December 03, 2017 at 10:04 PM EST

The Walking Dead

TV Show
Drama, Horror, Thriller
run date
Andrew Lincoln, Lauren Cohan, Danai Gurira, Norman Reedus
We gave it a B-

When it comes to war, the “bad guys” are pretty easy to spot: They’re usually the ones on the opposite side. But it’s never really that simple, is it? Even the most sadistic, depraved minds believe there’s some justification for doing what they do — sometimes they even believe what they’re doing is right. Negan is the same. He seems to genuinely believe that he and his Saviors are saving people from the chaos of this world, even though his power structure favors the 1 percent of The Sanctuary. There may also be forced labor, rape (because sex by extortion is still deplorable), shady coercion, and physical intimidation involved, but he’s doing the best he can — so he thinks.

Eugene is an interesting lens through which to see this side of Negan. He’s a tactician. A coward, yes, but someone who thinks it all out and makes the best possible decision for himself based on all empirical evidence. It’s why he accepted a position among Negan’s generals: He is a coward and he is physically weak, so it would behoove him to gain favor and power within the Saviors’ ranks — despite everyone else who is trampled in his wake. But there’s still some humanity left within him, despite all the selfish choices he’s made in the past. He brought Gabriel a pillow after he was hauled into a cell, and he still maintains some feelings for his old “traveling companions,” as he now calls Rick’s group.

So now he’s faced with two options: He can either work with Gabriel and Dwight for AHK (the acronym he thought up for Alexandria, Hilltop, Kingdom), or he can continue his service to Negan. Which is the right choice and which is the right choice for Dwight is what Eugene has to figure out. “Time for After” still suffers from the season’s ongoing issues — mainly, that everyone is their own worst enemy. But when compared to other episodes dedicated to the Sanctuary side of this conflict, we’re at least getting a clearer argument for why one might think Negan is a “good guy.”

First, though, Rick realizes Jadis and the Scavengers are much creepier than they already appear. Light floods into his container cell, where he’s been sitting with his hands tied, in nothing but his underwear (at least he’s not naked, as he previously appeared to be). Outside, Jadis is waiting for him to emerge with a camera in her hands, while one of her associates is sitting by her side in a chair with a sketch pad. Rick warns that they still have a chance to join his cause or die, but she’s more focused on taking photos of his half-naked body. I mean, we get it, Jadis. Andrew Lincoln’s body is sick. But they want to create references so they can “sculpt” him “after.” The “after” part is what worries Rick as he’s again sealed up in the container.

Back at the Sanctuary, Eugene is grappling with the discovery that Dwight is the AHK mole. A list-maker at his core, he tries to separate what he knows, and what he knows he doesn’t know, from what he’s wholly unaware of. He then makes a compromise: He approaches Dwight in his room and says he won’t rat him out to Negan if he can promise to cease his mission and not harm anyone in the Sanctuary. Dwight physically forces Eugene into a chair and tries to remind him of everything horrible Negan has done to his people. “You’ve heard the screams,” he says. “You’ve smelled the burning flesh.” But Eugene has been drinking the Kool-Aid (i.e. his personal stash of pickles) for too long. He reasons that what Negan has going isn’t perfect, but they are Saviors — and they’re here to save.

Eugene leaves Eugene with the ultimatum and finds Laura (the one with the neck tattoo) reinforcing the front door. She estimates they have at most two days before the walkers break in and massacre everyone in the Sanctuary. (Recap continues on the next page)

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