AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 5, Episode 5: “Self Help”
Directed by Ernest R. Dickerson
Written by Heather Bellson & Seth Hoffman
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Slabtown” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Consumed” – click here
In the bus, evangelical music plays. Abraham Ford (Michael Cudlitz) and Rosita (Christian Serratos) have a cute conversation, ending with him talking of being shaved “dolphin smooth” with his usual charm. Dr. Eugene (Josh McDermitt) is thinking of the preacher, Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam), and what he did to his own congregation. He does some explaining about “air–transmittable pathogens” in the post-zombie apocalypse. Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Glenn (Steven Yeun) quietly hope their other friends are okay. And outside, the dead continue passing the bus.
Until something goes terribly wrong, sending the vehicle out of whack until it flips.
Flashback to Abraham viciously beating a man to a bloody pulp on the floor of a grocery store. Then, he stepped on the guy’s throat. There was a whole aisle full of dead men. He called out to his wife Ellen (Andrea Moore). Now, he comes to in the overturned bus with walkers crowding most sides. They’ve got to kick open the door and start killing. Eugene has “to be brave” for once, with Tara (Alanna Masterson) urging him on. He’s all but shell-shocked at the site of all the death, watching his friends kill zombies. He stops one from getting Tara, though she does the actual killing.
The bus goes up in flames, so Abraham keeps pushing his group down the road. Eugene wants to go back to the church, whereas Abraham insists: “We‘re at war.” The military man will not turn back. He only wants to keep moving forward. It’s clear his past has an effect on him. He doesn’t want to be holed up somewhere, he wants to save the world.
Back in that grocery store, Abraham found Ellen, along with their children, Becca and A.J. She looked beaten, presumably by the men her husband killed. She also looks terrified. In current day, the group find another place to stay for the time being, giving them shelter for the night. Abraham and Glenn talk about how things are now, that everybody has to become strong or else die. He laments that killing’s become “the easiest thing in the world now” when it was never meant to be that way. He does keep hope the world will repair itself, someday.
Later, Eugene watches Rosita and Abraham bang, which they seem to know. He’s caught by Tara, who wants to thank him for helping her on the road earlier. He then admits he put “crushed glass in the fuel line.” Maggie and Glenn talk about “little vacations.” She worries for those who stayed behind. She also realises it’s “not about what was,” it’s about “what‘s gonna be” soon enough. Deep down they’re all hoping for something better than what they have currently.
Another flashback. Ellen and her children were scared of Abraham after he beat the men to death, even if it was to protect them. They couldn’t look at him the same, covered in blood. Today, Rosita patches up Abraham’s hand— which he probably lets bleed as some kind of misguided self-punishment— and he refuses to think about stopping too long. He’s scared of going back to what he became once.
“Welcome to the human race, asshole.”
The group’s going to try taking the local firetruck for the next vehicle. Abraham has a look in the cab. He’s able to get the engine going. When he moves the truck it shuts down— the air intake filled with “human remains” after being used to clear streets evidently— and the door to the station comes open letting out a horde of zombies. Abraham goes half nuts killing, while Eugene uses the truck’s water to blow apart some dead bodies.
Abraham woke up in that grocery store only to find his wife and kids left. This thought continues to linger in his mind on the road with his friends. The firetruck quickly breaks down. Eugene has time to read The Shape of Things to Come by H.G. Wells. He gets chatted up by Maggie. She admires his perseverance. She goes so far as to liken him to Samson from the Bible. Suddenly, a dead stench on the wind comes over the road. Abraham insists they continue walking. They see a town on the horizon that’s nothing but dilapidated farm buildings and walkers. Glenn insists they’re not continuing through that place. Abraham feels differently. Not even Rosita will back him up this time. He grabs Eugene and starts walking, starting a huge confrontation between them all.
And Eugene finally admits: “I‘m not a scientist.” He lied. He has no idea how to stop the zombie infection. Rosita mentions all those who died to get him to that point on the road. This sends Abraham into a vicious rage. He reverts back to the man he was in that grocery store, beating Eugene brutally. Rosita prepares to pull her gun if need be, and Abraham sees his wedding ring, covered in blood, snapping him back to reality.
See, Abraham had found his wife Ellen and their children chewed apart by zombies after they’d run off. He was about to put a gun in his mouth to blow his brains out when he heard someone calling for help— it was Eugene. This gave him someone to save again, and gave him renewed hope, to believe he was helping an important scientist with a “very important mission.”
“For I am a coward”
An amazing, tragic episode that helps fill in Abraham’s story + pushes the whole narrative forward with Eugene’s revelation. Kicks up a notch from here in Season 5.
“Consumed” is next time.