The Walking Dead, “Self Help” (5.5) - TV Review


walking dead 5.5


The Walking Dead, Season 5, Episode 5, “Self Help”

November 9, 2014, 9 pm (EST), AMC

One of the better parts of the second half of The Walking Dead last season was when the group was split and we were given a more in-depth look into other characters. Needless to say, I think the writers realized this too as Rick and company were separated again, though this time by choice. Tonight’s episode, Self Help, continues that trend as we get backstory on Abraham and receive yet another shocking moment.

It certainly didn’t take long for that bus to bite the dust. At first, it seemed as though it had a mechanical failure. It isn’t until later that Eugene confesses to Tara that he put crushed glass in the fuel line to sabotage the bus. He never expected it to leave the church, let alone crash and almost kill them. He certainly was lucky everyone came out unscathed for the most part. While it causes us to pause and think how smart could Eugene really be, we realize it’s part of a bigger insecurity with him. Despite his knowledge of the virus and a possible cure, he hasn’t contributed anything else to the group. He can’t fight a walker face-to-face, although he at least put the fire truck’s water hose to good use later, dismembering several walkers. We’ll get to Eugene’s big moment in a bit.

We learned a little more about Abraham, though there’s still a mystery. We see him in a rage, beating a man to death with canned food. Led to believe the man was a threat, he tries to console his family as they cower away from him. He later discovers them missing along with a note not to look for them. He unfortunately does, discovering their corpses not too far from the store they were seeking shelter in. He seems to lose all hope until he finds something he deems an important mission to carry out. While there doesn’t seem like we need much more background on him, it’s interesting to note that Abraham’s temper wasn’t a result of the apocalypse but rather an ongoing issue. We know he was in the military so was he dishonorably discharged because of these anger issues, or is there more to it? We know his military training is giving him the drive to continue on with the mission, despite the constant obstacles they’ve encountered. This is also a downfall for Abraham: he doesn’t know when to give up or at least change course. He was ready to head straight on into the horde of zombies ahead of them instead of simply backtracking to avoid it. This is not a quality we’d see in Rick; he’ll use his head to come up with a plan instead of charging in blind.

So the biggest shocker of the night is something fans of the comic have known for quite some time: Eugene isn’t a scientist and doesn’t have a cure. Unable to take the group fighting and Abraham dragging him off by the arm, Eugene finally confesses. He knows he’s got nothing to offer any group as intelligence can only get someone so far in this world. He’s smart enough to know that D.C. is probably the safest place to be in a crisis such as this. He knows the people who’ve sacrificed themselves or died to get him from Houston. Needless to say, everyone is at a loss for words. Abraham, however, has no issues punching Eugene a few times before Glenn and Rosita pull him off. Eugene collapses, almost cartoon-like, as Abraham walks off. On one hand, it’s hard to blame Eugene. Most people would do anything to survive in this world, even if it involves a few lies. From an earlier conversation in the episode, he mentions how everyone who has survived the few years into the apocalypse has helped someone and is strong. Eugene just wants protection until he can get to where he deems it the safest location in the US.

What happens after that is anyone’s guess, but he was willing to take a chance and use his intelligence to manipulate others. This is exactly what he did to Abraham. Shortly after discovering his family’s bodies, Abraham hears Eugene’s cries for help. In a fit of rage, he single-handedly kills the few walkers chasing Eugene. He’s about to run-off when Eugene tells him to stop as he has an important mission he must carry out. Whether this is because he’s in a weakened state-of-mind because of his family or his military background is kicking in, Abraham discovers Eugene may give him purpose and a goal to achieve now that he has nothing left in this world. I imagine we’ll be getting a bit more background with Rosita as we don’t know where she hooked up with the group. What’s important now is that the future of the group is uncertain. Eugene seems to be alive, though it was questionable. They’re close enough where they could go back and regroup with Rick, but they’d still have the horde to deal with. Abraham doesn’t seem like he’d change his mind all of a sudden, but now that his mission is a bust, who knows what the future holds.

[The Roundup]

  • Zombie apocalypse or not, I’d certainly not be comfortable with someone watching me have sex. That’s just too damn creepy, no matter what kind of logic you try to use.
  • Glenn’s comedic timing after Eugene’s rant about weather patterns was really great. Give us more of those moments.
  • Was Eugene reading H. G. Wells’ A Shape of Things to Come a hint of his confession or what lies for the group beyond it?
  • Despite fighting with Abraham on several occasions, Glenn still stands up to him, proving that while he’s not stronger, he’s an overall better leader than Abraham even though he doesn’t realize it yet.
  • The fact that Abraham still wears his wedding ring while he’s with Rosita is kind of odd.
  • We don’t get much Glenn & Maggie moments this time, but that’s ok considering we haven’t learned much about Abraham, Rosita and Eugene.
9.2 Amazing

The simple backstory of Abraham provides an insight to how he’s reacted and why he chose to lead Eugene this far. Eugene’s lies are exposed and the fate of the group is unknown.

  • Amazing 9.2

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  • Jana Harris Gates

    Great analysis, Mike! However, points should have been deducted for how DARK some of their scenes are filmed. I feel like I miss out on some important body language between the characters throughout these dark scenes that inevitably are in every episode as some point and I’m left staring at a black TV screen. I saw a number of fans complain about the same thing on twitter. I enjoy reading your review each week since I don’t have any fellow TWD watchers in my midst.