Okay. So that was intense. Of course, intensity is no stranger on The Walking Dead, but much like the residents of the Alexandria Safe Zone, we had been led into a false sense of security. For the last couple of weeks, we had been gently led to the idea that Rick and the other survivors would end up being their own worst enemy in Alexandria, that years of living in the uncivilized wilds of the zombie apocalypse would make them ill-equipped to work within a society again. But what if there was a third option? What if civilization had made the residents of the ASZ too soft to survive to their fullest potential, and thus endanger themselves and others?
Look back and the signs were right there in front of us. Glen, Noah and Tara’s first excursion with Aiden and Nicholas included a stop at a trussed up zombie hanging from a tree, an object for the two Alexandria residents to “get payback” for lost comrades. Yes, we all thought it was stupid, and Aiden was soundly thrashed by Glen for his shortsightedness. Deanna, in turn, praised Glen for knocking some sense into the boy, which is why this week’s supply run saw an Aiden more willing to differ to Glen’s expertise.
The show wisely used the weak link in Rick’s group to highlight the weak links in the Alexandria community. It was Eugene Porter’s turn to step up tonight as the ASZ electrical grid starts breaking down, and Eugene knows what components that they need to repair it, necessitating his joining Glen and the others on a supply excursion. Since confessing that he knows nothing of how to cure the zombie plague, and admitting he was just a coward that can spin a good yarn to secure safety for himself, it’s seemed that The Walking Dead hasn’t known what to do with him.
I guess Eugene’s admission that he’s useless could also count as meta-commentary. But still, Eugene ends up looking like freakin’ He-Man when compared to Aiden and Nicholas. It’s one thing to be cowardly, but if there’s one thing Eugene is not, it’s reckless. Safety can make you reckless, and while that’s understandable, it doesn’t forgive the way that the recklessness gives way to cowardliness once the you’re faced with a situation you can’t control. By the end of the episode, Nicholas had broken the trust of his team, not just once, or twice, but three times. As much as Rick and everyone are making an effort, does Rick and Carol’s decision to look out for themselves and their group first seem all that paranoid now?
On the other hand, Eugene had some tremendous personal growth, or maybe it just looks like growth in comparison to the guy that’s always ditching his comrades to save his own skin. Thankfully, Eugene’s heroism isn’t of the two guns, ass-kicking Schwarzeneggerian variety, but rather a display of thoughtfulness and tact, not to mention good timing. Eugene is a man not used to getting his hands dirty, but in “Spend” he showed himself not only willing, but able, and in the process he was able to save a couple of lives that weren’t his own.