Spoilers below for The Walking Dead’s first episode after its big time jump.
While six years isn’t enough for the world to completely turn around again on The Walking Dead, it’s more than enough time for the characters themselves to embrace major changes. Some survivors have new family members and new lovers, and some are rocking completely different hairstyles. Eugene, for instance, was finally allowed to move beyond his signature mullet for a lengthier ‘do, and it’s safe to say star Josh McDermitt is a fan. In his words:
I like it, man. It’s allowed me to kind of have a normal haircut instead of just always having a mullet, and having to throw a hat on. I have the option of doing my hair so that I’m not at a restaurant and have people going like, ‘Does he know about his haircut or should we tell him?’ Like I have normal hair now, which is great, it’s just kind of long and shaggy as it is. It’s great, man.
If it wasn’t for the mullet, Josh McDermitt might be the kind of actor that someone wouldn’t immediately recognize in a crowd of people. As such, he’s almost always wearing a hat when he’s out and about. Not that his new style stands out any less from a visual standpoint, but just the fact that it isn’t a mullet presumably makes people less likely to come up and say hello, or something much weirder.
In speaking with EW, Josh McDermitt noted that Eugene’s evolved hairdo isn’t specific to the TV series.
Anytime we can kind of pull some things out of the comics and bring them into the show, I think it’s fun, and obviously, Eugene grows his hair out in the comics, and I was like, ‘Let’s go for it.’ I really wanted to grow his hair out. I could easily just cut it and look like everyone else but this man, it’s his hair! I was like, ‘Let’s just lean into it.’
Though Josh McDermitt isn’t the spitting image of the source material’s Eugene, whose facial hair was far more prevalent on the page, he did at least get to take on the character’s shift to longer and more unkempt hair. Now he’s celebrating a party in both the back AND the front, if you will.
After so many years of Eugene’s southern-fried locks, one might have expected the transition to be a little more difficult to get used to. But it wasn’t hard for Josh McDermitt to get used to it, and it definitely wasn’t hard on viewers’ eyes. It kind of helped make him look that much more badass when putting those walkers down in a most un-Eugene-like manner.
Speaking of concepts that aren’t readily applied to Eugene, his hair wasn’t the only thing that came down in “Who Are You Now?” The truth-hedging character finally started to share his true feelings for Rosita, and in doing so, he thankfully avoided bringing up the time he was a Savior and threw up on her to free himself from her captivity. Not that he handled things in a completely smooth manner.
It had already been revealed that Rosita and Father Gabriel are in the midst of their own relationship, as evidenced by a cozy smooch session. So Eugene’s overall timing is bad there. But also, he tried bringing it up as they were attempting to escape the walker herd that, unbeknownst to them at the time, contained several non-walkers hidden within. So his exact timing was also shit.
When Josh McDermitt was asked if he thought Eugene’s big admission to Rosita only happened because he knew of her closeness with Father Gabriel, here’s how he put it:
I’ve thought a lot about it. I wonder if Eugene would have professed his love to Rosita, had she not been with Gabriel? I do feel like he’s kind of using that. He’s a little jealous and he’s sad by that and if she wasn’t with him it would just be like the same old thing, but now… And he even says like, ‘I get it that machete-wielding man of the cloth with zero depth perception aren’t exactly a dime a dozen.’ He’s just trying to cut Gabriel so hard and just say, ‘Look, I’m the man you should be with.’ But I do think he wouldn’t be doing that had they not gotten together in the first place. But he is at that point in his confidence and who he is as a survivor that he’s like, “Okay, they should be having a family and settling down a little bit because this is what our life is now.” And that’s something I never really thought we’d see with Eugene. I never thought we’d see him in that place.
A self-sabotaging person like Eugene probably would choose to share his adoration for someone who is unable to reciprocate for one reason or another. He’d choose to go down a doomed path than to chance it on one with an uncertain outcome, in fear of having his feelings getting directly declined. Then again, maybe I’m just projecting my 15-year-old self onto Eugene.
Rosita has been an apple of Eugene’s eye for quite a while now, and the two have shared some unique memories in the past. Such as when he used to watch her and Abraham have sex. It stands to reason that he may not have distanced himself from that behavior in the years since.
When asked about that detail, Josh McDermitt stated he couldn’t actually confirm whether or not Rosita and Gabriel are sleeping together, and also isn’t sure of what Gabriel’s religious ties allow in that since. However, he did say that if the opportunity did arise, Eugene would indeed be peeping it out.
With Eugene now aware of The Whisperers’ existence in the world, there’s no telling what will happen next. Will he lose his confidence in trying to win over Rosita, or will the new threat cause him to step up and take charge like never before? Place your bets.
The Walking Dead airs Sunday nights on AMC at 9:00 p.m. ET, and there are only two episodes left in the first half of Season 9, so expect some major moments. Also expect a lot more great TV to come when the zombies are on hiatus, and it can all be found in our fall TV premiere schedule.
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