TWD Showrunner Breaks Down [SPOILER’s] Surprising Decision

Warning: this story contains spoilers for Sunday’s “Variant” episode of The Walking Dead. “Do you think people are born brave, or do they become it?” That’s the question asked by the fugitive Eugene Porter (Josh McDermitt), facing charges for the accidental death of Sebastian Milton (Teo Rapp-Olsson), son of Commonwealth Governor Pamela Milton (Laila Robins). Leading the manhunt is conflicted soldier General Mercer (Michael James Shaw), ordered to roundup any known associates for questioning regarding the Founders Day riot and the death of Sebastian Milton. That includes Eugene’s friends, Rosita (Christian Serratos) and Princess (Paola Lazaro), and his girlfriend: Mercer’s sister, Max (Margot Bingham).

Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Rosita hatch a plan to smuggle Eugene out of the Commonwealth before he can be tried and executed, but Max is captured and taken into police custody. Eugene decides to face the proverbial music, angering Rosita, who urges him to run and save himself: “There’s nothing you can do for Max now.”

“Maybe not,” Eugene admits. “But what kind of man would I be if I didn’t try?”
“One that’s alive,” Rosita tells him. “If you stay here, they will kill you.”
“I know it’s not logical,” Eugene explains, “but matters of the heart rarely are. I also know if I leave now, there won’t be any kind of life worth living. Being with Maxine has made me better — better than I ever thought I could be. And as such, I just don’t see a path without her. I go where she is, or I just end up who I was.”

Meanwhile, Max refuses to sign a pardon claiming she acted out in “confusion and paranoia” to manipulate recordings, slandering the Milton family and causing unrest within the Commonwealth. If the state executes Eugene, Max will stand to face her accusations of treason.

After a tearful goodbye with Rosita, Eugene surrenders himself to General Mercer and the Commonwealth Army. He confesses to making the secret recording of the governor’s son played at the Founders Day celebration, causing the unintentional death of Sebastian in the melee that followed. Furthermore, he acted alone: “Maxine Mercer may have been present, but had nothing to do with any of it.”

With that, Eugene is arrested.

The Walking Dead Season 11 Episode 19 Ending Explained

“Eugene was a liar, and he went to the wrong side of the equation when he fell in with Negan [in Seasons 7 and 8]. But I think that Daryl can see that Eugene has worked really, really hard to get to where he is,” executive producer and showrunner Angela Kang said on AMC+’s The Walking Dead: Episode Insider. “Daryl himself had a brother that he was ashamed of and a family he was ashamed of and did things himself that I think Daryl right now would be a little ashamed of.”

“So what if Eugene used to be a coward and a liar? What matters the most is who he is now,” Kang continued. “But I think that Daryl knows that most heroes are made, not born, and it’s a matter of the choices you make over time.”

A self-professed coward and liar, Eugene sacrificing himself to save Max is “absolutely the most selfless and brave thing Eugene has done,” Kang noted. “He knows that what he’s walking into is likely a situation that there might not be any exit to, other than a harsh punishment for him.”

She added: “He thinks that Max is a better person than he is and that she deserves to live, even if he has to go down for it. I think he does have something to prove about his own bravery.”

Does Eugene Die in The Walking Dead Comics?


In the comics — spoiler alert! — Eugene is still alive after a two-decade time jump, during which he shares an enduring romance with Stephanie (Max’s comic book counterpart). As the chief engineer of a cross-country railroad, Eugene plays a pivotal role in the development of the new world.

Follow @CameronBonomolo and @NewsOfTheDead on Twitter for TWD Universe coverage all season long. New episodes of The Walking Dead‘s final season premiere Sundays on AMC and AMC+.