Josh McDermitt on Whether Eugene Will Live or Die, Show’s Legacy

  • Warning: There are spoilers ahead for “The Walking Dead.”
  • Josh McDermitt spoke with Insider about Eugene’s search for happiness on the show’s final season.
  • He hopes “TWD” stands the test of time as one of the greats.

Eugene gets divided up from his friends at the mysterious Commonwealth community on Sunday’s “The Walking Dead,” and he’s not handling it too well. 

First Ezekiel gets taken away, then Yumiko seeks extradition for her group after learning her brother may be at the community, and finally Princess dips out to head to the restroom. A commonwealth soldier doesn’t make things any easier when he claims to know nothing about any of Eugene’s friends, making him grow even more despondent.

Usually quick to adapt, Eugene has reverted a bit to his earlier self. His hands are shaking, he’s sweating, and feeling at his wit’s end, he starts making a weapon out of desperation.

“The stakes are higher than they’ve ever been before,” Josh McDermitt, who has played the Texas native since season five, told Insider via

Zoom
earlier this month while discussing the show’s final season. “He’s really second guessing a lot. There’s huge consequences to his decisions.”

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Eugene gets so paranoid that he starts making a weapon.

Josh Stringer/AMC


“He’s obviously trying to bring these people to the Commonwealth to gain resources that we can [use to] help our communities back home,” McDermitt continued. “That’s first and foremost. But at the same time, there’s this alternative mission of, ‘Hey, there might be a girl out there that I might be in love with.”

Ever since Eugene’s introduction on the show, he’s pined over his friend Rosita (Christian Serratos), sometimes a bit creepily. Last season, she finally let him down gently, sending Eugene into a bit of a depression until his luck seemed to change.

Since the middle of season 10, Eugene’s been speaking to a mystery woman over a radio named Stephanie.

Eugene talks to Stephanie on TWD 1011

Eugene has been communicating with Stephanie via radio since season 10.

AMC


She claimed to be from the Commonwealth and Eugene went off on a mission to find her only to get caught by the group’s intimidating militia.

McDermitt said Eugene’s anxiety and regret over his decisions aren’t solely because he may have led his friends into trouble, but because it may spell a potential loss of love for the quirky, yet intelligent man who’s always felt like a bit of an outsider.

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Ezekiel, Eugene, and Princess get caught by the Commonwealth’s soldiers on the season 10 premiere.

Jackson Lee Davis/AMC


On Sunday’s episode, he spills his guts to Mercer and the Commonwealth auditors (maybe a little too much) saying he hoped that Stephanie was his “one true love.” 

“He’s never really been in the position that he’s in now to hopefully be in a relationship with someone that he connects with on a level they’ve never connected with,” McDermitt said of Eugene’s mindset early on the final season.

“He poured his heart out for Rosita and she’s just kind of like, ‘Dude, I don’t love you that way. We’re friends, man.’ He’s just looking for that connection and he’s finally found that with someone on the radio. And so there’s a bit of, ‘Oh crap, am I losing this too?'” McDermitt said.

By the end of Sunday’s episode, Eugene’s reunited with his friends and meets a young woman who’s introduced as Stephanie.

TWD 1102 Eugene Princess Yumiko Ezekiel and Stephanie

Eugene and the group meet a woman who claims she’s Stephanie. Her glasses match the character from the comics.

AMC


Is that actually the person who he was speaking with on the radio, though? McDermitt previously told Insider the voice he was speaking with belonged to Margot Bingham who joined “TWD’s” final season.

The woman presented as Stephanie at the end of episode two is not Bingham.

In a conversation about the final season with Insider, McDermitt shared how he hopes Eugene receives a satisfying conclusion, his thoughts on a “Walking Dead” musical, and the show’s legacy as it comes to an end.

McDermitt hopes Eugene’s story ‘does justice’ for his character

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Eugene has come a long way since his entry onto “TWD,” lying his way to survive.

Jace Downs/AMC


Insider: Do you feel like this one final season is enough to wrap up your character arc in a satisfying and meaningful way? Are you happy with the trajectory of your character?

McDermitt: I love the trajectory and where we’ve gone with Eugene from when we first saw him. If you really think about who he was, when we first saw him, he was lying about having a cure [to the zombie apocalypse]. He had no confidence except in his intelligence. That was it. He had to stay away from walkers. He couldn’t even kill a walker. The first time we saw him, he was holding a machine gun and he shot the walker through the body, not even in the head. To go from that to who he is now, saying, “I’m going to lead this expedition to go find this new community.” He’s a completely different person. So, I love that arc and the trajectory.

