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Review: ‘The Walking Dead’ Season 5 Episode 5, ‘Self-Help’: Eugene, Ya Done Gone Too Far

Review: 'The Walking Dead' Season 5 Episode 5, 'Self-Help': Eugene, Ya Done Gone Too Far

Whose Episode Is It?  

This is a Team Abraham episode, which seems to be focusing
on Abraham until a series of revelations reveal more about Eugene than the
survivors ever wanted to know.  We
open the day after the church
massacre
, as Team Abraham is kicking back and sassing Eugene about his
mullet.  Suddenly, the bus crashes
for no immediately apparent reason and bursts into flames, leaving everyone to
debate whether or not they should head back to rejoin Team Rick.  Abraham makes an impassioned case to
Glenn for moving forward, and everyone agrees.  Before the episode’s end, Abraham’s need to keep on mission
will be put to the test.

Oh, and Abraham and Rosita are apparently a couple?  Never got that impression before now.

Achievements in Grossness

A withered, shirtless zombie catches himself on some broken
glass on one of the bus’s windows and his guts start pouring out
everywhere.  The fact that he has a
long, white beard somehow makes it even grosser.

Runner up moment: Eugene watching Rosita and Abraham have
sex — although the “self-help” gag was actually funny.  It’s so nice when this show breaks out
some jokes to lighten the mood a little. 
I also enjoyed Abraham’s comment after Eugene turns the fire hose on
some zombies: “I’ve been to eight county fairs and one goat rodeo and I’ve
never seen anything like that.” One would hope your typical goat rodeo
wouldn’t involve hosing down corpses, but then I’m not from the South. Maybe
that’s a regular attraction.

Most Irritating Distraction

Did you know DirecTV and AMC are negotiating again?  AMC would very much like you to know —
to the point where they will put bars at the top and bottom of the screen that
strobe “Keep AMC!” at the viewer.  Nothing builds a creepy atmosphere like flashing graphics
that take up two-thirds of the screen! 
Way to turn me against you, AMC.

Man is the True Monster

The only non-flashback humans we see in this episode are our
heroes, but Eugene turns out to be full of secrets.  First, he admits to Tara that he put broken glass in the
bus’s fuel line, causing the initial crash.  He tells Tara that he has no value in the world beyond his
skills as a scientist, and that the others would abandon him if he wasn’t the
hope for the world’s salvation.  It
seems like a stretch for Tara to take this as an excuse for sabotage (wouldn’t
he want to get to DC as soon as possible?), but the show has to gloss over this
business to get to Eugene’s even bigger revelation.

So yeah, Eugene’s not a scientist!  He made the whole thing up in order to ensure people would
protect him.  When Abraham plans a
suicide run through an enormous herd of zombies (bigger than any we’ve seen on
the show so far, barring perhaps Rick’s first foray into Atlanta), Glenn takes
umbrage and Abraham starts swinging… So Eugene ends the conflict the only way
he knows how: by admitting the truth. 
It’s not a huge surprise (my first thought after the bus conversation
was “Wait, so is Eugene lying about the cure?”), but it’s certainly devastating
for the characters and the scene is extremely well-acted by all involved.  And kudos to the show for not stringing
the possibility of Eugene’s duplicity out over several episodes.  That would have been intolerable.

Abraham is understandably upset with Eugene, and starts
beating the crap out of him before Rosita intervenes.  Eugene collapses and seems to give himself a serious head injury in the
process.  Is Eugene dead?  Is Abraham crazy?  We may have to wait until 2015 to find
out.

This Week in Death

No major deaths this episode, unless you count ALL HOPE.

Most Obvious Metaphor

Abraham has a wound on his hand that he never allows time to
heal, sort of like (by which I mean exactly like) his emotional wounds, that he
hasn’t allowed to heal.

How Far is Too Far? 

If you’re Flashback Abraham’s wife, the answer is “Watching
my husband beat several men to death with some canned goods.”  She takes off with the kids, but
Abraham finds their devoured corpses almost immediately, so it looks like they
only got about 100 feet away from him before dying.  Hey Abraham, if your family died the second they left your
sight, maaaaybe they weren’t suited for the zombie apocalypse. 

The flashback concludes with Abraham discovering his
family’s corpses and preparing to commit suicide when lo and behold, up runs
Eugene, screaming for help.  It’s
too narratively neat by half, but it at least confirms why Abraham is so
particularly fixated on Eugene. 
Abraham’s mission is literally his reason to live.

This is a good showcase episode for Michael Cudlitz and Josh
McDermitt, especially considering how little development Abraham and Eugene
have gotten since they were introduced (perhaps poor Rosita will get a focus
episode next year).  They’re great
additions to the ensemble, and I sincerely hope Eugene gets to stick
around.  Can you imagine Rick’s
face when he hears the truth about Eugene?

Best Zombie Apocalypse Survival Tip

If you’re a coward, you need to at least be an excellent
liar.

GRADE: B+

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