The Best and Worst ‘Walking Dead’ Characters This Week (March 26)

The Walking Dead _ Season 7, Episode 15 -
Gene Page/AMC
Josh McDermitt as Dr. Eugene Porter

In the aftermath of the questionable cliffhanger decision that Rosita was worth saving, Sasha made her way into a Savior holding cell. Now The Walking Dead is exploring a storyline in which Negan tries to convert an Alexandrian to his way of life. Again.

Meanwhile, Tara and Rick led an unnecessarily shock-and-awe assault against Oceanside to steal a suitable supply of guns. The episode’s recycled plot elements held it back, but there were a few characters who stood out by drastically shifting their status quo for better or worse.

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This Week’s Best

Maggie’s leadership in Hilltop extends beyond military preparation. Calling back to her days as a farmer’s daughter, Maggie taught some agriculture tricks to the locals and, in a hopeful move, went out to retrieve a blueberry bush that could provide for the community for decades. Like Rick and Michonne, Maggie is at her best as a leader when she’s thinking ahead to a time after Negan’s tyranny. Contrasted with the self-serving and cowardly Gregory, she seems to be exactly what Hilltop needs to thrive, pre-and-post war.

For the first time since his abduction by Negan, Eugene got a chance to offer up some explanation for his defection. This whole turncoat character arc has been frustrating because it’s undone all of the development Eugene had seen as a character up to this point in the show. What made that reversal much more palatable this week was that Eugene plainly admitted it. He explained that his moments of bravery last season were some of the best of his life, but he also elaborated on how Abraham’s death had broken him. With so much of the focus going to Rosita and Sasha in that regard, it had been easy to forget that Eugene had admired Abraham for his strength and bravery. Eugene is still a traitorous worm, but hearing him explain his stance to Sasha made him a more relatable traitorous worm. He also managed to cool it with the cringe-worthy references and one-liners long enough to have an actual conversation.

Honorable Mention: Negan
Negan works best as a villain when he’s striking a balance between a draconian but logical organization of rules and seemingly random acts of brutal violence. Throughout Season 7, that balance has tipped almost exclusively toward the latter. Negan is cruel, misogynistic and violent in his leadership, but what’s often been missing to make him a compelling villain is the charisma necessary to earn a position of power in the first place. This week, Negan was still uncomfortably violent and crude, but he also demonstrated some reason behind his actions. He punished the would-be rapist because he broke the rules. More impressively, his argument to Sasha was relatively rational, by post-apocalyptic strongman standards.

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This Week’s Worst

Gregory is a character who, by his very nature, is one of the worst in any episode in which he appears. His motivations of “don’t get killed by the Saviors” and “retain power in Hilltop” are one-dimensional to the point that he seems incapable of doing anything other than exactly what audiences would expect. Now he’s on his way to sell Maggie out to Simon, but knowing the Saviors, his plot to secure his own power will probably backfire spectacularly. Fingers crossed.

Tara took a hard left turn in her progression from conflicted about revealing Oceanside to totally fine with stripping the community of weapons in an explosive show of force. If the plan was for Tara to go in and reason with the women of Oceanside, why was she only given about 45 seconds to do it? More to the point, why did she choose to explain the situation so aggressively to the member of the community who she knew would be least receptive to collaboration? Tara was extremely ineffective in her negotiation style, and she even allowed herself to become a hostage, hindering the process even further.

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Dishonorable Mention: Rick
While it was admirable that Rick planned to take Oceanside without any bloodshed, he maybe could have gone about it a bit more delicately. If he was willing to negotiate with the openly hostile Mad Max cavewoman who kidnapped Gabriel, stole Alexandria’s supplies and threw him into gladiator combat with an armored walker (for reasons that are still largely unclear), he could have extended the same courtesy to this community. Instead of taking the guns by force, he could have asked for volunteers and offered to trade for the guns, once Tara had infiltrated the compound to force an introduction. As it stands, Rick is hardly better than Negan to the people of Oceanside, stealing their goods under threat of death and offering nothing in return.