Review: The Walking Dead, Ep. 5 "Self Help"

Review: The Walking Dead, Ep. 5 "Self Help"

Walking_Dead_Season_5_PosterThe Walking Dead

Season 5, Episode 5

“Self Help”

Rating: A+

Well, for the second week in a row, we’ve been given a cliffhanger with no payoff on the next. We still have no answer to who is following Daryl out of the woods, and we don’t know what’s to become of Carol in the Atlanta hospital. Instead of splitting our perspectives between the survivors, they’ve elected to pick up a string of story and follow it for the full hour. While this is mildly annoying in terms of trying my patience, it’s become a really good way to make a visceral and emotional episode of television.

Whereas last week was a little harder to get into, simply because we were following the stories of only a bunch of newcomers to The Walking Dead, this week takes off and tells us, at last, Abraham, Rosita, and Eugene’s stories.

We find our Washington group actually having a little fun as they drive the church bus down the desolate roads of Somewhere, Georgia. Rosita is talking to Abraham about needing a haircut, which leads to everyone ganging up on Eugene about his mullet. He makes it clear that no one is taking clipper nor scissor to it anytime soon. It’s party, and it’ll go as long as he wants it to. Of course, this is The Walking Dead. Any momentary respite is indicative of bad things to come, and sure enough, following the gales of laughter over mullets, a loud bang interrupts the gang’s temporary serenity as the bus wheels out control and overturns, a gang of walkers making their way toward the emergency exit.

Abraham’s single minded determination to get to Washington speaks to something a lot deeper going on below the surface. This episode takes the time, through roughly cut together flashback sequences, to show us how Abraham lost hope, and then found it again. While with his wife and children, a group of men attacked them, and judging from the condition of his wife’s dress, likely tried to rape her. We don’t actually see what the men do to his family, but we see what Abraham does to them, and we see the look on his wife’s face when he goes back to her, hand’s broken and bloodied. She’s afraid of him, and she takes the kids and leaves as he sleeps. This leads to the inevitable, and Abraham finds them, dead and eaten. He puts a gun in his mouth and is about to pull the trigger when he meets Eugene, terrified and running from the walkers and crying for help. Eugene tells Abraham he can’t leave, that he has a very important mission.  Eugene is the man who gives Abraham purpose in life again, gives him a mission and someone to protect.

Abraham’s little speech about Darwin’s effect on the post apocalypse fails to take one thing into account: Eugene. Time and again, Eugene has proven that he is useless in the apocalypse. Incapable of being overly violent, by Abraham’s own rule he should have died long ago. When the walkers are attacking the bus, Tara has to shove a knife into his hand to get him to do anything. Even then, as all around him the group takes down walker after walker, Eugene stands by with a look of pure terror on his face. He knows how useless he is, that once the mission to Washington is played out he’ll be left to fend for himself as everyone else returns to whatever normal life they can now that the world is saved. There’s something even bigger to that, though, something Eugene is hiding that no one else can see.

Eugene is not a scientist. There was no human genome project that he was a part of, and he has no idea how to stop the virus. Eugene being so meek meant that he had to rely on some other means of survival, so he used his head. He manipulated and lied to get others to defend his life and give him shelter, food, protection. Abraham was that man, and Eugene was the one that gave his life purpose again after the loss of his family. Now, all bets are off, and though Rosita pulls Abraham off before he beats Eugene’s skull in, we don’t know for sure if Eugene survives Abraham’s beating. Considering the direction cliffhangers have taken on this show lately, I’m not comfortable saying we’ll find out next week either.

A truly excellent episode in what has been a truly excellent season. Season Five may well go down as The Walking Dead’s best yet, and I find it endlessly amusing that they’ve chosen to go back to following the comics and things have turned out this well. Perhaps next week we’ll finally find out who was behind Daryl in the woods. Until then, keep on speculating.

Stuff And Things

  • – Abraham the sheep herder
  • – “Maybe Rosita can give you a trim while she’s at it. The party’s getting a little long in the back.”
  • – “Bitchnuts!” may be a new favorite of mine.
  • – Eugene uses a battery to light a fire. YEAH! SCIENCE!
  • – “first aid kits are in the bus.” “I’ll see what we have” annnnnd two steps until the bus is engulfed with flames. This is, of course, exactly how car fires work.
  • – Zombie Kill Of The Week – This hands down goes to Eugene and the fire hose. That may also take the prize for Best Zombie Kill Of All Time
  • – Can we just talk about how brilliant the decomposition of the walkers is? If you go back to season 1, every Walker is as fresh as the morning dew, but 5 years gone now they are all rotting and falling apart, so far gone that the force of a fire hose is enough to blow their heads completely off. That is some truly wonderful attention to detail.
  • – Looks like next week we find out what happened to Daryl and Carol, so maybe we aren’t getting any answers.
Categories: Entertainment