In “Self Help”, Abraham’s persistence to get to DC as quickly as possible puts the group in danger plus a big secret is revealed.
Everything after the break will contain spoilers and a discussion of The Walking Dead Season 5, Episode 5.
By the third episode of Season Five a sizeable contingent of the group splintered off. A large cast poses certain challenges for the writers, by dividing them into smaller groups it works as a solution in a number of ways. For a survival horror series, it’s important for characters to face real life or death situations. It’s more believable that a bunch of bad-asses could be vulnerable to danger when they are in smaller numbers.
Of course, character development is another benefit when an episode focusses on a few survivors. The storytelling is actually less disjointed in these character centric episodes than if the writers tried to check in on each character every week.
“Self Help” is Abraham and Eugene’s much deserved turn in the spotlight having been introduced in Season Four but mainly kept in a supporting role until now. These two make for unlikely travelling companions yet in a strange way they need each other.
Eugene is fairly inept at fighting walkers so it makes sense that he needs Abraham to protect him. Escorting Eugene to DC gives Abraham a sense of purpose which “Self Help” reveals the back story as to why Abraham is incredibly determined to complete his mission.
Party At The Back
When the bus broke down I laughed at first because it reminded me of Lori’s car inexplicably flipping over back in Season 2. Finding out it’s an act of sabotage confirmed my suspensions from last season when Eugene shot the tanker that it was not an accident.
Eugene is given enough material to flesh out his character. His interactions with Tara helped to humanize him a bit more even though he is still very much an oddball (and a peeping tom). I can get why he would open up to Tara yet it felt a little out of character for him to confess he sabotaged the bus since he usually keeps everything close to the chest. However, he did admit, “I don’t know why I’m saying this to you”.
Eugene’s biggest confession of the episode has been a long time coming. In this situation, it made sense for him to come clean that he didn’t have the cure because Abraham was about to take the group into dangerous territory. I’m glad that his secret is revealed instead of dragging it out further since whenever Eugene gave an explanation about the cure it never made much sense but the group didn’t openly mention any suspicions, just stared with blank faces.
Keep On Moving
The glimpses into Abraham’s past when his family left after seeing him murder several men helped explain his current behaviour but it could have been better handled. One problem is that because the flashbacks were very limited, I didn’t feel the emotional loss of his family. This could have been a stronger moment that made me sympathize for Abraham more. Because his memories were internalized, no other character got to know what he was really going through. I hope he eventually shares his back story so that the group knows the source of his anger and pain at a time when they need to come together the most.
As determined as Abraham was to get to DC, it’s less about a destination as it is he’s running away from something. Seconds away from a self-inflicted gun shot to his head, Eugene’s mission gave him a reason to keep on moving. Abraham wasn’t able to protect his family which shed some light on why he was overprotective of Eugene and his single-minded pursuit to save humanity. The camera shot of Abraham with his back turned, walking in the opposite direction is a great way to sum up where he’s at without the need for dialogue.
Abraham and Eugene both came to a revelation that I think will help them become stronger survivors in the long run. Eugene doesn’t need to hold onto the lie anymore, knowing that people will care and protect him as he is. I also liked how Eugene water hosed those walkers, proving his worth to the group that had nothing to do with the “cure”.
Abraham went berserk at the end but I think he’ll come around. His mission to get Eugene to DC was putting his people in danger and now that the secret is revealed, hopefully he’ll being to think more clearly and find a new purpose.
Despite some of my nitpicks, “Self Help” is a solid episode. Even though Rosita didn’t have as much to do as the others she had some good moments too. Michael Cudlitz had a strong performance as Abraham and both he and Eugene got some much needed development. Hard to believe but there are only three more episodes to go in this half of the season.
What do you like or dislike about this episode?