The Walking Dead: Self Help (5×05)
Synopsis: Abraham’s group continues the mission to get to Washington DC, but they run into a few set-backs along the way – as well as a peek into Abraham’s past and a startling confession that changes everything.
Let me just say that I love Michael Cudlitz and Josh McDermitt and what they’ve done with Abraham and Eugene, but this episode only mildly surpassed last week’s Beth-centric episode. Maybe I had higher hopes that we’d get more out of an Abraham-centric episode, but while there were some shocking revelations, I was left feeling a lot like Abraham by the end of it – worn out.
The bus that Abraham took from the church with his group is on the road to Washington, DC and everyone seems pretty calm and relatively relaxed, all things considered. Unfortunately, out of nowhere, the bus seems to malfunction and crashes. No one immediately jumps out of the wreckage as a group of walkers edges near.
In a flashback, we’re shown Abraham brutally beating a group of men to death with tin cans, covered in blood, before he’s brought back to the present and shouting for Eugene. No one seems too hurt by the crash and they quickly devise a plan to take out the walkers that crowded around. Tara encourages Eugene to be helpful for once and he does end up stabbing one walker in the shoulder, distracting it long enough for Tara to kill it. Abraham continues to militantly and single-mindedly move forward as the bus bursts into flames. The church is only fifteen miles back, but he won’t let them turn back.
Once again in flashbacks, Abraham is distraught and calling out in the store for a woman named Ellen. Somewhat bruised and dirty, we see a woman and two children cowering and afraid to see him. But in the present, he is in control and easily clearing out a library to set up camp for the night. The group as a whole is quickly and efficiently setting up and it’s nice to see some competence this far into the apocalypse.
Glenn and Abraham have a heart to heart where Abraham thanks him for “getting it.” He’s, by his own admission, struggling a lot right now and it’s never been easier to see than in this monologue that he ends by informing Glenn that he’s going to get some ass. And by ass he means sleeping with Rosita – who informs him in the middle of it that Eugene is watching them from the self-help section. Tara catches Eugene and, after spouting off monotone excuses with a straight face, she dismisses his weird behavior to thank him for his help during the bus crash.
By stabbing that walker, he saved Tara’s life. But when she tries to push him to acknowledge that, he admits that the bus crashed after he put crushed glass in the gas tank – the bus wasn’t ever supposed to leave the church. She’s obviously upset and he admits that he knows he can’t survive on his own. He doesn’t think he has value if he couldn’t save the world, though she insists that they’re friends and that’s just how it works. She promises to keep this a secret and urges him not to sabotage things again.
Abraham is distraught in the flashback to see how upset his violent actions have made the woman and kids. He promises they don’t have to be scared, but they’re unconvinced. In the present, Rosita is bandaging his hand and arguing to stay another day to prepare, but Abraham continues to push forward. They find a relatively working fire truck, though it only goes a few feet before breaking down once more. However, moving it from up against the building allowed a door to open and a group of walkers to come out after them. From the roof of the truck, Eugene directs the fire engine’s hose and cuts down all the zombies – saving everyone once again.
Shown in flashbacks once more, Abraham wakes up alone. He calls for the woman and the kids, only to find a note urging him not to try to find them. He rushes out of the store they’ve been camped in, yelling for them. In the present, the fire truck has broken down once again. Maggie bonds with Eugene as the group smells something terrible on the wind. They spot a town and a herd, which the group wants to backtrack and avoid, but Abraham continues his stubborn ways and thinks they can go through it.
When no one else takes his side, he takes Eugene by the arm and starts marching him back towards the fire truck as everyone struggles to make him stop. In the ensuing physical fight, Eugene admits to everyone that he’s not a scientist. He has no idea how to stop the zombie apocalypse. I’m not surprised by this admission, having read the comic books, but I am surprised they blew his cover this fast. Everyone is momentarily stunned into silence.
Until they’re not stunned anymore – Eugene admits he just “knows things” and he needed to get to DC because he thought it held the best chance for survival. If he could convince people to take him along, he would be helping them as well, he’s just… smarter than you. He lists off a number of people who died during this trek and admits to being a coward about telling the truth as they got closer. Before he can finish his monologue, Abraham surges forward and punches him hard enough to knock him out at the very least. The group has to stop him from fighting Eugene more, who was already laid out after falling face first to the ground.
Abraham storms off and falls to his knees, looking broken and worn out himself. In the flashbacks we’re shown the body of his wife and two kids, eaten by walkers by the time he’s caught up to them. Distraught, he meant to kill himself when he heard Eugene stumbling along and calling for help. Abraham kills the walkers following Eugene, who tells him that he has a very important mission. He gave Abraham a purpose, explaining how they hooked up in the first place.
At least this episode pushed the show into some forward momentum once again. We got a look at Abraham’s past and an understanding as to why this mission is so important to him. Unfortunately, with all the split storylines of The Walking Dead, I don’t imagine we’ll check back in with this group for a few episodes.