TV Recap: The Walking Dead – S5,E5: Self Help #TheWalkingDead

The Walking Dead - Self Help - GlennLike last week’s episode, tonight was mostly used as set up for a future episode, but unlike the Beth-focused outing seven days ago, the spotlight shined on a more unpredictable group leading to a major payoff. In hindsight, the big reveal was one we probably had to know was coming, but it was a real stunner that will have some major ramifications going forward.

Yes, you’re all probably very eager to get back to Rick and his crew after the Daryl cliffhanger two weeks ago, but too bad. You’re just gonna have to wait another week. Tonight, we’re catching up to Abraham and his Expedition: DC Task Force of Glenn, Maggie, Rosita, Tara and Eugene, the scientist who can eradicate the walker disease once he gets to D.C.

The group is enjoying their ride in the church van — wheels always beats heels — and enjoying a rare uneventful moment: Rosita is playing with Abraham’s hair and everyone wants to know why Eugene is rocking a mullet. It’s so light-hearted you know it can’t last. Sure enough, Abraham loses control of the van and it flips over a stranded car. You had one job Abraham!

Walking-Dead-RositaWe get a fantastic behind the shoulder perspective of Abraham, Glenn, Rosita and Maggie exiting the van and taking out the walkers. Tara, excited to find someone less capable in a walker fight than herself, encourages Eugene to take action to help everyone … and he quickly finds the need to by saving Tara from a walker. Ah Tara, you had such a brief stint a notch higher on the DCTF totem pole.

This action is a bit behind a few weeks as the expedition has only been on the road for 15 miles. Eugene suggests going back to the church to reunite with The Grimes Gang, but Abraham wants none of that and wants to keep moving forward. Glenn curiously goes along with this plan even though Abraham seems to be speeding down Breakdown Blvd much faster than Rick.

The episode is interspersed with mini-flashbacks of Abraham’s early walker-fighting life. The brief snippets almost feel like psychotic episodes as they’re clipped so quickly in providing valuable backstory. It begins with Abraham putting the finishing touches on another non-walker over supplies to the horror of his wife, Ellen, and two children. He assures them it’s OK, but his bloody, still shaking hands doesn’t do the best job of convincing them. Later he awakens to a note from Ellen saying “don’t try to find us.”

Team D.C. spends the night in a bookstore where we get two reveals – Abraham and Rosita are together and are well aware of Eugene’s pesky habit of watching them having sex. The second, Eugene confesses to Tara, is that he worries he won’t be as valuable to the others once they get to D.C. so he decided to slow things down a bit by sabotaging the van. Tara promises to keep his secret and right about now, I’m not digging her long-term prospects to make it out of this week’s show.

The Walking Dead - Self Help - Maggie, Glenn and EugeneMaggie and Glen are optimistic that they’re on a path that could turn things around and have more reason to be hopeful when Abraham spots a fire truck. Unfortunately, the truck comes with its very own walker accessory squad. Just when it appears they’re overwhelmed, Eugene uses the hose to obliterate the walkers. Things are looking up again. For those of you keeping track, that’s two times Eugene has done something useful to 1 time for Tara.

Down the road a bit, Abraham is tinkering with the fire truck again. Most amusing this episode has been how the others kind of just go along with Abraham when he gets in his “I’m in charge here, maggots!” mode since he’s got them this far, but still find him a bit goofy.

A downhill wind leads the group to find the source of a foul smell and it’s a military base swarming with walkers. Abraham wants to just plow on through even though it makes no sense. But debating was never his strong suit, so Abraham just grabs Eugene and heads back to the fire truck. Glenn’s had enough of Capt. Crazy and they get into another shoving brawl and this time it’s so heated that Eugene reveals that he’s no scientist. Just a guy who figured D.C. was the safest place to be. Part of me wish Eugene dropped the Southern drawl and also revealed he was from Brooklyn or somewhere just to really show he’d been playing everyone.

The Walking Dead - Self Help - AbrahamRosita is stunned saying people died to keep him safe, and Eugene shows he isn’t without remorse as he rattles off all their now dead allies. Abraham remains silent until he rages out and darn near Ivan Drago’s Eugene’s Apollo Creed. Eugene is pretty solidly unconscious though.

Flashback time: Abraham finds Ellen and the kids dead. He couldn’t keep them safe and they died. The grief threatens to overwhelm him and just as he’s about to kill himself, he sees a screaming Eugene calling for help. After saving him, Eugene tells Abraham he’s very important and just like that, Abraham has a new purpose and reason to go on living. How will he react now that Eugene’s lie has been exposed? We’ll have to find out in a future episode, but next week, it’s time to catch up with Rick and company.