In the world of The Walking Dead, choosing new allies could mean the difference between being aligned with the powers that be, or falling victim to them.
Switching sides has been a tried-and-true survival technique used by some popular, and still very alive characters on The Walking Dead. Such is the case with four of this week’s “five to watch”, and our “one to watch out for”:
"“You don’t switch sides and make it okay”. – Tara, Season 8, Episode 11"
But that’s exactly what Tara did four seasons ago. Once sympathetic to The Governor, Tara took part in the final battle to topple the prison, standing only feet away as The Governor executed Hershel in front of his family. Tara became one of the first people to switch sides on The Walking Dead – and she did make it “okay”. Glenn was able to see past Tara’s misguided allegiance to The Governor and she was able to turn the page.
Tara’s feud with Dwight may also have reached “bygones” status. While she was quite ready to execute him for the murder of Denise, things changed when he risked his life to save the escaping Alexandrians. If Dwight survives his temporary re-employment as a Savior, he and Tara could become powerful allies.
Tara may also hold the key to bringing the people of Oceanside into what remains of Rick’s alliance. Enid and Aaron tried and failed to do this a few episodes ago, but Tara’s previous connection with Natania’s heir apparent, Cyndie, could make a difference.
When Eugene allowed Gabriel to escape with Dr. Carson at the mid-season break, I thought “This is it! Eugene is back!” However, after last week’s episode, it’s frustratingly clear that Eugene is still willing to inflict harm on his former friends in order to protect himself. In fact, Eugene has done more to help the Saviors than he ever did for Alexandria. From manufacturing bullets to helping the Saviors escape the siege, Eugene has become a valuable asset to Negan.
So what’s the deal? Is he really helping the Saviors? After all, his siege-buster nearly depleted their entire stock of bullets. And his most recent suggestion to catapult walker guts over Hilltop’s walls could impact Negan’s efforts too…by having no impact at all. Until Gabriel fell ill at the start of the war, we hadn’t seen anyone suffer negative effects from exposure to walker entrails. Is it possible that something else is making Gabriel sick and Eugene knows this? If this is the case, it’s still possible that Eugene continues his quiet work as a double agent, weakening the Saviors from within and stalling their progress in the war. Right?
Simon is the latest to break loyalty, keeping him on our radar for another week. Rather than switching sides though, Simon is forging his own path to the top behind Negan’s back. Lacking Negan’s appreciation for the value of human life, Simon’s approach is that of a thug who leads by intimidation.
Granted, Negan has killed a few people in the name of maintaining order. Simon on the other hand, has killed indiscriminately, in large numbers and takes pleasure in doing so. Negan seems to be unaware of Simon’s recent insubordination and lies, but it’s only a matter of time before he finds out about the massacre at the junkyard. When that happens, Simon had better hope he has already planned his next move, or things could end very badly for him.
Dwight made the decision to turn on Negan long ago, but when “All Out War” arrived at Alexandria, he committed to switching sides for good. By turning his gun against the Saviors, his treachery was revealed. And complicating matters, fellow Savior Laura escaped the ambush and could expose him if she makes it back to Negan.
On last week’s episode, he was held at gunpoint by Tara. She refused to trust him and was on the verge of executing him for Denise’s murder when a Saviors patrol arrived. To save them all, Dwight calmly walked out of the bushes, alone, and led them away. While news of his betrayal has not made it back to the Saviors (yet!), this move puts him in grave danger. It also proves to Tara that despite his past actions, he can be trusted.
As for Dwight’s safety back “home”, the trailer for episode 12 shows him and Simon having a conversation on their way to deliver a message to the Hilltop community, so his secret appears to be safe…for now.
Maggie is the only member of this week’s “five” that has not turned her back on one side for another. Rather, she has emerged as a decisive hero for the residents of Hilltop who were recently sold out by Gregory. Since replacing him, her stewardship of the community has been so steadfast that when the uprising began, Rick proclaimed Maggie the future leader of the new world. Her strength however, has also been tested repeatedly since the war began. In one shocking turn, Maggie executed a Savior prisoner to send a defiant message to Negan, and later she decided to cut off the remaining prisoners’ rations. These drastic measures did not last long though. Once Maggie heard about Carl, rations were reinstated and more humane measures were implemented.
Maggie has proven to be one of the series’ most effective leaders. Her biggest test is yet to come though. The Saviors are regrouping and planning to visit her and the communities under her protection very soon.
One to watch out for: Gregory
Gregory’s appearance in last week’s episode reminds us that he’s still around, and his desire to survive at any cost remains a huge liability to Maggie. While he does not bring much to the table by way of strengths and abilities, he still knows Hilltop better than Maggie. Perhaps he conspires with a few prisoners in an escape attempt. Or, with Simon resting precariously on the outs with Negan, Gregory could potentially find an ally when the Saviors arrive at Hilltop’s gates. Or, maybe he sabotages Maggie’s efforts some other way in exchange for his safety. Whatever move Gregory has left, it will serve his own interests, and that makes him one to watch out for.
Who will have the power to change the world next week?
Watch Episode 12: “The Key” on AMC, Sunday at PM EDT to find out!