight it -- he was trying to drink his way out of it, he couldn't sleep. But in the end, the people around him affected him too deeply.
Scott Gimple offered up this explanation for Eugene's big twist while taking part in his last episode of Talking Dead as The Walking Dead's showrunner (assumedly), and it's about as sensible a reasoning as we could hope for. Eugene is a smart dude, regardless of the moral code tied to his actions, so what he did wasn't entirely done in an effort to "take down the enemy," as it were, since Eugene will forever put himself as his own #1 priority.
But instead of letting his self-survival instincts dwarf his compassion and previous commitments to Abraham and Rosita (and others), Eugene employed his most virtuous con job yet by turning the War's final big battle into a short and lopsided victory for Team Family. Sucks that he waited so long to do it, since he could have saved a lot of lives by just defying the villainous tyrant to begin with. But at least it got done.
On Talking Dead, Josh McDermitt himself also had a few words to say about Eugene's big shocker, and he enforced the idea that Eugene's motivation to botch Negan's mission wasn't some big plan he'd been crafting. But rather, it was just the less damning side of a coin with no easy options. In McDermitt's words:
When I first had Andrew Lincoln read me the finale script, I got most excited that Eugene saves the day. He seized on an opportunity to keep as many people alive as he could, and really helped get Negan captured. It really never was a long con with this guy. For him, it's all about self-preservation. This is a man who only wanted to survive himself, and he would prefer it if other people didn't have to die, but if that happens, that's the price we have to pay within this world.
In the end, even Eugene's bravest action really only happened because he was afraid of being blown to smithereens under the command of a dude he didn't really agree with. But it was still a brave action, and one that took quite a bit of technical know-how and dumb luck, since it was assumed that no one would try and fire one of those altered bullets ahead of time.
Eugene probably had to put some ice on his jaw right after Rosita clocked him, but we're interested to see where his story will go next for Season 9, which will hit AMC at some point this fall. Until then, be sure and watch Fear the Walking Dead Season 4 every Sunday night at 9:00 p.m. ET. Check out what we learned from star Maggie Grace, and then head to our midseason premiere schedule and our summer premiere schedule to see what'll be hitting primetime soon.