I would hope that he continues to grow in this final season and that his story line is wrapped up in a way that is satisfying for the viewer, more than anybody, [and] that it does justice for who this man is. There’s no saying that I’m gonna live through the end of the season, but if he does, I would also hope that the story line is wrapped up so we could see more from Eugene down the road. Even though the show’s done, we have this idea of this man still out there living, still out there doing science projects, and things like that.

If a ‘Walking Dead’ musical or musical episode in the cards, McDermitt’s available

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Eugene sings Iron Maiden on season 10, episode 11 of “TWD” to Stephanie over the radio.

AMC


Well, we have the spin-offs. We have the anthology series. I’m not sure what that will be comprised of, but Eugene makes it through the comic alive. Of course, the show’s changed things a lot from the comic.

We’ve changed a lot of things in the comics. I’m personally not a great singer, but [Eugene] was able to sing some Iron Maiden in season 10. Maybe one of the spin-offs could be a musical and Eugene can head that up.

I don’t know if it’s a joke or if it’s for real, but [‘TWD’ universe chief] Scott Gimple has been saying he wants to do some sort of musical episode.

We have to take him at his word.

McDermitt doesn’t know how ‘TWD’ ends, but he’s been trying to piece things together

Do you know how it all ends? Norman Reedus told me he has the broad strokes, but he didn’t really want to know how the show ends. Khary [Payton] claims to know a lot more.

I don’t know if you can trust Khary. I actually don’t know how it ends. I’ve been trying to get information by talking to other cast members who have their bits of information and I try and piece stuff together, but there’s so many. There’s so many cast members and story lines going on. It’s hard to see how they all weave together and how it’s going to manifest in an ending. I have no idea and that is the God’s honest truth.

He doesn’t dwell on whether his character lives or dies, but he sure has a lot of ideas for how Eugene could die

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Josh McDermitt would like Eugene to receive a hero’s death or to be choked out by Andrew Lincoln.

Jackson Lee Davis/AMC


What would be a satisfying ending for Eugene for you? Does he get a happily ever after with Stephanie? Does he get Rick’s death from the comics? Does he make it to the end?

To be honest, I don’t really think about that too much. I’m trying to think of a funny answer, but the real answer is I just don’t think about how he’s going to die or what his ending would be, whether it’s just story line and he still lives.

I talked about, if he did have to go, it’d be great to have a hero’s death. That’s not who he was at the start of his journey when we meet him. He’s been a hero for a while, so it does fit that he would have a hero’s death. I hope he wouldn’t regress in any way. I would hope he dies of old age. That would be fun.

Maybe Rick comes back and says, “What’s up with your hair?”, and takes scissors to [Eugene’s] hair. Daryl punches Rick, like, “Hey, you owe child support.” Then Eugene’s like, “No, he just cut my hair. Let me get a piece of that.” Then Rick chokes him out. That is honestly the one thing I wish I had on the show, getting choked out by Andrew Lincoln. I’ve watched him do it. I’ve watched him kill several people on the show, in different scenes by choking them. I just go, “Man, that looks like fun.” To get choked out by Andrew Lincoln would be pretty incredible.

Well, maybe if they bring him back. I don’t know if that’s in the cards for this final season.

I don’t even know where he is. Eugene’s at the Commonwealth now. Who knows [that] even if Rick came back if Eugene would get back to Alexandria to see Rick? I don’t even know.

McDermitt hopes ‘TWD’ stands the test of time among some of TV’s greats 

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Seth Gilliam, Josh McDermitt, and Avi Nash on season 10 of “TWD” as all three helped Rosita care for Coco.

Jackson Lee Davis/AMC


What is the legacy that you hope that the show leaves behind and that your character leaves behind?

Well, first and foremost, I just hope that we created an amazing show. I think about shows throughout history that everybody’s heard of and you mention “M*A*S*H* or you mention “Friends,” things like that.

[Former ‘TWD’ cast member] Steven Yeun said something at one point: He said “Friends” was such a huge show and “Walking Dead” is a huge show. We’re basically on “Friends” right now… We’re just in the middle of it, trying to do the scenes and put out some episodes that are great.

I hadn’t even thought about it that way. I would hope that people continue to watch the show even years after it’s ended and are able to be introspective, just think about a lot the questions that we raised: Who would you be if civilization were to fall? What kind of person would you be?

I just hope those questions continue to be relevant. I’ve gone back and tried to watch other shows, years after they’ve ended and some of them don’t hold up. They were right for the time and now you’re watching them and it’s kind of like, “Oh, OK. I can see why this might’ve been right at the moment.” I would hope that our show transcends all of that and is one that throughout history, you can go back and watch and go: This was just a great show and entertains people forever.

You can read our review of the first two episodes of “TWD’s” final season here and follow along with our coverage all season long here. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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